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

Winston is at the Chestnut Tree, the haven for released political prisoners. He's in his usual corner, getting drunk on Victory Gin and watching the news on the telescreen. He can still smell the rats, although he doesn't name them even in his thoughts.

This is a fatter, coarser-looking Winston, listless and so fuzzy- headed that everything the Party says is fine with him. Note how different Winston's condition is from that of Orwell, who put off going to the hospital when he was dying so that he could finish his message of warning to the world.

Winston traces on the table: 2 + 2 = 5. The Party has finally won him-forever. The most private and important part of himself has been destroyed.

The Party has destroyed Julia, too. The last time Winston saw her, on a miserable, cold day, she too had changed. He had put his arm around her waist, knowing the Party had stopped watching them. The idea of sex revolted him because her waist had become thick and stiff as a corpse's. She looked at him with dislike, perhaps because of their past, perhaps because he too had changed physically.


They sat down and exchanged confessions. Both had betrayed each other at the last minute in order to save themselves from torture. They even wanted each other to be tortured! "All you care about is yourself," Julia said, and Winston agreed.

After they parted, half-heartedly agreeing to meet again, Winston followed her for a moment, but then returned anxiously to the warmth and safety of the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He lost track of her quickly: "Perhaps her thickened, stiffened body was no longer recognizable from behind." Yes, he had betrayed her; he had wished she would be given to the-The telescreen cuts off this thought, as a voice sings the refrain we remember:

Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me-

It's the song they were playing the day he saw the three political prisoners here in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He weeps and has another gin, which is what he now needs to get through the day. He is teased by a sudden memory of his mother just before she disappeared; he and his sister are fussing, and his mother goes out to buy him a toy. They laugh and are happy, playing Snakes and Ladders. This must be a false memory, Winston tells himself, and he pushes it out of his mind.

The telescreen trumpets a victory in the unending war and Winston looks at the picture of Big Brother. The portrait makes him feel glad. He has undergone great changes since he first went to the Ministry of Love, but the final moment of healing takes place at this moment.

As the war news continues Winston daydreams that he is back in the Ministry, forgiven, his soul white as snow. He is traveling down the long white corridor of his daydreams when the longawaited bullet enters his brain.

Back in the cafe, he looks up at Big Brother's face. It has taken him forty years to get here, to learn how to win this victory over himself, but it is accomplished.

Winston has learned to love Big Brother.

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