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

When Julia wakes she is all business, dealing with the details of their safe return home. It is clear that she has a "practical cunning" which Winston lacks. Unlike Winston, Julia is open and breezy. She flings her arms around him and then leaves. They go home by separate routes, with plans for a future rendezvous.

They never go back to the clearing in the fields. The next time, they meet in another of her hiding places, a ruined church in a countryside leveled by an atomic bomb. Their other meetings are rushed encounters in which they exchange a few words. The logistics of work hours and Party activities (if you keep the small rules, says Julia, you can break the big ones) keep them apart most of the time.

At the church, Julia describes her life in a hostel with thirty other girls ("Always the stink of women! How I hate women!") She says she is "not clever," but she feels at home with the machinery that composes novels in the Fiction Department where she works. Because Julia is young, her memories are Party memories. All the workers in the Pornosec are girls because they're supposed to be "so pure" that they won't be aroused by the material. She knows that she herself is no longer "pure" enough.

Julia describes her first affair and gives her view of life. Her rebellion against the Party consists in having a good time without the Party's finding out. She has no interest in Party doctrine, has never heard of the secret Brotherhood and thinks organized rebellion against the party is stupid. The clever thing is to break all the rules and stay alive.

Julia gives us a good overview of why the Party Prohibits sex. The Party's sexual repressiveness, she says, is designed to induce hysteria that can be turned into war fever and leader worship. Making love uses up energy that could be turned to Party ends. Privation creates hostility that can be turned on the Party's enemies. The Family has been turned into an extension of the Thought Police-everybody is surrounded by informants. (It takes Julia to point this out to Winston; she is the clever one.)


Winston recalls a hike (perhaps his only other excursion to the country) with his wife Katharine. When he showed her some flowers on the side of a cliff, he thought of pushing her off. He didn't have the nerve, though, and he didn't believe it would matter whether he pushed her or not, since "In this game that we're playing, we can't win." Winston seems to be a defeatist, who knows things will end badly. Julia's function is to deny that they are doomed, to insist on the power of luck and cunning and boldness. To Winston's "We are the dead," Julia replies, "We're not dead yet."

Orwell seems to use the couple as speakers for opposite sides of an argument. Either the world is so far gone that there is no hope, no matter how hard people struggle, or people are strong and resourceful and there is hope. People either can't change their circumstances-or they can. In this novel Orwell seems to load the dice against his characters, but in this part of the story, at least, there appears to be some reason for the characters-and the reader-to hope.

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