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Free Study Guide-1984 by George Orwell-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTERS 7 - 8

Summary

Winston is still writing his diary secretly. He continues to contemplate the society created by the Party. The more he thinks about the encroachment on individual freedom, the lack of privacy, the loneliness, and the deliberate alteration of the past, the more he wonders if there is a way of overthrowing or weakening the Party.

The Party, through its massive propaganda machinery, spreads the idea that life in the new society is much better than it was before the revolution. In reality, the condition of the masses is bad. There is a scarcity of essential items, poorly paid jobs, and the overpowering smell of garbage everywhere. Yet, in Chapter 8, as Winston walks around in the dark streets where the 'proles' or the working class lives, he sees for himself that freedom, individual freedom and the human bonds of family, love, and affection, still remain intact.

Winston is convinced that if there is any hope for the future generation, it lies in the Proles. If they are made conscious, their collective strength can overthrow the Party. But what disturbs Winston is that due to the constant bombardment from the propaganda machinery, all memories, records, and details of life before the revolution are being erased. The propaganda is so pervasive that when the party claims that airplanes have been invented after the revolution, everyone accepts it. Though Winston knows how this lie is being spun and is accepted as the truth, he is unable to understand the motive behind it.


Notes

Through a subtle play of images, the depiction of the ambiance through sounds, smell, and color, the author draws sharp contrasts between the lives led by the Party members and the 'proles'. The contrasts only serve to further heighten the feeling of alienation of the individual from society. Moreover, the Party Ingsoc's slogan, animals and proles are free, reveal the Party's contempt for the proles. This fact is ironic because the Party has come to power to serve the interests of the proletariat. Besides, it also shows the Party's attitude towards freedom. Freedom of thought is a basic and natural right of all human beings that the Party is denying its members. In fact, the concept of freedom in the new society is turned to its opposite, where freedom is slavery.

Winston shows a great deal of naiveté in thinking that the proles may some day revolt against the Party. A revolution takes strong leadership, and the Party squelches any hint of leadership before it is allowed to develop.

It is important to realize that at the end of Part I, Winston has been created as a normal, sane man in terms of contemporary thinking. But in the world depicted in 1984, he is not normal or sane. His way of thinking is considered a thought crime and not appropriate to the world of Big Brother. He is concerned about history, curious about truth and life, and driven by sexual desires, all of which are unacceptable to Party practices. Because of his thoughts, Winston knows that he is different than almost all others in the state of Oceania; as a result, he feels an extreme sense of loneliness and isolation. Orwell has totally prepared the reader for the action that takes place in Part II and Part III of the book.

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