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

Winston wakes up after a series of beatings and torture sessions in which he confessed to crimes he never committed. His memories are confused with hallucinations in which he confesses everything and is forgiven. O'Brien was with him the whole time, directing everything, orchestrating the pain.

A voice-he thinks it's O'Brien's-has said, "Don't worry, Winston; you are in my keeping. For seven years I have watched over you. Now the turning point has come. I shall save you, I shall make you perfect." It is the same voice that told him they would meet in the place where there is no darkness. Another of Winston's dreams is coming true.

Now O'Brien is looking down at him. He told Winston they would meet here, he says, and with a twist of a dial, floods Winston's body with pain. He intends to help Winston remember events as the Party says they took place. This means he has to forget about the about-face during Hate Week, when the Party suddenly changed enemies from Eurasia to Eastasia; and he has to forget everything about Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford. O'Brien himself already believes that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and that Jones and the others were always enemies of the state.

This is doublethink.

O'Brien has Winston repeat the Party slogan: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." The past, he explains, exists only in written records controlled by the Party and in memories controlled by the Party. This is the heart of doublethink.


Winston is being punished because, lacking humility and self- discipline, he did not allow his memories to be controlled. "You would not make the act of submission, which is the price of sanity," he is told. "Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else." The mind, of course, is not the individual mind, but the mind of the Party, "which is collective and immortal." The only truth is the Party's truth. O'Brien reminds Winston of his fatal diary entry-that freedom means being able to say two and two makes four. Using torture, he tries to get Winston to say that two and two make five-because the Party says so.

Winston's resistance finally breaks down, and when he agrees that two plus two make anything O'Brien wants them to make, O'Brien stops the pain and helps him sit up. Winston now clings to O'Brien like a baby, allowing himself to be comforted by O'Brien's strong arm. He has the idea that the pain is coming from somewhere else and that O'Brien is going to save him.

Winston weeps. You'll have to try harder, O'Brien says, because it's not easy to become sane. And so the torture begins again, the pain now even more intense as O'Brien holds up his fingers, asking how many Winston sees. When Winston finally admits he no longer knows, O'Brien is pleased, and the pain stops. Winston now feels great love for O'Brien, partly because he stopped the pain, and partly because O'Brien, whether friend or enemy, is "a person who could be talked to." Being loved may not be the important thing, Winston thinks; what may be more important is being understood. The last (thinking) man in Europe may at last have what he has always wanted-somebody he can really talk to.

Winston behaves like the neglected child who does something naughty to get attention. Some kids would rather be punished than ignored; Winston may be one of them.

O'Brien verifies that Winston suspected, that they are deep inside the Ministry of Love. The authorities have brought him here not only to make him confess and to punish him, but to make him sane. What Goldstein's book called "controlled insanity," the Party calls sanity. It does more than destroy its enemies, it changes them.

For the first time, O'Brien seems ugly to Winston. O'Brien also looks mad.

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