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Summary Book Three: Chapters I–III
Summary Book Three: Chapters I–III

O’Brien forces Winston to look in a mirror; he has completely deteriorated and looks gray and skeletal. Winston begins to weep and blames O’Brien for his condition. O’Brien replies that Winston knew what would happen the moment he began his diary. O’Brien acknowledges that Winston has held out by not betraying Julia, and Winston feels overwhelmed with love and gratitude toward O’Brien for recognizing his strength. However, O’Brien tells Winston not to worry, as he will soon be cured. O’Brien then notes that it doesn’t matter, since, in the end, everyone is shot anyhow.

Analysis: Chapters I–III

Book Two saw Winston’s love affair with Julia begin and end. Book Three begins his punishment and “correction.” Winston’s torture reemphasizes the book’s theme of the fundamental horror of physical pain—Winston cannot stop the torture or prevent the psychological control O’Brien gains from torturing him, and when the guard smashes his elbow, he thinks that nothing in the world is worse than physical pain. Though the Party’s ability to manipulate the minds of its subjects is the key to the breadth of its power, its ability to control their bodies is what makes it finally impossible to resist.

Up to this point, O’Brien has remained an enigma to the reader, but his arrival toward the beginning of Winston’s prison term places him firmly on the side of the Party. O’Brien seems to have been a rebel like Winston at one point—when Winston asks if he too has been taken prisoner, O’Brien replies, “They got me a long time ago.” O’Brien adds insult to Winston’s imprisonment by claiming that Winston knew all along that he was affiliated with the Party—and Winston knows he is right. This section seems to imply that Winston’s fatalism stems as much from his understanding of his own fatalistic motives as from his belief in the power of the Party. In other words, Winston’s belief that he would ultimately be caught no matter what he did enabled him to convince himself to trust O’Brien. He knew that he would be caught whether he trusted O’Brien or not, and so he let himself trust O’Brien simply because he deeply wanted to do so.

Winston’s obsession with O’Brien, which began with the dream about the place where there is no darkness, was the source of his undoing, and it undoes him now as well. Orwell explores the theme of how physical pain affects the human mind, and arrives at the conclusion that it grants extraordinary emotional power to the person capable of inflicting the pain. Because O’Brien tortures him, Winston perversely comes to love O’Brien. Throughout the torture sessions, Winston becomes increasingly eager to believe anything O’Brien tells him—even Party slogans and rhetoric. In the next section of the novel, Winston even begins to dream about O’Brien in the same way that he now dreams about his mother and Julia.