Nineteen Eighty-four, Part 2 of 3.
1984 is one of the more well known dystopian sci-fi books ever written. And it makes for quite a timely read in the age of Donald Trumps rule.
by author George Orwell
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Enjoy this dystopian read!.
If you missed part 1, you can start reading it here., and this is Part 3.
Author, George Orwell. Photography and web adaptation: Mike Koontz
2017, a Norse View Imaging and Publishing
Music of the day
Ashen nectar by Netherbirds
To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration
1984 by George Orwell, Book 2
Cold day in April
Watch & listen to this book, or continue reading at your leisure
It was the middle of the morning, and Winston had left the cubicle to go to the lavatory.
A solitary figure was coming towards him from the other end of the long, brightly-lit corridor.
It was the girl with dark hair.
Four days had gone past since the evening when he had run into her outside the junk-shop. As she came nearer he saw that her right arm was in a sling, not noticeable at a distance because it was of the same colour as her overalls. Probably she had crushed her hand while swinging round one of the big kaleidoscopes on which the plots of novels were ‘roughed in’. It was a common accident in the Fiction Department.
They were perhaps four metres apart when the girl stumbled and fell almost flat on her face.
A sharp cry of pain was wrung out of her.
She must have fallen right on the injured arm.
Winston stopped short.
The girl had risen to her knees.
Her face had turned a milky yellow colour against which her mouth stood out redder than ever. Her eyes were fixed on his, with an appealing expression that looked more like fear than pain.
A curious emotion stirred in Winston’s heart. In front of him was an enemy who was trying to kill him: in front of him, also, was a human creature, in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. Already he had instinctively started forward to help her.
In the moment when he had seen her fall on the bandaged arm, it had been as though he felt the pain in his own body.
‘You’re hurt?’ he said.
‘It’s nothing. My arm. It’ll be all right in a second.’
She spoke as though her heart were fluttering. She had certainly turned very pale.
‘You haven’t broken anything?’
‘No, I’m all right. It hurt for a moment, that’s all.’
She held out her free hand to him, and he helped her up. She had regained some of her colour, and appeared very much better.
‘It’s nothing,’ she repeated shortly. ‘I only gave my wrist a bit of a bang. Thanks, comrade!’
And with that she walked on in the direction in which she had been going, as briskly as though it had really been nothing.
The whole incident could not have taken as much as half a minute. Not to let one’s feelings appear in one’s face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct, and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen when the thing happened.
Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no question that she had done it intentionally.
It was something small and flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers.
It was a scrap of paper folded into a square.
While he stood at the urinal he managed, with a little more fingering, to get it unfolded.
Obviously there must be a message of some kind written on it. For a moment he was tempted to take it into one of the water-closets and read it at once.
But that would be shocking folly, as he well knew.
There was no place where you could be more certain that the telescreens were watched continuously.
He went back to his cubicle, sat down, threw the fragment of paper casually among the other papers on the desk, put on his spectacles and hitched the speakwrite towards him.
‘Five minutes,’ he told himself, ‘five minutes at the very least!’
His heart bumped in his breast with frightening loudness.
Fortunately the piece of work he was engaged on was mere routine, the rectification of a long list of figures, not needing close attention.
Whatever was written on the paper, it must have some kind of political meaning. So far as he could see there were two possibilities.
One, much the more likely, was that the girl was an agent of the Thought Police, just as he had feared.
He did not know why the Thought Police should choose to deliver their messages in such a fashion, but perhaps they had their reasons.
The thing that was written on the paper might be a threat, a summons, an order to commit suicide, a trap of some description.
But there was another, wilder possibility that kept raising its head, though he tried vainly to suppress it.
This was, that the message did not come from the Thought Police at all, but from some kind of underground organization. Perhaps the Brotherhood existed after all! Perhaps the girl was part of it! No doubt the idea was absurd, but it had sprung into his mind in the very instant of feeling the scrap of paper in his hand. It was not till a couple of minutes later that the other, more probable explanation had occurred to him.
And even now, though his intellect told him that the message probably meant death — still, that was not what he believed, and the unreasonable hope persisted, and his heart banged, and it was with difficulty that he kept his voice from trembling as he murmured his figures into the speakwrite.
He rolled up the completed bundle of work and slid it into the pneumatic tube. Eight minutes had gone by.
He re-adjusted his spectacles on his nose, sighed, and drew the next batch of work towards him, with the scrap of paper on top of it.
He flattened it out. On it was written, in a large unformed handwriting:
I LOVE YOU.
For several seconds he was too stunned even to throw the incriminating thing into the memory hole. When he did so, although he knew very well the danger of showing too much interest, he could not resist reading it once again, just to make sure that the words were really there.
For the rest of the morning it was very difficult to work.
What was even worse than having to focus his mind on a series of niggling jobs was the need to conceal his agitation from the telescreen.
He felt as though a fire were burning in his belly. Lunch in the hot, crowded, noise-filled canteen was torment.
He had hoped to be alone for a little while during the lunch hour, but as bad luck would have it the imbecile Parsons flopped down beside him, the tang of his sweat almost defeating the tinny smell of stew, and kept up a stream of talk about the preparations for Hate Week.
He was particularly enthusiastic about a papier-mache model of Big Brother’s head, two metres wide, which was being made for the occasion by his daughter’s troop of Spies. The irritating thing was that in the racket of voices Winston could hardly hear what Parsons was saying, and was constantly having to ask for some fatuous remark to be repeated.
Just once he caught a glimpse of the girl, at a table with two other girls at the far end of the room.
She appeared not to have seen him, and he did not look in that direction again.
The afternoon was more bearable. Immediately after lunch there arrived a delicate, difficult piece of work which would take several hours and necessitated putting everything else aside. It consisted in falsifying a series of production reports of two years ago, in such a way as to cast discredit on a prominent member of the Inner Party, who was now under a cloud.
This was the kind of thing that Winston was good at, and for more than two hours he succeeded in shutting the girl out of his mind altogether.
Then the memory of her face came back, and with it a raging, intolerable desire to be alone.
Until he could be alone it was impossible to think this new development out.
Tonight was one of his nights at the Community Centre.
He wolfed another tasteless meal in the canteen, hurried off to the Centre, took part in the solemn foolery of a ‘discussion group’, played two games of table tennis, swallowed several glasses of gin, and sat for half an hour through a lecture entitled ‘Ingsoc in relation to chess’.
His soul writhed with boredom, but for once he had had no impulse to shirk his evening at the Centre.
At the sight of the words I LOVE YOU the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly seemed stupid.
It was not till twenty-three hours, when he was home and in bed — in the darkness, where you were safe even from the telescreen so long as you kept silent — that he was able to think continuously.
It was a physical problem that had to be solved: how to get in touch with the girl and arrange a meeting. He did not consider any longer the possibility that she might be laying some kind of trap for him.
He knew that it was not so, because of her unmistakable agitation when she handed him the note.
Obviously she had been frightened out of her wits, as well she might be.
Nor did the idea of refusing her advances even cross his mind. Only five nights ago he had contemplated smashing her skull in with a cobblestone, but that was of no importance. He thought of her naked, youthful body, as he had seen it in his dream.
He had imagined her a fool like all the rest of them, her head stuffed with lies and hatred, her belly full of ice.
A kind of fever seized him at the thought that he might lose her, the white youthful body might slip away from him!
What he feared more than anything else was that she would simply change her mind if he did not get in touch with her quickly.
But the physical difficulty of meeting was enormous. It was like trying to make a move at chess when you were already mated.
Whichever way you turned, the telescreen faced you.
Actually, all the possible ways of communicating with her had occurred to him within five minutes of reading the note; but now, with time to think, he went over them one by one, as though laying out a row of instruments on a table.
Obviously the kind of encounter that had happened this morning could not be repeated.
If she had worked in the Records Department it might have been comparatively simple, but he had only a very dim idea whereabouts in the building the Fiction Department lay, and he had no pretext for going there. If he had known where she lived, and at what time she left work, he could have contrived to meet her somewhere on her way home; but to try to follow her home was not safe, because it would mean loitering about outside the Ministry, which was bound to be noticed.
As for sending a letter through the mails, it was out of the question.
By a routine that was not even secret, all letters were opened in transit.
Actually, few people ever wrote letters.
For the messages that it was occasionally necessary to send, there were printed postcards with long lists of phrases, and you struck out the ones that were inapplicable. In any case he did not know the girl’s name, let alone her address. Finally he decided that the safest place was the canteen.
If he could get her at a table by herself, somewhere in the middle of the room, not too near the telescreens, and with a sufficient buzz of conversation all round — if these conditions endured for, say, thirty seconds, it might be possible to exchange a few words.
For a week after this, life was like a restless dream.
On the next day she did not appear in the canteen until he was leaving it, the whistle having already blown.
Presumably she had been changed on to a later shift.
They passed each other without a glance.
On the day after that she was in the canteen at the usual time, but with three other girls and immediately under a telescreen.
He waited for the girl.
Then for three dreadful days she did not appear at all.
His whole mind and body seemed to be afflicted with an unbearable sensitivity, a sort of transparency, which made every movement, every sound, every contact, every word that he had to speak or listen to, an agony. Even in sleep he could not altogether escape from her image.
He did not touch the diary during those days.
If there was any relief, it was in his work, in which he could sometimes forget himself for ten minutes at a stretch.
He had absolutely no clue as to what had happened to her.
There was no enquiry he could make.
She might have been vaporized, she might have committed suicide, she might have been transferred to the other end of Oceania: worst and likeliest of all, she might simply have changed her mind and decided to avoid him.
The next day she reappeared.
Her arm was out of the sling and she had a band of sticking-plaster round her wrist. The relief of seeing her was so great that he could not resist staring directly at her for several seconds. On the following day he very nearly succeeded in speaking to her.
When he came into the canteen she was sitting at a table well out from the wall, and was quite alone.
It was early, and the place was not very full. The queue edged forward till Winston was almost at the counter, then was held up for two minutes because someone in front was complaining that he had not received his tablet of saccharine.
But the girl was still alone when Winston secured his tray and began to make for her table.
He walked casually towards her, his eyes searching for a place at some table beyond her.
She was perhaps three metres away from him.
Another two seconds would do it.
Then a voice behind him called, ‘Smith!’
He pretended not to hear.
‘Smith!’ repeated the voice, more loudly.
It was no use.
He turned round.
A blond-headed, silly-faced young man named Wilsher, whom he barely knew, was inviting him with a smile to a vacant place at his table.
It was not safe to refuse. After having been recognized, he could not go and sit at a table with an unattended girl.
It was too noticeable. He sat down with a friendly smile. The silly blond face beamed into his.
Winston had a hallucination of himself smashing a pick-axe right into the middle of it.
The girl’s table filled up a few minutes later.
But she must have seen him coming towards her, and perhaps she would take the hint.
Next day he took care to arrive early. Surely enough, she was at a table in about the same place, and again alone.
The person immediately ahead of him in the queue was a small, swiftly-moving, beetle-like man with a flat face and tiny, suspicious eyes.
As Winston turned away from the counter with his tray, he saw that the little man was making straight for the girl’s table.
His hopes sank again.
There was a vacant place at a table further away, but something in the little man’s appearance suggested that he would be sufficiently attentive to his own comfort to choose the emptiest table. With ice at his heart Winston followed. It was no use unless he could get the girl alone.
At this moment there was a tremendous crash.
The little man was sprawling on all fours, his tray had gone flying, two streams of soup and coffee were flowing across the floor.
He started to his feet with a malignant glance at Winston, whom he evidently suspected of having tripped him up.
But it was all right. Five seconds later, with a thundering heart, Winston was sitting at the girl’s table.
He did not look at her. He unpacked his tray and promptly began eating.
It was all-important to speak at once, before anyone else came, but now a terrible fear had taken possession of him.
A week had gone by since she had first approached him.
She would have changed her mind, she must have changed her mind!
It was impossible that this affair should end successfully; such things did not happen in real life.
He might have flinched altogether from speaking if at this moment he had not seen Ampleforth, the hairy-eared poet, wandering limply round the room with a tray, looking for a place to sit down.
In his vague way Ampleforth was attached to Winston, and would certainly sit down at his table if he caught sight of him.
There was perhaps a minute in which to act. Both Winston and the girl were eating steadily.
The stuff they were eating was a thin stew, actually a soup, of haricot beans. In a low murmur Winston began speaking.
Neither of them looked up; steadily they spooned the watery stuff into their mouths, and between spoonfuls exchanged the few necessary words in low expressionless voices.
‘What time do you leave work?’
‘Where can we meet?’
‘Victory Square, near the monument.’
‘It’s full of telescreens.’
‘It doesn’t matter if there’s a crowd.’
‘No. Don’t come up to me until you see me among a lot of people. And don’t look at me. Just keep somewhere near me.’
Ampleforth failed to see Winston and sat down at another table. They did not speak again, and, so far as it was possible for two people sitting on opposite sides of the same table, they did not look at one another.
The girl finished her lunch quickly and made off, while Winston stayed to smoke a cigarette.
Winston was in Victory Square before the appointed time. He wandered round the base of the enormous fluted column, at the top of which Big Brother’s statue gazed southward towards the skies where he had vanquished the Eurasian aeroplanes (the Eastasian aeroplanes, it had been, a few years ago) in the Battle of Airstrip One.
In the street in front of it there was a statue of a man on horseback which was supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell.
At five minutes past the hour the girl had still not appeared. Again the terrible fear seized upon Winston.
She was not coming, she had changed her mind!
He walked slowly up to the north side of the square and got a sort of pale-coloured pleasure from identifying St Martin’s Church, whose bells, when it had bells, had chimed ‘You owe me three farthings.’
Then he saw the girl standing at the base of the monument, reading or pretending to read a poster which ran spirally up the column.
It was not safe to go near her until some more people had accumulated. There were telescreens all round the pediment.
But at this moment there was a din of shouting and a zoom of heavy vehicles from somewhere to the left.
Suddenly everyone seemed to be running across the square.
The girl nipped nimbly round the lions at the base of the monument and joined in the rush.
Winston followed. As he ran, he gathered from some shouted remarks that a convoy of Eurasian prisoners was passing.
Already a dense mass of people was blocking the south side of the square. Winston, at normal times the kind of person who gravitates to the outer edge of any kind of scrimmage, shoved, butted, squirmed his way forward into the heart of the crowd. Soon he was within arm’s length of the girl, but the way was blocked by an enormous prole and an almost equally enormous woman, presumably his wife, who seemed to form an impenetrable wall of flesh. Winston wriggled himself sideways, and with a violent lunge managed to drive his shoulder between them.
For a moment it felt as though his entrails were being ground to pulp between the two muscular hips, then he had broken through, sweating a little.
He was next to the girl.
They were shoulder to shoulder, both staring fixedly in front of them.
A long line of trucks, with wooden-faced guards armed with sub-machine guns standing upright in each corner, was passing slowly down the street.
In the trucks little yellow men in shabby greenish uniforms were squatting, jammed close together.
Their sad, Mongolian faces gazed out over the sides of the trucks utterly incurious.
Occasionally when a truck jolted there was a clank-clank of metal: all the prisoners were wearing leg-irons.
Truck-load after truck-load of the sad faces passed. Winston knew they were there but he saw them only intermittently.
The girl’s shoulder, and her arm right down to the elbow, were pressed against his. Her cheek was almost near enough for him to feel its warmth.
She had immediately taken charge of the situation, just as she had done in the canteen.
She began speaking in the same expressionless voice as before, with lips barely moving, a mere murmur easily drowned by the din of voices and the rumbling of the trucks.
‘Can you hear me?’
‘Can you get Sunday afternoon off?’
‘Then listen carefully. You’ll have to remember this. Go to Paddington Station ——’
With a sort of military precision that astonished him, she outlined the route that he was to follow. A half-hour railway journey; turn left outside the station; two kilometres along the road; a gate with the top bar missing; a path across a field; a grass-grown lane; a track between bushes; a dead tree with moss on it.
It was as though she had a map inside her head.
‘Can you remember all that?’ she murmured finally.
‘You turn left, then right, then left again. And the gate’s got no top bar.’
‘Yes. What time?’
‘About fifteen. You may have to wait. I’ll get there by another way. Are you sure you remember everything?’
‘Then get away from me as quick as you can.’
She need not have told him that. But for the moment they could not extricate themselves from the crowd.
The trucks were still filing past, the people still insatiably gaping. At the start there had been a few boos and hisses, but it came only from the Party members among the crowd, and had soon stopped.
The prevailing emotion was simply curiosity. Foreigners, whether from Eurasia or from Eastasia, were a kind of strange animal.
One literally never saw them except in the guise of prisoners, and even as prisoners one never got more than a momentary glimpse of them.
Nor did one know what became of them, apart from the few who were hanged as war-criminals: the others simply vanished, presumably into forced-labour camps. The round Mogol faces had given way to faces of a more European type, dirty, bearded and exhausted.
From over scrubby cheekbones eyes looked into Winston’s, sometimes with strange intensity, and flashed away again.
The convoy was drawing to an end.
In the last truck he could see an aged man, his face a mass of grizzled hair, standing upright with wrists crossed in front of him, as though he were used to having them bound together. It was almost time for Winston and the girl to part. But at the last moment, while the crowd still hemmed them in, her hand felt for his and gave it a fleeting squeeze.
It could not have been ten seconds, and yet it seemed a long time that their hands were clasped together.
He had time to learn every detail of her hand. He explored the long fingers, the shapely nails, the work-hardened palm with its row of callouses, the smooth flesh under the wrist.
Merely from feeling it he would have known it by sight.
In the same instant it occurred to him that he did not know what colour the girl’s eyes were.
They were probably brown, but people with dark hair sometimes had blue eyes. To turn his head and look at her would have been inconceivable folly.
With hands locked together, invisible among the press of bodies, they stared steadily in front of them, and instead of the eyes of the girl, the eyes of the aged prisoner gazed mournfully at Winston out of nests of hair.
The lost world
Dream, of yesterday
new day ]
Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled light and shade, stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted.
Under the trees to the left of him the ground was misty with bluebells. The air seemed to kiss one’s skin.
It was the second of May. From somewhere deeper in the heart of the wood came the droning of ring-doves.
He was a bit early.
There had been no difficulties about the journey, and the girl was so evidently experienced that he was less frightened than he would normally have been.
Presumably she could be trusted to find a safe place.
In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the country than in London.
There were no telescreens, of course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey by yourself without attracting attention.
For distances of less than 100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward questions.
However, no patrols had appeared, and on the walk from the station he had made sure by cautious backward glances that he was not being followed.
The train was full of proles, in holiday mood because of the summery weather.
The wooden-seated carriage in which he travelled was filled to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from a toothless great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going out to spend an afternoon with ‘in-laws’ in the country, and, as they freely explained to Winston, to get hold of a little black-market butter.
The lane widened, and in a minute he came to the footpath she had told him of, a mere cattle-track which plunged between the bushes.
He had no watch, but it could not be fifteen yet.
The bluebells were so thick underfoot that it was impossible not to tread on them.
He knelt down and began picking some partly to pass the time away, but also from a vague idea that he would like to have a bunch of flowers to offer to the girl when they met. He had got together a big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly scent when a sound at his back froze him, the unmistakable crackle of a foot on twigs.
He went on picking bluebells.
It was the best thing to do.
It might be the girl, or he might have been followed after all.
To look round was to show guilt. He picked another and another. A hand fell lightly on his shoulder.
He looked up.
It was the girl.
She shook her head, evidently as a warning that he must keep silent, then parted the bushes and quickly led the way along the narrow track into the wood. Obviously she had been that way before, for she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed, still clasping his bunch of flowers.
His first feeling was relief, but as he watched the strong slender body moving in front of him, with the scarlet sash that was just tight enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the sense of his own inferiority was heavy upon him.
Even now it seemed quite likely that when she turned round and looked at him she would draw back after all.
The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted him. Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of London in the pores of his skin.
It occurred to him that till now she had probably never seen him in broad daylight in the open.
They came to the fallen tree that she had spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart the bushes, in which there did not seem to be an opening. When Winston followed her, he found that they were in a natural clearing, a tiny grassy knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely.
The girl stopped and turned.
‘Here we are,’ she said.
He was facing her at several paces’ distance. As yet he did not dare move nearer to her.
‘I didn’t want to say anything in the lane,’ she went on, ‘in case there’s a mike hidden there. I don’t suppose there is, but there could be. There’s always the chance of one of those swine recognizing your voice. We’re all right here.’
He still had not the courage to approach her.
‘We’re all right here?’ he repeated stupidly.
‘Yes. Look at the trees.’
They were small ashes, which at some time had been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of them thicker than one’s wrist.
‘There’s nothing big enough to hide a mike in. Besides, I’ve been here before.’
They were only making conversation.
He had managed to move closer to her now.
She stood before him very upright, with a smile on her face that looked faintly ironical, as though she were wondering why he was so slow to act.
The bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to have fallen of their own accord. He took her hand.
‘Would you believe,’ he said, ‘that till this moment I didn’t know what colour your eyes were?’
They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of brown, with dark lashes.
‘Now that you’ve seen what I’m really like, can you still bear to look at me?’
‘I’m thirty-nine years old. I’ve got a wife that I can’t get rid of. I’ve got varicose veins. I’ve got five false teeth.’
‘I couldn’t care less,’ said the girl.
The next moment, it was hard to say by whose act, she was in his his arms.
At the beginning he had no feeling except sheer incredulity.
The youthful body was strained against his own, the mass of dark hair was against his face, and yes! actually she had turned her face up and he was kissing the wide red mouth.
She had clasped her arms about his neck, she was calling him darling, precious one, loved one.
He had pulled her down on to the ground, she was utterly unresisting, he could do what he liked with her.
But the truth was that he had no physical sensation, except that of mere contact.
All he felt was incredulity and pride.
He was glad that this was happening, but he had no physical desire.
It was too soon, her youth and prettiness had frightened him, he was too much used to living without women — he did not know the reason.
The girl picked herself up and pulled a bluebell out of her hair. She sat against him, putting her arm round his waist.
‘Never mind, dear. There’s no hurry. We’ve got the whole afternoon. Isn’t this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I got lost once on a community hike. If anyone was coming you could hear them a hundred metres away.’
‘What is your name?’ said Winston.
‘Julia. I know yours. It’s Winston — Winston Smith.’
‘How did you find that out?’
‘I expect I’m better at finding things out than you are, dear. Tell me, what did you think of me before that day I gave you the note?’
He did not feel any temptation to tell lies to her.
It was even a sort of love-offering to start off by telling the worst.
‘I hated the sight of you,’ he said.
‘I wanted to rape you and then murder you afterwards. Two weeks ago I thought seriously of smashing your head in with a cobblestone. If you really want to know, I imagined that you had something to do with the Thought Police.’
She laughed at him
‘Not the Thought Police! You didn’t honestly think that?’
‘Well, perhaps not exactly that. But from your general appearance — merely because you’re young and fresh and healthy, you understand — I thought that probably ——’
‘You thought I was a good Party member. Pure in word and deed. Banners, processions, slogans, games, community hikes all that stuff. And you thought that if I had a quarter of a chance I’d denounce you as a thought-criminal and get you killed off?’
‘Yes, something of that kind. A great many young girls are like that, you know.’
‘It’s this bloody thing that does it,’ she said, ripping off the scarlet sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging it on to a bough.
Then, as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate.
She broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate.
It was dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper.
Chocolate normally was dull-brown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like the smoke of a rubbish fire.
But at some time or another he had tasted chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was powerful and troubling.
‘Where did you get this stuff?’ he said.
‘Black market,’ she said indifferently.
‘Actually I am that sort of girl, to look at. I’m good at games. I was a troop-leader in the Spies. I do voluntary work three evenings a week for the Junior Anti-Sex League. Hours and hours I’ve spent pasting their bloody rot all over London. I always carry one end of a banner in the processions. I always look cheerful and I never shirk anything. Always yell with the crowd, that’s what I say. It’s the only way to be safe.’
The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston’s tongue.
The taste was delightful. But there was still that memory moving round the edges of his consciousness, something strongly felt but not reducible to definite shape, like an object seen out of the corner of one’s eye.
He pushed it away from him, aware only that it was the memory of some action which he would have liked to undo but could not.
‘You are very young,’ he said.
‘You are ten or fifteen years younger than I am. What could you see to attract you in a man like me?’
‘It was something in your face. I thought I’d take a chance. I’m good at spotting people who don’t belong. As soon as I saw you I knew you were against THEM.’
THEM, it appeared, meant the Party, and above all the Inner Party, about whom she talked with an open jeering hatred which made Winston feel uneasy, although he knew that they were safe here if they could be safe anywhere.
Party members were supposed not to swear, and Winston himself very seldom did swear, aloud, at any rate.
Julia, however, seemed unable to mention the Party, and especially the Inner Party, without using the kind of words that you saw chalked up in dripping alley-ways.
He did not dislike it.
It was merely one symptom of her revolt against the Party and all its ways, and somehow it seemed natural and healthy, like the sneeze of a horse that smells bad hay. They had left the clearing and were wandering again through the chequered shade, with their arms round each other’s waists whenever it was wide enough to walk two abreast.
He noticed how much softer her waist seemed to feel now that the sash was gone.
They did not speak above a whisper.
Outside the clearing, Julia said, it was better to go quietly. Presently they had reached the edge of the little wood. She stopped him.
‘Don’t go out into the open. There might be someone watching. We’re all right if we keep behind the boughs.’
They were standing in the shade of hazel bushes. The sunlight, filtering through innumerable leaves, was still hot on their faces.
Winston looked out into the field beyond, and underwent a curious, slow shock of recognition. He knew it by sight.
An old, close-bitten pasture, with a footpath wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged hedge on the opposite side the boughs of the elm trees swayed just perceptibly in the breeze, and their leaves stirred faintly in dense masses like women’s hair.
Surely somewhere nearby, but out of sight, there must be a stream with green pools where dace were swimming?
‘Isn’t there a stream somewhere near here?’ he whispered.
‘That’s right, there is a stream. It’s at the edge of the next field, actually. There are fish in it, great big ones. You can watch them lying in the pools under the willow trees, waving their tails.’
‘It’s the Golden Country — almost,’ he murmured.
‘The Golden Country?’
‘It’s nothing, really. A landscape I’ve seen sometimes in a dream.’
‘Look!’ whispered Julia.
A thrush had alighted on a bough not five metres away, almost at the level of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen them. It was in the sun, they in the shade. It spread out its wings, fitted them carefully into place again, ducked its head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance to the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song.
In the afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston and Julia clung together, fascinated.
The music went on and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as though the bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity.
Sometimes it stopped for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then swelled its speckled breast and again burst into song.
Winston watched it with a sort of vague reverence.
For whom, for what, was that bird singing? No mate, no rival was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood and pour its music into nothingness? He wondered whether after all there was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He and Julia had spoken only in low whispers, and it would not pick up what they had said, but it would pick up the thrush.
Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small, beetle-like man was listening intently — listening to that.
But by degrees the flood of music drove all speculations out of his mind.
It was as though it were a kind of liquid stuff that poured all over him and got mixed up with the sunlight that filtered through the leaves.
He stopped thinking and merely felt.
The girl’s waist in the bend of his arm was soft and warm.
He pulled her round so that they were breast to breast; her body seemed to melt into his. Wherever his hands moved it was all as yielding as water.
Their mouths clung together; it was quite different from the hard kisses they had exchanged earlier.
When they moved their faces apart again both of them sighed deeply. The bird took fright and fled with a clatter of wings.
Winston put his lips against her ear. ‘NOW,’ he whispered.
‘Not here,’ she whispered back. ‘Come back to the hide-out. It’s safer.’
She tore her clothes off, eager and waiting.
Quickly, with an occasional crackle of twigs, they threaded their way back to the clearing.
When they were once inside the ring of saplings she turned and faced him. They were both breathing fast, but the smile had reappeared round the corners of her mouth. She stood looking at him for an instant, then felt at the zipper of her overalls.
And, yes! it was almost as in his dream.
Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated.
Her body gleamed white in the sun. But for a moment he did not look at her body; his eyes were anchored by the freckled face with its faint, bold smile.
He knelt down before her and took her hands in his.
‘Have you done this before?’
‘Of course. Hundreds of times — well, scores of times, anyway.’
‘With Party members?’
‘Yes, always with Party members.’
‘With members of the Inner Party?’
‘Not with those swine, no. But there’s plenty that WOULD if they got half a chance. They’re not so holy as they make out.’
His heart leapt.
Scores of times she had done it: he wished it had been hundreds — thousands.
Anything that hinted at corruption always filled him with a wild hope.
Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity.
If he could have infected the whole lot of them with leprosy or syphilis, how gladly he would have done so!
Anything to rot, to weaken, to undermine! He pulled her down so that they were kneeling face to face.
‘Listen. The more men you’ve had, the more I love you. Do you understand that?’
‘I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.’
‘Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I’m corrupt to the bones.’
‘You like doing this? I don’t mean simply me: I mean the thing in itself?’
‘I adore it.’
That was above all what he wanted to hear.
Not merely the love of one person but the animal instinct, the simple undifferentiated desire: that was the force that would tear the Party to pieces. He pressed her down upon the grass, among the fallen bluebells.
This time there was no difficulty.
Presently the rising and falling of their breasts slowed to normal speed, and in a sort of pleasant helplessness they fell apart.
The sun seemed to have grown hotter.
They were both sleepy. He reached out for the discarded overalls and pulled them partly over her.
Almost immediately they fell asleep and slept for about half an hour.
Winston woke first.
He sat up and watched the freckled face, still peacefully asleep, pillowed on the palm of her hand.
Except for her mouth, you could not call her beautiful.
There was a line or two round the eyes, if you looked closely.
The short dark hair was extraordinarily thick and soft. It occurred to him that he still did not know her surname or where she lived.
The young, strong body, now helpless in sleep, awoke in him a pitying, protecting feeling. But the mindless tenderness that he had felt under the hazel tree, while the thrush was singing, had not quite come back. He pulled the overalls aside and studied her smooth white flank.
In the old days, he thought, a man looked at a girl’s body and saw that it was desirable, and that was the end of the story.
But you could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred.
Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory.
It was a blow struck against the Party.
It was a political act.
The act of sex
[ lay open
of this world
the party ]
We can come here once again,’ said Julia.
‘It’s generally safe to use any hide-out twice. But not for another month or two, of course.’
As soon as she woke up her demeanour had changed.
She became alert and business-like, put her clothes on, knotted the scarlet sash about her waist, and began arranging the details of the journey home. It seemed natural to leave this to her.
She obviously had a practical cunning which Winston lacked, and she seemed also to have an exhaustive knowledge of the countryside round London, stored away from innumerable community hikes. The route she gave him was quite different from the one by which he had come, and brought him out at a different railway station.
‘Never go home the same way as you went out,’ she said, as though enunciating an important general principle.
A place was picked and named for the next date, but for now the the two lovers had to part.
She would leave first, and Winston was to wait half an hour before following her.
She had named a place where they could meet after work, four evenings hence.
It was a street in one of the poorer quarters, where there was an open market which was generally crowded and noisy. She would be hanging about among the stalls, pretending to be in search of shoelaces or sewing-thread. If she judged that the coast was clear she would blow her nose when he approached; otherwise he was to walk past her without recognition.
But with luck, in the middle of the crowd, it would be safe to talk for a quarter of an hour and arrange another meeting.
‘And now I must go,’ she said as soon as he had mastered his instructions.
‘I’m due back at nineteen-thirty. I’ve got to put in two hours for the Junior Anti-Sex League, handing out leaflets, or something.
Isn’t it bloody? Give me a brush-down, would you? Have I got any twigs in my hair? Are you sure? Then good-bye, my love, good-bye!’
She flung herself into his arms, kissed him almost violently, and a moment later pushed her way through the saplings and disappeared into the wood with very little noise. Even now he had not found out her surname or her address.
However, it made no difference, for it was inconceivable that they could ever meet indoors or exchange any kind of written communication.
As it happened, they never went back to the clearing in the wood.
During the month of May there was only one further occasion on which they actually succeeded in making love.
That was in another hiding-place known to Julia, the belfry of a ruinous church in an almost-deserted stretch of country where an atomic bomb had fallen thirty years earlier. It was a good hiding-place when once you got there, but the getting there was very dangerous.
For the rest they could meet only in the streets, in a different place every evening and never for more than half an hour at a time.
In the street it was usually possible to talk, after a fashion.
As they drifted down the crowded pavements, not quite abreast and never looking at one another, they carried on a curious, intermittent conversation which flicked on and off like the beams of a lighthouse, suddenly nipped into silence by the approach of a Party uniform or the proximity of a telescreen, then taken up again minutes later in the middle of a sentence, then abruptly cut short as they parted at the agreed spot, then continued almost without introduction on the following day.
Julia appeared to be quite used to this kind of conversation, which she called ‘talking by instalments’.
She was also surprisingly adept at speaking without moving her lips.
Just once in almost a month of nightly meetings they managed to exchange a kiss.
They were passing in silence down a side-street (Julia would never speak when they were away from the main streets) when there was a deafening roar, the earth heaved, and the air darkened, and Winston found himself lying on his side, bruised and terrified.
A rocket bomb must have dropped quite near at hand.
Suddenly he became aware of Julia’s face a few centimetres from his own, deathly white, as white as chalk.
Even her lips were white.
She was dead!
He clasped her against him and found that he was kissing a live warm face.
But there was some powdery stuff that got in the way of his lips. Both of their faces were thickly coated with plaster.
There were evenings when they reached their rendezvous and then had to walk past one another without a sign, because a patrol had just come round the corner or a helicopter was hovering overhead. Even if it had been less dangerous, it would still have been difficult to find time to meet.
Winston’s working week was sixty hours, Julia’s was even longer, and their free days varied according to the pressure of work and did not often coincide.
Julia, in any case, seldom had an evening completely free.
She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and demonstrations, distributing literature for the junior Anti-Sex League, preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said, it was camouflage.
If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.
She even induced Winston to mortgage yet another of his evenings by enrolling himself for the part-time munition work which was done voluntarily by zealous Party members.
So, one evening every week, Winston spent four hours of paralysing boredom, screwing together small bits of metal which were probably parts of bomb fuses, in a draughty, ill-lit workshop where the knocking of hammers mingled drearily with the music of the telescreens.
When they met in the church tower the gaps in their fragmentary conversation were filled up.
It was a blazing afternoon.
The air in the little square chamber above the bells was hot and stagnant, and smelt overpoweringly of pigeon dung.
They sat talking for hours on the dusty, twig-littered floor, one or other of them getting up from time to time to cast a glance through the arrowslits and make sure that no one was coming.
Julia was twenty-six years old.
She lived in a hostel with thirty other girls (‘Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!’ she said parenthetically), and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department.
She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor.
She was ‘not clever’, but was fond of using her hands and felt at home with machinery.
She could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the finished product.
She ‘didn’t much care for reading,’ she said.
Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.
She had no memories of anything before the early sixties and the only person she had ever known who talked frequently of the days before the Revolution was a grandfather who had disappeared when she was eight.
At school she had been captain of the hockey team and had won the gymnastics trophy two years running. She had been a troop-leader in the Spies and a branch secretary in the Youth League before joining the Junior Anti-Sex League. She had always borne an excellent character.
She had even (an infallible mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in Pornosec, the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the proles.
It was nicknamed Muck House by the people who worked in it, she remarked.
There she had remained for a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like ‘Spanking Stories’ or ‘One Night in a Girls’ School’, to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal.
‘What are these books like?’ said Winston curiously.
‘Oh, ghastly rubbish. They’re boring, really. They only have six plots, but they swap them round a bit. Of course I was only on the kaleidoscopes. I was never in the Rewrite Squad. I’m not literary, dear — not even enough for that.’
He learned with astonishment that all the workers in Pornosec, except the heads of the departments, were girls.
The theory was that men, whose sex instincts were less controllable than those of women, were in greater danger of being corrupted by the filth they handled.
‘They don’t even like having married women there,’ she added. Girls are always supposed to be so pure. Here’s one who isn’t, anyway.
She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest.
‘And a good job too,’ said Julia, ‘otherwise they’d have had my name out of him when he confessed.’ Since then there had been various others.
Life as she saw it was quite simple.
You wanted a good time; ‘they’, meaning the Party, wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules as best you could.
She seemed to think it just as natural that ‘they’ should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught.
She hated the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism of it.
Except where it touched upon her own life she had no interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never used Newspeak words except the ones that had passed into everyday use. She had never heard of the Brotherhood, and refused to believe in its existence.
Any kind of organized revolt against the Party, which was bound to be a failure, struck her as stupid.
The clever thing was to break the rules and stay alive all the same.
He wondered vaguely how many others like her there might be in the younger generation people who had grown up in the world of the Revolution, knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority but simply evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog.
They did not discuss the possibility of getting married.
It was too remote to be worth thinking about. No imaginable committee would ever sanction such a marriage even if Katharine, Winston’s wife, could somehow have been got rid of. It was hopeless even as a daydream.
‘What was she like, your wife?’ said Julia.
‘She was — do you know the Newspeak word GOODTHINKFUL? Meaning naturally orthodox, incapable of thinking a bad thought?’
‘No, I didn’t know the word, but I know the kind of person, right enough.’
He began telling her the story of his married life, but curiously enough she appeared to know the essential parts of it already.
She described to him, almost as though she had seen or felt it, the stiffening of Katharine’s body as soon as he touched her, the way in which she still seemed to be pushing him from her with all her strength, even when her arms were clasped tightly round him.
With Julia he felt no difficulty in talking about such things: Katharine, in any case, had long ceased to be a painful memory and became merely a distasteful one.
‘I could have stood it if it hadn’t been for one thing,’ he said.
He told her about the frigid little ceremony that Katharine had forced him to go through on the same night every week.
‘She hated it, but nothing would make her stop doing it. She used to call it — but you’ll never guess.’
‘Our duty to the Party,’ said Julia promptly.
‘How did you know that?’
‘I’ve been at school too, dear. Sex talks once a month for the over-sixteens. And in the Youth Movement. They rub it into you for years.
I dare say it works in a lot of cases. But of course you can never tell; people are such hypocrites.’
She began to enlarge upon the subject.
With Julia, everything came back to her own sexuality.
As soon as this was touched upon in any way she was capable of great acuteness. Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible.
What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship.
The way she put it was:
‘When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that.
They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour.
If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?’
That was very true, he thought.
There was a direct intimate connexion between chastity and political orthodoxy.
For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force?
The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.
They had played a similar trick with the instinct of parenthood.
The family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their children, in almost the old-fashioned way.
The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations.
The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police.
It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.
Abruptly his mind went back to Katharine.
Katharine would unquestionably have denounced him to the Thought Police if she had not happened to be too stupid to detect the unorthodoxy of his opinions. But what really recalled her to him at this moment was the stifling heat of the afternoon, which had brought the sweat out on his forehead.
He began telling Julia of something that had happened, or rather had failed to happen, on another sweltering summer afternoon, eleven years ago.
It was three or four months after they were married.
They had lost their way on a community hike somewhere in Kent. They had only lagged behind the others for a couple of minutes, but they took a wrong turning, and presently found themselves pulled up short by the edge of an old chalk quarry.
It was a sheer drop of ten or twenty metres, with boulders at the bottom.
There was nobody of whom they could ask the way. As soon as she realized that they were lost Katharine became very uneasy.
To be away from the noisy mob of hikers even for a moment gave her a feeling of wrong-doing. She wanted to hurry back by the way they had come and start searching in the other direction.
But at this moment Winston noticed some tufts of loosestrife growing in the cracks of the cliff beneath them. One tuft was of two colours, magenta and brick-red, apparently growing on the same root.
He had never seen anything of the kind before, and he called to Katharine to come and look at it.
‘Look, Katharine! Look at those flowers. That clump down near the bottom. Do you see they’re two different colours?’
She had already turned to go, but she did rather fretfully come back for a moment. She even leaned out over the cliff face to see where he was pointing. He was standing a little behind her, and he put his hand on her waist to steady her. At this moment it suddenly occurred to him how completely alone they were. There was not a human creature anywhere, not a leaf stirring, not even a bird awake. In a place like this the danger that there would be a hidden microphone was very small, and even if there was a microphone it would only pick up sounds. It was the hottest sleepiest hour of the afternoon. The sun blazed down upon them, the sweat tickled his face. And the thought struck him . . .
‘Why didn’t you give her a good shove?’ said Julia. ‘I would have.’
‘Yes, dear, you would have. I would, if I’d been the same person then as I am now. Or perhaps I would — I’m not certain.’
‘Are you sorry you didn’t?’
‘Yes. On the whole I’m sorry I didn’t.’
They were sitting side by side on the dusty floor. He pulled her closer against him.
Her head rested on his shoulder, the pleasant smell of her hair conquering the pigeon dung.
She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.
‘Actually it would have made no difference,’ he said.
‘Then why are you sorry you didn’t do it?’
‘Only because I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game that we’re playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that’s all.’
He felt her shoulders give a wriggle of dissent.
She always contradicted him when he said anything of this kind. She would not accept it as a law of nature that the individual is always defeated.
In a way she realized that she herself was doomed, that sooner or later the Thought Police would catch her and kill her, but with another part of her mind she believed that it was somehow possible to construct a secret world in which you could live as you chose.
All you needed was luck and cunning and boldness.
She did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself as a corpse.
‘We are the dead,’ he said.
‘We’re not dead yet,’ said Julia prosaically.
‘Not physically. Six months, a year — five years, conceivably. I am afraid of death. You are young, so presumably you’re more afraid of it than I am. Obviously we shall put it off as long as we can. But it makes very little difference. So long as human beings stay human, death and life are the same thing.’
‘Oh, rubbish! Which would you sooner sleep with, me or a skeleton? Don’t you enjoy being alive?
Don’t you like feeling: This is me, this is my hand, this is my leg, I’m real, I’m solid, I’m alive! Don’t you like THIS?’
She twisted herself round and pressed her bosom against him.
He could feel her breasts, ripe yet firm, through her overalls. Her body seemed to be pouring some of its youth and vigour into his.
‘Yes, I like that,’ he said.
‘Then stop talking about dying. And now listen, dear, we’ve got to fix up about the next time we meet. We may as well go back to the place in the wood. We’ve given it a good long rest. But you must get there by a different way this time. I’ve got it all planned out. You take the train — but look, I’ll draw it out for you.’
And in her practical way she scraped together a small square of dust, and with a twig from a pigeon’s nest began drawing a map on the floor.
Winston looked round the shabby little room above Mr Charrington’s shop.
Beside the window the enormous bed was made up, with ragged blankets and a coverless bolster. The old-fashioned clock with the twelve-hour face was ticking away on the mantelpiece. In the corner, on the gateleg table, the glass paperweight which he had bought on his last visit gleamed softly out of the half-darkness.
In the fender was a battered tin oilstove, a saucepan, and two cups, provided by Mr Charrington.
Winston lit the burner and set a pan of water to boil.
He had brought an envelope full of Victory Coffee and some saccharine tablets.
The clock’s hands said seventeen-twenty: it was nineteen-twenty really. She was coming at nineteen-thirty.
Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly.
Of all the crimes that a Party member could commit, this one was the least possible to conceal. Actually the idea had first floated into his head in the form of a vision, of the glass paperweight mirrored by the surface of the gateleg table.
As he had foreseen, Mr Charrington had made no difficulty about letting the room. He was obviously glad of the few dollars that it would bring him.
Nor did he seem shocked or become offensively knowing when it was made clear that Winston wanted the room for the purpose of a love-affair.
Instead he looked into the middle distance and spoke in generalities, with so delicate an air as to give the impression that he had become partly invisible.
Privacy, he said, was a very valuable thing.
Everyone wanted a place where they could be alone occasionally. And when they had such a place, it was only common courtesy in anyone else who knew of it to keep his knowledge to himself. He even, seeming almost to fade out of existence as he did so, added that there were two entries to the house, one of them through the back yard, which gave on an alley.
Under the window somebody was singing.
Winston peeped out, secure in the protection of the muslin curtain. The June sun was still high in the sky, and in the sun-filled court below, a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman pillar, with brawny red forearms and a sacking apron strapped about her middle, was stumping to and fro between a washtub and a clothes line, pegging out a series of square white things which Winston recognized as babies’ diapers.
Whenever her mouth was not corked with clothes pegs she was singing in a powerful contralto:
It was only an ’opeless fancy.
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred!
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!
The tune had been haunting London for weeks past.
It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department.
The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound. He could hear the woman singing and the scrape of her shoes on the flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street, and somewhere in the far distance a faint roar of traffic, and yet the room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of a telescreen.
Folly, folly, folly! he thought again.
It was inconceivable that they could frequent this place for more than a few weeks without being caught. But the temptation of having a hiding-place that was truly their own, indoors and near at hand, had been too much for both of them.
For some time after their visit to the church belfry it had been impossible to arrange meetings. Working hours had been drastically increased in anticipation of Hate Week.
It was more than a month distant, but the enormous, complex preparations that it entailed were throwing extra work on to everybody.
Finally both of them managed to secure a free afternoon on the same day. They had agreed to go back to the clearing in the wood.
On the evening beforehand they met briefly in the street. As usual, Winston hardly looked at Julia as they drifted towards one another in the crowd, but from the short glance he gave her it seemed to him that she was paler than usual.
‘It’s all off,’ she murmured as soon as she judged it safe to speak. ‘Tomorrow, I mean.’
‘Tomorrow afternoon. I can’t come.’
‘Oh, the usual reason. It’s started early this time.’
Julia had become an essential thing for his entire being
For a moment he was violently angry. During the month that he had known her the nature of his desire for her had changed.
At the beginning there had been little true sensuality in it. Their first love-making had been simply an act of the will. But after the second time it was different. The smell of her hair, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of her skin seemed to have got inside him, or into the air all round him.
She had become a physical necessity, something that he not only wanted but felt that he had a right to.
When she said that she could not come, he had the feeling that she was cheating him. But just at this moment the crowd pressed them together and their hands accidentally met. She gave the tips of his fingers a quick squeeze that seemed to invite not desire but affection.
It struck him that when one lived with a woman this particular disappointment must be a normal, recurring event; and a deep tenderness, such as he had not felt for her before, suddenly took hold of him.
He wished that they were a married couple of ten years’ standing.
He wished that he were walking through the streets with her just as they were doing now but openly and without fear, talking of trivialities and buying odds and ends for the household. He wished above all that they had some place where they could be alone together without feeling the obligation to make love every time they met.
It was not actually at that moment, but at some time on the following day, that the idea of renting Mr Charrington’s room had occurred to him.
When he suggested it to Julia she had agreed with unexpected readiness. Both of them knew that it was lunacy.
It was as though they were intentionally stepping nearer to their graves.
As he sat waiting on the edge of the bed he thought again of the cellars of the Ministry of Love.
It was curious how that predestined horror moved in and out of one’s consciousness. There it lay, fixed in future times, preceding death as surely as 99 precedes 100. One could not avoid it, but one could perhaps postpone it: and yet instead, every now and again, by a conscious, wilful act, one chose to shorten the interval before it happened.
At this moment there was a quick step on the stairs.
Julia burst into the room. She was carrying a tool-bag of coarse brown canvas, such as he had sometimes seen her carrying to and fro at the Ministry.
He started forward to take her in his arms, but she disengaged herself rather hurriedly, partly because she was still holding the tool-bag.
‘Half a second,’ she said.
‘Just let me show you what I’ve brought. Did you bring some of that filthy Victory Coffee? I thought you would. You can chuck it away again, because we shan’t be needing it. Look here.’
She fell on her knees, threw open the bag, and tumbled out some spanners and a screwdriver that filled the top part of it. Underneath were a number of neat paper packets. The first packet that she passed to Winston had a strange and yet vaguely familiar feeling. It was filled with some kind of heavy, sand-like stuff which yielded wherever you touched it.
‘It isn’t sugar?’ he said.
‘Real sugar. Not saccharine, sugar. And here’s a loaf of bread — proper white bread, not our bloody stuff — and a little pot of jam. And here’s a tin of milk — but look! This is the one I’m really proud of. I had to wrap a bit of sacking round it, because ——’
But she did not need to tell him why she had wrapped it up. The smell was already filling the room, a rich hot smell which seemed like an emanation from his early childhood, but which one did occasionally meet with even now, blowing down a passage-way before a door slammed, or diffusing itself mysteriously in a crowded street, sniffed for an instant and then lost again.
‘It’s coffee,’ he murmured, ‘real coffee.’
‘It’s Inner Party coffee. There’s a whole kilo here,’ she said.
‘How did you manage to get hold of all these things?’
‘It’s all Inner Party stuff. There’s nothing those swine don’t have, nothing. But of course waiters and servants and people pinch things, and — look, I got a little packet of tea as well.’
Winston had squatted down beside her. He tore open a corner of the packet.
‘It’s real tea. Not blackberry leaves.’
‘There’s been a lot of tea about lately. They’ve captured India, or something,’ she said vaguely.
‘But listen, dear. I want you to turn your back on me for three minutes. Go and sit on the other side of the bed. Don’t go too near the window. And don’t turn round till I tell you.’
Winston gazed abstractedly through the muslin curtain. Down in the yard the red-armed woman was still marching to and fro between the washtub and the line. She took two more pegs out of her mouth and sang with deep feeling:
They sye that time ’eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years
They twist my ’eart-strings yet!
She knew the whole drivelling song by heart, it seemed. Her voice floated upward with the sweet summer air, very tuneful, charged with a sort of happy melancholy. One had the feeling that she would have been perfectly content, if the June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes inexhaustible, to remain there for a thousand years, pegging out diapers and singing rubbish.
It struck him as a curious fact that he had never heard a member of the Party singing alone and spontaneously.
It would even have seemed slightly unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to oneself.
Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near the starvation level that they had anything to sing about.
‘You can turn round now,’ said Julia.
He turned round, and for a second almost failed to recognize her.
What he had actually expected was to see her naked. But she was not naked. The transformation that had happened was much more surprising than that.
She had painted her face.
She must have slipped into some shop in the proletarian quarters and bought herself a complete set of make-up materials.
Her lips were deeply reddened, her cheeks rouged, her nose powdered; there was even a touch of something under the eyes to make them brighter.
It was not very skilfully done, but Winston’s standards in such matters were not high. He had never before seen or imagined a woman of the Party with cosmetics on her face.
The improvement in her appearance was startling.
With just a few dabs of colour in the right places she had become not only very much prettier, but, above all, far more feminine. Her short hair and boyish overalls merely added to the effect. As he took her in his arms a wave of synthetic violets flooded his nostrils.
He remembered the half-darkness of a basement kitchen, and a woman’s cavernous mouth.
It was the very same scent that she had used; but at the moment it did not seem to matter.
‘Scent too!’ he said.
‘Yes, dear, scent too. And do you know what I’m going to do next? I’m going to get hold of a real woman’s frock from somewhere and wear it instead of these bloody trousers. I’ll wear silk stockings and high-heeled shoes! In this room I’m going to be a woman, not a Party comrade.’
She had become, a full fleshed vixen from the past
They flung their clothes off and climbed into the huge mahogany bed. It was the first time that he had stripped himself naked in her presence.
Until now he had been too much ashamed of his pale and meagre body, with the varicose veins standing out on his calves and the discoloured patch over his ankle. There were no sheets, but the blanket they lay on was threadbare and smooth, and the size and springiness of the bed astonished both of them.
‘It’s sure to be full of bugs, but who cares?’ said Julia. One never saw a double bed nowadays, except in the homes of the proles.
Winston had occasionally slept in one in his boyhood: Julia had never been in one before, so far as she could remember.
Presently they fell asleep for a little while. When Winston woke up the hands of the clock had crept round to nearly nine.
He did not stir, because Julia was sleeping with her head in the crook of his arm. Most of her make-up had transferred itself to his own face or the bolster, but a light stain of rouge still brought out the beauty of her cheekbone.
A yellow ray from the sinking sun fell across the foot of the bed and lighted up the fireplace, where the water in the pan was boiling fast.
Down in the yard the woman had stopped singing, but the faint shouts of children floated in from the street. He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past it had been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in the cool of a summer evening, a man and a woman with no clothes on, making love when they chose, talking of what they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply lying there and listening to peaceful sounds outside.
Surely there could never have been a time when that seemed ordinary? Julia woke up, rubbed her eyes, and raised herself on her elbow to look at the oilstove.
‘Half that water’s boiled away,’ she said. ‘I’ll get up and make some coffee in another moment. We’ve got an hour. What time do they cut the lights off at your flats?’
‘It’s twenty-three at the hostel. But you have to get in earlier than that, because — Hi! Get out, you filthy brute!’
She suddenly twisted herself over in the bed, seized a shoe from the floor, and sent it hurtling into the corner with a boyish jerk of her arm, exactly as he had seen her fling the dictionary at Goldstein, that morning during the Two Minutes Hate.
‘What was it?’ he said in surprise.
‘A rat. I saw him stick his beastly nose out of the wainscoting. There’s a hole down there. I gave him a good fright, anyway.’
‘Rats!’ murmured Winston. ‘In this room!’
‘They’re all over the place,’ said Julia indifferently as she lay down again. ‘We’ve even got them in the kitchen at the hostel. Some parts of London are swarming with them. Did you know they attack children? Yes, they do. In some of these streets a woman daren’t leave a baby alone for two minutes. It’s the great huge brown ones that do it. And the nasty thing is that the brutes always ——’
‘DON’T GO ON!’ said Winston, with his eyes tightly shut.
‘Dearest! You’ve gone quite pale. What’s the matter? Do they make you feel sick?’
‘Of all horrors in the world — a rat!’
She pressed herself against him and wound her limbs round him, as though to reassure him with the warmth of her body. He did not reopen his eyes immediately. For several moments he had had the feeling of being back in a nightmare which had recurred from time to time throughout his life.
It was always very much the same.
He was standing in front of a wall of darkness, and on the other side of it there was something unendurable, something too dreadful to be faced. In the dream his deepest feeling was always one of self-deception, because he did in fact know what was behind the wall of darkness.
With a deadly effort, like wrenching a piece out of his own brain, he could even have dragged the thing into the open.
He always woke up without discovering what it was: but somehow it was connected with what Julia had been saying when he cut her short.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘it’s nothing. I don’t like rats, that’s all.’
‘Don’t worry, dear, we’re not going to have the filthy brutes in here. I’ll stuff the hole with a bit of sacking before we go. And next time we come here I’ll bring some plaster and bung it up properly.’
Already the black instant of panic was half-forgotten. Feeling slightly ashamed of himself, he sat up against the bedhead.
Julia got out of bed, pulled on her overalls, and made the coffee. The smell that rose from the saucepan was so powerful and exciting that they shut the window lest anybody outside should notice it and become inquisitive. What was even better than the taste of the coffee was the silky texture given to it by the sugar, a thing Winston had almost forgotten after years of saccharine.
With one hand in her pocket and a piece of bread and jam in the other, Julia wandered about the room, glancing indifferently at the bookcase, pointing out the best way of repairing the gateleg table, plumping herself down in the ragged arm-chair to see if it was comfortable, and examining the absurd twelve-hour clock with a sort of tolerant amusement.
She brought the glass paperweight over to the bed to have a look at it in a better light. He took it out of her hand, fascinated, as always, by the soft, rainwatery appearance of the glass.
‘What is it, do you think?’ said Julia.
‘I don’t think it’s anything — I mean, I don’t think it was ever put to any use. That’s what I like about it. It’s a little chunk of history that they’ve forgotten to alter. It’s a message from a hundred years ago, if one knew how to read it.’
‘And that picture over there’— she nodded at the engraving on the opposite wall —‘would that be a hundred years old?’
‘More. Two hundred, I dare say. One can’t tell. It’s impossible to discover the age of anything nowadays.’
She went over to look at it.
‘Here’s where that brute stuck his nose out,’ she said, kicking the wainscoting immediately below the picture.
‘What is this place? I’ve seen it before somewhere.’
‘It’s a church, or at least it used to be. St Clement Danes its name was.’ The fragment of rhyme that Mr Charrington had taught him came back into his head, and he added half-nostalgically: “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s!”
To his astonishment she capped the line:
‘You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey ——’
‘I can’t remember how it goes on after that. But anyway I remember it ends up, “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!”’
It was like the two halves of a countersign. But there must be another line after ‘the bells of Old Bailey’.
Perhaps it could be dug out of Mr Charrington’s memory, if he were suitably prompted.
‘Who taught you that?’ he said.
‘My grandfather. He used to say it to me when I was a little girl. He was vaporized when I was eight — at any rate, he disappeared. I wonder what a lemon was,’ she added inconsequently.
‘I’ve seen oranges. They’re a kind of round yellow fruit with a thick skin.’
‘I can remember lemons,’ said Winston.
‘They were quite common in the fifties. They were so sour that it set your teeth on edge even to smell them.’
‘I bet that picture’s got bugs behind it,’ said Julia. ‘I’ll take it down and give it a good clean some day. I suppose it’s almost time we were leaving. I must start washing this paint off. What a bore! I’ll get the lipstick off your face afterwards.’
Winston did not get up for a few minutes more. The room was darkening. He turned over towards the light and lay gazing into the glass paperweight. The inexhaustibly interesting thing was not the fragment of coral but the interior of the glass itself.
There was such a depth of it, and yet it was almost as transparent as air. It was as though the surface of the glass had been the arch of the sky, enclosing a tiny world with its atmosphere complete.
He had the feeling that he could get inside it, and that in fact he was inside it, along with the mahogany bed and the gateleg table, and the clock and the steel engraving and the paperweight itself. The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal.
[ if they
the crystal ]
Syme had vanished.
A morning came, and he was missing from work: a few thoughtless people commented on his absence.
On the next day nobody mentioned him.
On the third day Winston went into the vestibule of the Records Department to look at the notice-board. One of the notices carried a printed list of the members of the Chess Committee, of whom Syme had been one.
It looked almost exactly as it had looked before — nothing had been crossed out — but it was one name shorter.
It was enough.
Syme had ceased to exist: he had never existed.
And so it was, Syme too had never existed
The weather was baking hot.
In the labyrinthine Ministry the windowless, air-conditioned rooms kept their normal temperature, but outside the pavements scorched one’s feet and the stench of the Tubes at the rush hours was a horror. The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime.
Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs faked. Julia’s unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets.
Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in going through back files of ‘The Times’ and altering and embellishing news items which were to be quoted in speeches.
Late at night, when crowds of rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air.
The rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which there were wild rumours.
The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song, it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens.
It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum.
Roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying.
The proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the midnight streets it competed with the still-popular ‘It was only a hopeless fancy’.
The Parsons children played it at all hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a piece of toilet paper.
Winston’s evenings were fuller than ever.
Squads of volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing the street for Hate Week, stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and perilously slinging wires across the street for the reception of streamers.
Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display four hundred metres of bunting.
He was in his native element and as happy as a lark.
The heat and the manual work had even given him a pretext for reverting to shorts and an open shirt in the evenings.
He was everywhere at once, pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying everyone along with comradely exhortations and giving out from every fold of his body what seemed an inexhaustible supply of acrid-smelling sweat.
A new poster had suddenly appeared all over London.
It had no caption, and represented simply the monstrous figure of a Eurasian soldier, three or four metres high, striding forward with expressionless Mongolian face and enormous boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip.
From whatever angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun, magnified by the foreshortening, seemed to be pointed straight at you.
The thing had been plastered on every blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the portraits of Big Brother.
The proles, normally apathetic about the war, were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism.
As though to harmonize with the general mood, the rocket bombs had been killing larger numbers of people than usual.
One fell on a crowded film theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins.
The whole population of the neighbourhood turned out for a long, trailing funeral which went on for hours and was in effect an indignation meeting.
Another bomb fell on a piece of waste ground which was used as a playground and several dozen children were blown to pieces.
There were further angry demonstrations, Goldstein was burned in effigy, hundreds of copies of the poster of the Eurasian soldier were torn down and added to the flames, and a number of shops were looted in the turmoil; then a rumour flew round that spies were directing the rocket bombs by means of wireless waves, and an old couple who were suspected of being of foreign extraction had their house set on fire and perished of suffocation.
But they made love with sweaty bodies in their private heaven.
In the room over Mr Charrington’s shop, when they could get there, Julia and Winston lay side by side on a stripped bed under the open window, naked for the sake of coolness. The rat had never come back, but the bugs had multiplied hideously in the heat.
It did not seem to matter.
Dirty or clean, the room was paradise.
As soon as they arrived they would sprinkle everything with pepper bought on the black market, tear off their clothes, and make love with sweating bodies, then fall asleep and wake to find that the bugs had rallied and were massing for the counter-attack.
Four, five, six — seven times they met during the month of June.
Winston had dropped his habit of drinking gin at all hours.
He seemed to have lost the need for it. He had grown fatter, his varicose ulcer had subsided, leaving only a brown stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of coughing in the early morning had stopped.
The process of life had ceased to be intolerable, he had no longer any impulse to make faces at the telescreen or shout curses at the top of his voice. Now that they had a secure hiding-place, almost a home, it did not even seem a hardship that they could only meet infrequently and for a couple of hours at a time.
What mattered was that the room over the junk-shop should exist.
To know that it was there, inviolate, was almost the same as being in it.
The room was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk. Mr Charrington, thought Winston, was another extinct animal.
He usually stopped to talk with Mr Charrington for a few minutes on his way upstairs.
The old man seemed seldom or never to go out of doors, and on the other hand to have almost no customers.
He led a ghostlike existence between the tiny, dark shop, and an even tinier back kitchen where he prepared his meals and which contained, among other things, an unbelievably ancient gramophone with an enormous horn. He seemed glad of the opportunity to talk.
Wandering about among his worthless stock, with his long nose and thick spectacles and his bowed shoulders in the velvet jacket, he had always vaguely the air of being a collector rather than a tradesman.
With a sort of faded enthusiasm he would finger this scrap of rubbish or that — a china bottle-stopper, the painted lid of a broken snuffbox, a pinchbeck locket containing a strand of some long-dead baby’s hair — never asking that Winston should buy it, merely that he should admire it.
To talk to him was like listening to the tinkling of a worn-out musical-box.
He had dragged out from the corners of his memory some more fragments of forgotten rhymes.
There was one about four and twenty blackbirds, and another about a cow with a crumpled horn, and another about the death of poor Cock Robin.
‘It just occurred to me you might be interested,’ he would say with a deprecating little laugh whenever he produced a new fragment.
But he could never recall more than a few lines of any one rhyme.
Both of them knew — in a way, it was never out of their minds that what was now happening could not last long.
There were times when the fact of impending death seemed as palpable as the bed they lay on, and they would cling together with a sort of despairing sensuality, like a damned soul grasping at his last morsel of pleasure when the clock is within five minutes of striking.
But there were also times when they had the illusion not only of safety but of permanence.
So long as they were actually in this room, they both felt, no harm could come to them. Getting there was difficult and dangerous, but the room itself was sanctuary. It was as when Winston had gazed into the heart of the paperweight, with the feeling that it would be possible to get inside that glassy world, and that once inside it time could be arrested.
Often they gave themselves up to daydreams of escape.
Their luck would hold indefinitely, and they would carry on their intrigue, just like this, for the remainder of their natural lives.
Or Katharine would die, and by subtle manoeuvrings Winston and Julia would succeed in getting married.
Or they would commit suicide together.
Or they would disappear, alter themselves out of recognition, learn to speak with proletarian accents, get jobs in a factory and live out their lives undetected in a back-street. It was all nonsense, as they both knew.
In reality there was no escape.
Even the one plan that was practicable, suicide, they had no intention of carrying out.
To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available.
Sometimes, too, they talked of engaging in active rebellion against the Party, but with no notion of how to take the first step.
Even if the fabulous Brotherhood was a reality, there still remained the difficulty of finding one’s way into it.
He told her of the strange intimacy that existed, or seemed to exist, between himself and O’Brien, and of the impulse he sometimes felt, simply to walk into O’Brien’s presence, announce that he was the enemy of the Party, and demand his help.
Curiously enough, this did not strike her as an impossibly rash thing to do.
She was used to judging people by their faces, and it seemed natural to her that Winston should believe O’Brien to be trustworthy on the strength of a single flash of the eyes. Moreover she took it for granted that everyone, or nearly everyone, secretly hated the Party and would break the rules if he thought it safe to do so.
But she refused to believe that widespread, organized opposition existed or could exist.
The tales about Goldstein and his underground army, she said, were simply a lot of rubbish which the Party had invented for its own purposes and which you had to pretend to believe in.
Times beyond number, at Party rallies and spontaneous demonstrations, she had shouted at the top of her voice for the execution of people whose names she had never heard and in whose supposed crimes she had not the faintest belief.
When public trials were happening she had taken her place in the detachments from the Youth League who surrounded the courts from morning to night, chanting at intervals ‘Death to the traitors!’.
During the Two Minutes Hate she always excelled all others in shouting insults at Goldstein.
Yet she had only the dimmest idea of who Goldstein was and what doctrines he was supposed to represent.
She had grown up since the Revolution and was too young to remember the ideological battles of the fifties and sixties.
Such a thing as an independent political movement was outside her imagination: and in any case the Party was invincible.
It would always exist, and it would always be the same.
You could only rebel against it by secret disobedience or, at most, by isolated acts of violence such as killing somebody or blowing something up.
In some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda.
Once when he happened in some connexion to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep people frightened’.
This was an idea that had literally never occurred to him.
She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing.
But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life.
Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her.
She believed, for instance, having learnt it at school, that the Party had invented aeroplanes.
(In his own schooldays, Winston remembered, in the late fifties, it was only the helicopter that the Party claimed to have invented; a dozen years later, when Julia was at school, it was already claiming the aeroplane; one generation more, and it would be claiming the steam engine.)
And when he told her that aeroplanes had been in existence before he was born and long before the Revolution, the fact struck her as totally uninteresting. After all, what did it matter who had invented aeroplanes?
It was rather more of a shock to him when he discovered from some chance remark that she did not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia.
It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed.
‘I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,’ she said vaguely.
It frightened him a little.
The invention of aeroplanes dated from long before her birth, but the switchover in the war had happened only four years ago, well after she was grown up. He argued with her about it for perhaps a quarter of an hour.
In the end he succeeded in forcing her memory back until she did dimly recall that at one time Eastasia and not Eurasia had been the enemy.
But the issue still struck her as unimportant.
‘Who cares?’ she said impatiently. ‘It’s always one bloody war after another, and one knows the news is all lies anyway.’
Sometimes he talked to her of the Records Department and the impudent forgeries that he committed there. Such things did not appear to horrify her.
She did not feel the abyss opening beneath her feet at the thought of lies becoming truths.
He told her the story of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford and the momentous slip of paper which he had once held between his fingers.
It did not make much impression on her. At first, indeed, she failed to grasp the point of the story.
‘Were they friends of yours?’ she said.
‘No, I never knew them. They were Inner Party members. Besides, they were far older men than I was. They belonged to the old days, before the Revolution. I barely knew them by sight.’
‘Then what was there to worry about? People are being killed off all the time, aren’t they?’
He tried to make her understand.
‘This was an exceptional case. It wasn’t just a question of somebody being killed.
Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there.
Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered.
And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself.
After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories. Just in that one instance, in my whole life, I did possess actual concrete evidence after the event — years after it.’
‘And what good was that?’
‘It was no good, because I threw it away a few minutes later. But if the same thing happened today, I should keep it.’
‘Well, I wouldn’t!’ said Julia.
‘I’m quite ready to take risks, but only for something worth while, not for bits of old newspaper. What could you have done with it even if you had kept it?’
‘Not much, perhaps. But it was evidence. It might have planted a few doubts here and there, supposing that I’d dared to show it to anybody. I don’t imagine that we can alter anything in our own lifetime. But one can imagine little knots of resistance springing up here and there — small groups of people banding themselves together, and gradually growing, and even leaving a few records behind, so that the next generations can carry on where we leave off.’
‘I’m not interested in the next generation, dear. I’m interested in US.’
‘You’re only a rebel from the waist downwards,’ he told her.
She thought this brilliantly witty and flung her arms round him in delight.
In the ramifications of party doctrine she had not the faintest interest.
Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability of the past, and the denial of objective reality, and to use Newspeak words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid any attention to that kind of thing.
One knew that it was all rubbish, so why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo, and that was all one needed.
If he persisted in talking of such subjects, she had a disconcerting habit of falling asleep.
She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant.
In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it.
They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.
They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.
In your eyes
notion of truth
It had happened at last.
The expected message had come. All his life, it seemed to him, he had been waiting for this to happen.
He was walking down the long corridor at the Ministry and he was almost at the spot where Julia had slipped the note into his hand when he became aware that someone larger than himself was walking just behind him.
The person, whoever it was, gave a small cough, evidently as a prelude to speaking.
Winston stopped abruptly and turned. It was O’Brien.
At last they were face to face, and it seemed that his only impulse was to run away.
His heart bounded violently. He would have been incapable of speaking. O’Brien, however, had continued forward in the same movement, laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston’s arm, so that the two of them were walking side by side.
He began speaking with the peculiar grave courtesy that differentiated him from the majority of Inner Party members.
‘I had been hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,’ he said. ‘I was reading one of your Newspeak articles in ‘The Times’ the other day. You take a scholarly interest in Newspeak, I believe?’
Winston had recovered part of his self-possession.
‘Hardly scholarly,’ he said. ‘I’m only an amateur. It’s not my subject. I have never had anything to do with the actual construction of the language.’
‘But you write it very elegantly,’ said O’Brien.
‘That is not only my own opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of yours who is certainly an expert. His name has slipped my memory for the moment.’
Again Winston’s heart stirred painfully.
It was inconceivable that this was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme was not only dead, he was abolished, an unperson.
Any identifiable reference to him would have been mortally dangerous.
O’Brien’s remark must obviously have been intended as a signal, a codeword.
By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had turned the two of them into accomplices. They had continued to stroll slowly down the corridor, but now O’Brien halted.
With the curious, disarming friendliness that he always managed to put in to the gesture he resettled his spectacles on his nose.
Then he went on:
‘What I had really intended to say was that in your article I noticed you had used two words which have become obsolete. But they have only become so very recently. Have you seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak Dictionary?’
‘No,’ said Winston.
‘I didn’t think it had been issued yet. We are still using the ninth in the Records Department.’
‘The tenth edition is not due to appear for some months, I believe. But a few advance copies have been circulated. I have one myself. It might interest you to look at it, perhaps?’
‘Very much so,’ said Winston, immediately seeing where this tended.
‘Some of the new developments are most ingenious. The reduction in the number of verbs — that is the point that will appeal to you, I think. Let me see, shall I send a messenger to you with the dictionary? But I am afraid I invariably forget anything of that kind. Perhaps you could pick it up at my flat at some time that suited you? Wait. Let me give you my address.’
They were standing in front of a telescreen.
Somewhat absent-mindedly O’Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered notebook and a gold ink-pencil.
Immediately beneath the telescreen, in such a position that anyone who was watching at the other end of the instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled an address, tore out the page and handed it to Winston.
‘I am usually at home in the evenings,’ he said. ‘If not, my servant will give you the dictionary.’
He was gone, leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper, which this time there was no need to conceal.
Nevertheless he carefully memorized what was written on it, and some hours later dropped it into the memory hole along with a mass of other papers.
They had been talking to one another for a couple of minutes at the most.
There was only one meaning that the episode could possibly have.
It had been contrived as a way of letting Winston know O’Brien’s address. This was necessary, because except by direct enquiry it was never possible to discover where anyone lived.
There were no directories of any kind.
‘If you ever want to see me, this is where I can be found,’ was what O’Brien had been saying to him.
Perhaps there would even be a message concealed somewhere in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain.
The conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had reached the outer edges of it.
He knew that sooner or later he would obey O’Brien’s summons.
The end was contained in the beginning.
Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps after a long delay — he was not certain. What was happening was only the working-out of a process that had started years ago. The first step had been a secret, involuntary thought, the second had been the opening of the diary.
He had moved from thoughts to words, and now from words to actions. The last step was something that would happen in the Ministry of Love.
He had accepted it.
The end was contained in the beginning.
But it was frightening: or, more exactly, it was like a foretaste of death, like being a little less alive. Even while he was speaking to O’Brien, when the meaning of the words had sunk in, a chilly shuddering feeling had taken possession of his body.
He had the sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because he had always known that the grave was there and waiting for him.
The truth of the inner, individual heart.
Winston had woken up with his eyes full of tears.
Julia rolled sleepily against him, murmuring something that might have been ‘What’s the matter?’
‘I dreamt —’ he began, and stopped short. It was too complex to be put into words. There was the dream itself, and there was a memory connected with it that had swum into his mind in the few seconds after waking.
He lay back with his eyes shut, still sodden in the atmosphere of the dream. It was a vast, luminous dream in which his whole life seemed to stretch out before him like a landscape on a summer evening after rain. It had all occurred inside the glass paperweight, but the surface of the glass was the dome of the sky, and inside the dome everything was flooded with clear soft light in which one could see into interminable distances.
The dream had also been comprehended by — indeed, in some sense it had consisted in — a gesture of the arm made by his mother, and made again thirty years later by the Jewish woman he had seen on the news film, trying to shelter the small boy from the bullets, before the helicopter blew them both to pieces.
‘Do you know,’ he said, ‘that until this moment I believed I had murdered my mother?’
‘Why did you murder her?’ said Julia, almost asleep.
‘I didn’t murder her. Not physically.’
In the dream he had remembered his last glimpse of his mother, and within a few moments of waking the cluster of small events surrounding it had all come back. It was a memory that he must have deliberately pushed out of his consciousness over many years.
He was not certain of the date, but he could not have been less than ten years old, possibly twelve, when it had happened.
His father had disappeared some time earlier, how much earlier he could not remember.
He remembered better the rackety, uneasy circumstances of the time: the periodical panics about air-raids and the sheltering in Tube stations, the piles of rubble everywhere, the unintelligible proclamations posted at street corners, the gangs of youths in shirts all the same colour, the enormous queues outside the bakeries, the intermittent machine-gun fire in the distance — above all, the fact that there was never enough to eat.
He remembered long afternoons spent with other boys in scrounging round dustbins and rubbish heaps, picking out the ribs of cabbage leaves, potato peelings, sometimes even scraps of stale breadcrust from which they carefully scraped away the cinders; and also in waiting for the passing of trucks which travelled over a certain route and were known to carry cattle feed, and which, when they jolted over the bad patches in the road, sometimes spilt a few fragments of oil-cake.
When his father disappeared, his mother did not show any surprise or any violent grief, but a sudden change came over her.
She seemed to have become completely spiritless.
It was evident even to Winston that she was waiting for something that she knew must happen.
She did everything that was needed — cooked, washed, mended, made the bed, swept the floor, dusted the mantelpiece — always very slowly and with a curious lack of superfluous motion, like an artist’s lay-figure moving of its own accord.
Her large shapely body seemed to relapse naturally into stillness.
Destructive stillness was what remained
For hours at a time she would sit almost immobile on the bed, nursing his young sister, a tiny, ailing, very silent child of two or three, with a face made simian by thinness. Very occasionally she would take Winston in her arms and press him against her for a long time without saying anything.
He was aware, in spite of his youthfulness and selfishness, that this was somehow connected with the never-mentioned thing that was about to happen.
He remembered the room where they lived, a dark, close-smelling room that seemed half filled by a bed with a white counterpane.
There was a gas ring in the fender, and a shelf where food was kept, and on the landing outside there was a brown earthenware sink, common to several rooms. He remembered his mother’s statuesque body bending over the gas ring to stir at something in a saucepan.
Above all he remembered his continuous hunger, and the fierce sordid battles at mealtimes.
He would ask his mother naggingly, over and over again, why there was not more food, he would shout and storm at her (he even remembered the tones of his voice, which was beginning to break prematurely and sometimes boomed in a peculiar way), or he would attempt a snivelling note of pathos in his efforts to get more than his share.
His mother was quite ready to give him more than his share.
She took it for granted that he, ‘the boy’, should have the biggest portion; but however much she gave him he invariably demanded more.
At every meal she would beseech him not to be selfish and to remember that his little sister was sick and also needed food, but it was no use.
He would cry out with rage when she stopped ladling, he would try to wrench the saucepan and spoon out of her hands, he would grab bits from his sister’s plate.
He knew that he was starving the other two, but he could not help it; he even felt that he had a right to do it.
The clamorous hunger in his belly seemed to justify him.
Between meals, if his mother did not stand guard, he was constantly pilfering at the wretched store of food on the shelf.
The hungry child would happily starve others for a bite of chocolate.
One day a chocolate ration was issued.
There had been no such issue for weeks or months past. He remembered quite clearly that precious little morsel of chocolate.
It was a two-ounce slab (they still talked about ounces in those days) between the three of them.
It was obvious that it ought to be divided into three equal parts.
Suddenly, as though he were listening to somebody else, Winston heard himself demanding in a loud booming voice that he should be given the whole piece.
His mother told him not to be greedy.
There was a long, nagging argument that went round and round, with shouts, whines, tears, remonstrances, bargainings.
His tiny sister, clinging to her mother with both hands, exactly like a baby monkey, sat looking over her shoulder at him with large, mournful eyes. In the end his mother broke off three-quarters of the chocolate and gave it to Winston, giving the other quarter to his sister.
The little girl took hold of it and looked at it dully, perhaps not knowing what it was.
Winston stood watching her for a moment.
Then with a sudden swift spring he had snatched the piece of chocolate out of his sister’s hand and was fleeing for the door.
‘Winston, Winston!’ his mother called after him. ‘Come back! Give your sister back her chocolate!’
He stopped, but did not come back.
His mother’s anxious eyes were fixed on his face.
Even now he was thinking about the thing, he did not know what it was that was on the point of happening.
His sister, conscious of having been robbed of something, had set up a feeble wail.
His mother drew her arm round the child and pressed its face against her breast.
Something in the gesture told him that his sister was dying. He turned and fled down the stairs, with the chocolate growing sticky in his hand.
He never saw his mother again.
After he had devoured the chocolate he felt somewhat ashamed of himself and hung about in the streets for several hours, until hunger drove him home.
When he came back his mother had disappeared.
This was already becoming normal at that time.
Nothing was gone from the room except his mother and his sister.
They had not taken any clothes, not even his mother’s overcoat. To this day he did not know with any certainty that his mother was dead.
It was perfectly possible that she had merely been sent to a forced-labour camp.
As for his sister, she might have been removed, like Winston himself, to one of the colonies for homeless children (Reclamation Centres, they were called) which had grown up as a result of the civil war, or she might have been sent to the labour camp along with his mother, or simply left somewhere or other to die.
The dream was still vivid in his mind, especially the enveloping protecting gesture of the arm in which its whole meaning seemed to be contained.
His mind went back to another dream of two months ago.
Exactly as his mother had sat on the dingy white-quilted bed, with the child clinging to her, so she had sat in the sunken ship, far underneath him, and drowning deeper every minute, but still looking up at him through the darkening water.
He told Julia the story of his mother’s disappearance.
Without opening her eyes she rolled over and settled herself into a more comfortable position.
‘I expect you were a beastly little swine in those days,’ she said indistinctly. ‘All children are swine.’
‘Yes. But the real point of the story ——’
From her breathing it was evident that she was going off to sleep again.
He would have liked to continue talking about his mother. He did not suppose, from what he could remember of her, that she had been an unusual woman, still less an intelligent one; and yet she had possessed a kind of nobility, a kind of purity, simply because the standards that she obeyed were private ones.
Her feelings were her own, and could not be altered from outside.
It would not have occurred to her that an action which is ineffectual thereby becomes meaningless.
If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.
When the last of the chocolate was gone, his mother had clasped the child in her arms.
It was no use, it changed nothing, it did not produce more chocolate, it did not avert the child’s death or her own; but it seemed natural to her to do it. The refugee woman in the boat had also covered the little boy with her arm, which was no more use against the bullets than a sheet of paper.
The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world.
When once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel, what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference.
Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again. You were lifted clean out of the stream of history.
And yet to the people of only two generations ago this would not have seemed all-important, because they were not attempting to alter history.
They were governed by private loyalties which they did not question. What mattered were individual relationships, and a completely helpless gesture, an embrace, a tear, a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in itself.
The proles, it suddenly occurred to him, had remained in this condition.
They were not loyal to a party or a country or an idea, they were loyal to one another.
For the first time in his life he did not despise the proles or think of them merely as an inert force which would one day spring to life and regenerate the world.
The proles had stayed human.
They had not become hardened inside. They had held on to the primitive emotions which he himself had to re-learn by conscious effort.
And in thinking this he remembered, without apparent relevance, how a few weeks ago he had seen a severed hand lying on the pavement and had kicked it into the gutter as though it had been a cabbage-stalk.
‘The proles are human beings,’ he said aloud. ‘We are not human.’
‘Why not?’ said Julia, who had woken up again.
He thought for a little while.
‘Has it ever occurred to you,’ he said, ‘that the best thing for us to do would be simply to walk out of here before it’s too late, and never see each other again?’
‘Yes, dear, it has occurred to me, several times. But I’m not going to do it, all the same.’
‘We’ve been lucky,’ he said ‘but it can’t last much longer. You’re young. You look normal and innocent. If you keep clear of people like me, you might stay alive for another fifty years.’
‘No. I’ve thought it all out. What you do, I’m going to do. And don’t be too downhearted. I’m rather good at staying alive.’
‘We may be together for another six months — a year — there’s no knowing. At the end we’re certain to be apart.
Do you realize how utterly alone we shall be? When once they get hold of us there will be nothing, literally nothing, that either of us can do for the other. If I confess, they’ll shoot you, and if I refuse to confess, they’ll shoot you just the same. Nothing that I can do or say, or stop myself from saying, will put off your death for as much as five minutes. Neither of us will even know whether the other is alive or dead.
We shall be utterly without power of any kind.
The one thing that matters is that we shouldn’t betray one another, although even that can’t make the slightest difference.’ ‘
But no one could ever make you truly feel something you did not feel.
If you mean confessing,’ she said,
‘we shall do that, right enough. Everybody always confesses. You can’t help it. They torture you.’
‘I don’t mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you — that would be the real betrayal.’
She thought it over.
‘They can’t do that,’ she said finally.
‘It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything — ANYTHING— but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.’
‘No,’ he said a little more hopefully, ‘no; that’s quite true. They can’t get inside you. If you can FEEL that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.’
He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking.
Perhaps that was less true when you were actually in their hands.
One did not know what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning.
Facts, at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture.
But if the object was not to stay alive but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable.
[ he asked
and Dream, and see
deep inside ]
They had done it, they had done it at last!
The room they were standing in was long-shaped and softly lit. The telescreen was dimmed to a low murmur; the richness of the dark-blue carpet gave one the impression of treading on velvet. At the far end of the room O’Brien was sitting at a table under a green-shaded lamp, with a mass of papers on either side of him.
He had not bothered to look up when the servant showed Julia and Winston in.
Winston’s heart was thumping so hard that he doubted whether he would be able to speak.
They had done it, they had done it at last, was all he could think.
It had been a rash act to come here at all, and sheer folly to arrive together; though it was true that they had come by different routes and only met on O’Brien’s doorstep. But merely to walk into such a place needed an effort of the nerve.
It was only on very rare occasions that one saw inside the dwelling-places of the Inner Party, or even penetrated into the quarter of the town where they lived.
The whole atmosphere of the huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of everything, the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco, the silent and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the white-jacketed servants hurrying to and fro — everything was intimidating.
Although he had a good pretext for coming here, he was haunted at every step by the fear that a black-uniformed guard would suddenly appear from round the corner, demand his papers, and order him to get out.
O’Brien’s servant, however, had admitted the two of them without demur.
He was a small, dark-haired man in a white jacket, with a diamond-shaped, completely expressionless face which might have been that of a Chinese.
The passage down which he led them was softly carpeted, with cream-papered walls and white wainscoting, all exquisitely clean.
That too was intimidating.
Winston could not remember ever to have seen a passageway whose walls were not grimy from the contact of human bodies.
O’Brien had a slip of paper between his fingers and seemed to be studying it intently.
His heavy face, bent down so that one could see the line of the nose, looked both formidable and intelligent.
For perhaps twenty seconds he sat without stirring. Then he pulled the speakwrite towards him and rapped out a message in the hybrid jargon of the Ministries:
‘Items one comma five comma seven approved fullwise stop suggestion contained item six doubleplus ridiculous verging crimethink cancel stop unproceed constructionwise antegetting plusfull estimates machinery overheads stop end message.’
He rose deliberately from his chair and came towards them across the soundless carpet.
A little of the official atmosphere seemed to have fallen away from him with the Newspeak words, but his expression was grimmer than usual, as though he were not pleased at being disturbed.
The terror that Winston already felt was suddenly shot through by a streak of ordinary embarrassment.
It seemed to him quite possible that he had simply made a stupid mistake.
For what evidence had he in reality that O’Brien was any kind of political conspirator?
Nothing but a flash of the eyes and a single equivocal remark: beyond that, only his own secret imaginings, founded on a dream.
He could not even fall back on the pretence that he had come to borrow the dictionary, because in that case Julia’s presence was impossible to explain. As O’Brien passed the telescreen a thought seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed a switch on the wall.
There was a sharp snap.
The voice had stopped.
Julia uttered a tiny sound, a sort of squeak of surprise.
Even in the midst of his panic, Winston was too much taken aback to be able to hold his tongue.
‘You can turn it off!’ he said.
‘Yes,’ said O’Brien, ‘we can turn it off. We have that privilege.’
He was opposite them now.
His solid form towered over the pair of them, and the expression on his face was still indecipherable.
He was waiting, somewhat sternly, for Winston to speak, but about what? Even now it was quite conceivable that he was simply a busy man wondering irritably why he had been interrupted.
After the stopping of the telescreen the room seemed deadly silent. The seconds marched past, enormous. With difficulty Winston continued to keep his eyes fixed on O’Brien’s.
Then suddenly the grim face broke down into what might have been the beginnings of a smile.
With his characteristic gesture O’Brien resettled his spectacles on his nose.
‘Shall I say it, or will you?’ he said.
‘I will say it,’ said Winston promptly. ‘That thing is really turned off?’
‘Yes, everything is turned off. We are alone.’
‘We have come here because ——’
He paused, realizing for the first time the vagueness of his own motives.
Since he did not in fact know what kind of help he expected from O’Brien, it was not easy to say why he had come here.
He went on, conscious that what he was saying must sound both feeble and pretentious:
‘We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret organization working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it.
We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc.
We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers.
I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your mercy. If you want us to incriminate ourselves in any other way, we are ready.’
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder, with the feeling that the door had opened.
Sure enough, the little yellow-faced servant had come in without knocking.
Winston saw that he was carrying a tray with a decanter and glasses.
‘Martin is one of us,’ said O’Brien impassively.
‘Bring the drinks over here, Martin. Put them on the round table. Have we enough chairs? Then we may as well sit down and talk in comfort. Bring a chair for yourself, Martin. This is business. You can stop being a servant for the next ten minutes.’
The little man sat down, quite at his ease, and yet still with a servant-like air, the air of a valet enjoying a privilege.
Winston regarded him out of the corner of his eye.
It struck him that the man’s whole life was playing a part, and that he felt it to be dangerous to drop his assumed personality even for a moment.
O’Brien took the decanter by the neck and filled up the glasses with a dark-red liquid.
It aroused in Winston dim memories of something seen long ago on a wall or a hoarding — a vast bottle composed of electric lights which seemed to move up and down and pour its contents into a glass. Seen from the top the stuff looked almost black, but in the decanter it gleamed like a ruby.
It had a sour-sweet smell.
He saw Julia pick up her glass and sniff at it with frank curiosity.
‘It is called wine,’ said O’Brien with a faint smile.
‘You will have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it gets to the Outer Party, I am afraid.’
His face grew solemn again, and he raised his glass:
‘I think it is fitting that we should begin by drinking a health. To our Leader: To Emmanuel Goldstein.’
Winston took up his glass with a certain eagerness.
Wine was a thing he had read and dreamed about. Like the glass paperweight or Mr Charrington’s half-remembered rhymes, it belonged to the vanished, romantic past, the olden time as he liked to call it in his secret thoughts. For some reason he had always thought of wine as having an intensely sweet taste, like that of blackberry jam and an immediate intoxicating effect.
Actually, when he came to swallow it, the stuff was distinctly disappointing.
The truth was that after years of gin-drinking he could barely taste it. He set down the empty glass.
‘Then there is such a person as Goldstein?’ he said.
‘Yes, there is such a person, and he is alive. Where, I do not know.’
‘And the conspiracy — the organization? Is it real? It is not simply an invention of the Thought Police?’
‘No, it is real. The Brotherhood, we call it. You will never learn much more about the Brotherhood than that it exists and that you belong to it. I will come back to that presently.’
He looked at his wrist-watch.
‘It is unwise even for members of the Inner Party to turn off the telescreen for more than half an hour.
You ought not to have come here together, and you will have to leave separately.
You, comrade’— he bowed his head to Julia —‘will leave first.
We have about twenty minutes at our disposal. You will understand that I must start by asking you certain questions.
In general terms, what are you prepared to do?’
‘Anything that we are capable of,’ said Winston.
O’Brien had turned himself a little in his chair so that he was facing Winston.
He almost ignored Julia, seeming to take it for granted that Winston could speak for her.
For a moment the lids flitted down over his eyes.
He began asking his questions in a low, expressionless voice, as though this were a routine, a sort of catechism, most of whose answers were known to him already.
‘You are prepared to give your lives?’
‘You are prepared to commit murder?’
‘To commit acts of sabotage which may cause the death of hundreds of innocent people?’
‘To betray your country to foreign powers?’
‘You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming drugs, to encourage prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases — to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of the Party?’
‘If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a child’s face — are you prepared to do that?’
‘You are prepared to lose your identity and live out the rest of your life as a waiter or a dock-worker?’
‘You are prepared to commit suicide, if and when we order you to do so?’
‘You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one another again?’
‘No!’ broke in Julia.
It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before he answered.
For a moment he seemed even to have been deprived of the power of speech.
His tongue worked soundlessly, forming the opening syllables first of one word, then of the other, over and over again.
Until he had said it, he did not know which word he was going to say.
‘No,’ he said finally.
‘You did well to tell me,’ said O’Brien. ‘It is necessary for us to know everything.’
He turned himself toward Julia and added in a voice with somewhat more expression in it:
‘Do you understand that even if he survives, it may be as a different person? We may be obliged to give him a new identity. His face, his movements, the shape of his hands, the colour of his hair — even his voice would be different. And you yourself might have become a different person. Our surgeons can alter people beyond recognition. Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes we even amputate a limb.’
Winston could not help snatching another sidelong glance at Martin’s Mongolian face.
There were no scars that he could see. Julia had turned a shade paler, so that her freckles were showing, but she faced O’Brien boldly.
She murmured something that seemed to be assent.
‘Good. Then that is settled.’
There was a silver box of cigarettes on the table.
With a rather absent-minded air O’Brien pushed them towards the others, took one himself, then stood up and began to pace slowly to and fro, as though he could think better standing. They were very good cigarettes, very thick and well-packed, with an unfamiliar silkiness in the paper.
O’Brien looked at his wrist-watch again.
‘You had better go back to your Pantry, Martin,’ he said.
‘I shall switch on in a quarter of an hour. Take a good look at these comrades’ faces before you go. You will be seeing them again. I may not.’
Exactly as they had done at the front door, the little man’s dark eyes flickered over their faces.
There was not a trace of friendliness in his manner. He was memorizing their appearance, but he felt no interest in them, or appeared to feel none.
It occurred to Winston that a synthetic face was perhaps incapable of changing its expression.
Without speaking or giving any kind of salutation, Martin went out, closing the door silently behind him.
O’Brien was strolling up and down, one hand in the pocket of his black overalls, the other holding his cigarette.
‘You understand,’ he said, ‘that you will be fighting in the dark. You will always be in the dark. You will receive orders and you will obey them, without knowing why. Later I shall send you a book from which you will learn the true nature of the society we live in, and the strategy by which we shall destroy it. When you have read the book, you will be full members of the Brotherhood. But between the general aims that we are fighting for and the immediate tasks of the moment, you will never know anything. I tell you that the Brotherhood exists, but I cannot tell you whether it numbers a hundred members, or ten million. From your personal knowledge you will never be able to say that it numbers even as many as a dozen. You will have three or four contacts, who will be renewed from time to time as they disappear.
As this was your first contact, it will be preserved. When you receive orders, they will come from me. If we find it necessary to communicate with you, it will be through Martin. When you are finally caught, you will confess.
That is unavoidable.
But you will have very little to confess, other than your own actions.
You will not be able to betray more than a handful of unimportant people. Probably you will not even betray me.
By that time I may be dead, or I shall have become a different person, with a different face.’
They had stepped outside of the illusion and entered a new maze
He continued to move to and fro over the soft carpet.
In spite of the bulkiness of his body there was a remarkable grace in his movements.
It came out even in the gesture with which he thrust a hand into his pocket, or manipulated a cigarette.
More even than of strength, he gave an impression of confidence and of an understanding tinged by irony. However much in earnest he might be, he had nothing of the single-mindedness that belongs to a fanatic.
When he spoke of murder, suicide, venereal disease, amputated limbs, and altered faces, it was with a faint air of persiflage.
‘This is unavoidable,’ his voice seemed to say; ‘this is what we have got to do, unflinchingly. But this is not what we shall be doing when life is worth living again.’
A wave of admiration, almost of worship, flowed out from Winston towards O’Brien.
For the moment he had forgotten the shadowy figure of Goldstein.
When you looked at O’Brien’s powerful shoulders and his blunt-featured face, so ugly and yet so civilized, it was impossible to believe that he could be defeated.
There was no stratagem that he was not equal to, no danger that he could not foresee.
Even Julia seemed to be impressed.
She had let her cigarette go out and was listening intently. O’Brien went on:
‘You will have heard rumours of the existence of the Brotherhood. No doubt you have formed your own picture of it. You have imagined, probably, a huge underworld of conspirators, meeting secretly in cellars, scribbling messages on walls, recognizing one another by codewords or by special movements of the hand.
Nothing of the kind exists.
The members of the Brotherhood have no way of recognizing one another, and it is impossible for any one member to be aware of the identity of more than a few others.
Goldstein himself, if he fell into the hands of the Thought Police, could not give them a complete list of members, or any information that would lead them to a complete list.
No such list exists.
The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organization in the ordinary sense.
Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible. You will never have anything to sustain you, except the idea.
You will get no comradeship and no encouragement. When finally you are caught, you will get no help.
We never help our members. At most, when it is absolutely necessary that someone should be silenced, we are occasionally able to smuggle a razor blade into a prisoner’s cell.
You will have to get used to living without results and without hope. You will work for a while, you will be caught, you will confess, and then you will die. Those are the only results that you will ever see.
There is no possibility that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime.
We are the dead.
Our only true life is in the future.
We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone.
But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might be a thousand years.
At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little.
We cannot act collectively. We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual, generation after generation.
In the face of the Thought Police there is no other way.’
He halted and looked for the third time at his wrist-watch.
‘It is almost time for you to leave, comrade,’ he said to Julia. ‘Wait. The decanter is still half full.’
He filled the glasses and raised his own glass by the stem.
‘What shall it be this time?’ he said, still with the same faint suggestion of irony.
‘To the confusion of the Thought Police? To the death of Big Brother? To humanity? To the future?’
‘To the past,’ said Winston.
‘The past is more important,’ agreed O’Brien gravely.
They emptied their glasses, and a moment later Julia stood up to go.
O’Brien took a small box from the top of a cabinet and handed her a flat white tablet which he told her to place on her tongue.
It was important, he said, not to go out smelling of wine: the lift attendants were very observant.
As soon as the door had shut behind her he appeared to forget her existence. He took another pace or two up and down, then stopped.
‘There are details to be settled,’ he said. ‘I assume that you have a hiding-place of some kind?’
Winston explained about the room over Mr Charrington’s shop.
‘That will do for the moment. Later we will arrange something else for you. It is important to change one’s hiding-place frequently.
Meanwhile I shall send you a copy of THE BOOK’— even O’Brien, Winston noticed, seemed to pronounce the words as though they were in italics —‘Goldstein’s book, you understand, as soon as possible.
It may be some days before I can get hold of one. There are not many in existence, as you can imagine.
The Thought Police hunt them down and destroy them almost as fast as we can produce them. It makes very little difference.
The book is indestructible. If the last copy were gone, we could reproduce it almost word for word.
Do you carry a brief-case to work with you?’ he added.
‘As a rule, yes.’
‘What is it like?’
‘Black, very shabby. With two straps.’
‘Black, two straps, very shabby — good. One day in the fairly near future — I cannot give a date — one of the messages among your morning’s work will contain a misprinted word, and you will have to ask for a repeat.
On the following day you will go to work without your brief-case.
At some time during the day, in the street, a man will touch you on the arm and say “I think you have dropped your brief-case.”
The one he gives you will contain a copy of Goldstein’s book. You will return it within fourteen days.’
They were silent for a moment.
‘There are a couple of minutes before you need go,’ said O’Brien. ‘We shall meet again — if we do meet again ——’
Winston looked up at him. ‘In the place where there is no darkness?’ he said hesitantly.
O’Brien nodded without appearance of surprise.
‘In the place where there is no darkness,’ he said, as though he had recognized the allusion.
‘And in the meantime, is there anything that you wish to say before you leave? Any message? Any question?.’
There did not seem to be any further question that he wanted to ask: still less did he feel any impulse to utter high-sounding generalities.
Instead of anything directly connected with O’Brien or the Brotherhood, there came into his mind a sort of composite picture of the dark bedroom where his mother had spent her last days, and the little room over Mr Charrington’s shop, and the glass paperweight, and the steel engraving in its rosewood frame.
Almost at random he said:
‘Did you ever happen to hear an old rhyme that begins “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s”?’
Again O’Brien nodded. With a sort of grave courtesy he completed the stanza:
‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch.’
‘You knew the last line!’ said Winston.
‘Yes, I knew the last line. And now, I am afraid, it is time for you to go. But wait. You had better let me give you one of these tablets.’
As Winston stood up O’Brien held out a hand.
His powerful grip crushed the bones of Winston’s palm.
At the door Winston looked back, but O’Brien seemed already to be in process of putting him out of mind.
He was waiting with his hand on the switch that controlled the telescreen. Beyond him Winston could see the writing-table with its green-shaded lamp and the speakwrite and the wire baskets deep-laden with papers.
The incident was closed.
Within thirty seconds, it occurred to him, O’Brien would be back at his interrupted and important work on behalf of the Party.
Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.
Gelatinous was the right word. It had come into his head spontaneously.
His body seemed to have not only the weakness of a jelly, but its translucency.
He felt that if he held up his hand he would be able to see the light through it.
All the blood and lymph had been drained out of him by an enormous debauch of work, leaving only a frail structure of nerves, bones, and skin.
All sensations seemed to be magnified.
His overalls fretted his shoulders, the pavement tickled his feet, even the opening and closing of a hand was an effort that made his joints creak.
He had worked more than ninety hours in five days. So had everyone else in the Ministry.
Now it was all over, and he had literally nothing to do, no Party work of any description, until tomorrow morning.
He could spend six hours in the hiding-place and another nine in his own bed. Slowly, in mild afternoon sunshine, he walked up a dingy street in the direction of Mr Charrington’s shop, keeping one eye open for the patrols, but irrationally convinced that this afternoon there was no danger of anyone interfering with him.
The heavy brief-case that he was carrying bumped against his knee at each step, sending a tingling sensation up and down the skin of his leg.
Inside it was the book, which he had now had in his possession for six days and had not yet opened, nor even looked at.
On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia.
Oceania was at war with Eastasia.
Eurasia was an ally.
There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place.
Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy.
Winston was taking part in a demonstration in one of the central London squares at the moment when it happened.
It was night, and the white faces and the scarlet banners were luridly floodlit.
The square was packed with several thousand people, including a block of about a thousand schoolchildren in the uniform of the Spies.
On a scarlet-draped platform an orator of the Inner Party, a small lean man with disproportionately long arms and a large bald skull over which a few lank locks straggled, was haranguing the crowd. A little Rumpelstiltskin figure, contorted with hatred, he gripped the neck of the microphone with one hand while the other, enormous at the end of a bony arm, clawed the air menacingly above his head.
His voice, made metallic by the amplifiers, boomed forth an endless catalogue of atrocities, massacres, deportations, lootings, rapings, torture of prisoners, bombing of civilians, lying propaganda, unjust aggressions, broken treaties.
It was almost impossible to listen to him without being first convinced and then maddened.
At every few moments the fury of the crowd boiled over and the voice of the speaker was drowned by a wild beast-like roaring that rose uncontrollably from thousands of throats. The most savage yells of all came from the schoolchildren.
The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker’s hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech.
Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different.
Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd.
Oceania was at war with Eastasia!
The next moment there was a tremendous commotion.
The banners and posters with which the square was decorated were all wrong!
Quite half of them had the wrong faces on them.
It was sabotage! The agents of Goldstein had been at work!
There was a riotous interlude while posters were ripped from the walls, banners torn to shreds and trampled underfoot.
The hate just kept on coming, like nothing had changed.
The Spies performed prodigies of activity in clambering over the rooftops and cutting the streamers that fluttered from the chimneys.
But within two or three minutes it was all over. The orator, still gripping the neck of the microphone, his shoulders hunched forward, his free hand clawing at the air, had gone straight on with his speech.
One minute more, and the feral roars of rage were again bursting from the crowd.
The Hate continued exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.
The thing that impressed Winston in looking back was that the speaker had switched from one line to the other actually in midsentence, not only without a pause, but without even breaking the syntax.
But at the moment he had other things to preoccupy him.
It was during the moment of disorder while the posters were being torn down that a man whose face he did not see had tapped him on the shoulder and said,
‘Excuse me, I think you’ve dropped your brief-case.’
He took the brief-case abstractedly, without speaking.
He knew that it would be days before he had an opportunity to look inside it.
The instant that the demonstration was over he went straight to the Ministry of Truth, though the time was now nearly twenty-three hours.
The entire staff of the Ministry had done likewise. The orders already issuing from the telescreen, recalling them to their posts, were hardly necessary.
Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete.
Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed.
Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.
The work was overwhelming, all the more so because the processes that it involved could not be called by their true names.
Everyone in the Records Department worked eighteen hours in the twenty-four, with two three-hour snatches of sleep.
Mattresses were brought up from the cellars and pitched all over the corridors: meals consisted of sandwiches and Victory Coffee wheeled round on trolleys by attendants from the canteen. Each time that Winston broke off for one of his spells of sleep he tried to leave his desk clear of work, and each time that he crawled back sticky-eyed and aching, it was to find that another shower of paper cylinders had covered the desk like a snowdrift, half-burying the speakwrite and overflowing on to the floor, so that the first job was always to stack them into a neat enough pile to give him room to work.
What was worst of all was that the work was by no means purely mechanical.
Often it was enough merely to substitute one name for another, but any detailed report of events demanded care and imagination.
Even the geographical knowledge that one needed in transferring the war from one part of the world to another was considerable.
The third day
By the third day his eyes ached unbearably and his spectacles needed wiping every few minutes.
It was like struggling with some crushing physical task, something which one had the right to refuse and which one was nevertheless neurotically anxious to accomplish.
In so far as he had time to remember it, he was not troubled by the fact that every word he murmured into the speakwrite, every stroke of his ink-pencil, was a deliberate lie. He was as anxious as anyone else in the Department that the forgery should be perfect.
On the morning of the sixth day the dribble of cylinders slowed down.
For as much as half an hour nothing came out of the tube; then one more cylinder, then nothing.
Everywhere at about the same time the work was easing off. A deep and as it were secret sigh went through the Department.
A mighty deed, which could never be mentioned, had been achieved.
It was now impossible for any human being to prove by documentary evidence that the war with Eurasia had ever happened.
At twelve hundred it was unexpectedly announced that all workers in the Ministry were free till tomorrow morning.
Winston, still carrying the brief-case containing the book, which had remained between his feet while he worked and under his body while he slept, went home, shaved himself, and almost fell asleep in his bath, although the water was barely more than tepid.
With a sort of voluptuous creaking in his joints he climbed the stair above Mr Charrington’s shop.
He was tired, but not sleepy any longer.
He opened the window, lit the dirty little oilstove and put on a pan of water for coffee.
Julia would arrive presently: meanwhile there was the book. He sat down in the sluttish armchair and undid the straps of the brief-case.
A heavy black volume, amateurishly bound, with no name or title on the cover.
The print also looked slightly irregular. The pages were worn at the edges, and fell apart, easily, as though the book had passed through many hands.
The inscription on the title-page ran:
THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF
Winston began reading:
Ignorance is Strength
Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low.
They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.
Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.
The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable . . .
Winston stopped reading, chiefly in order to appreciate the fact that he was reading, in comfort and safety.
He was alone: no telescreen, no ear at the keyhole, no nervous impulse to glance over his shoulder or cover the page with his hand.
The sweet summer air played against his cheek. From somewhere far away there floated the faint shouts of children: in the room itself there was no sound except the insect voice of the clock. He settled deeper into the arm-chair and put his feet up on the fender.
It was bliss, it was eternity.
Suddenly, as one sometimes does with a book of which one knows that one will ultimately read and re-read every word, he opened it at a different place and found himself at Chapter III.
He went on reading:
Chapter III War is Peace
The splitting up of the world into three great super-states was an event which could be and indeed was foreseen before the middle of the twentieth century.
With the absorption of Europe by Russia and of the British Empire by the United States, two of the three existing powers, Eurasia and Oceania, were already effectively in being.
The third, Eastasia, only emerged as a distinct unit after another decade of confused fighting.
The frontiers between the three super-states are in some places arbitrary, and in others they fluctuate according to the fortunes of war, but in general they follow geographical lines.
Eurasia comprises the whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering Strait.
Oceania comprises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa.
Eastasia, smaller than the others and with a less definite western frontier, comprises China and the countries to the south of it, the Japanese islands and a large but fluctuating portion of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet.
In one combination or another, these three super-states are permanently at war, and have been so for the past twenty-five years.
War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century.
It is a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference.
This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude towards it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous.
On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries, and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners which extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when they are committed by one’s own side and not by the enemy, meritorious.
But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties.
The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes.
In the centres of civilization war means no more than a continuous shortage of consumption goods, and the occasional crash of a rocket bomb which may cause a few scores of deaths.
War has in fact changed its character.
More exactly, the reasons for which war is waged have changed in their order of importance.
Motives which were already present to some small extent in the great wars of the early twentieth century have now become dominant and are consciously recognized and acted upon.
To understand the nature of the present war — for in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war — one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive.
None of the three super-states could be definitively conquered even by the other two in combination.
They are too evenly matched, and their natural defences are too formidable.
Eurasia is protected by its vast land spaces, Oceania by the width of the Atlantic and the Pacific, Eastasia by the fecundity and industriousness of its inhabitants.
Secondly, there is no longer, in a material sense, anything to fight about.
With the establishment of self-contained economies, in which production and consumption are geared to one another, the scramble for markets which was a main cause of previous wars has come to an end, while the competition for raw materials is no longer a matter of life and death.
In any case each of the three super-states is so vast that it can obtain almost all the materials that it needs within its own boundaries.
In so far as the war has a direct economic purpose, it is a war for labour power.
Between the frontiers of the super-states, and not permanently in the possession of any of them, there lies a rough quadrilateral with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong, containing within it about a fifth of the population of the earth.
It is for the possession of these thickly-populated regions, and of the northern ice-cap, that the three powers are constantly struggling.
In practice no one power ever controls the whole of the disputed area.
Portions of it are constantly changing hands, and it is the chance of seizing this or that fragment by a sudden stroke of treachery that dictates the endless changes of alignment.
All of the disputed territories contain valuable minerals, and some of them yield important vegetable products such as rubber which in colder climates it is necessary to synthesize by comparatively expensive methods. But above all they contain a bottomless reserve of cheap labour.
Whichever power controls equatorial Africa, or the countries of the Middle East, or Southern India, or the Indonesian Archipelago, disposes also of the bodies of scores or hundreds of millions of ill-paid and hard-working coolies.
The inhabitants of these areas, reduced more or less openly to the status of slaves, pass continually from conqueror to conqueror, and are expended like so much coal or oil in the race to turn out more armaments, to capture more territory, to control more labour power, to turn out more armaments, to capture more territory, and so on indefinitely.
It should be noted that the fighting never really moves beyond the edges of the disputed areas.
The frontiers of Eurasia flow back and forth between the basin of the Congo and the northern shore of the Mediterranean; the islands of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are constantly being captured and recaptured by Oceania or by Eastasia; in Mongolia the dividing line between Eurasia and Eastasia is never stable; round the Pole all three powers lay claim to enormous territories which in fact are largely uninhabited and unexplored: but the balance of power always remains roughly even, and the territory which forms the heartland of each super-state always remains inviolate.
Moreover, the labour of the exploited peoples round the Equator is not really necessary to the world’s economy.
They add nothing to the wealth of the world, since whatever they produce is used for purposes of war, and the object of waging a war is always to be in a better position in which to wage another war.
By their labour the slave populations allow the tempo of continuous warfare to be speeded up.
But if they did not exist, the structure of world society, and the process by which it maintains itself, would not be essentially different.
They waged war like a capitalistic AI out of control
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of DOUBLETHINK, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.
Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society.
At present, when few human beings even have enough to eat, this problem is obviously not urgent, and it might not have become so, even if no artificial processes of destruction had been at work.
The world of today is a bare, hungry, dilapidated place compared with the world that existed before 1914, and still more so if compared with the imaginary future to which the people of that period looked forward.
In the early twentieth century, the vision of a future society unbelievably rich, leisured, orderly, and efficient — a glittering antiseptic world of glass and steel and snow-white concrete — was part of the consciousness of nearly every literate person.
Science and technology were developing at a prodigious speed, and it seemed natural to assume that they would go on developing.
This failed to happen, partly because of the impoverishment caused by a long series of wars and revolutions, partly because scientific and technical progress depended on the empirical habit of thought, which could not survive in a strictly regimented society.
As a whole the world is more primitive today than it was fifty years ago.
Certain backward areas have advanced, and various devices, always in some way connected with warfare and police espionage, have been developed, but experiment and invention have largely stopped, and the ravages of the atomic war of the nineteen-fifties have never been fully repaired.
Nevertheless the dangers inherent in the machine are still there.
From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared.
If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations.
And in fact, without being used for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process — by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not to distribute — the machine did raise the living standards of the average human being very greatly over a period of about fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.
But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction — indeed, in some sense was the destruction — of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared.
If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which WEALTH, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while POWER remained in the hands of a small privileged caste.
But in practice such a society could not long remain stable.
For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away.
In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.
To return to the agricultural past, as some thinkers about the beginning of the twentieth century dreamed of doing, was not a practicable solution.
It conflicted with the tendency towards mechanization which had become quasi-instinctive throughout almost the whole world, and moreover, any country which remained industrially backward was helpless in a military sense and was bound to be dominated, directly or indirectly, by its more advanced rivals.
Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods.
This happened to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly between 1920 and 1940.
The economy of many countries was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population were prevented from working and kept half alive by State charity.
But this, too, entailed military weakness, and since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary, it made opposition inevitable.
The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world.
Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour.
War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed.
Starving the population was intentional, sustaining war itself was what was important
A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships.
Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population.
In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage.
It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.
By the standards of the early twentieth century, even a member of the Inner Party lives an austere, laborious kind of life.
Nevertheless, the few luxuries that he does enjoy his large, well-appointed flat, the better texture of his clothes, the better quality of his food and drink and tobacco, his two or three servants, his private motor-car or helicopter — set him in a different world from a member of the Outer Party, and the members of the Outer Party have a similar advantage in comparison with the submerged masses whom we call ‘the proles’. The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty.
And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.
War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way.
In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them.
But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society.
What is concerned here is not the morale of masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the morale of the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph.
In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war.
It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly.
All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.
The splitting of the intelligence which the Party requires of its members, and which is more easily achieved in an atmosphere of war, is now almost universal, but the higher up the ranks one goes, the more marked it becomes.
It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest.
In his capacity as an administrator, it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is either not happening or is being waged for purposes quite other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily neutralized by the technique of DOUBLETHINK.
Meanwhile no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world.
All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming conquest as an article of faith.
It is to be achieved either by gradually acquiring more and more territory and so building up an overwhelming preponderance of power, or by the discovery of some new and unanswerable weapon.
The search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the very few remaining activities in which the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any outlet.
In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist.
In Newspeak there is no word for ‘Science’. The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc.
And even technological progress only happens when its products can in some way be used for the diminution of human liberty.
In all the useful arts the world is either standing still or going backwards.
The fields are cultivated with horse-ploughs while books are written by machinery.
But in matters of vital importance — meaning, in effect, war and police espionage — the empirical approach is still encouraged, or at least tolerated. The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.
There are therefore two great problems which the Party is concerned to solve.
One is how to discover, against his will, what another human being is thinking, and the other is how to kill several hundred million people in a few seconds without giving warning beforehand.
In so far as scientific research still continues, this is its subject matter.
The scientist of today is either a mixture of psychologist and inquisitor, studying with real ordinary minuteness the meaning of facial expressions, gestures, and tones of voice, and testing the truth-producing effects of drugs, shock therapy, hypnosis, and physical torture; or he is chemist, physicist, or biologist concerned only with such branches of his special subject as are relevant to the taking of life.
In the vast laboratories of the Ministry of Peace, and in the experimental stations hidden in the Brazilian forests, or in the Australian desert, or on lost islands of the Antarctic, the teams of experts are indefatigably at work.
Some are concerned simply with planning the logistics of future wars; others devise larger and larger rocket bombs, more and more powerful explosives, and more and more impenetrable armour-plating; others search for new and deadlier gases, or for soluble poisons capable of being produced in such quantities as to destroy the vegetation of whole continents, or for breeds of disease germs immunized against all possible antibodies.
Others strive to produce a vehicle that shall bore its way under the soil like a submarine under the water.
Or an aeroplane as independent of its base as a sailing-ship; others explore even remoter possibilities such as focusing the sun’s rays through lenses suspended thousands of kilometres away in space, or producing artificial earthquakes and tidal waves by tapping the heat at the earth’s centre.
But none of these projects ever comes anywhere near realization, and none of the three super-states ever gains a significant lead on the others.
What is more remarkable is that all three powers already possess, in the atomic bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any that their present researches are likely to discover.
Although the Party, according to its habit, claims the invention for itself, atomic bombs first appeared as early as the nineteen-forties, and were first used on a large scale about ten years later.
At that time some hundreds of bombs were dropped on industrial centres, chiefly in European Russia, Western Europe, and North America.
The effect was to convince the ruling groups of all countries that a few more atomic bombs would mean the end of organized society, and hence of their own power. Thereafter, although no formal agreement was ever made or hinted at, no more bombs were dropped.
All three powers merely continue to produce atomic bombs and store them up against the decisive opportunity which they all believe will come sooner or later. And meanwhile the art of war has remained almost stationary for thirty or forty years.
Helicopters are more used than they were formerly, bombing planes have been largely superseded by self-propelled projectiles, and the fragile movable battleship has given way to the almost unsinkable Floating Fortress; but otherwise there has been little development.
The tank, the submarine, the torpedo, the machine gun, even the rifle and the hand grenade are still in use.
And in spite of the endless slaughters reported in the Press and on the telescreens, the desperate battles of earlier wars, in which hundreds of thousands or even millions of men were often killed in a few weeks, have never been repeated.
None of the three super-states ever attempts any manoeuvre which involves the risk of serious defeat.
When any large operation is undertaken, it is usually a surprise attack against an ally.
The strategy that all three powers are following, or pretend to themselves that they are following, is the same.
The plan is, by a combination of fighting, bargaining, and well-timed strokes of treachery, to acquire a ring of bases completely encircling one or other of the rival states, and then to sign a pact of friendship with that rival and remain on peaceful terms for so many years as to lull suspicion to sleep.
During this time rockets loaded with atomic bombs can be assembled at all the strategic spots; finally they will all be fired simultaneously, with effects so devastating as to make retaliation impossible.
It will then be time to sign a pact of friendship with the remaining world-power, in preparation for another attack.
This scheme, it is hardly necessary to say, is a mere daydream, impossible of realization.
Moreover, no fighting ever occurs except in the disputed areas round the Equator and the Pole: no invasion of enemy territory is ever undertaken.
This explains the fact that in some places the frontiers between the super-states are arbitrary.
Eurasia, for example, could easily conquer the British Isles, which are geographically part of Europe, or on the other hand it would be possible for Oceania to push its frontiers to the Rhine or even to the Vistula.
But this would violate the principle, followed on all sides though never formulated, of cultural integrity.
If Oceania were to conquer the areas that used once to be known as France and Germany, it would be necessary either to exterminate the inhabitants, a task of great physical difficulty, or to assimilate a population of about a hundred million people, who, so far as technical development goes, are roughly on the Oceanic level.
The problem is the same for all three super-states.
It is absolutely necessary to their structure that there should be no contact with foreigners, except, to a limited extent, with war prisoners and coloured slaves. Even the official ally of the moment is always regarded with the darkest suspicion.
War prisoners apart, the average citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies.
The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate.
It is therefore realized on all sides that however often Persia, or Egypt, or Java, or Ceylon may change hands, the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except bombs.
Under this lies a fact never mentioned aloud, but tacitly understood and acted upon: namely, that the conditions of life in all three super-states are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self.
The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense.
Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all.
Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare.
It follows that the three super-states not only cannot conquer one another, but would gain no advantage by doing so.
On the contrary, so long as they remain in conflict they prop one another up, like three sheaves of corn.
They shared the sameness of inhumanity
And, as usual, the ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing.
Their lives are dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it is necessary that the war should continue everlastingly and without victory.
Meanwhile the fact that there IS no danger of conquest makes possible the denial of reality which is the special feature of Ingsoc and its rival systems of thought. Here it is necessary to repeat what has been said earlier, that by becoming continuous war has fundamentally changed its character.
In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or later came to an end, usually in unmistakable victory or defeat.
In the past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical reality.
All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military efficiency. So long as defeat meant the loss of independence, or some other result generally held to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat had to be serious.
Physical facts could not be ignored.
In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an aeroplane they had to make four.
Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions.
Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers and history books were, of course, always coloured and biased, but falsification of the kind that is practised today would have been impossible.
War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards.
While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.
But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous.
When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity.
Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded.
As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially a kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show results is not important. Efficiency, even military efficiency, is no longer needed.
Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police.
Since each of the three super-states is unconquerable, each is in effect a separate universe within which almost any perversion of thought can be safely practised.
Reality only exerts its pressure through the needs of everyday life — the need to eat and drink, to get shelter and clothing, to avoid swallowing poison or stepping out of top-storey windows, and the like.
Between life and death, and between physical pleasure and physical pain, there is still a distinction, but that is all.
Cut off from contact with the outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down.
The rulers of such a state are absolute, as the Pharaohs or the Caesars could not be.
They are obliged to prevent their followers from starving to death in numbers large enough to be inconvenient, and they are obliged to remain at the same low level of military technique as their rivals; but once that minimum is achieved, they can twist reality into whatever shape they choose.
The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture.
It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another.
But though it is unreal it is not meaningless.
It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.
War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair.
In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished.
In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all.
The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.
The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading.
It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.
The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three super-states, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries.
For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed for ever from the sobering influence of external danger.
A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war.
This — although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense — is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.
Winston stopped reading for a moment.
Somewhere in remote distance a rocket bomb thundered.
The blissful feeling of being alone with the forbidden book, in a room with no telescreen, had not worn off.
Solitude and safety were physical sensations, mixed up somehow with the tiredness of his body, the softness of the chair, the touch of the faint breeze from the window that played upon his cheek.
The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him.
In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction.
It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order.
It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden.
The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.
He had just turned back to Chapter I when he heard Julia’s footstep on the stair and started out of his chair to meet her.
She dumped her brown tool-bag on the floor and flung herself into his arms. It was more than a week since they had seen one another.
‘I’ve got THE BOOK,’ he said as they disentangled themselves.
‘Oh, you’ve got it? Good,’ she said without much interest, and almost immediately knelt down beside the oil stove to make the coffee.
They did not return to the subject until they had been in bed for half an hour.
The evening was just cool enough to make it worth while to pull up the counterpane.
From below came the familiar sound of singing and the scrape of boots on the flagstones.
The brawny red-armed woman whom Winston had seen there on his first visit was almost a fixture in the yard.
There seemed to be no hour of daylight when she was not marching to and fro between the washtub and the line, alternately gagging herself with clothes pegs and breaking forth into lusty song. Julia had settled down on her side and seemed to be already on the point of falling asleep.
He reached out for the book, which was lying on the floor, and sat up against the bedhead.
‘We must read it,’ he said. ‘You too. All members of the Brotherhood have to read it.’
‘You read it,’ she said with her eyes shut. ‘Read it aloud. That’s the best way. Then you can explain it to me as you go.’
The clock’s hands said six, meaning eighteen.
They had three or four hours ahead of them. He propped the book against his knees and began reading:
Ignorance is Strength
Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low.
They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.
Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other
‘Julia, are you awake?’ said Winston.
‘Yes, my love, I’m listening. Go on. It’s marvellous.’
He continued reading:
The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable.
The aim of the High is to remain where they are.
The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High.
The aim of the Low, when they have an aim — for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives — is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.
Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again.
For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both.
They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice.
As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High.
Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again.
Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims.
It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind.
Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago.
But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer.
From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.
By the late nineteenth century the recurrence of this pattern had become obvious to many observers. There then rose schools of thinkers who interpreted history as a cyclical process and claimed to show that inequality was the unalterable law of human life.
This doctrine, of course, had always had its adherents, but in the manner in which it was now put forward there was a significant change. In the past the need for a hierarchical form of society had been the doctrine specifically of the High.
It had been preached by kings and aristocrats and by the priests, lawyers, and the like who were parasitical upon them, and it had generally been softened by promises of compensation in an imaginary world beyond the grave.
The Middle, so long as it was struggling for power, had always made use of such terms as freedom, justice, and fraternity.
Now, however, the concept of human brotherhood began to be assailed by people who were not yet in positions of command, but merely hoped to be so before long. In the past the Middle had made revolutions under the banner of equality, and then had established a fresh tyranny as soon as the old one was overthrown.
The new Middle groups in effect proclaimed their tyranny beforehand.
Socialism, a theory which appeared in the early nineteenth century and was the last link in a chain of thought stretching back to the slave rebellions of antiquity, was still deeply infected by the Utopianism of past ages.
But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned.
The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship, as it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating UNfreedom and INequality.
These new movements, of course, grew out of the old ones and tended to keep their names and pay lip-service to their ideology.
But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment.
The familiar pendulum swing was to happen once more, and then stop.
As usual, the High were to be turned out by the Middle, who would then become the High; but this time, by conscious strategy, the High would be able to maintain their position permanently. The new doctrines arose partly because of the accumulation of historical knowledge, and the growth of the historical sense, which had hardly existed before the nineteenth century.
The cyclical movement of history was now intelligible, or appeared to be so; and if it was intelligible, then it was alterable.
But the principal, underlying cause was that, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, human equality had become technically possible. It was still true that men were not equal in their native talents and that functions had to be specialized in ways that favoured some individuals against others; but there was no longer any real need for class distinctions or for large differences of wealth.
In earlier ages, class distinctions had been not only inevitable but desirable.
Inequality was the price of civilization.
With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered. Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels.
Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.
In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it.
The idea of an earthly paradise in which men should live together in a state of brotherhood, without laws and without brute labour, had haunted the human imagination for thousands of years.
And this vision had had a certain hold even on the groups who actually profited by each historical change.
The heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be influenced by them to some extent.
But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian.
Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation.
And in the general hardening of outlook that set in round about 1930, practices which had been long abandoned, in some cases for hundreds of years — imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages, and the deportation of whole populations — not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.
It was only after a decade of national wars, civil wars, revolutions, and counter-revolutions in all parts of the world that Ingsoc and its rivals emerged as fully worked-out political theories.
But they had been foreshadowed by the various systems, generally called totalitarian, which had appeared earlier in the century, and the main outlines of the world which would emerge from the prevailing chaos had long been obvious.
What kind of people would control this world had been equally obvious. The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists, and professional politicians.
These people, whose origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralized government.
As compared with their opposite numbers in past ages, they were less avaricious, less tempted by luxury, hungrier for pure power, and, above all, more conscious of what they were doing and more intent on crushing opposition.
This last difference was cardinal.
A world of complete obedience stripped their humanity away.
By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient.
The ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking.
Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards.
Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.
The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further.
With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end. Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed.
The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time.
After the revolutionary period of the fifties and sixties, society regrouped itself, as always, into High, Middle, and Low.
But the new High group, unlike all its forerunners, did not act upon instinct but knew what was needed to safeguard its position. It had long been realized that the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism.
Wealth and privilege are most easily defended when they are possessed jointly.
The so-called ‘abolition of private property’ which took place in the middle years of the century meant, in effect, the concentration of property in far fewer hands than before: but with this difference, that the new owners were a group instead of a mass of individuals.
Individually, no member of the Party owns anything, except petty personal belongings.
Collectively, the Party owns everything in Oceania, because it controls everything, and disposes of the products as it thinks fit.
In the years following the Revolution it was able to step into this commanding position almost unopposed, because the whole process was represented as an act of collectivization.
It had always been assumed that if the capitalist class were expropriated, Socialism must follow: and unquestionably the capitalists had been expropriated. Factories, mines, land, houses, transport — everything had been taken away from them: and since these things were no longer private property, it followed that they must be public property.
Ingsoc, which grew out of the earlier Socialist movement and inherited its phraseology, has in fact carried out the main item in the Socialist programme; with the result, foreseen and intended beforehand, that economic inequality has been made permanent.
But the problems of perpetuating a hierarchical society go deeper than this.
There are only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power.
Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own self-confidence and willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree.
A ruling class which could guard against all of them would remain in power permanently.
Ultimately the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.
After the middle of the present century, the first danger had in reality disappeared. Each of the three powers which now divide the world is in fact unconquerable, and could only become conquerable through slow demographic changes which a government with wide powers can easily avert.
The second danger, also, is only a theoretical one.
The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.
The recurrent economic crises of past times were totally unnecessary and are not now permitted to happen, but other and equally large dislocations can and do happen without having political results, because there is no way in which discontent can become articulate.
Continuous inequality and war was the answer to everything
As for the problem of over-production, which has been latent in our society since the development of machine technique, it is solved by the device of continuous warfare (see Chapter III), which is also useful in keying up public morale to the necessary pitch.
From the point of view of our present rulers, therefore, the only genuine dangers are the splitting-off of a new group of able, under-employed, power-hungry people, and the growth of liberalism and scepticism in their own ranks.
The problem, that is to say, is educational.
It is a problem of continuously moulding the consciousness both of the directing group and of the larger executive group that lies immediately below it. The consciousness of the masses needs only to be influenced in a negative way.
Given this background, one could infer, if one did not know it already, the general structure of Oceanic society.
At the apex of the pyramid comes Big Brother.
Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful.
Every success, every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, all knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly from his leadership and inspiration.
Nobody has ever seen Big Brother.
He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen.
We may be reasonably sure that he will never die, and there is already considerable uncertainty as to when he was born.
Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world.
His function is to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization. Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party. Its numbers limited to six millions, or something less than 2 per cent of the population of Oceania.
Below the Inner Party comes the Outer Party, which, if the Inner Party is described as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the hands.
Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as ‘the proles’, numbering perhaps 85 per cent of the population.
In the terms of our earlier classification, the proles are the Low: for the slave population of the equatorial lands who pass constantly from conqueror to conqueror, are not a permanent or necessary part of the structure.
In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary.
The child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party.
Admission to either branch of the Party is by examination, taken at the age of sixteen.
Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked domination of one province by another.
Jews, Negroes, South Americans of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of that area. In no part of Oceania do the inhabitants have the feeling that they are a colonial population ruled from a distant capital.
Oceania has no capital, and its titular head is a person whose whereabouts nobody knows.
Except that English is its chief LINGUA FRANCA and Newspeak its official language, it is not centralized in any way.
Its rulers are not held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine.
It is true that our society is stratified, and very rigidly stratified, on what at first sight appear to be hereditary lines.
There is far less to-and-fro movement between the different groups than happened under capitalism or even in the pre-industrial age.
Between the two branches of the Party there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise.
Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party.
The most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated.
But this state of affairs is not necessarily permanent, nor is it a matter of principle.
The Party is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does not aim at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if there were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the top, it would be perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new generation from the ranks of the proletariat.
In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition.
The older kind of Socialist, who had been trained to fight against something called ‘class privilege’ assumed that what is not hereditary cannot be permanent. He did not see that the continuity of an oligarchy need not be physical, nor did he pause to reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been shortlived, whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic Church have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands of years.
The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors.
The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but with perpetuating itself.
WHO wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.
By killing education and progress they created a lasting empire
All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived.
Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move towards rebellion, is at present not possible.
From the proletarians nothing is to be feared.
Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is.
They could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly; but, since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the level of popular education is actually declining.
What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference.
They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect.
In a Party member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.
A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police.
Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent.
His friendships, his relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized.
Not only any actual misdemeanour, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever.
On the other hand his actions are not regulated by law or by any clearly formulated code of behaviour.
In Oceania there is no law.
Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean certain death are not formally forbidden, and the endless purges, arrests, tortures, imprisonments, and vaporizations are not inflicted as punishment for crimes which have actually been committed, but are merely the wiping-out of persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in the future.
A Party member is required to have not only the right opinions, but the right instincts.
Many of the beliefs and attitudes demanded of him are never plainly stated, and could not be stated without laying bare the contradictions inherent in Ingsoc.
If he is a person naturally orthodox (in Newspeak a GOODTHINKER), he will in all circumstances know, without taking thought, what is the true belief or the desirable emotion.
But in any case an elaborate mental training, undergone in childhood and grouping itself round the Newspeak words CRIMESTOP, BLACKWHITE, and DOUBLETHINK, makes him unwilling and unable to think too deeply on any subject whatever.
A Party member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites from enthusiasm.
He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party.
The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline.
The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, CRIMESTOP.
CRIMESTOP means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought.
It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction.
CRIMESTOP, in short, means protective stupidity.
Protective Stupidity and opposing the fact.
But stupidity is not enough.
On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body.
Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible.
But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The keyword here is BLACKWHITE.
Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings.
Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts.
Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this.
But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK.
The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons, one of which is subsidiary and, so to speak, precautionary.
The subsidiary reason is that the Party member, like the proletarian, tolerates present-day conditions partly because he has no standards of comparison.
He must be cut off from the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign countries, because it is necessary for him to believe that he is better off than his ancestors and that the average level of material comfort is constantly rising.
But by far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party.
It is not merely that speeches, statistics, and records of every kind must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in all cases right.
It is also that no change in doctrine or in political alignment can ever be admitted.
For to change one’s mind, or even one’s policy, is a confession of weakness.
If, for example, Eurasia or Eastasia (whichever it may be) is the enemy today, then that country must always have been the enemy.
And if the facts say otherwise then the facts must be altered. Thus history is continuously rewritten.
This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.
The mutability of the past is the central tenet of Ingsoc.
Past events, it is argued, have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories.
The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since the Party is in full control of all records and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it.
It also follows that though the past is alterable, it never has been altered in any specific instance.
For when it has been recreated in whatever shape is needed at the moment, then this new version IS the past, and no different past can ever have existed. This holds good even when, as often happens, the same event has to be altered out of recognition several times in the course of a year.
At all times the Party is in possession of absolute truth, and clearly the absolute can never have been different from what it is now.
It will be seen that the control of the past depends above all on the training of memory.
To make sure that all written records agree with the orthodoxy of the moment is merely a mechanical act.
But it is also necessary to REMEMBER that events happened in the desired manner.
And if it is necessary to rearrange one’s memories or to tamper with written records, then it is necessary to FORGET that one has done so.
The trick of doing this can be learned like any other mental technique.
It is learned by the majority of Party members, and certainly by all who are intelligent as well as orthodox.
In Oldspeak it is called, quite frankly, ‘reality control’. In Newspeak it is called DOUBLETHINK, though DOUBLETHINK comprises much else as well.
DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated.
The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.
DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary.
Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK.
For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
Ultimately it is by means of DOUBLETHINK that the Party has been able — and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years — to arrest the course of history.
All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossified or because they grew soft.
Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown; or they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have used force, and once again were overthrown.
They fell, that is to say, either through consciousness or through unconsciousness.
It is the achievement of the Party to have produced a system of thought in which both conditions can exist simultaneously.
And upon no other intellectual basis could the dominion of the Party be made permanent.
If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality.
For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.
It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is.
In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.
One clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale.
Those whose attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are the subject peoples of the disputed territories.
To these people the war is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and fro over their bodies like a tidal wave.
Which side is winning is a matter of complete indifference to them. They are aware that a change of overlordship means simply that they will be doing the same work as before for new masters who treat them in the same manner as the old ones.
The slightly more favoured workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only intermittently conscious of the war.
When it is necessary they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and hatred, but when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for long periods that the war is happening. It is in the ranks of the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, that the true war enthusiasm is found.
World-conquest is believed in most firmly by those who know it to be impossible.
This peculiar linking-together of opposites — knowledge with ignorance, cynicism with fanaticism — is one of the chief distinguishing marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds with contradictions even when there is no practical reason for them.
Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason.
It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts.
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.
These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK.
For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.
In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken.
If human equality is to be for ever averted — if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently — then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.
But there is one question which until this moment we have almost ignored.
It is; WHY should human equality be averted?
Supposing that the mechanics of the process have been rightly described, what is the motive for this huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time?
Here we reach the central secret.
As we have seen. the mystique of the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, depends upon DOUBLETHINK But deeper than this lies the original motive, the never-questioned instinct that first led to the seizure of power and brought DOUBLETHINK, the Thought Police, continuous warfare, and all the other necessary paraphernalia into existence afterwards.
This motive really consists . . .
Winston became aware of silence, as one becomes aware of a new sound.
It seemed to him that Julia had been very still for some time past.
She was lying on her side, naked from the waist upwards, with her cheek pillowed on her hand and one dark lock tumbling across her eyes.
Her breast rose and fell slowly and regularly.
‘Julia, are you awake?’
She was asleep.
He shut the book, put it carefully on the floor, lay down, and pulled the coverlet over both of them.
He had still, he reflected, not learned the ultimate secret.
He understood HOW; he did not understand WHY.
Chapter I, like Chapter III, had not actually told him anything that he did not know, it had merely systematized the knowledge that he possessed already. But after reading it he knew better than before that he was not mad.
Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad.
There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.
A yellow beam from the sinking sun slanted in through the window and fell across the pillow. He shut his eyes. The sun on his face and the girl’s smooth body touching his own gave him a strong, sleepy, confident feeling.
He was safe, everything was all right. He fell asleep murmuring ‘Sanity is not statistical,’ with the feeling that this remark contained in it a profound wisdom.
When he woke it was with the sensation of having slept for a long time, but a glance at the old-fashioned clock told him that it was
He lay dozing for a while; then the usual deep-lunged singing struck up from the yard below:
‘It was only an ’opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!’
The drivelling song seemed to have kept its popularity. You still heard it all over the place. It had outlived the Hate Song. Julia woke at the sound, stretched herself luxuriously, and got out of bed.
‘I’m hungry,’ she said.
‘Let’s make some more coffee. Damn! The stove’s gone out and the water’s cold.’ She picked the stove up and shook it. ‘There’s no oil in it.’
‘We can get some from old Charrington, I expect.’
‘The funny thing is I made sure it was full. I’m going to put my clothes on,’ she added. ‘It seems to have got colder.’
Winston also got up and dressed himself. The indefatigable voice sang on:
‘They sye that time ’eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years
They twist my ’eart-strings yet!’
As he fastened the belt of his overalls he strolled across to the window. The sun must have gone down behind the houses; it was not shining into the yard any longer. The flagstones were wet as though they had just been washed, and he had the feeling that the sky had been washed too, so fresh and pale was the blue between the chimney-pots. Tirelessly the woman marched to and fro, corking and uncorking herself, singing and falling silent, and pegging out more diapers, and more and yet more. He wondered whether she took in washing for a living or was merely the slave of twenty or thirty grandchildren. Julia had come across to his side; together they gazed down with a sort of fascination at the sturdy figure below. As he looked at the woman in her characteristic attitude, her thick arms reaching up for the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded, it struck him for the first time that she was beautiful. It had never before occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an over-ripe turnip, could be beautiful. But it was so, and after all, he thought, why not? The solid, contourless body, like a block of granite, and the rasping red skin, bore the same relation to the body of a girl as the rose-hip to the rose. Why should the fruit be held inferior to the flower?
‘She’s beautiful,’ he murmured.
‘She’s a metre across the hips, easily,’ said Julia.
‘That is her style of beauty,’ said Winston.
He held Julia’s supple waist easily encircled by his arm. From the hip to the knee her flank was against his.
Out of their bodies no child would ever come. That was the one thing they could never do.
Only by word of mouth, from mind to mind, could they pass on the secret. The woman down there had no mind, she had only strong arms, a warm heart, and a fertile belly. He wondered how many children she had given birth to.
It might easily be fifteen.
She had had her momentary flowering, a year, perhaps, of wild-rose beauty and then she had suddenly swollen like a fertilized fruit and grown hard and red and coarse, and then her life had been laundering, scrubbing, darning, cooking, sweeping, polishing, mending, scrubbing, laundering, first for children, then for grandchildren, over thirty unbroken years.
At the end of it she was still singing.
The mystical reverence that he felt for her was somehow mixed up with the aspect of the pale, cloudless sky, stretching away behind the chimney-pots into interminable distance. It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here.
And the people under the sky were also very much the same — everywhere, all over the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same — people who had never learned to think but who were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.
You will find sanity in the changing state of equality
If there was hope, it lay in the proles! Without having read to the end of THE BOOK, he knew that that must be Goldstein’s final message.
The future belonged to the proles.
And could he be sure that when their time came the world they constructed would not be just as alien to him, Winston Smith, as the world of the Party?
Yes, because at the least it would be a world of sanity.
Where there is equality there can be sanity.
Sooner or later it would happen, strength would change into consciousness.
The proles were immortal, you could not doubt it when you looked at that valiant figure in the yard.
In the end their awakening would come.
And until that happened, though it might be a thousand years, they would stay alive against all the odds, like birds, passing on from body to body the vitality which the Party did not share and could not kill.
‘Do you remember,’ he said, ‘the thrush that sang to us, that first day, at the edge of the wood?’
‘He wasn’t singing to us,’ said Julia. ‘He was singing to please himself. Not even that. He was just singing.’
The birds sang, the proles sang. the Party did not sing. All round the world, in London and New York, in Africa and Brazil, and in the mysterious, forbidden lands beyond the frontiers, in the streets of Paris and Berlin, in the villages of the endless Russian plain, in the bazaars of China and Japan — everywhere stood the same solid unconquerable figure, made monstrous by work and childbearing, toiling from birth to death and still singing.
Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come.
You were the dead, theirs was the future. But you could share in that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body, and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two make four.
‘We are the dead,’ he said.
‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.
‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.
They sprang apart.
Winston’s entrails seemed to have turned into ice.
He could see the white all round the irises of Julia’s eyes.
Her face had turned a milky yellow. The smear of rouge that was still on each cheekbone stood out sharply, almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.
‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.
‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.
‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’
It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes.
To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late — no such thought occurred to them.
Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass.
The picture had fallen to the floor uncovering the telescreen behind it.
‘Now they can see us,’ said Julia.
‘Now we can see you,’ said the voice.
‘Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.’
Do not touch each other and remain still. You are both dead
They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he could feel Julia’s body shaking.
Or perhaps it was merely the shaking of his own. He could just stop his teeth from chattering, but his knees were beyond his control.
There was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and outside.
The yard seemed to be full of men. Something was being dragged across the stones.
The woman’s singing had stopped abruptly. There was a long, rolling clang, as though the washtub had been flung across the yard, and then a confusion of angry shouts which ended in a yell of pain.
‘The house is surrounded,’ said Winston.
‘The house is surrounded,’ said the voice.
He heard Julia snap her teeth together. ‘I suppose we may as well say good-bye,’ she said.
‘You may as well say good-bye,’ said the voice. And then another quite different voice, a thin, cultivated voice which Winston had the impression of having heard before, struck in; ‘And by the way, while we are on the subject, “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head”!’
Something crashed on to the bed behind Winston’s back.
The head of a ladder had been thrust through the window and had burst in the frame.
Someone was climbing through the window. There was a stampede of boots up the stairs.
The room was full of solid men in black uniforms, with iron-shod boots on their feet and truncheons in their hands.
Winston was not trembling any longer. Even his eyes he barely moved.
One thing alone mattered; to keep still, to keep still and not give them an excuse to hit you!
A man with a smooth prize-fighter’s jowl in which the mouth was only a slit paused opposite him balancing his truncheon meditatively between thumb and forefinger. Winston met his eyes.
The feeling of nakedness, with one’s hands behind one’s head and one’s face and body all exposed, was almost unbearable.
The man protruded the tip of a white tongue, licked the place where his lips should have been, and then passed on.
There was another crash.
Someone had picked up the glass paperweight from the table and smashed it to pieces on the hearth-stone.
The fragment of coral, a tiny crinkle of pink like a sugar rosebud from a cake, rolled across the mat.
How small, thought Winston, how small it always was! There was a gasp and a thump behind him, and he received a violent kick on the ankle which nearly flung him off his balance.
One of the men had smashed his fist into Julia’s solar plexus, doubling her up like a pocket ruler.
She was thrashing about on the floor, fighting for breath.
Winston dared not turn his head even by a millimetre, but sometimes her livid, gasping face came within the angle of his vision.
Even in his terror it was as though he could feel the pain in his own body, the deadly pain which nevertheless was less urgent than the struggle to get back her breath. He knew what it was like; the terrible, agonizing pain which was there all the while but could not be suffered yet, because before all else it was necessary to be able to breathe.
Then two of the men hoisted her up by knees and shoulders, and carried her out of the room like a sack.
Winston had a glimpse of her face, upside down, yellow and contorted, with the eyes shut, and still with a smear of rouge on either cheek; and that was the last he saw of her.
He stood dead still.
No one had hit him yet.
Thoughts which came of their own accord but seemed totally uninteresting began to flit through his mind.
He wondered whether they had got Mr Charrington. He wondered what they had done to the woman in the yard.
He noticed that he badly wanted to urinate, and felt a faint surprise, because he had done so only two or three hours ago.
He noticed that the clock on the mantelpiece said nine, meaning twenty-one.
But the light seemed too strong.
Would not the light be fading at twenty-one hours on an August evening? He wondered whether after all he and Julia had mistaken the time — had slept the clock round and thought it was twenty-thirty when really it was nought eight-thirty on the following morning.
But he did not pursue the thought further. It was not interesting.
There was another, lighter step in the passage. Mr Charrington came into the room.
The demeanour of the black-uniformed men suddenly became more subdued. Something had also changed in Mr Charrington’s appearance.
His eye fell on the fragments of the glass paperweight.
‘Pick up those pieces,’ he said sharply.
A man stooped to obey.
The cockney accent had disappeared; Winston suddenly realized whose voice it was that he had heard a few moments ago on the telescreen.
Mr Charrington was still wearing his old velvet jacket, but his hair, which had been almost white, had turned black.
Also he was not wearing his spectacles. He gave Winston a single sharp glance, as though verifying his identity, and then paid no more attention to him.
He was still recognizable, but he was not the same person any longer.
His face had undergone only tiny changes that had nevertheless worked a complete transformation. The black eyebrows were less bushy, the wrinkles were gone, the whole lines of the face seemed to have altered; even the nose seemed shorter.
It was the alert, cold face of a man of about five-and-thirty.
It occurred to Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking, with knowledge, at a member of the Thought Police.
a Norse View Imaging and Publishing
a Norse View, Mike Koontz
'1984', Part 2. a thrilling slice of adventure from the way life could devolve under the lies of alternative leaders. By George Orwell, this story continues in Part 3.
Thank you for reading.