Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

Book One: Chapters II–III

Summary Book One: Chapters II–III

The Party’s control of the past is another significant component of its psychological control over its subjects: that no one is allowed to keep physical records documenting the past prevents people from challenging the government’s motivations, actions, and authority. Winston only vaguely remembers a time before the Party came to power, and memories of his past enter his mind only in dreams, which are the most secure repositories for thoughts, feelings, and memories that must be suppressed in waking life.

Winston’s dreams are also prophetic, foreshadowing future events. Winston will indeed make love to the dark-haired girl in an idyllic country landscape. The same is true for his dream of O’Brien, in which he hears O’Brien’s voice promise to meet him “in the place where there is no darkness.” At the end of the novel, Winston will indeed meet O’Brien in a place without darkness, but that place will be nothing like what Winston expects. The phrase “the place where there is no darkness” recurs throughout the novel, and it orients Winston toward his future.

An important motif that emerges in the first three chapters of 1984 is that of urban decay. Under the supposedly benign guidance of the Party, London has fallen apart. Winston’s world is a nasty, brutish place to live—conveniences are mostly out of order and buildings are ramshackle and unsafe. In contrast to the broken elevator in Winston’s rundown apartment building, the presence of the technologically advanced telescreen illustrates the Party’s prioritization of strict control and utter neglect of citizens’ quality of living.

Winston’s encounter with the Parsons children in Chapter II demonstrates the Party’s influence on family life. Children are effectively converted into spies and trained to watch the actions of their parents with extreme suspicion. The fear Mrs. Parsons shows for her children foreshadows Winston’s encounter in jail with her husband, who is turned in to the Party by his own child for committing thoughtcrime. Orwell was inspired in his creation of the Junior Spies by a real organization called Hitler Youth that thrived in Nazi Germany. This group instilled a fanatic patriotism in children that led them to such behaviors as monitoring their parents for any sign of deviation from Nazi orthodoxy, in much the same manner that Orwell later ascribed to the Junior Spies.