Years ago—how long was it? Seven years it must be—he had dreamed that he was walking through a pitch-dark room. And someone sitting to one side of him had said as he passed: “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”
While Winston thinks about O’Brien, to whom he has never spoken at this point, he remembers a dream he had where O’Brien told him they would meet “in the place where there is no darkness.” When Winston first observes O’Brien, he believes that, like him, O’Brien is not a loyal Party member as he pretends to be. He seems to view the place where there is no darkness with a sense of hope early in the novel, leading Winston to believe that one day he would live in a world where he would be free to think and behave as he pleases.
“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,” he had said. Winston did not know what it meant, only that in some way or another it would come true.
As Winston reflects on his dream about O’Brien and how the words O’Brien spoke in the dream have taken on deeper meaning over the years, he feels certain that whatever the prediction meant, it would come true. He acknowledges that he does not know where O’Brien’s loyalty lies but trusts the statement completely. Perhaps it is because of this trust that Winston is eventually tricked by O’Brien, a mistake that does indeed lead him to the place where there is no darkness.
The place where there is no darkness was the imagined future, which one would never see, but which, by foreknowledge, one could mystically share in.
While writing in his diary and contemplating when the Thought Police might get him, Winston remembers O’Brien’s words in his dream. Here, he again seems to view the place where there is no darkness as a source of hope, but he knows this source of hope will never come to be. However, simply imagining what such a place would be like offers Winston its own type of freedom.
O’Brien nodded without appearance of surprise. “In the place where there is no darkness,” he said, as though he had recognized the allusion.
Toward the end of Winston and Julia’s meeting with O’Brien at his house, O’Brien says they will meet again, and Winston asks, “In the place where there is no darkness?” Even though Winston felt sure he would one day reach the place mentioned in his dream, he feels a bit surprised by O’Brien’s lack of reaction at hearing the words. At this point, Winston sees O’Brien as his ally, so he has an optimistic view of the place where there is no darkness. What Winston fails to recognize, however, is that the fact that O’Brien knows about the place “where there is no darkness” truly represents a warning for Winston.
In this place, he knew instinctively, the lights would never be turned out. It was the place with no darkness: he saw now why O’Brien had seemed to recognize the allusion.
While Winston waits in a cell in the Ministry of Love after being caught by the Thought Police, he reflects on the fact that O’Brien knew what the place where there is no darkness is because he knew that Winston would be caught. While Winston viewed his dream of O’Brien as a source of hope, his logic and knowledge of how the Party worked had been telling him all along that he could not escape or go on living as a thought criminal in Oceania. While Winston was correct that he would end up in the place where there is no darkness, he was wrong about what that place would be and what it would mean for his future.