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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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At this point Orwell must have realized he was taxing his readers with too much theory, and so he has Julia come in and throw herself into Winston's arms. She seems indifferent when he says he has the book. In bed together, they hear the red- armed washerwoman singing. Julia is sleepy but Winston insists on opening the book and reading it to her aloud. He goes back to the first chapter.

In dramatic terms, Orwell has stopped his story cold again to teach us more about totalitarian theory. Because he's still very much a novelist, he makes this lull in dramatic action function as a lull in the story. He is also introducing detail that will work dramatically in Part Three.

NOTE:

1. The long reading postpones Winston's downfall, giving us a chance to worry about him and be angry with him for lying here reading when he ought to be planning an escape. He and Julia are already established as doomed lovers; they have taken the final risk by meeting O'Brien and accepting the book. Unless they're going to try to escape, there isn't much left for Orwell to tell. It won't serve his purpose to let them get away, and it may be that, as a novelist, he was feeling too rushed by his failing health to have the time or energy to describe even an unsuccessful escape attempt. He certainly intended to have Winston's story end as it does-but not yet.


2. He needs this detailed description of Party thinking to set up Part Three, in which Winston and O'Brien are locked in mental battle. Keep in mind Goldstein's points as O'Brien and Winston tangle in Part Three, and look for the irony involved as O'Brien reveals who really wrote the book.

You may want to decide how you regard this extract: as a story-wrecker or as an essential part of the book. Either position is respectable. Think about it as Winston goes on reading.

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