Part 2Chapter 1
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
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
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
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
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 Departrnent 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. 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
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
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
'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.
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
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 blackmarket 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
'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.'
The girl laughed delightedly, evidently taking this as a tribute to the excellence of her disguise.
'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 dullbrown 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
'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
Iook 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 meIted 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. A thing that astonished him about her was the coarseness
of her language. 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
'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
'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.'
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.
Part 2Chapter 3 '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. 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
'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
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
hidlng-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
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 infallibIe 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,
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 couId. 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 curiousIy
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
'I could have stood it if it hadn't been for one thing,' he said.
He toId 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
'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; peopIe 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 simpIy 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
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
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
Part 2Chapter 4 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.'
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
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
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
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
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
'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
'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.
Part 2Chapter 5 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
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
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
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.
Part 2Chapter 6 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
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
'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
absentmindedly 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.
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.
Part 2Chapter 7 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
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. 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
meal-times. 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.
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
'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
'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
'If you mean confessing,' she said, 'we shall do that, right
enough. Everybody always confesses. You can't help it. They torture
'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
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
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
'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. Nobody spoke. 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
'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
'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
'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.'
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?'
Winston thought. 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
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.
Part 2Chapter 9 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 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
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
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
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
unihabited 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.
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. 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
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
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
superstates 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. 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
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 oilstove 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 andseemed 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
. Chapter I
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 equilibnum, 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
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. The earthly paradise
had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable.
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
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. 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. As for the problem of overproduction, 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.
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 neve
Part 3Part 3Chapter 1 He did not know where he was. Presumably he was in the
Ministry of Love, but there was no way of making certain. He was in a
high-ceilinged windowless cell with walls of glittering white
porcelain. Concealed lamps flooded it with cold light, and there was a
low, steady humming sound which he supposed had something to do with
the air supply. A bench, or shelf, just wide enough to sit on ran round
the wall, broken only by the door and, at the end opposite the door, a
lavatory pan with no wooden seat. There were four telescreens, one in
There was a dull aching in his belly. It had been there ever since
they had bundled him into the closed van and driven him away. But he
was also hungry, with a gnawing, unwholesome kind of hunger. It might
be twenty-four hours since he had eaten, it might be thirty-six. He
still did not know, probably never would know, whether it had been
morning or evening when they arrested him. Since he was arrested he had
not been fed.
He sat as still as he could on the narrow bench, with his hands
crossed on his knee. He had already learned to sit still. If you made
unexpected movements they yelled at you from the telescreen. But the
craving for food was growing upon him. What he longed for above all was
a piece of bread. He had an idea that there were a few breadcrumbs in
the pocket of his overalls. It was even possible -- he thought this
because from time to time something seemed to tickle his leg -- that
there might be a sizeable bit of crust there. In the end the temptation
to find out overcame his fear; he slipped a hand into his pocket.
'Smith!' yelled a voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Hands out of pockets in the cells!'
He sat still again, his hands crossed on his knee. Before being
brought here he had been taken to another place which must have been an
ordinary prison or a temporary lock-up used by the patrols. He did not
know how long he had been there; some hours at any rate; with no clocks
and no daylight it was hard to gauge the time. It was a noisy,
evil-smelling place. They had put him into a cell similar to the one he
was now in, but filthily dirty and at all times crowded by ten or
fifteen people. The majority of them were common criminals, but there
were a few political prisoners among them. He had sat silent against
the wall, jostled by dirty bodies, too preoccupied by fear and the pain
in his belly to take much interest in his surroundings, but still
noticing the astonishing difference in demeanour between the Party
prisoners and the others. The Party prisoners were always silent and
terrified, but the ordinary criminals seemed to care nothing for
anybody. They yelled insults at the guards, fought back fiercely when
their belongings were impounded, wrote obscene words on the floor, ate
smuggled food which they produced from mysterious hiding-places in
their clothes, and even shouted down the telescreen when it tried to
restore order. On the other hand some of them seemed to be on good
terms with the guards, called them by nicknames, and tried to wheedle
cigarettes through the spyhole in the door. The guards, too, treated
the common criminals with a certain forbearance, even when they had to
handle them roughly. There was much talk about the forced-labour camps
to which most of the prisoners expected to be sent. It was 'all right'
in the camps, he gathered, so long as you had good contacts and knew
the ropes. There was bribery, favouritism, and racketeering of every
kind, there was homosexuality and prostitution, there was even illicit
alcohol distilled from potatoes. The positions of trust were given only
to the common criminals, especially the gangsters and the murderers,
who formed a sort of aristocracy. All the dirty jobs were done by the
There was a constant come-and-go of prisoners of every description:
drug-peddlers, thieves, bandits, black-marketeers, drunks, prostitutes.
Some of the drunks were so violent that the other prisoners had to
combine to suppress them. An enormous wreck of a woman, aged about
sixty, with great tumbling breasts and thick coils of white hair which
had come down in her struggles, was carried in, kicking and shouting,
by four guards, who had hold of her one at each corner. They wrenched
off the boots with which she had been trying to kick them, and dumped
her down across Winston's lap, almost breaking his thigh-bones. The
woman hoisted herself upright and followed them out with a yell of 'F
-- bastards!' Then, noticing that she was sitting on something uneven,
she slid off Winston's knees on to the bench.
'Beg pardon, dearie,' she said. 'I wouldn't 'a sat on you, only the
buggers put me there. They dono 'ow to treat a lady, do they?' She
paused, patted her breast, and belched. 'Pardon,' she said, 'I ain't
She leant forward and vomited copiously on the floor.
'Thass better,' she said, leaning back with closed eyes. 'Never
keep it down, thass what I say. Get it up while it's fresh on your
She revived, turned to have another look at Winston and seemed
immediately to take a fancy to him. She put a vast arm round his
shoulder and drew him towards her, breathing beer and vomit into his
'Wass your name, dearie?' she said.
'Smith,' said Winston.
'Smith?' said the woman. 'Thass funny. My name's Smith too. Why,' she added sentimentally, 'I might be your mother!'
She might, thought Winston, be his mother. She was about the right
age and physique, and it was probable that people changed somewhat
after twenty years in a forced-labour camp.
No one else had spoken to him. To a surprising extent the ordinary
criminals ignored the Party prisoners. 'The polits,' they called them,
with a sort of uninterested contempt. The Party prisoners seemed
terrified of speaking to anybody, and above all of speaking to one
another. Only once, when two Party members, both women, were pressed
close together on the bench, he overheard amid the din of voices a few
hurriedly-whispered words; and in particular a reference to something
called 'room one-oh-one', which he did not understand.
It might be two or three hours ago that they had brought him here.
The dull pain in his belly never went away, but sometimes it grew
better and sometimes worse, and his thoughts expanded or contracted
accordingly. When it grew worse he thought only of the pain itself, and
of his desire for food. When it grew better, panic took hold of him.
There were moments when he foresaw the things that would happen to him
with such actuality that his heart galloped and his breath stopped. He
felt the smash of truncheons on his elbows and iron-shod boots on his
shins; he saw himself grovelling on the floor, screaming for mercy
through broken teeth. He hardly thought of Julia. He could not fix his
mind on her. He loved her and would not betray her; but that was only a
fact, known as he knew the rules of arithmetic. He felt no love for
her, and he hardly even wondered what was happening to her. He thought
oftener of O'Brien, with a flickering hope. O'Brien might know that he
had been arrested. The Brotherhood, he had said, never tried to save
its members. But there was the razor blade; they would send the razor
blade if they could. There would be perhaps five seconds before the
guard could rush into the cell. The blade would bite into him with a
sort of burning coldness, and even the fingers that held it would be
cut to the bone. Everything came back to his sick body, which shrank
trembling from the smallest pain. He was not certain that he would use
the razor blade even if he got the chance. It was more natural to exist
from moment to moment, accepting another ten minutes' life even with
the certainty that there was torture at the end of it.
Sometimes he tried to calculate the number of porcelain bricks in
the walls of the cell. It should have been easy, but he always lost
count at some point or another. More often he wondered where he was,
and what time of day it was. At one moment he felt certain that it was
broad daylight outside, and at the next equally certain that it was
pitch darkness. In this place, he knew instinctively, the lights would
never be turned out. It was the place with no darkness: he saw now why
O'Brien had seemed to recognize the allusion. In the Ministry of Love
there were no windows. His cell might be at the heart of the building
or against its outer wall; it might be ten floors below ground, or
thirty above it. He moved himself mentally from place to place, and
tried to determine by the feeling of his body whether he was perched
high in the air or buried deep underground.
There was a sound of marching boots outside. The steel door opened
with a clang. A young officer, a trim black-uniformed figure who seemed
to glitter all over with polished leather, and whose pale,
straight-featured face was like a wax mask, stepped smartly through the
doorway. He motioned to the guards outside to bring in the prisoner
they were leading. The poet Ampleforth shambled into the cell. The door
clanged shut again.
Ampleforth made one or two uncertain movements from side to side,
as though having some idea that there was another door to go out of,
and then began to wander up and down the cell. He had not yet noticed
Winston's presence. His troubled eyes were gazing at the wall about a
metre above the level of Winston's head. He was shoeless; large, dirty
toes were sticking out of the holes in his socks. He was also several
days away from a shave. A scrubby beard covered his face to the
cheekbones, giving him an air of ruffianism that went oddly with his
large weak frame and nervous movements.
Winston roused hirnself a little from his lethargy. He must speak
to Ampleforth, and risk the yell from the telescreen. It was even
conceivable that Ampleforth was the bearer of the razor blade.
'Ampleforth,' he said.
There was no yell from the telescreen. Ampleforth paused, mildly startled. His eyes focused themselves slowly on Winston.
'Ah, Smith!' he said. 'You too!'
'What are you in for?'
'To tell you the truth -- ' He sat down awkwardly on the bench
opposite Winston. 'There is only one offence, is there not?' he said.
'And have you committed it?'
'Apparently I have.'
He put a hand to his forehead and pressed his temples for a moment, as though trying to remember something.
'These things happen,' he began vaguely. 'I have been able to
recall one instance -- a possible instance. It was an indiscretion,
undoubtedly. We were producing a definitive edition of the poems of
Kipling. I allowed the word "God" to remain at the end of a line. I
could not help it!' he added almost indignantly, raising his face to
look at Winston. 'It was impossible to change the line. The rhyme was
"rod". Do you realize that there are only twelve rhymes to "rod" in the
entire language? For days I had racked my brains. There was no other
The expression on his face changed. The annoyance passed out of it
and for a moment he looked almost pleased. A sort of intellectual
warmth, the joy of the pedant who has found out some useless fact,
shone through the dirt and scrubby hair.
'Has it ever occurred to you,' he said, 'that the whole history of
English poetry has been determined by the fact that the English
language lacks rhymes?'
No, that particular thought had never occurred to Winston. Nor, in
the circumstances, did it strike him as very important or interesting.
'Do you know what time of day it is?' he said.
Ampleforth looked startled again. 'I had hardly thought about it.
They arrested me -- it could be two days ago -- perhaps three.' His
eyes flitted round the walls, as though he half expected to find a
window somewhere. 'There is no difference between night and day in this
place. I do not see how one can calculate the time.'
They talked desultorily for some minutes, then, without apparent
reason, a yell from the telescreen bade them be silent. Winston sat
quietly, his hands crossed. Ampleforth, too large to sit in comfort on
the narrow bench, fidgeted from side to side, clasping his lank hands
first round one knee, then round the other. The telescreen barked at
him to keep still. Time passed. Twenty minutes, an hour -- it was
difficult to judge. Once more there was a sound of boots outside.
Winston's entrails contracted. Soon, very soon, perhaps in five
minutes, perhaps now, the tramp of boots would mean that his own turn
The door opened. The cold-faced young officer stepped into the cell. With a brief movement of the hand he indicated Ampleforth.
'Room 101,' he said.
Ampleforth marched clumsily out between the guards, his face vaguely perturbed, but uncomprehending.
What seemed like a long time passed. The pain in Winston's belly
had revived. His mind sagged round and round on the same trick, like a
ball falling again and again into the same series of slots. He had only
six thoughts. The pain in his belly; a piece of bread; the blood and
the screaming; O'Brien ; Julia; the razor blade. There was another
spasm in his entrails, the heavy boots were approaching. As the door
opened, the wave of air that it created brought in a powerful smell of
cold sweat. Parsons walked into the cell. He was wearing khaki shorts
and a sports-shirt.
This time Winston was startled into self-forgetfulness.
'You here!' he said.
Parsons gave Winston a glance in which there was neither interest
nor surprise, but only misery. He began walking jerkily up and down,
evidently unable to keep still. Each time he straightened his pudgy
knees it was apparent that they were trembling. His eyes had a
wide-open, staring look, as though he could not prevent himself from
gazing at something in the middle distance.
'What are you in for?' said Winston.
'Thoughtcrime!' said Parsons, almost blubbering. The tone of his
voice implied at once a complete admission of his guilt and a sort of
incredulous horror that such a word could be applied to himself. He
paused opposite Winston and began eagerly appealing to him: 'You don't
think they'll shoot me, do you, old chap? They don't shoot you if you
haven't actually done anything -- only thoughts, which you can't help?
I know they give you a fair hearing. Oh, I trust them for that! They'll
know my record, won't they? You know what kind of chap I was. Not a bad
chap in my way. Not brainy, of course, but keen. I tried to do my best
for the Party, didn't I? I'll get off with five years, don't you think?
Or even ten years? A chap like me could make himself pretty useful in a
labour-camp. They wouldn't shoot me for going off the rails just once?'
'Are you guilty?' said Winston.
'Of course I'm guilty!' cried Parsons with a servile glance at the
telescreen. 'You don't think the Party would arrest an innocent man, do
you?' His frog-like face grew calmer, and even took on a slightly
sanctimonious expression. 'Thoughtcrime is a dreadful thing, old man,'
he said sententiously. 'It's insidious. It can get hold of you without
your even knowing it. Do you know how it got hold of me? In my sleep!
Yes, that's a fact. There I was, working away, trying to do my bit --
never knew I had any bad stuff in my mind at all. And then I started
talking in my sleep. Do you know what they heard me saying?'
He sank his voice, like someone who is obliged for medical reasons to utter an obscenity.
"Down with Big Brother!" Yes, I said that! Said it over and over
again, it seems. Between you and me, old man, I'm glad they got me
before it went any further. Do you know what I'm going to say to them
when I go up before the tribunal? "Thank you," I'm going to say, "thank
you for saving me before it was too late."
'Who denounced you?' said Winston.
'It was my little daughter,' said Parsons with a sort of doleful
pride. 'She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and
nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper
of seven, eh? I don't bear her any grudge for it. In fact I'm proud of
her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.'
He made a few more jerky movements up and down, several times,
casting a longing glance at the lavatory pan. Then he suddenly ripped
down his shorts.
'Excuse me, old man,' he said. 'I can't help it. It's the waiting.'
He plumped his large posterior into the lavatory pan. Winston covered his face with his hands.
'Smith!' yelled the voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W! Uncover your face. No faces covered in the cells.'
Winston uncovered his face. Parsons used the lavatory, loudly and
abundantly. It then turned out that the plug was defective and the cell
stank abominably for hours afterwards.
Parsons was removed. More prisoners came and went, mysteriously.
One, a woman, was consigned to 'Room 101', and, Winston noticed, seemed
to shrivel and turn a different colour when she heard the words. A time
came when, if it had been morning when he was brought here, it would be
afternoon; or if it had been afternoon, then it would be midnight.
There were six prisoners in the cell, men and women. All sat very
still. Opposite Winston there sat a man with a chinless, toothy face
exactly like that of some large, harmless rodent. His fat, mottled
cheeks were so pouched at the bottom that it was difficult not to
believe that he had little stores of food tucked away there. His
pale-grey eyes flitted timorously from face to face and turned quickly
away again when he caught anyone's eye.
The door opened, and another prisoner was brought in whose
appearance sent a momentary chill through Winston. He was a
commonplace, mean-looking man who might have been an engineer or
technician of some kind. But what was startling was the emaciation of
his face. It was like a skull. Because of its thinness the mouth and
eyes looked disproportionately large, and the eyes seemed filled with a
murderous, unappeasable hatred of somebody or something.
The man sat down on the bench at a little distance from Winston.
Winston did not look at him again, but the tormented, skull-like face
was as vivid in his mind as though it had been straight in front of his
eyes. Suddenly he realized what was the matter. The man was dying of
starvation. The same thought seemed to occur almost simultaneously to
everyone in the cell. There was a very faint stirring all the way round
the bench. The eyes of the chinless man kept flitting towards the
skull-faced man, then turning guiltily away, then being dragged back by
an irresistible attraction. Presently he began to fidget on his seat.
At last he stood up, waddled clumsily across the cell, dug down into
the pocket of his overalls, and, with an abashed air, held out a grimy
piece of bread to the skull-faced man.
There was a furious, deafening roar from the telescreen. The
chinless man jumped in his tracks. The skull-faced man had quickly
thrust his hands behind his back, as though demonstrating to all the
world that he refused the gift.
'Bumstead!' roared the voice. '2713 Bumstead J.! Let fall that piece of bread!'
The chinless man dropped the piece of bread on the floor.
'Remain standing where you are,' said the voice. 'Face the door. Make no movement.'
The chinless man obeyed. His large pouchy cheeks were quivering
uncontrollably. The door clanged open. As the young officer entered and
stepped aside, there emerged from behind him a short stumpy guard with
enormous arms and shoulders. He took his stand opposite the chinless
man, and then, at a signal from the officer, let free a frightful blow,
with all the weight of his body behind it, full in the chinless man's
mouth. The force of it seemed almost to knock him clear of the floor.
His body was flung across the cell and fetched up against the base of
the lavatory seat. For a moment he lay as though stunned, with dark
blood oozing from his mouth and nose. A very faint whimpering or
squeaking, which seemed unconscious, came out of him. Then he rolled
over and raised himself unsteadily on hands and knees. Amid a stream of
blood and saliva, the two halves of a dental plate fell out of his
The prisoners sat very still, their hands crossed on their knees.
The chinless man climbed back into his place. Down one side of his face
the flesh was darkening. His mouth had swollen into a shapeless
cherry-coloured mass with a black hole in the middle of it.
From time to time a little blood dripped on to the breast of his
overalls. His grey eyes still flitted from face to face, more guiltily
than ever, as though he were trying to discover how much the others
despised him for his humiliation.
The door opened. With a small gesture the officer indicated the skull-faced man.
'Room 101,' he said.
There was a gasp and a flurry at Winston's side. The man had
actually flung himself on his knees on the floor, with his hand clasped
'Comrade! Officer!' he cried. 'You don't have to take me to that
place! Haven't I told you everything already? What else is it you want
to know? There's nothing I wouldn't confess, nothing! Just tell me what
it is and I'll confess straight off. Write it down and I'll sign it --
anything! Not room 101!'
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man's face, already very pale, turned a colour Winston would
not have believed possible. It was definitely, unmistakably, a shade of
'Do anything to me!' he yelled. 'You've been starving me for weeks.
Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me. Sentence me to
twenty-five years. Is there somebody else you want me to give away?
Just say who it is and I'll tell you anything you want. I don't care
who it is or what you do to them. I've got a wife and three children.
The biggest of them isn't six years old. You can take the whole lot of
them and cut their throats in front of my eyes, and I'll stand by and
watch it. But not Room 101!'
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man looked frantically round at the other prisoners, as though
with some idea that he could put another victim in his own place. His
eyes settled on the smashed face of the chinless man. He flung out a
'That's the one you ought to be taking, not me!' he shouted. 'You
didn't hear what he was saying after they bashed his face. Give me a
chance and I'll tell you every word of it. He's the one that's against
the Party, not me.' The guards stepped forward. The man's voice rose to
a shriek. 'You didn't hear him!' he repeated. 'Something went wrong
with the telescreen. He's the one you want. Take him, not me!'
The two sturdy guards had stooped to take him by the arms. But just
at this moment he flung himself across the floor of the cell and
grabbed one of the iron legs that supported the bench. He had set up a
wordless howling, like an animal. The guards took hold of him to wrench
him loose, but he clung on with astonishing strength. For perhaps
twenty seconds they were hauling at him. The prisoners sat quiet, their
hands crossed on their knees, looking straight in front of them. The
howling stopped; the man had no breath left for anything except hanging
on. Then there was a different kind of cry. A kick from a guard's boot
had broken the fingers of one of his hands. They dragged him to his
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man was led out, walking unsteadily, with head sunken, nursing his crushed hand, all the fight had gone out of him.
A long time passed. If it had been midnight when the skull-faced
man was taken away, it was morning: if morning, it was afternoon.
Winston was alone, and had been alone for hours. The pain of sitting on
the narrow bench was such that often he got up and walked about,
unreproved by the telescreen. The piece of bread still lay where the
chinless man had dropped it. At the beginning it needed a hard effort
not to look at it, but presently hunger gave way to thirst. His mouth
was sticky and evil-tasting. The humming sound and the unvarying white
light induced a sort of faintness, an empty feeling inside his head. He
would get up because the ache in his bones was no longer bearable, and
then would sit down again almost at once because he was too dizzy to
make sure of staying on his feet. Whenever his physical sensations were
a little under control the terror returned. Sometimes with a fading
hope he thought of O'Brien and the razor blade. It was thinkable that
the razor blade might arrive concealed in his food, if he were ever
fed. More dimly he thought of Julia. Somewhere or other she was
suffering perhaps far worse than he. She might be screaming with pain
at this moment. He thought: 'If I could save Julia by doubling my own
pain, would I do it? Yes, I would.' But that was merely an intellectual
decision, taken because he knew that he ought to take it. He did not
feel it. In this place you could not feel anything, except pain and
foreknowledge of pain. Besides, was it possible, when you were actually
suffering it, to wish for any reason that your own pain should
increase? But that question was not answerable yet.
The boots were approaching again. The door opened. O'Brien came in.
Winston started to his feet. The shock of the sight had driven all
caution out of him. For the first time in many years he forgot the
presence of the telescreen.
'They've got you too!' he cried.
'They got me a long time ago,' said O'Brien with a mild, almost
regretful irony. He stepped aside. From behind him there emerged a
broad-chested guard with a long black truncheon in his hand.
'You know him, Winston,' said O'Brien. 'Don't deceive yourself. You did know it -- you have always known it.'
Yes, he saw now, he had always known it. But there was no time to
think of that. All he had eyes for was the truncheon in the guard's
hand. It might fall anywhere; on the crown, on the tip of the ear, on
the upper arm, on the elbow --
The elbow! He had slumped to his knees, almost paralysed, clasping
the stricken elbow with his other hand. Everything had exploded into
yellow light. Inconceivable, inconceivable that one blow could cause
such pain! The light cleared and he could see the other two looking
down at him. The guard was laughing at his contortions. One question at
any rate was answered. Never, for any reason on earth, could you wish
for an increase of pain. Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it
should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the
face of pain there are no heroes, no heroes, he thought over and over
as he writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left
Part 3Chapter 2 He was lying on something that felt like a camp bed,
except that it was higher off the ground and that he was fixed down in
some way so that he could not move. Light that seemed stronger than
usual was falling on his face. O'Brien was standing at his side,
looking down at him intently. At the other side of him stood a man in a
white coat, holding a hypodermic syringe.
Even after his eyes were open he took in his surroundings only
gradually. He had the impression of swimming up into this room from
some quite different world, a sort of underwater world far beneath it.
How long he had been down there he did not know. Since the moment when
they arrested him he had not seen darkness or daylight. Besides, his
memories were not continuous. There had been times when consciousness,
even the sort of consciousness that one has in sleep, had stopped dead
and started again after a blank interval. But whether the intervals
were of days or weeks or only seconds, there was no way of knowing.
With that first blow on the elbow the nightmare had started. Later
he was to realize that all that then happened was merely a preliminary,
a routine interrogation to which nearly all prisoners were subjected.
There was a long range of crimes -- espionage, sabotage, and the like
-- to which everyone had to confess as a matter of course. The
confession was a formality, though the torture was real. How many times
he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued, he could not
remember. Always there were five or six men in black uniforms at him
simultaneously. Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons,
sometimes it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times
when he rolled about the floor, as shameless as an animal, writhing his
body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the
kicks, and simply inviting more and yet more kicks, in his ribs, in his
belly, on his elbows, on his shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on
the bone at the base of his spine. There were times when it went on and
on until the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not that
the guards continued to beat him but that he could not force himself
into losing consciousness. There were times when his nerve so forsook
him that he began shouting for mercy even before the beating began,
when the mere sight of a fist drawn back for a blow was enough to make
him pour forth a confession of real and imaginary crimes. There were
other times when he started out with the resolve of confessing nothing,
when every word had to be forced out of him between gasps of pain, and
there were times when he feebly tried to compromise, when he said to
himself: 'I will confess, but not yet. I must hold out till the pain
becomes unbearable. Three more kicks, two more kicks, and then I will
tell them what they want.' Sometimes he was beaten till he could hardly
stand, then flung like a sack of potatoes on to the stone floor of a
cell, left to recuperate for a few hours, and then taken out and beaten
again. There were also longer periods of recovery. He remembered them
dimly, because they were spent chiefly in sleep or stupor. He
remembered a cell with a plank bed, a sort of shelf sticking out from
the wall, and a tin wash-basin, and meals of hot soup and bread and
sometimes coffee. He remembered a surly barber arriving to scrape his
chin and crop his hair, and businesslike, unsympathetic men in white
coats feeling his pulse, tapping his reflexes, turning up his eyelids,
running harsh fingers over him in search for broken bones, and shooting
needles into his arm to make him sleep.
The beatings grew less frequent, and became mainly a threat, a
horror to which he could be sent back at any moment when his answers
were unsatisfactory. His questioners now were not ruffians in black
uniforms but Party intellectuals, little rotund men with quick
movements and flashing spectacles, who worked on him in relays over
periods which lasted -- he thought, he could not be sure -- ten or
twelve hours at a stretch. These other questioners saw to it that he
was in constant slight pain, but it was not chiefly pain that they
relied on. They slapped his face, wrung his ears, pulled his hair, made
him stand on one leg, refused him leave to urinate, shone glaring
lights in his face until his eyes ran with water; but the aim of this
was simply to humiliate him and destroy his power of arguing and
reasoning. Their real weapon was the merciless questioning that went on
and on, hour after hour, tripping him up, laying traps for him,
twisting everything that he said, convicting him at every step of lies
and self-contradiction until he began weeping as much from shame as
from nervous fatigue. Sometimes he would weep half a dozen times in a
single session. Most of the time they screamed abuse at him and
threatened at every hesitation to deliver him over to the guards again;
but sometimes they would suddenly change their tune, call him comrade,
appeal to him in the name of Ingsoc and Big Brother, and ask him
sorrowfully whether even now he had not enough loyalty to the Party
left to make him wish to undo the evil he had done. When his nerves
were in rags after hours of questioning, even this appeal could reduce
him to snivelling tears. In the end the nagging voices broke him down
more completely than the boots and fists of the guards. He became
simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed, whatever was demanded
of him. His sole concern was to find out what they wanted him to
confess, and then confess it quickly, before the bullying started anew.
He confessed to the assassination of eminent Party members, the
distribution of seditious pamphlets, embezzlement of public funds, sale
of military secrets, sabotage of every kind. He confessed that he had
been a spy in the pay of the Eastasian government as far back as 1968.
He confessed that he was a religious believer, an admirer of
capitalism, and a sexual pervert. He confessed that he had murdered his
wife, although he knew, and his questioners must have known, that his
wife was still alive. He confessed that for years he had been in
personal touch with Goldstein and had been a member of an underground
organization which had included almost every human being he had ever
known. It was easier to confess everything and implicate everybody.
Besides, in a sense it was all true. It was true that he had been the
enemy of the Party, and in the eyes of the Party there was no
distinction between the thought and the deed.
There were also memories of another kind. They stood out in his
mind disconnectedly, like pictures with blackness all round them.
He was in a cell which might have been either dark or light,
because he could see nothing except a pair of eyes. Near at hand some
kind of instrument was ticking slowly and regularly. The eyes grew
larger and more luminous. Suddenly he floated out of his seat, dived
into the eyes, and was swallowed up.
He was strapped into a chair surrounded by dials, under dazzling
lights. A man in a white coat was reading the dials. There was a tramp
of heavy boots outside. The door clanged open. The waxed-faced officer
marched in, followed by two guards.
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man in the white coat did not turn round. He did not look at Winston either; he was looking only at the dials.
He was rolling down a mighty corridor, a kilometre wide, full of
glorious, golden light, roaring with laughter and shouting out
confessions at the top of his voice. He was confessing everything, even
the things he had succeeded in holding back under the torture. He was
relating the entire history of his life to an audience who knew it
already. With him were the guards, the other questioners, the men in
white coats, O'Brien, Julia, Mr Charrington, all rolling down the
corridor together and shouting with laughter. Some dreadful thing which
had lain embedded in the future had somehow been skipped over and had
not happened. Everything was all right, there was no more pain, the
last detail of his life was laid bare, understood, forgiven.
He was starting up from the plank bed in the half-certainty that he
had heard O'Brien's voice. All through his interrogation, although he
had never seen him, he had had the feeling that O'Brien was at his
elbow, just out of sight. It was O'Brien who was directing everything.
It was he who set the guards on to Winston and who prevented them from
killing him. It was he who decided when Winston should scream with
pain, when he should have a respite, when he should be fed, when he
should sleep, when the drugs should be pumped into his arm. It was he
who asked the questions and suggested the answers. He was the
tormentor, he was the protector, he was the inquisitor, he was the
friend. And once -- Winston could not remember whether it was in
drugged sleep, or in normal sleep, or even in a moment of wakefulness
-- a voice murmured in his ear: 'Don't worry, Winston; you are in my
keeping. For seven years I have watched over you. Now the turning-point
has come. I shall save you, I shall make you perfect.' He was not sure
whether it was O'Brien's voice; but it was the same voice that had said
to him, 'We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,' in
that other dream, seven years ago.
He did not remember any ending to his interrogation. There was a
period of blackness and then the cell, or room, in which he now was had
gradually materialized round him. He was almost flat on his back, and
unable to move. His body was held down at every essential point. Even
the back of his head was gripped in some manner. O'Brien was looking
down at him gravely and rather sadly. His face, seen from below, looked
coarse and worn, with pouches under the eyes and tired lines from nose
to chin. He was older than Winston had thought him; he was perhaps
forty-eight or fifty. Under his hand there was a dial with a lever on
top and figures running round the face.
'I told you,' said O'Brien, 'that if we met again it would be here.'
'Yes,' said Winston.
Without any warning except a slight movement of O'Brien's hand, a
wave of pain flooded his body. It was a frightening pain, because he
could not see what was happening, and he had the feeling that some
mortal injury was being done to him. He did not know whether the thing
was really happening, or whether the effect was electrically produced;
but his body was being wrenched out of shape, the joints were being
slowly torn apart. Although the pain had brought the sweat out on his
forehead, the worst of all was the fear that his backbone was about to
snap. He set his teeth and breathed hard through his nose, trying to
keep silent as long as possible.
'You are afraid,' said O'Brien, watching his face, 'that in another
moment something is going to break. Your especial fear is that it will
be your backbone. You have a vivid mental picture of the vertebrae
snapping apart and the spinal fluid dripping out of them. That is what
you are thinking, is it not, Winston?'
Winston did not answer. O'Brien drew back the lever on the dial. The wave of pain receded almost as quickly as it had come.
'That was forty,' said O'Brien. 'You can see that the numbers on
this dial run up to a hundred. Will you please remember, throughout our
conversation, that I have it in my power to inflict pain on you at any
moment and to whatever degree I choose? If you tell me any lies, or
attempt to prevaricate in any way, or even fall below your usual level
of intelligence, you will cry out with pain, instantly. Do you
'Yes,' said Winston.
O'Brien's manner became less severe. He resettled his spectacles
thoughtfully, and took a pace or two up and down. When he spoke his
voice was gentle and patient. He had the air of a doctor, a teacher,
even a priest, anxious to explain and persuade rather than to punish.
'I am taking trouble with you, Winston,' he said, 'because you are
worth trouble. You know perfectly well what is the matter with you. You
have known it for years, though you have fought against the knowledge.
You are mentally deranged. You suffer from a defective memory. You are
unable to remember real events and you persuade yourself that you
remember other events which never happened. Fortunately it is curable.
You have never cured yourself of it, because you did not choose to.
There was a small effort of the will that you were not ready to make.
Even now, I am well aware, you are clinging to your disease under the
impression that it is a virtue. Now we will take an example. At this
moment, which power is Oceania at war with?'
'When I was arrested, Oceania was at war with Eastasia.'
'With Eastasia. Good. And Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, has it not?'
Winston drew in his breath. He opened his mouth to speak and then did not speak. He could not take his eyes away from the dial.
'The truth, please, Winston. Your truth. Tell me what you think you remember.'
'I remember that until only a week before I was arrested, we were
not at war with Eastasia at all. We were in alliance with them. The war
was against Eurasia. That had lasted for four years. Before that --'
O'Brien stopped him with a movement of the hand.
'Another example,' he said. 'Some years ago you had a very serious
delusion indeed. You believed that three men, three onetime Party
members named Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford men who were executed for
treachery and sabotage after making the fullest possible confession --
were not guilty of the crimes they were charged with. You believed that
you had seen unmistakable documentary evidence proving that their
confessions were false. There was a certain photograph about which you
had a hallucination. You believed that you had actually held it in your
hands. It was a photograph something like this.'
An oblong slip of newspaper had appeared between O'Brien's fingers.
For perhaps five seconds it was within the angle of Winston's vision.
It was a photograph, and there was no question of its identity. It was
the photograph. It was another copy of the photograph of Jones,
Aaronson, and Rutherford at the party function in New York, which he
had chanced upon eleven years ago and promptly destroyed. For only an
instant it was before his eyes, then it was out of sight again. But he
had seen it, unquestionably he had seen it! He made a desperate,
agonizing effort to wrench the top half of his body free. It was
impossible to move so much as a centimetre in any direction. For the
moment he had even forgotten the dial. All he wanted was to hold the
photograph in his fingers again, or at least to see it.
'It exists!' he cried.
'No,' said O'Brien.
He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite
wall. O'Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was
whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash
of flame. O'Brien turned away from the wall.
'Ashes,' he said. 'Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.'
'But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.'
'I do not remember it,' said O'Brien.
Winston's heart sank. That was doublethink. He had a feeling of
deadly helplessness. If he could have been certain that O'Brien was
lying, it would not have seemed to matter. But it was perfectly
possible that O'Brien had really forgotten the photograph. And if so,
then already he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and
forgotten the act of forgetting. How could one be sure that it was
simple trickery? Perhaps that lunatic dislocation in the mind could
really happen: that was the thought that defeated him.
O'Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More than ever he
had the air of a teacher taking pains with a wayward but promising
'There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the past,' he said. 'Repeat it, if you please.'
'"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,"' repeated Winston obediently.
'"Who controls the present controls the past,"' said O'Brien,
nodding his head with slow approval. 'Is it your opinion, Winston, that
the past has real existence?'
Again the feeling of helplessness descended upon Winston. His eyes
flitted towards the dial. He not only did not know whether 'yes' or
'no' was the answer that would save him from pain; he did not even know
which answer he believed to be the true one.
O'Brien smiled faintly. 'You are no metaphysician, Winston,' he
said. 'Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by
existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist
concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of
solid objects, where the past is still happening?'
'Then where does the past exist, if at all?'
'In records. It is written down.'
'In records. And --?'
'In the mind. In human memories.'
'In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records,
and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?'
'But how can you stop people remembering things?' cried Winston
again momentarily forgetting the dial. 'It is involuntary. It is
outside oneself. How can you control memory? You have not controlled
O'Brien's manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.
'On the contrary,' he said, 'you have not controlled it. That is
what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in
humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission
which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority
of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe
that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own
right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident.
When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you
assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you,
Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human
mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make
mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party,
which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the
truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking
through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to
relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the
will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.'
He paused for a few moments, as though to allow what he had been saying to sink in.
'Do you remember,' he went on, 'writing in your diary, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four"?'
'Yes,' said Winston.
O'Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'
'And if the party says that it is not four but five -- then how many?'
The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot
up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston's body. The
air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by
clenching his teeth he could not stop. O'Brien watched him, the four
fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was
only slightly eased.
'How many fingers, Winston?'
The needle went up to sixty.
'How many fingers, Winston?'
'Four! Four! What else can I say? Four!'
The needle must have risen again, but he did not look at it. The
heavy, stern face and the four fingers filled his vision. The fingers
stood up before his eyes like pillars, enormous, blurry, and seeming to
vibrate, but unmistakably four.
'How many fingers, Winston?'
'Four! Stop it, stop it! How can you go on? Four! Four!'
'How many fingers, Winston?'
'Five! Five! Five!'
'No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers, please?'
'Four! five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'
Abruptly he was sitting up with O'Brien's arm round his shoulders.
He had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds. The bonds that had
held his body down were loosened. He felt very cold, he was shaking
uncontrollably, his teeth were chattering, the tears were rolling down
his cheeks. For a moment he clung to O'Brien like a baby, curiously
comforted by the heavy arm round his shoulders. He had the feeling that
O'Brien was his protector, that the pain was something that came from
outside, from some other source, and that it was O'Brien who would save
him from it.
'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.
'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'
'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are
three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It
is not easy to become sane.'
He laid Winston down on the bed. The grip of his limbs tightened
again, but the pain had ebbed away and the trembling had stopped,
leaving him merely weak and cold. O'Brien motioned with his head to the
man in the white coat, who had stood immobile throughout the
proceedings. The man in the white coat bent down and looked closely
into Winston's eyes, felt his pulse, laid an ear against his chest,
tapped here and there, then he nodded to O'Brien.
'Again,' said O'Brien.
The pain flowed into Winston's body. The needle must be at seventy,
seventy-five. He had shut his eyes this time. He knew that the fingers
were still there, and still four. All that mattered was somehow to stay
alive until the spasm was over. He had ceased to notice whether he was
crying out or not. The pain lessened again. He opened his eyes. O'Brien
had drawn back the lever.
'How many fingers, Winston?'
'Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.'
'Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?'
'Really to see them.'
'Again,' said O'Brien.
Perhaps the needle was eighty -- ninety. Winston could not
intermittently remember why the pain was happening. Behind his
screwed-up eyelids a forest of fingers seemed to be moving in a sort of
dance, weaving in and out, disappearing behind one another and
reappearing again. He was trying to count them, he could not remember
why. He knew only that it was impossible to count them, and that this
was somehow due to the mysterious identity between five and four. The
pain died down again. When he opened his eyes it was to find that he
was still seeing the same thing. Innumerable fingers, like moving
trees, were still streaming past in either direction, crossing and
recrossing. He shut his eyes again.
'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'
'I don't know. I don't know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six -- in all honesty I don't know.'
'Better,' said O'Brien.
A needle slid into Winston's arm. Almost in the same instant a
blissful, healing warmth spread all through his body. The pain was
already half-forgotten. He opened his eyes and looked up gratefully at
O'Brien. At sight of the heavy, lined face, so ugly and so intelligent,
his heart seemed to turn over. If he could have moved he would have
stretched out a hand and laid it on O'Brien arm. He had never loved him
so deeply as at this moment, and not merely because he had stopped the
pain. The old feeling, that it bottom it did not matter whether O'Brien
was a friend or an enemy, had come back. O'Brien was a person who could
be talked to. Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be
understood. O'Brien had tortured him to the edge of lunacy, and in a
little while, it was certain, he would send him to his death. It made
no difference. In some sense that went deeper than friendship, they
were intimates: somewhere or other, although the actual words might
never be spoken, there was a place where they could meet and talk.
O'Brien was looking down at him with an expression which suggested that
the same thought might be in his own mind. When he spoke it was in an
easy, conversational tone.
'Do you know where you are, Winston?' he said.
'I don't know. I can guess. In the Ministry of Love.'
'Do you know how long you have been here?'
'I don't know. Days, weeks, months -- I think it is months.'
'And why do you imagine that we bring people to this place?'
'To make them confess.'
'No, that is not the reason. Try again.'
'To punish them.'
'No!' exclaimed O'Brien. His voice had changed extraordinarily, and
his face had suddenly become both stern and animated. 'No! Not merely
to extract your confession, not to punish you. Shall I tell you why we
have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane! Will you
understand, Winston, that no one whom we bring to this place ever
leaves our hands uncured? We are not interested in those stupid crimes
that you have committed. The Party is not interested in the overt act:
the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies,
we change them. Do you understand what I mean by that?'
He was bending over Winston. His face looked enormous because of
its nearness, and hideously ugly because it was seen from below.
Moreover it was filled with a sort of exaltation, a lunatic intensity.
Again Winston's heart shrank. If it had been possible he would have
cowered deeper into the bed. He felt certain that O'Brien was about to
twist the dial out of sheer wantonness. At this moment, however,
O'Brien turned away. He took a pace or two up and down. Then he
continued less vehemently:
'The first thing for you to understand is that in this place there
are no martyrdoms. You have read of the religious persecutions of the
past. In the Middle Ages there was the Inquisition. It was a failure.
It set out to eradicate heresy, and ended by perpetuating it. For every
heretic it burned at the stake, thousands of others rose up. Why was
that? Because the Inquisition killed its enemies in the open, and
killed them while they were still unrepentant: in fact, it killed them
because they were unrepentant. Men were dying because they would not
abandon their true beliefs. Naturally all the glory belonged to the
victim and all the shame to the Inquisitor who burned him. Later, in
the twentieth century, there were the totalitarians, as they were
called. There were the German Nazis and the Russian Communists. The
Russians persecuted heresy more cruelly than the Inquisition had done.
And they imagined that they had learned from the mistakes of the past;
they knew, at any rate, that one must not make martyrs. Before they
exposed their victims to public trial, they deliberately set themselves
to destroy their dignity. They wore them down by torture and solitude
until they were despicable, cringing wretches, confessing whatever was
put into their mouths, covering themselves with abuse, accusing and
sheltering behind one another, whimpering for mercy. And yet after only
a few years the same thing had happened over again. The dead men had
become martyrs and their degradation was forgotten. Once again, why was
it? In the first place, because the confessions that they had made were
obviously extorted and untrue. We do not make mistakes of that kind.
All the confessions that are uttered here are true. We make them true.
And above all we do not allow the dead to rise up against us. You must
stop imagining that posterity will vindicate you, Winston. Posterity
will never hear of you. You will be lifted clean out from the stream of
history. We shall turn you into gas and pour you into the stratosphere.
Nothing will remain of you, not a name in a register, not a memory in a
living brain. You will be annihilated in the past as well as in the
future. You will never have existed.'
Then why bother to torture me? thought Winston, with a momentary
bitterness. O'Brien checked his step as though Winston had uttered the
thought aloud. His large ugly face came nearer, with the eyes a little
'You are thinking,' he said, 'that since we intend to destroy you
utterly, so that nothing that you say or do can make the smallest
difference -- in that case, why do we go to the trouble of
interrogating you first? That is what you were thinking, was it not?'
'Yes,' said Winston.
O'Brien smiled slightly. 'You are a flaw in the pattern, Winston.
You are a stain that must be wiped out. Did I not tell you just now
that we are different from the persecutors of the past? We are not
content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject
submission. When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own
free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long
as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his
inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of
him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely,
heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. It is
intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in
the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant
of death we cannot permit any deviation. In the old days the heretic
walked to the stake still a heretic, proclaiming his heresy, exulting
in it. Even the victim of the Russian purges could carry rebellion
locked up in his skull as he walked down the passage waiting for the
bullet. But we make the brain perfect before we blow it out. The
command of the old despotisms was "Thou shalt not". The command of the
totalitarians was "Thou shalt". Our command is "Thou art". No one whom
we bring to this place ever stands out against us. Everyone is washed
clean. Even those three miserable traitors in whose innocence you once
believed -- Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford -- in the end we broke them
down. I took part in their interrogation myself. I saw them gradually
worn down, whimpering, grovelling, weeping -- and in the end it was not
with pain or fear, only with penitence. By the time we had finished
with them they were only the shells of men. There was nothing left in
them except sorrow for what they had done, and love of Big Brother. It
was touching to see how they loved him. They begged to be shot quickly,
so that they could die while their minds were still clean.'
His voice had grown almost dreamy. The exaltation, the lunatic
enthusiasm, was still in his face. He is not pretending, thought
Winston, he is not a hypocrite, he believes every word he says. What
most oppressed him was the consciousness of his own intellectual
inferiority. He watched the heavy yet graceful form strolling to and
fro, in and out of the range of his vision. O'Brien was a being in all
ways larger than himself. There was no idea that he had ever had, or
could have, that O'Brien had not long ago known, examined, and
rejected. His mind contained Winston's mind. But in that case how could
it be true that O'Brien was mad? It must be he, Winston, who was mad.
O'Brien halted and looked down at him. His voice had grown stern again.
'Do not imagine that you will save yourself, Winston, however
completely you surrender to us. No one who has once gone astray is ever
spared. And even if we chose to let you live out the natural term of
your life, still you would never escape from us. What happens to you
here is for ever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down
to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to
you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years.
Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything
will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or
friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or
integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we
shall fill you with ourselves.'
He paused and signed to the man in the white coat. Winston was
aware of some heavy piece of apparatus being pushed into place behind
his head. O'Brien had sat down beside the bed, so that his face was
almost on a level with Winston's.
'Three thousand,' he said, speaking over Winston's head to the man in the white coat.
Two soft pads, which felt slightly moist, clamped themselves
against Winston's temples. He quailed. There was pain coming, a new
kind of pain. O'Brien laid a hand reassuringly, almost kindly, on his.
'This time it will not hurt,' he said. 'Keep your eyes fixed on mine.'
At this moment there was a devastating explosion, or what seemed
like an explosion, though it was not certain whether there was any
noise. There was undoubtedly a blinding flash of light. Winston was not
hurt, only prostrated. Although he had already been lying on his back
when the thing happened, he had a curious feeling that he had been
knocked into that position. A terrific painless blow had flattened him
out. Also something had happened inside his head. As his eyes regained
their focus he remembered who he was, and where he was, and recognized
the face that was gazing into his own; but somewhere or other there was
a large patch of emptiness, as though a piece had been taken out of his
'It will not last,' said O'Brien. 'Look me in the eyes. What country is Oceania at war with?'
Winston thought. He knew what was meant by Oceania and that he
himself was a citizen of Oceania. He also remembered Eurasia and
Eastasia; but who was at war with whom he did not know. In fact he had
not been aware that there was any war.
'I don't remember.'
'Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Do you remember that now?'
'Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Since the beginning
of your life, since the beginning of the Party, since the beginning of
history, the war has continued without a break, always the same war. Do
you remember that?'
'Eleven years ago you created a legend about three men who had been
condemned to death for treachery. You pretended that you had seen a
piece of paper which proved them innocent. No such piece of paper ever
existed. You invented it, and later you grew to believe in it. You
remember now the very moment at which you first invented it. Do you
'Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw five fingers. Do you remember that?'
O'Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the thumb concealed.
'There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?'
And he did see them, for a fleeting instant, before the scenery of
his mind changed. He saw five fingers, and there was no deformity. Then
everything was normal again, and the old fear, the hatred, and the
bewilderment came crowding back again. But there had been a moment --
he did not know how long, thirty seconds, perhaps -- of luminous
certainty, when each new suggestion of O'Brien's had filled up a patch
of emptiness and become absolute truth, and when two and two could have
been three as easily as five, if that were what was needed. It had
faded but before O'Brien had dropped his hand; but though he could not
recapture it, he could remember it, as one remembers a vivid experience
at some period of one's life when one was in effect a different person.
'You see now,' said O'Brien, 'that it is at any rate possible.'
'Yes,' said Winston.
O'Brien stood up with a satisfied air. Over to his left Winston saw
the man in the white coat break an ampoule and draw back the plunger of
a syringe. O'Brien turned to Winston with a smile. In almost the old
manner he resettled his spectacles on his nose.
'Do you remember writing in your diary,' he said, 'that it did not
matter whether I was a friend or an enemy, since I was at least a
person who understood you and could be talked to? You were right. I
enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles my own mind
except that you happen to be insane. Before we bring the session to an
end you can ask me a few questions, if you choose.'
'Any question I like?'
'Anything.' He saw that Winston's eyes were upon the dial. 'It is switched off. What is your first question?'
'What have you done with Julia?' said Winston.
O'Brien smiled again. 'She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately --
unreservedly. I have seldom seen anyone come over to us so promptly.
You would hardly recognize her if you saw her. All her rebelliousness,
her deceit, her folly, her dirty-mindedness -- everything has been
burned out of her. It was a perfect conversion, a textbook case.'
'You tortured her?'
O'Brien left this unanswered. 'Next question,' he said.
'Does Big Brother exist?'
'Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.'
'Does he exist in the same way as I exist?'
'You do not exist,' said O'Brien.
Once again the sense of helplessness assailed him. He knew, or he
could imagine, the arguments which proved his own nonexistence; but
they were nonsense, they were only a play on words. Did not the
statement, 'You do not exist', contain a logical absurdity? But what
use was it to say so? His mind shrivelled as he thought of the
unanswerable, mad arguments with which O'Brien would demolish him.
'I think I exist,' he said wearily. 'I am conscious of my own
identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs. I occupy a
particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same
point simultaneously. In that sense, does Big Brother exist?'
'It is of no importance. He exists.'
'Will Big Brother ever die?'
'Of course not. How could he die? Next question.'
'Does the Brotherhood exist?'
'That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free
when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old,
still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes
or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.'
Winston lay silent. His breast rose and fell a little faster. He
still had not asked the question that had come into his mind the first.
He had got to ask it, and yet it was as though his tongue would not
utter it. There was a trace of amusement in O'Brien's face. Even his
spectacles seemed to wear an ironical gleam. He knows, thought Winston
suddenly, he knows what I am going to ask! At the thought the words
burst out of him:
'What is in Room 101?'
The expression on O'Brien's face did not change. He answered drily:
'You know what is in Room 101, Winston. Everyone knows what is in Room 101.'
He raised a finger to the man in the white coat. Evidently the
session was at an end. A needle jerked into Winston's arm. He sank
almost instantly into deep sleep.
Part 3Chapter 3 There are three stages in your reintegration,' said
O'Brien. 'There is learning, there is understanding, and there is
acceptance. It is time for you to enter upon the second stage.'
As always, Winston was lying flat on his back. But of late his
bonds were looser. They still held him to the bed, but he could move
his knees a little and could turn his head from side to side and raise
his arms from the elbow. The dial, also, had grown to be less of a
terror. He could evade its pangs if he was quick-witted enough: it was
chiefly when he showed stupidity that O'Brien pulled the lever.
Sometimes they got through a whole session without use of the dial. He
could not remember how many sessions there had been. The whole process
seemed to stretch out over a long, indefinite time -- weeks, possibly
-- and the intervals between the sessions might sometimes have been
days, sometimes only an hour or two.
'As you lie there,' said O'Brien, 'you have often wondered you have
even asked me -- why the Ministry of Love should expend so much time
and trouble on you. And when you were free you were puzzled by what was
essentially the same question. You could grasp the mechanics of the
Society you lived in, but not its underlying motives. Do you remember
writing in your diary, "I understand how: I do not understand why"? It
was when you thought about "why" that you doubted your own sanity. You
have read the book, Goldstein's book, or parts of it, at least. Did it
tell you anything that you did not know already?'
'You have read it?' said Winston.
'I wrote it. That is to say, I collaborated in writing it. No book is produced individually, as you know.'
'Is it true, what it says?'
'A description, yes. The programme it sets forth is nonsense. The
secret accumulation of knowledge -- a gradual spread of enlightenment
-- ultimately a proletarian rebellion -- the overthrow of the Party.
You foresaw yourself that that was what it would say. It is all
nonsense. The proletarians will never revolt, not in a thousand years
or a million. They cannot. I do not have to tell you the reason: you
know it already. If you have ever cherished any dreams of violent
insurrection, you must abandon them. There is no way in which the Party
can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the
starting-point of your thoughts.'
He came closer to the bed. 'For ever!' he repeated. 'And now let us
get back to the question of "how" and "why". You understand well enough
how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to
power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,' he
added as Winston remained silent.
Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A
feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad gleam of
enthusiasm had come back into O'Brien's face. He knew in advance what
O'Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends,
but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men
in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty
or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived
by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for
mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk
of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal
guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come,
sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing,
thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O'Brien said this he
would believe it. You could see it in his face. O'Brien knew
everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world
was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and
by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had
understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was
justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston,
against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives
your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
'You are ruling over us for our own good,' he said feebly. 'You
believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through
his body. O'Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
'That was stupid, Winston, stupid!' he said. 'You should know better than to say a thing like that.'
He pulled the lever back and continued:
'Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The
Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in
the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or
luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure
power means you will understand presently. We are different from all
the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the
others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and
hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close
to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize
their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that
they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just
round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free
and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power
with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an
end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a
revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the
dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of
torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to
Winston was struck, as he had been struck before, by the tiredness
of O'Brien's face. It was strong and fleshy and brutal, it was full of
intelligence and a sort of controlled passion before which he felt
himself helpless; but it was tired. There were pouches under the eyes,
the skin sagged from the cheekbones. O'Brien leaned over him,
deliberately bringing the worn face nearer.
'You are thinking,' he said, 'that my face is old and tired. You
are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to
prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that
the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour
of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails?'
He turned away from the bed and began strolling up and down again, one hand in his pocket.
'We are the priests of power,' he said. 'God is power. But at
present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time
for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you
must realize is that power is collective. The individual only has power
in so far as he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan:
"Freedom is Slavery". Has it ever occurred to you that it is
reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone -- free -- the human being is
always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to
die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make
complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he
can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is
all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that
power is power over human beings. Over the body but, above all, over
the mind. Power over matter -- external reality, as you would call it
-- is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.'
For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent effort to
raise himself into a sitting position, and merely succeeded in
wrenching his body painfully.
'But how can you control matter?' he burst out. 'You don't even
control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain,
O'Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. 'We control matter
because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will
learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do.
Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like
a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does
not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about
the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.'
'But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.'
'Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did
not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence.
Oceania is the world.'
'But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny
helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the
earth was uninhabited.'
'Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.'
'But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals -- mammoths
and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man
was ever heard of.'
'Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not.
Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was
nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing.
Outside man there is nothing.'
'But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of
them are a million light-years away. They are out of our reach for
'What are the stars?' said O'Brien indifferently. 'They are bits of
fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we
could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun
and the stars go round it.'
Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say
anything. O'Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:
'For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we
navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it
convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the
stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do
you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The
stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose
our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten
Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift
answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he
was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind
-- surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false?
Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name
for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of
O'Brien's mouth as he looked down at him.
'I told you, Winston,' he said, 'that metaphysics is not your
strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you
are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like.
But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is
a digression,' he added in a different tone. 'The real power, the power
we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over
men.' He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a
schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: 'How does one man assert
his power over another, Winston?'
Winston thought. 'By making him suffer,' he said.
'Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he
is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not
his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in
tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new
shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of
world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid
hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and
treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a
world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.
Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old
civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours
is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except
fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall
destroy everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought
which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links
between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and
woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But
in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be
taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The
sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual
formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the
orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no
loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love,
except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the
laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no
literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more
need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and
ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of
life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always -- do not
forget this, Winston -- always there will be the intoxication of power,
constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every
moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling
on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future,
imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever.'
He paused as though he expected Winston to speak. Winston had tried
to shrink back into the surface of the bed again. He could not say
anything. His heart seemed to be frozen. O'Brien went on:
'And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to
be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be
there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again. Everything
that you have undergone since you have been in our hands -- all that
will continue, and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests,
the tortures, the executions, the disappearances will never cease. It
will be a world of terror as much as a world of triumph. The more the
Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the
opposition, the tighter the despotism. Goldstein and his heresies will
live for ever. Every day, at every moment, they will be defeated,
discredited, ridiculed, spat upon and yet they will always survive.
This drama that I have played out with you during seven years will be
played out over and over again generation after generation, always in
subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy,
screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible -- and in the end utterly
penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord.
That is the world that we are preparing, Winston. A world of victory
after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless
pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are
beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in
the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it,
welcome it, become part of it.'
Winston had recovered himself sufficiently to speak. 'You can't!' he said weakly.
'What do you mean by that remark, Winston?'
'You could not create such a world as you have just described. It is a dream. It is impossible.'
'It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred and cruelty. It would never endure.'
'It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit suicide.'
'Nonsense. You are under the impression that hatred is more
exhausting than love. Why should it be? And if it were, what difference
would that make? Suppose that we choose to wear ourselves out faster.
Suppose that we quicken the tempo of human life till men are senile at
thirty. Still what difference would it make? Can you not understand
that the death of the individual is not death? The party is immortal.'
As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness.
Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement
O'Brien would twist the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent.
Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his
inarticulate horror of what O'Brien had said, he returned to the
'I don't know -- I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you.'
'We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining
that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by
what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men
are infinitely malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea
that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it
out of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the
Party. The others are outside -- irrelevant.'
'I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they
will see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces.'
'Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any reason why it should?'
'No. I believe it. I know that you will fail. There is something in
the universe -- I don't know, some spirit, some principle -- that you
will never overcome.'
'Do you believe in God, Winston?'
'Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?'
'I don't know. The spirit of Man.'
'And do you consider yourself a man?'
'If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is
extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone?
You are outside history, you are non-existent.' His manner changed and
he said more harshly: 'And you consider yourself morally superior to
us, with our lies and our cruelty?'
'Yes, I consider myself superior.'
O'Brien did not speak. Two other voices were speaking. After a
moment Winston recognized one of them as his own. It was a sound-track
of the conversation he had had with O'Brien, on the night when he had
enrolled himself in the Brotherhood. He heard himself promising to lie,
to steal, to forge, to murder, to encourage drug-taking and
prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases, to throw vitriol in a
child's face. O'Brien made a small impatient gesture, as though to say
that the demonstration was hardly worth making. Then he turned a switch
and the voices stopped.
'Get up from that bed,' he said.
The bonds had loosened themselves. Winston lowered himself to the floor and stood up unsteadily.
'You are the last man,' said O'Brien. 'You are the guardian of the
human spirit. You shall see yourself as you are. Take off your
Winston undid the bit of string that held his overalls together.
The zip fastener had long since been wrenched out of them. He could not
remember whether at any time since his arrest he had taken off all his
clothes at one time. Beneath the overalls his body was looped with
filthy yellowish rags, just recognizable as the remnants of
underclothes. As he slid them to the ground he saw that there was a
three-sided mirror at the far end of the room. He approached it, then
stopped short. An involuntary cry had broken out of him.
'Go on,' said O'Brien. 'Stand between the wings of the mirror. You shall see the side view as well.'
He had stopped because he was frightened. A bowed, greycoloured,
skeleton-like thing was coming towards him. Its actual appearance was
frightening, and not merely the fact that he knew it to be himself. He
moved closer to the glass. The creature's face seemed to be protruded,
because of its bent carriage. A forlorn, jailbird's face with a nobby
forehead running back into a bald scalp, a crooked nose, and
battered-looking cheekbones above which his eyes were fierce and
watchful. The cheeks were seamed, the mouth had a drawn-in look.
Certainly it was his own face, but it seemed to him that it had changed
more than he had changed inside. The emotions it registered would be
different from the ones he felt. He had gone partially bald. For the
first moment he had thought that he had gone grey as well, but it was
only the scalp that was grey. Except for his hands and a circle of his
face, his body was grey all over with ancient, ingrained dirt. Here and
there under the dirt there were the red scars of wounds, and near the
ankle the varicose ulcer was an inflamed mass with flakes of skin
peeling off it. But the truly frightening thing was the emaciation of
his body. The barrel of the ribs was as narrow as that of a skeleton:
the legs had shrunk so that the knees were thicker than the thighs. He
saw now what O'Brien had meant about seeing the side view. The
curvature of the spine was astonishing. The thin shoulders were hunched
forward so as to make a cavity of the chest, the scraggy neck seemed to
be bending double under the weight of the skull. At a guess he would
have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering from some
'You have thought sometimes,' said O'Brien, 'that my face -- the
face of a member of the Inner Party -- looks old and worn. What do you
think of your own face?'
He seized Winston's shoulder and spun him round so that he was facing him.
'Look at the condition you are in!' he said. 'Look at this filthy
grime all over your body. Look at the dirt between your toes. Look at
that disgusting running sore on your leg. Do you know that you stink
like a goat? Probably you have ceased to notice it. Look at your
emaciation. Do you see? I can make my thumb and forefinger meet round
your bicep. I could snap your neck like a carrot. Do you know that you
have lost twenty-five kilograms since you have been in our hands? Even
your hair is coming out in handfuls. Look!' He plucked at Winston's
head and brought away a tuft of hair. 'Open your mouth. Nine, ten,
eleven teeth left. How many had you when you came to us? And the few
you have left are dropping out of your head. Look here!'
He seized one of Winston's remaining front teeth between his
powerful thumb and forefinger. A twinge of pain shot through Winston's
jaw. O'Brien had wrenched the loose tooth out by the roots. He tossed
it across the cell.
'You are rotting away,' he said; 'you are falling to pieces. What
are you? A bag of filth. Now turn around and look into that mirror
again. Do you see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you
are human, that is humanity. Now put your clothes on again.'
Winston began to dress himself with slow stiff movements. Until now
he had not seemed to notice how thin and weak he was. Only one thought
stirred in his mind: that he must have been in this place longer than
he had imagined. Then suddenly as he fixed the miserable rags round
himself a feeling of pity for his ruined body overcame him. Before he
knew what he was doing he had collapsed on to a small stool that stood
beside the bed and burst into tears. He was aware of his ugliness, his
gracelessness, a bundle of bones in filthy underclothes sitting weeping
in the harsh white light: but he could not stop himself. O'Brien laid a
hand on his shoulder, almost kindly.
'It will not last for ever,' he said. 'You can escape from it whenever you choose. Everything depends on yourself.'
'You did it!' sobbed Winston. 'You reduced me to this state.'
'No, Winston, you reduced yourself to it. This is what you accepted
when you set yourself up against the Party. It was all contained in
that first act. Nothing has happened that you did not foresee.'
He paused, and then went on:
'We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you up. You have seen
what your body is like. Your mind is in the same state. I do not think
there can be much pride left in you. You have been kicked and flogged
and insulted, you have screamed with pain, you have rolled on the floor
in your own blood and vomit. You have whimpered for mercy, you have
betrayed everybody and everything. Can you think of a single
degradation that has not happened to you?'
Winston had stopped weeping, though the tears were still oozing out of his eyes. He looked up at O'Brien.
'I have not betrayed Julia,' he said.
O'Brien looked down at him thoughtfully. 'No,' he said; 'no; that is perfectly true. You have not betrayed Julia.'
The peculiar reverence for O'Brien, which nothing seemed able to
destroy, flooded Winston's heart again. How intelligent, he thought,
how intelligent! Never did O'Brien fail to understand what was said to
him. Anyone else on earth would have answered promptly that he had
betrayed Julia. For what was there that they had not screwed out of him
under the torture? He had told them everything he knew about her, her
habits, her character, her past life; he had confessed in the most
trivial detail everything that had happened at their meetings, all that
he had said to her and she to him, their black-market meals, their
adulteries, their vague plottings against the Party -- everything. And
yet, in the sense in which he intended the word, he had not betrayed
her. He had not stopped loving her; his feelings towards her had
remained the same. O'Brien had seen what he meant without the need for
'Tell me,' he said, 'how soon will they shoot me?'
'It might be a long time,' said O'Brien. 'You are a difficult case.
But don't give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or later. In the end
we shall shoot you.'
Part 3Chapter 4
He was much better. He was growing fatter and stronger every day, if it was proper to speak of days.
The white light and the humming sound were the same as ever, but
the cell was a little more comfortable than the others he had been in.
There was a pillow and a mattress on the plank bed, and a stool to sit
on. They had given him a bath, and they allowed him to wash himself
fairly frequently in a tin basin. They even gave him warm water to wash
with. They had given him new underclothes and a clean suit of overalls.
They had dressed his varicose ulcer with soothing ointment. They had
pulled out the remnants of his teeth and given him a new set of
Weeks or months must have passed. It would have been possible now
to keep count of the passage of time, if he had felt any interest in
doing so, since he was being fed at what appeared to be regular
intervals. He was getting, he judged, three meals in the twenty-four
hours; sometimes he wondered dimly whether he was getting them by night
or by day. The food was surprisingly good, with meat at every third
meal. Once there was even a packet of cigarettes. He had no matches,
but the never-speaking guard who brought his food would give him a
light. The first time he tried to smoke it made him sick, but he
persevered, and spun the packet out for a long time, smoking half a
cigarette after each meal.
They had given him a white slate with a stump of pencil tied to the
corner. At first he made no use of it. Even when he was awake he was
completely torpid. Often he would lie from one meal to the next almost
without stirring, sometimes asleep, sometimes waking into vague
reveries in which it was too much trouble to open his eyes. He had long
grown used to sleeping with a strong light on his face. It seemed to
make no difference, except that one's dreams were more coherent. He
dreamed a great deal all through this time, and they were always happy
dreams. He was in the Golden Country, or he was sitting among enormous
glorious, sunlit ruins, with his mother, with Julia, with O'Brien --
not doing anything, merely sitting in the sun, talking of peaceful
things. Such thoughts as he had when he was awake were mostly about his
dreams. He seemed to have lost the power of intellectual effort, now
that the stimulus of pain had been removed. He was not bored, he had no
desire for conversation or distraction. Merely to be alone, not to be
beaten or questioned, to have enough to eat, and to be clean all over,
was completely satisfying.
By degrees he came to spend less time in sleep, but he still felt
no impulse to get off the bed. All he cared for was to lie quiet and
feel the strength gathering in his body. He would finger himself here
and there, trying to make sure that it was not an illusion that his
muscles were growing rounder and his skin tauter. Finally it was
established beyond a doubt that he was growing fatter; his thighs were
now definitely thicker than his knees. After that, reluctantly at
first, he began exercising himself regularly. In a little while he
could walk three kilometres, measured by pacing the cell, and his bowed
shoulders were growing straighter. He attempted more elaborate
exercises, and was astonished and humiliated to find what things he
could not do. He could not move out of a walk, he could not hold his
stool out at arm's length, he could not stand on one leg without
falling over. He squatted down on his heels, and found that with
agonizing pains in thigh and calf he could just lift himself to a
standing position. He lay flat on his belly and tried to lift his
weight by his hands. It was hopeless, he could not raise himself a
centimetre. But after a few more days -- a few more mealtimes -- even
that feat was accomplished. A time came when he could do it six times
running. He began to grow actually proud of his body, and to cherish an
intermittent belief that his face also was growing back to normal. Only
when he chanced to put his hand on his bald scalp did he remember the
seamed, ruined face that had looked back at him out of the mirror.
His mind grew more active. He sat down on the plank bed, his back
against the wall and the slate on his knees, and set to work
deliberately at the task of re-educating himself.
He had capitulated, that was agreed. In reality, as he saw now, he
had been ready to capitulate long before he had taken the decision.
From the moment when he was inside the Ministry of Love -- and yes,
even during those minutes when he and Julia had stood helpless while
the iron voice from the telescreen told them what to do -- he had
grasped the frivolity, the shallowness of his attempt to set himself up
against the power of the Party. He knew now that for seven years the
Thought police had watched him like a beetle under a magnifying glass.
There was no physical act, no word spoken aloud, that they had not
noticed, no train of thought that they had not been able to infer. Even
the speck of whitish dust on the cover of his diary they had carefully
replaced. They had played sound-tracks to him, shown him photographs.
Some of them were photographs of Julia and himself. Yes, even ... He
could not fight against the Party any longer. Besides, the Party was in
the right. It must be so; how could the immortal, collective brain be
mistaken? By what external standard could you check its judgements?
Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning to think
as they thought. Only!
The pencil felt thick and awkward in his fingers. He began to write
down the thoughts that came into his head. He wrote first in large
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it:
TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE
But then there came a sort of check. His mind, as though shying
away from something, seemed unable to concentrate. He knew that he knew
what came next, but for the moment he could not recall it. When he did
recall it, it was only by consciously reasoning out what it must be: it
did not come of its own accord. He wrote:
GOD IS POWER
He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past never had
been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been
at war with Eastasia. Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford were guilty of
the crimes they were charged with. He had never seen the photograph
that disproved their guilt. It had never existed, he had invented it.
He remembered remembering contrary things, but those were false
memories, products of selfdeception. How easy it all was! Only
surrender, and everything else followed. It was like swimming against a
current that swept you backwards however hard you struggled, and then
suddenly deciding to turn round and go with the current instead of
opposing it. Nothing had changed except your own attitude: the
predestined thing happened in any case. He hardly knew why he had ever
rebelled. Everything was easy, except!
Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature were nonsense.
The law of gravity was nonsense. 'If I wished,' O'Brien had said, 'I
could float off this floor like a soap bubble.' Winston worked it out.
'If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I
see him do it, then the thing happens.' Suddenly, like a lump of
submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the thought burst
into his mind: 'It doesn't really happen. We imagine it. It is
hallucination.' He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was
obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there
was a 'real' world where 'real' things happened. But how could there be
such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own
minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds,
He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no
danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought
never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot
whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be
automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.
He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented
himself with propositions -- 'the Party says the earth is flat', 'the
party says that ice is heavier than water' -- and trained himself in
not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.
It was not easy. It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation.
The arithmetical problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as
'two and two make five' were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed
also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make
the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the
crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and
as difficult to attain.
All the while, with one part of his mind, he wondered how soon they
would shoot him. 'Everything depends on yourself,' O'Brien had said;
but he knew that there was no conscious act by which he could bring it
nearer. It might be ten minutes hence, or ten years. They might keep
him for years in solitary confinement, they might send him to a
labour-camp, they might release him for a while, as they sometimes did.
It was perfectly possible that before he was shot the whole drama of
his arrest and interrogation would be enacted all over again. The one
certain thing was that death never came at an expected moment. The
tradition -- the unspoken tradition: somehow you knew it, though you
never heard it said -- was that they shot you from behind; always in
the back of the head, without warning, as you walked down a corridor
from cell to cell.
One day -- but 'one day' was not the right expression; just as
probably it was in the middle of the night: once -- he fell into a
strange, blissful reverie. He was walking down the corridor, waiting
for the bullet. He knew that it was coming in another moment.
Everything was settled, smoothed out, reconciled. There were no more
doubts, no more arguments, no more pain, no more fear. His body was
healthy and strong. He walked easily, with a joy of movement and with a
feeling of walking in sunlight. He was not any longer in the narrow
white corridors in the Ministry of Love, he was in the enormous sunlit
passage, a kilometre wide, down which he had seemed to walk in the
delirium induced by drugs. He was in the Golden Country, following the
foot-track across the old rabbit-cropped pasture. He could feel the
short springy turf under his feet and the gentle sunshine on his face.
At the edge of the field were the elm trees, faintly stirring, and
somewhere beyond that was the stream where the dace lay in the green
pools under the willows.
Suddenly he started up with a shock of horror. The sweat broke out on his backbone. He had heard himself cry aloud:
'Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!'
For a moment he had had an overwhelming hallucination of her
presence. She had seemed to be not merely with him, but inside him. It
was as though she had got into the texture of his skin. In that moment
he had loved her far more than he had ever done when they were together
and free. Also he knew that somewhere or other she was still alive and
needed his help.
He lay back on the bed and tried to compose himself. What had he
done? How many years had he added to his servitude by that moment of
In another moment he would hear the tramp of boots outside. They
could not let such an outburst go unpunished. They would know now, if
they had not known before, that he was breaking the agreement he had
made with them. He obeyed the Party, but he still hated the Party. In
the old days he had hidden a heretical mind beneath an appearance of
conformity. Now he had retreated a step further: in the mind he had
surrendered, but he had hoped to keep the inner heart inviolate. He
knew that he was in the wrong, but he preferred to be in the wrong.
They would understand that -- O'Brien would understand it. It was all
confessed in that single foolish cry.
He would have to start all over again. It might take years. He ran
a hand over his face, trying to familiarize himself with the new shape.
There were deep furrows in the cheeks, the cheekbones felt sharp, the
nose flattened. Besides, since last seeing himself in the glass he had
been given a complete new set of teeth. It was not easy to preserve
inscrutability when you did not know what your face looked like. In any
case, mere control of the features was not enough. For the first time
he perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it
from yourself. You must know all the while that it is there, but until
it is needed you must never let it emerge into your consciousness in
any shape that could be given a name. From now onwards he must not only
think right; he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he must
keep his hatred locked up inside him like a ball of matter which was
part of himself and yet unconnected with the rest of him, a kind of
One day they would decide to shoot him. You could not tell when it
would happen, but a few seconds beforehand it should be possible to
guess. It was always from behind, walking down a corridor. Ten seconds
would be enough. In that time the world inside him could turn over. And
then suddenly, without a word uttered, without a check in his step,
without the changing of a line in his face -- suddenly the camouflage
would be down and bang! would go the batteries of his hatred. Hatred
would fill him like an enormous roaring flame. And almost in the same
instant bang! would go the bullet, too late, or too early. They would
have blown his brain to pieces before they could reclaim it. The
heretical thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their reach
for ever. They would have blown a hole in their own perfection. To die
hating them, that was freedom.
He shut his eyes. It was more difficult than accepting an
intellectual discipline. It was a question of degrading himself,
mutilating himself. He had got to plunge into the filthiest of filth.
What was the most horrible, sickening thing of all? He thought of Big
Brother. The enormous face (because of constantly seeing it on posters
he always thought of it as being a metre wide), with its heavy black
moustache and the eyes that followed you to and fro, seemed to float
into his mind of its own accord. What were his true feelings towards
There was a heavy tramp of boots in the passage. The steel door
swung open with a clang. O'Brien walked into the cell. Behind him were
the waxen-faced officer and the black-uniformed guards.
'Get up,' said O'Brien. 'Come here.'
Winston stood opposite him. O'Brien took Winston's shoulders between his strong hands and looked at him closely.
'You have had thoughts of deceiving me,' he said. 'That was stupid. Stand up straighter. Look me in the face.'
He paused, and went on in a gentler tone:
'You are improving. Intellectually there is very little wrong with
you. It is only emotionally that you have failed to make progress. Tell
me, Winston -- and remember, no lies: you know that I am always able to
detect a lie -- tell me, what are your true feelings towards Big
'I hate him.'
'You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you to take the
last step. You must love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him: you
must love him.'
He released Winston with a little push towards the guards.
'Room 101,' he said.
Part 3Chapter 5 At each stage of his imprisonment he had known, or
seemed to know, whereabouts he was in the windowless building. Possibly
there were slight differences in the air pressure. The cells where the
guards had beaten him were below ground level. The room where he had
been interrogated by O'Brien was high up near the roof. This place was
many metres underground, as deep down as it was possible to go.
It was bigger than most of the cells he had been in. But he hardly
noticed his surroundings. All he noticed was that there were two small
tables straight in front of him, each covered with green baize. One was
only a metre or two from him, the other was further away, near the
door. He was strapped upright in a chair, so tightly that he could move
nothing, not even his head. A sort of pad gripped his head from behind,
forcing him to look straight in front of him.
For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and O'Brien came in.
'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told
you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that
is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.'
The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of
wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further
table. Because of the position in which O'Brien was standing. Winston
could not see what the thing was.
'The worst thing in the world,' said O'Brien, 'varies from
individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or
by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases
where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.'
He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better
view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a
handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was
something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side
outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could
see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and
that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.
'In your case,' said O'Brien, 'the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.'
A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what,
had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of
the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in
front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.
'You can't do that!' he cried out in a high cracked voice. 'You couldn't, you couldn't! It's impossible.'
'Do you remember,' said O'Brien, 'the moment of panic that used to
occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you,
and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the
other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you
dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other
side of the wall.'
'O'Brien!' said Winston, making an effort to control his voice.
'You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?'
O'Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the
schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked
thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an
audience somewhere behind Winston's back.
'By itself,' he said, 'pain is not always enough. There are
occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the
point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable --
something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not
involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch
at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to
fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be
destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable.
They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you
wished to. You will do what is required of you.
'But what is it, what is it? How can I do it if I don't know what it is?'
O'Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer
table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear
the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter
loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert
drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of
immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two metres away
from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat's
muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.
'The rat,' said O'Brien, still addressing his invisible audience,
'although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will
have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town.
In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house,
even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite
a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or
dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a
human being is helpless.'
There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach
Winston from far away. The rats were fighting; they were trying to get
at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of
despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.
O'Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in
it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear
himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even
his head, was held immovably. O'Brien moved the cage nearer. It was
less than a metre from Winston's face.
'I have pressed the first lever,' said O'Brien. 'You understand the
construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no
exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide
up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you
ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face
and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first.
Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.'
The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession
of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his
head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think,
even with a split second left -- to think was the only hope. Suddenly
the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a
violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost
consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane,
a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea.
There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose
another human being, the body of another human being, between himself
and the rats.
The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision
of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his
face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and
down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with
his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston
could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took
hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.
'It was a common punishment in Imperial China,' said O'Brien as didactically as ever.
The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And
then -- no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too
late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the
whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his
punishment -- one body that he could thrust between himself and the
rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
'Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what
you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me!
Julia! Not me!'
He was falling backwards, into enormous depths, away from the rats.
He was still strapped in the chair, but he had fallen through the
floor, through the walls of the building, through the earth, through
the oceans, through the atmosphere, into outer space, into the gulfs
between the stars -- always away, away, away from the rats. He was
light years distant, but O'Brien was still standing at his side. There
was still the cold touch of wire against his cheek. But through the
darkness that enveloped him he heard another metallic click, and knew
that the cage door had clicked shut and not open.
Part 3Chapter 6
The Chestnut Tree was almost empty. A ray of sunlight
slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It was the lonely
hour of fifteen. A tinny music trickled from the telescreens.
Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass. Now
and again he glanced up at a vast face which eyed him from the opposite
wall. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said. Unbidden, a waiter
came and filled his glass up with Victory Gin, shaking into it a few
drops from another bottle with a quill through the cork. It was
saccharine flavoured with cloves, the speciality of the cafe.
Winston was listening to the telescreen. At present only music was
coming out of it, but there was a possibility that at any moment there
might be a special bulletin from the Ministry of Peace. The news from
the African front was disquieting in the extreme. On and off he had
been worrying about it all day. A Eurasian army (Oceania was at war
with Eurasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia) was moving
southward at terrifying speed. The mid-day bulletin had not mentioned
any definite area, but it was probable that already the mouth of the
Congo was a battlefield. Brazzaville and Leopoldville were in danger.
One did not have to look at the map to see what it meant. It was not
merely a question of losing Central Africa: for the first time in the
whole war, the territory of Oceania itself was menaced.
A violent emotion, not fear exactly but a sort of undifferentiated
excitement, flared up in him, then faded again. He stopped thinking
about the war. In these days he could never fix his mind on any one
subject for more than a few moments at a time. He picked up his glass
and drained it at a gulp. As always, the gin made him shudder and even
retch slightly. The stuff was horrible. The cloves and saccharine,
themselves disgusting enough in their sickly way, could not disguise
the flat oily smell; and what was worst of all was that the smell of
gin, which dwelt with him night and day, was inextricably mixed up in
his mind with the smell of those --
He never named them, even in his thoughts, and so far as it was
possible he never visualized them. They were something that he was
half-aware of, hovering close to his face, a smell that clung to his
nostrils. As the gin rose in him he belched through purple lips. He had
grown fatter since they released him, and had regained his old colour
-- indeed, more than regained it. His features had thickened, the skin
on nose and cheekbones was coarsely red, even the bald scalp was too
deep a pink. A waiter, again unbidden, brought the chessboard and the
current issue of The Times, with the page turned down at the chess
problem. Then, seeing that Winston's glass was empty, he brought the
gin bottle and filled it. There was no need to give orders. They knew
his habits. The chessboard was always waiting for him, his corner table
was always reserved; even when the place was full he had it to himself,
since nobody cared to be seen sitting too close to him. He never even
bothered to count his drinks. At irregular intervals they presented him
with a dirty slip of paper which they said was the bill, but he had the
impression that they always undercharged him. It would have made no
difference if it had been the other way about. He had always plenty of
money nowadays. He even had a job, a sinecure, more highly-paid than
his old job had been.
The music from the telescreen stopped and a voice took over.
Winston raised his head to listen. No bulletins from the front,
however. It was merely a brief announcement from the Ministry of
Plenty. In the preceding quarter, it appeared, the Tenth Three-Year
Plan's quota for bootlaces had been over-fulfilled by 98 per cent.
He examined the chess problem and set out the pieces. It was a
tricky ending, involving a couple of knights. 'White to play and mate
in two moves.' Winston looked up at the portrait of Big Brother. White
always mates, he thought with a sort of cloudy mysticism. Always,
without exception, it is so arranged. In no chess problem since the
beginning of the world has black ever won. Did it not symbolize the
eternal, unvarying triumph of Good over Evil? The huge face gazed back
at him, full of calm power. White always mates.
The voice from the telescreen paused and added in a different and
much graver tone: 'You are warned to stand by for an important
announcement at fifteen-thirty. Fifteen-thirty! This is news of the
highest importance. Take care not to miss it. Fifteen-thirty!' The
tinking music struck up again.
Winston's heart stirred. That was the bulletin from the front;
instinct told him that it was bad news that was coming. All day, with
little spurts of excitement, the thought of a smashing defeat in Africa
had been in and out of his mind. He seemed actually to see the Eurasian
army swarming across the never-broken frontier and pouring down into
the tip of Africa like a column of ants. Why had it not been possible
to outflank them in some way? The outline of the West African coast
stood out vividly in his mind. He picked up the white knight and moved
it across the board. There was the proper spot. Even while he saw the
black horde racing southward he saw another force, mysteriously
assembled, suddenly planted in their rear, cutting their comunications
by land and sea. He felt that by willing it he was bringing that other
force into existence. But it was necessary to act quickly. If they
could get control of the whole of Africa, if they had airfields and
submarine bases at the Cape, it would cut Oceania in two. It might mean
anything: defeat, breakdown, the redivision of the world, the
destruction of the Party! He drew a deep breath. An extraordinary
medley of feeling -- but it was not a medley, exactly; rather it was
successive layers of feeling, in which one could not say which layer
was undermost -- struggled inside him.
The spasm passed. He put the white knight back in its place, but
for the moment he could not settle down to serious study of the chess
problem. His thoughts wandered again. Almost unconsciously he traced
with his finger in the dust on the table:
'They can't get inside you,' she had said. But they could get
inside you. 'What happens to you here is for ever,' O'Brien had said.
That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you
could never recover. Something was killed in your breast: burnt out,
He had seen her; he had even spoken to her. There was no danger in
it. He knew as though instinctively that they now took almost no
interest in his doings. He could have arranged to meet her a second
time if either of them had wanted to. Actually it was by chance that
they had met. It was in the Park, on a vile, biting day in March, when
the earth was like iron and all the grass seemed dead and there was not
a bud anywhere except a few crocuses which had pushed themselves up to
be dismembered by the wind. He was hurrying along with frozen hands and
watering eyes when he saw her not ten metres away from him. It struck
him at once that she had changed in some ill-defined way. They almost
passed one another without a sign, then he turned and followed her, not
very eagerly. He knew that there was no danger, nobody would take any
interest in him. She did not speak. She walked obliquely away across
the grass as though trying to get rid of him, then seemed to resign
herself to having him at her side. Presently they were in among a clump
of ragged leafless shrubs, useless either for concealment or as
protection from the wind. They halted. It was vilely cold. The wind
whistled through the twigs and fretted the occasional, dirty-looking
crocuses. He put his arm round her waist.
There was no telescreen, but there must be hidden microphones:
besides, they could be seen. It did not matter, nothing mattered. They
could have lain down on the ground and done that if they had wanted to.
His flesh froze with horror at the thought of it. She made no response
whatever to the clasp of his arm; she did not even try to disengage
herself. He knew now what had changed in her. Her face was sallower,
and there was a long scar, partly hidden by the hair, across her
forehead and temple; but that was not the change. It was that her waist
had grown thicker, and, in a surprising way, had stiffened. He
remembered how once, after the explosion of a rocket bomb, he had
helped to drag a corpse out of some ruins, and had been astonished not
only by the incredible weight of the thing, but by its rigidity and
awkwardness to handle, which made it seem more like stone than flesh.
Her body felt like that. It occurred to him that the texture of her
skin would be quite different from what it had once been.
He did not attempt to kiss her, nor did they speak. As they walked
back across the grass, she looked directly at him for the first time.
It was only a momentary glance, full of contempt and dislike. He
wondered whether it was a dislike that came purely out of the past or
whether it was inspired also by his bloated face and the water that the
wind kept squeezing from his eyes. They sat down on two iron chairs,
side by side but not too close together. He saw that she was about to
speak. She moved her clumsy shoe a few centimetres and deliberately
crushed a twig. Her feet seemed to have grown broader, he noticed.
'I betrayed you,' she said baldly.
'I betrayed you,' he said.
She gave him another quick look of dislike.
'Sometimes,' she said, 'they threaten you with something --
something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you
say, "Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to So-and-so."
And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and
that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But
that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think
there's no other way of saving yourself, and you're quite ready to save
yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't
give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself.'
'All you care about is yourself,' he echoed.
'And after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer.'
'No,' he said, 'you don't feel the same.'
There did not seem to be anything more to say. The wind plastered
their thin overalls against their bodies. Almost at once it became
embarrassing to sit there in silence: besides, it was too cold to keep
still. She said something about catching her Tube and stood up to go.
'We must meet again,' he said.
'Yes,' she said, 'we must meet again.'
He followed irresolutely for a little distance, half a pace behind
her. They did not speak again. She did not actually try to shake him
off, but walked at just such a speed as to prevent his keeping abreast
of her. He had made up his mind that he would accompany her as far as
the Tube station, but suddenly this process of trailing along in the
cold seemed pointless and unbearable. He was overwhelmed by a desire
not so much to get away from Julia as to get back to the Chestnut Tree
Cafe, which had never seemed so attractive as at this moment. He had a
nostalgic vision of his corner table, with the newspaper and the
chessboard and the everflowing gin. Above all, it would be warm in
there. The next moment, not altogether by accident, he allowed himself
to become separated from her by a small knot of people. He made a
half-hearted attempt to catch up, then slowed down, turned, and made
off in the opposite direction. When he had gone fifty metres he looked
back. The street was not crowded, but already he could not distinguish
her. Any one of a dozen hurrying figures might have been hers. Perhaps
her thickened, stiffened body was no longer recognizable from behind.
'At the time when it happens,' she had said, 'you do mean it.' He
had meant it. He had not merely said it, he had wished it. He had
wished that she and not he should be delivered over to the --
Something changed in the music that trickled from the telescreen. A
cracked and jeering note, a yellow note, came into it. And then --
perhaps it was not happening, perhaps it was only a memory taking on
the semblance of sound -- a voice was singing:
'Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me --'
The tears welled up in his eyes. A passing waiter noticed that his glass was empty and came back with the gin bottle.
He took up his glass and sniffed at it. The stuff grew not less but
more horrible with every mouthful he drank. But it had become the
element he swam in. It was his life, his death, and his resurrection.
It was gin that sank him into stupor every night, and gin that revived
him every morning. When he woke, seldom before eleven hundred, with
gummed-up eyelids and fiery mouth and a back that seemed to be broken,
it would have been impossible even to rise from the horizontal if it
had not been for the bottle and teacup placed beside the bed overnight.
Through the midday hours he sat with glazed face, the bottle handy,
listening to the telescreen. From fifteen to closing-time he was a
fixture in the Chestnut Tree. No one cared what he did any longer, no
whistle woke him, no telescreen admonished him. Occasionally, perhaps
twice a week, he went to a dusty, forgotten-looking office in the
Ministry of Truth and did a little work, or what was called work. He
had been appointed to a sub-committee of a sub-committee which had
sprouted from one of the innumerable committees dealing with minor
difficulties that arose in the compilation of the Eleventh Edition of
the Newspeak Dictionary. They were engaged in producing something
called an Interim Report, but what it was that they were reporting on
he had never definitely found out. It was something to do with the
question of whether commas should be placed inside brackets, or
outside. There were four others on the committee, all of them persons
similar to himself. There were days when they assembled and then
promptly dispersed again, frankly admitting to one another that there
was not really anything to be done. But there were other days when they
settled down to their work almost eagerly, making a tremendous show of
entering up their minutes and drafting long memoranda which were never
finished -- when the argument as to what they were supposedly arguing
about grew extraordinarily involved and abstruse, with subtle haggling
over definitions, enormous digressions, quarrels, threats, even, to
appeal to higher authority. And then suddenly the life would go out of
them and they would sit round the table looking at one another with
extinct eyes, like ghosts fading at cock-crow.
The telescreen was silent for a moment. Winston raised his head
again. The bulletin! But no, they were merely changing the music. He
had the map of Africa behind his eyelids. The movement of the armies
was a diagram: a black arrow tearing vertically southward, and a white
arrow horizontally eastward, across the tail of the first. As though
for reassurance he looked up at the imperturbable face in the portrait.
Was it conceivable that the second arrow did not even exist?
His interest flagged again. He drank another mouthful of gin,
picked up the white knight and made a tentative move. Check. But it was
evidently not the right move, because --
Uncalled, a memory floated into his mind. He saw a candle-lit room
with a vast white-counterpaned bed, and himself, a boy of nine or ten,
sitting on the floor, shaking a dice-box, and laughing excitedly. His
mother was sitting opposite him and also laughing.
It must have been about a month before she disappeared. It was a
moment of reconciliation, when the nagging hunger in his belly was
forgotten and his earlier affection for her had temporarily revived. He
remembered the day well, a pelting, drenching day when the water
streamed down the window-pane and the light indoors was too dull to
read by. The boredom of the two children in the dark, cramped bedroom
became unbearable. Winston whined and grizzled, made futile demands for
food, fretted about the room pulling everything out of place and
kicking the wainscoting until the neighbours banged on the wall, while
the younger child wailed intermittently. In the end his mother said,
'Now be good, and I'Il buy you a toy. A lovely toy -- you'll love it';
and then she had gone out in the rain, to a little general shop which
was still sporadically open nearby, and came back with a cardboard box
containing an outfit of Snakes and Ladders. He could still remember the
smell of the damp cardboard. It was a miserable outfit. The board was
cracked and the tiny wooden dice were so ill-cut that they would hardly
lie on their sides. Winston looked at the thing sulkily and without
interest. But then his mother lit a piece of candle and they sat down
on the floor to play. Soon he was wildly excited and shouting with
laughter as the tiddly-winks climbed hopefully up the ladders and then
came slithering down the snakes again, almost to the starting-point.
They played eight games, winning four each. His tiny sister, too young
to understand what the game was about, had sat propped up against a
bolster, laughing because the others were laughing. For a whole
afternoon they had all been happy together, as in his earlier
He pushed the picture out of his mind. It was a false memory. He
was troubled by false memories occasionally. They did not matter so
long as one knew them for what they were. Some things had happened,
others had not happened. He turned back to the chessboard and picked up
the white knight again. Almost in the same instant it dropped on to the
board with a clatter. He had started as though a pin had run into him.
A shrill trumpet-call had pierced the air. It was the bulletin!
Victory! It always meant victory when a trumpet-call preceded the news.
A sort of electric drill ran through the cafe. Even the waiters had
started and pricked up their ears.
The trumpet-call had let loose an enormous volume of noise. Already
an excited voice was gabbling from the telescreen, but even as it
started it was almost drowned by a roar of cheering from outside. The
news had run round the streets like magic. He could hear just enough of
what was issuing from the telescreen to realize that it had all
happened, as he had foreseen; a vast seaborne armada had secretly
assembled a sudden blow in the enemy's rear, the white arrow tearing
across the tail of the black. Fragments of triumphant phrases pushed
themselves through the din: 'Vast strategic manoeuvre -- perfect
co-ordination -- utter rout -- half a million prisoners -- complete
demoralization -- control of the whole of Africa -- bring the war
within measurable distance of its end victory -- greatest victory in
human history -- victory, victory, victory!'
Under the table Winston's feet made convulsive movements. He had
not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly
running, he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself deaf. He
looked up again at the portrait of Big Brother. The colossus that
bestrode the world! The rock against which the hordes of Asia dashed
themselves in vain! He thought how ten minutes ago -- yes, only ten
minutes -- there had still been equivocation in his heart as he
wondered whether the news from the front would be of victory or defeat.
Ah, it was more than a Eurasian army that had perished! Much had
changed in him since that first day in the Ministry of Love, but the
final, indispensable, healing change had never happened, until this
The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of
prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died
down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them
approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream,
paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or
cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with
everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock,
confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the
white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an
armed guard at his back. The longhoped-for bullet was entering his
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to
learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O
cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from
the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his
nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was
finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.