1984

by: George Orwell

Winston Quotes

Quotes Winston Quotes
If there is hope it lies in the proles.

Winston writes this in his forbidden diary early in the novel. It reflects his belief that Party members, even rebellious ones, will never be able to overthrow the Party from within, but that such sweeping action would only be possible by the much more numerous, but brutally poor social group made up of the proletarians, or “proles” in the language of the novel.

I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.

Winston writes this in his forbidden diary after he has spent some time thinking about the nature of the Party and its control of the population. In some ways this question represents Winston’s main journey in the novel. He only learns why the Party does what it does when he is in the clutches of the Thought Police and being tortured in the Ministry of Love.

Listen. The more men you’ve had, the more I love you . . . I hate purity. I hate goodness. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.

Winston is speaking to Julia as they first get to know one another. He’s not jealous or concerned about the number of sexual partners Julia’s had, but instead delights in her past experience because each one represents an act of rebellion against the party, and Julia’s rebelliousness is one of the qualities that is most attractive to Winston.

In this game that we’re playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that’s all.

Winston and Julia are talking about the fact that whatever they do, they will inevitably end up in the hands of the Thought Police. The kind of failure that Winston believes to be better than others is to die while hating the Party, a fate that will be denied to him by the Thought Police in the final moments of the novel.

I am afraid of death. You are young, so presumably you’re more afraid of it than I am. Obviously we shall put it off as long as we can. But it makes very little difference. So long as human beings stay human, death and life are the same thing.

Winston and Julia are talking about whether they should break off their romance to try to stay alive as long as possible. Winston is observing a common aspect of the human condition, that the very concept of being alive means that someday we will die. Winston’s also voicing a notion specific to the world of the novel, that life under the Party is a kind of living death.

I don’t think it’s anything—I mean, I don’t think it was ever put to any use. That’s what I like about it. It’s a little chunk of history that they’ve forgotten to alter. It’s a message from a hundred years ago, if one knew how to read it.

Winston is explaining his paperweight to Julia. As with many things in the novel, its value to Winston is measured in terms of its ability to serve as a connection to the past. He values the weight not because it is beautiful or even because it is forbidden, but because it stands as an artifact of the history that the Party has tried to erase.

I don’t imagine that we can alter anything in our own lifetime. But one can imagine little knots of resistance springing up here and there—small groups of people banding themselves together, and gradually growing, and even leaving a few records behind, so that the next generations can carry on where we leave off.

Winston is speaking to Julia and outlining his understanding of where his own small resistances and rebellions fit into the larger story of someday overthrowing the Party. His sentiment reflects the fact that even though Winston knows he will never see the Party fall in his lifetime, he has reason to think his actions have meaning. The same notion is reflected in the writings of Emmanuel Goldstein.

We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret organization working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc. We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers. I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your mercy. If you want us to incriminate ourselves in any other way, we are ready.

Here Winston is speaking to O’Brien, when he is invited over to O’Brien’s apartment. Winston and Julia are revealing their opposition to the party, because they believe that O’Brien is a member of the Brotherhood who works to overthrow the Party. This confession will lead quickly to the arrest and torture of Winston and Julia by the Thought Police.