Did you know you can highlight text to take a note? x

Why is the war in 1984 never ending?

In 1984, the endless war enables the ruling class to remain in power while the lower classes remain powerless. In Goldstein’s manifesto, he observes that a country that is productive will eventually become prosperous, unless something is done to destroy the fruits of that productivity. War is the ultimate solution to this problem. War forces the population to be more and more productive, but all those products are destroyed by the war, so the people never benefit from their work. The ruling class gains power while the lower classes never benefit from their labor and can be branded as unpatriotic if they try to resist exploitation. Further, a state of constant war keeps the population fearful and eager to give up their freedoms for security. Meaningless victories can be claimed by the Party from time to time in order to stir up patriotism and encourage citizens that their hard lives are having a positive effect on the war effort.

Why is the photo of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford important?

The photograph is important because it represents tangible evidence that the Party intentionally lies to the people. In 1984, Winston is fixated on a scrap of paper from a ten-year-old news article that shows a photo of executed Party leaders Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford at an event in New York. All three men testified to being in Eurasia committing treason at the time the photograph was taken. The photo proves to Winston that his thoughts and beliefs about the Party’s duplicity are not just his own, but reflect actual objective reality. However, even this objective reality can be manipulated: at the Ministry of Love, O’Brien tells Winston that the photo never existed, and that Winston’s memory of it is only the delusion of a diseased mind. Winston’s eventual acceptance of this explanation is part of his loss of self and submission to the will of the Party.

Is Julia a spy working with the Thought Police?

Readers have several reasons for suspecting that Julia is a spy. For one, the beginning of Julia’s relationship with Winston seems strange. The first interaction she ever has with him is to tell him that she loves him. Also, Winston is considerably older than her and not very attractive, so both Winston and the reader may wonder why Julia has any interest in Winston to begin with. Julia herself says “I’m good at spotting people who don’t belong. As soon as I saw you I knew you were against them.”

One reading of this statement is as a coded admission that she works with the Thought Police. Julia also says, “I bet that picture’s got bugs behind it” when looking at a picture that does, in fact, have a telescreen hidden behind it. However, unlike O’Brien and Mr. Charrington, who are revealed to be spies, Julia is never identified as working with the Thought Police, so it seems unlikely that her character is supposed to be read as a super-secret agent.

Can Winston and O’Brien read each other’s minds?

In 1984, Winston and O’Brien seem to share a psychic connection. Winston knows that he will meet O’Brien in the "place where there is no darkness" for a long period before he and O’Brien have ever even interacted. Further, when O’Brien talks to Winston in the Ministry of Love, O’Brien seems to be able to read Winston’s mind, even when Winston doesn’t speak.

One interpretation is that O’Brien and Winston seem so closely linked because they have both been brought up in a society where there is very little opportunity to have original thoughts. Winston knows what’s going to happen to him because his fate is the inevitable outcome that has happened to thousands or millions of citizens before him, and O’Brien knows what Winston is thinking because he has encountered thousands of people who have had the same thoughts in these circumstances before.

How is Julia’s rebellion against the Party different than Winston’s rebellion?

While Winston holds a philosophical position that rejects the Party as unjust and inhumane, Julia simply doesn’t like all the rules and finds ways to break them when she can safely do so. As a result, even though Winston more strongly believes in the need to destroy the Party, Julia actually does more day-to-day to break the rules. Her ability to gather contraband in a way that Winston can’t reflects this difference between their rebellions. Julia has lots of contact with other people who do not obey the rules of the Party. Julia has had many secret lovers, and presumably some of these people supply her with contraband. Julia specifically mentions waiters and servants who work for the Inner Party and have access to contraband not usually available to the Outer Party.

Why is Julia attracted to Winston?

Julia is attracted to Winston and even tells him that she loves him despite never having spoken to him before because she saw “something in [his] face” that told her “[he was] against them.” Although Winston is ten to fifteen years older than Julia and is not described as being particularly physically attractive, Julia seems more drawn to his sense of rebellion than his physical attributes. By having a relationship that is not condoned by the Party with someone else who despises the Party, Julia is breaking the rules imposed by Oceania, which gives her more pleasure than anything else.

Why does O’Brien pretend to be part of the Brotherhood?

O’Brien pretends to be part of the Brotherhood because he knows that deceiving Winston and Julia means that the eventual process of controlling their minds will be all the more powerful. O’Brien could have had them arrested when they came to his house and pledged allegiance to the Brotherhood and to taking down Big Brother, but he understood that allowing them to believe that there is hope for destroying the Party only to yank it away allows him to crush their spirits more easily.

Even after they are arrested, as Winston waits in a cell in the Ministry of Love, he thinks of O’Brien “with flickering hope” and wonders if O’Brien would send him a razor blade. O’Brien physically breaks Winston down in a similar way during his stay in the Ministry of Love for the purpose of “tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

Where did the book that O’Brien gives to Winston come from?

The book that O’Brien gives to Winston—a book supposedly written by Goldstein—was actually written by O’Brien and other members of the inner Party. The book serves as a literary device for readers to understand the basic principles of the “English Socialist Party,” the fictional party in the novel. However, the fact that O’Brien and others went so far as to write the book and distribute it to those who are not loyal to the Party shows how adept they are at doublethink: They are not concerned with people being exposed to the truth as long as those same people can accept a contradictory “truth.”

Why is Newspeak so important?

Newspeak, the language of Oceania, is the Party’s way of controlling its citizens by limiting the words and ideas they can express. Winston and his peers are still of an age where their main way of communicating is “Oldspeak.” However, by the time Newspeak is the national language, “thoughtcrime” will be “literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” If people do not have the words “Down with Big Brother,” as Winston writes early in the novel, they cannot feel or express such disloyalty.

Why does Winston keep a diary?

The diary is the first thing that Winston purchases from Mr. Charrington’s shop, and part of its appeal to Winston is that it is something from another time. Even a pen is “an archaic instrument” by the time Winston begins his diary, but he finds one “simply because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink pencil.” Also, Winston sees the diary as being beautiful for the sake of beauty. He writes in the diary to get his thoughts out in the only way he can without immediately being caught by the Thought Police (although they do eventually find it). For these reasons, keeping a diary is Winston’s own private way of rebelling against the Party.

Why does Winston think hope lies with the proles?

Winston thinks that hope lies with the proles because they make up the majority of Oceania’s population and are the only group that could summon enough force to overthrow the Party. The proles are not, as far as Winston knows, monitored by the telescreens or subject to the unspoken laws of Oceania, so Winston believes they could conspire against the Party if “they could somehow become conscious of their own strength[.]”

Winston also notes that the Party sees them as “beneath suspicion.” The book supposedly written by Goldstein also claims that the only hope for Oceania is a proletarian revolution. Other Party members, however, do not consider the proles to even be human beings.

How does the Party maintain its power?

The Party maintains its power primarily through language, technology, fear, and isolation. The language Newspeak allows the Party to control how its citizens think and talk. The telescreens allow the Party to maintain surveillance on its citizens at all times, forcing citizens to censor their words and even facial expressions. The unceasing war with either Eurasia or Eastasia keeps people in a constant state of fear, ensuring that they will stay loyal to Oceania. The Party also uses people’s worst fears against them in the Ministry of Love. By suppressing intimate relationships between citizens, the Party prevents “men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control.”

Who is Emmanuel Goldstein?

Emmanuel Goldstein is said to be the enemy of the Party and is the subject of the daily Two Minutes Hate ritual. According to the Party, Goldstein was once a leader in the Party until he led a counterrevolution and disappeared before he could be executed. He is also supposedly the leader of the Brotherhood. However, like Big Brother, Goldstein is likely a fabrication designed to be the object of people’s hate and outrage.

What is Room 101?

Room 101, located in the Ministry of Love, is the room where prisoners are sent to be confronted by their deepest fear. Readers learn early in the novel that Winston is terrified of rats. When he tells O’Brien that he still hates Big Brother after months of torture, O’Brien sends Winston to Room 101, where O’Brien begins to put a cage of rats over Winston’s head. Room 101 is the last phase of torture that eventually forces Winston to turn on Julia and accept Big Brother.

What does the slogan “Ignorance Is Strength” mean?

The Party’s slogan, Ignorance Is Strength, means that by making sure its citizens are unthinking and do not doubt what the Party says—even when what the Party says is in direct contradiction to reality—the Party can maintain its power. Perpetuating ignorance allows the Party to manipulate the past and thus control how people feel and think.

This slogan also requires people to use doublethink, holding the idea in their minds that they can be ignorant and strong at the same time. However, in doublethink, the ignorance refers to the people, while the strength refers to the Party.