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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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SECTION III

Winston dreams he's with his mother in a sinking ship. We're reminded of the heroic refugee mother from the newsreel in Section I. Winston is struck with guilt. Although his mother disappeared in a political purge, he feels somehow responsible. We'll see why later.

In the next instant he is in a dream landscape in a place he calls The Golden Country, a stubbly pasture where the dark-haired girl appears. She strips naked and runs toward him. He sees this as an act of destruction-the girl wiping out the Party in one free gesture. (In a Party that suppresses sex, anything sexual is rebellion.) He wakes saying, "Shakespeare."

NOTE: WINSTON'S DREAMS

Look carefully at Winston's dreams. They're prophetic and symbolic. Every one signals something important to come in the book. Look at:

1. The dream about O'Brien. Yes, they are going to meet in the place where there is no darkness, but it's not what Winston thinks, as we find out in Part Three. He doesn't know the possible outcome but in his loneliness he can hardly wait.

2. The dream about his mother foreshadows memories to be revealed to Winston near the end of Part Two. Many people think Orwell uses the idea of woman as mother as ideal. What does this make of Julia, who has sex for fun? Watch how Orwell treats her and Winston's affair.

3. The Golden Country. This dream is the most heavily symbolic. It is directly prophetic, as you'll see when Winston finally meets the dark-haired girl; but there's more to it as an expression of Winston's yearning for the past. Look at:

a. The country as England's rural past.

b. The girl in her nakedness as a symbol of love, perhaps, but for Winston at this point, as rebellion.

c. "Shakespeare." The arts in England have been wiped out by the Party. They, along with beauty and truth, are another part of the past that Winston longs for.


When he wakes, Winston reflects on childhood memories as he goes through the motions of his daily routine. Current history and his memories do not coincide. Oceania is and always was at war with Eurasia in alliance with Eastasia, according to all the books and papers, but this isn't the way Winston remembers it. The records are changed. "Double-think" or "reality control" makes this possible: "To know and not to know... to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them...." Revisionism, a political fact in some countries today, is the ammunition of Orwell's imaginary Party.


NOTE: ON REVISIONISM

Today we're familiar with revisionism-the altering of history texts and removal of certain images to conform to prevailing policies. In some cases history is revised because we have made new discoveries. For instance, our wide knowledge of Franklin D. Roosevelt's illness has changed the way we look at his presidency. While he was in office, the seriousness of his illness was kept secret for the good of the government; the country was at war and needed to have complete faith in the power of its president. In the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, history has changed with the regimes. For instance, statues and pictures of Stalin, once prominent everywhere, have been removed from the Soviet Union, as recent regimes have tried to disassociate themselves from Stalin and his practices.

In Winston's case, a leader has been created. As he remembers it, nobody had heard of Big Brother before 1960. Now that he's a figurehead, history has been backdated so that there are tales of Big Brother's exploits as far back as the 1930s. In Orwell's day, such practices were relatively new. Since his death, history has made his cautionary novel look like grim prophecy.

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