Holy crap this is depressing. And terrifying. We have our main character, Winston, who’s 39. He starts off by doing a forbidden thing: writing in a diary. He is terrified that the Thought Police will find him and kill him, or if not that then send him to 25 years of hard labor. The Thought Police can find you anywhere. There are screens that are constantly on playing propaganda news and military music and whatever else they want the people to see, and the Thought Police can see and hear you through the plethora of screens in every room, including private homes. Big Brother is indeed watching your every move. Children are raised to be little shits that will turn on their parents for the least transgression. There is a daily “Two Minutes Hate” that incites people to becoming raging mobs, so that they can be called upon to do the same whenever the Party pleases. They show footage of refugees, including women and children, being blown to pieces to the laughter and cheers of the public.
Winston’s job is scary as well. He goes back and “rectifies” news articles to reflect what actually happened in cases of predictions, or to rewrite articles to remove mention of people and businesses that have been destroyed, or “vaporized.” If you are killed, you are erased, and no mention of you is made anywhere. History is constantly rewritten to say what the Party wants it to say. One of his colleagues is in charge of compiling the new edition of the Newspeak dictionary. He’s proud, gleeful even over the fact that they are destroying language to the point where it would change thought. If there are no words to describe something, then how can you think of it? (I don’t know why, but everytime they mentioned “Newspeak,” I thought it was News-Speak, like the language they use for the news. Now I understand it’s “new” vs “old” speak.) Winston wonders how people can constantly swallow the lies that the Party constantly spews out, but he sees that they do. When the war changes from Eastasia to Eurasia, the population just accepts it, as they do the concept that they’ve always been at war with Eurasia, even though they had just practiced hate against Eastasia only minutes before. When Winston gets the book, it explains how futile everyone’s actions are.
Julia kind of pisses me off. She’s a rebel in the manner of “sticking it to the man” instead of actually trying to accomplish anything. She thinks only of herself. When Winston tries to talk to her about important matters, she gets bored.
The Ministry of Love confuses me. I can get the torture to break someone to reintroduce them into society, but I don’t get why they torture people to just kill them. Are they testing torture techniques on them, or are they just torturing for their own sadistic purposes? I know the argument that O’Brien gives, but I still don’t understand it. If no one else knows a person’s mental state when they are shot, how can they be a martyr? Are they trying to control people after death as well? And why are they bothering to torture useless confessions out of people? They don’t mean anything.
O’Brien is an interesting character. While Big Brother is more of a concept to most people, O’Brien is Big Brother to Winston. He seems to know everything Winston is thinking, and Winston feels like he can talk to O’Brien, even while being tortured. He loves O’Brien. But why? Something had to have happened to make O’Brien appear to be this perfect creature to Winston.
With the rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” George Orwell changes the lyrics a bit. In the book, it’s three farthings, but in researching the rhyme it appears to be five farthings. And he calls the fourth line of the stanza the last one, but it’s not. So is Orwell rewriting the past without people noticing?
This fulfills the CBR10 Bingo square of “White Whale”