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Free Study Guide-1984 by George Orwell-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTERS 5 - 6

Summary

In these two chapters, Winston is shown trying to curb his natural instincts. He is relieved only when he goes to a prostitute. In chapter 5, the reader is introduced to Syme, who is working at the Ministry of Truth on the eleventh edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Syme meets Winston in the staff canteen, and they discuss the finer points of the new language, Newspeak, over lunch. Syme tells Winston that the new language has less words than the old language, for the Party has banned all the words that it thought not acceptable. Words like sex or words to express feelings have been eliminated.

The Party looks down upon sex. The process of reproduction is accomplished through artificial insemination or 'art sem' as it is called in the new language. Married couples are allowed to have sex, but it has become an act without joy. Winston's recollections of his wife, who does not live with him anymore, bring back painful memories of his attempts to make love to her; he always felt as though he was having sex with a skeleton. His wife, like all other women in the new society, has been taught from her teens that sex and sexual desire is dirty; therefore, her reaction to any kind of physical overture is to stiffen up. She also fears that Big Brother is always watching via the telescreen.


Notes

The Party's disapproval and guidelines on sexual matters is a reflection of its desire to have total control over the private lives of all individuals. Winston suffers from his natural sexual drive, which he cannot satisfy due to the restrictions of the state. He has recurring sexual dreams of the dark-haired girl who works in the fiction department of the Ministry of Truth; but at this point in the novel, he has no interaction with her. Instead, he satisfies his sexual drive through a prostitute. In the end, his sexual drives lead to his downfall.

Though Syme makes a brief appearance, Winston's attitude towards Syme and Syme's nature are extremely significant. Syme delivers a speech to Winston about Newspeak, the language of the new society; through Newspeak, the Party hopes to further control the populace and eliminate thoughtcrimes. The fact that Winston is scared to describe Syme as his friend, but someone he likes to talk to, serves to heighten the feeling of loneliness of the individual shorn of all affection and human bonds. Secondly, the nature of Syme and his blunt, tactless, and jocular remarks about Parsons, make Winston rather uneasy. Orwell implies that the party expects a certain kind of behavior from the members of the party, and any deviation from it is monitored and registered as a crime against the party. Winston's uneasiness, therefore, has a basis, for he is sure that, sooner or later, Syme will be put to death for his sharp tongue. Winston does not want to be implicated because he is recognized as Syme's friend.

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