A Brief Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8 from Part One of 1984 by George Orwell.
In this chapter, Winston pays a second visit to the stationery store from where he had purchased his diary. It was actually an antique store where very few customers came.
Winston decides to take a break from his monotonous life and skips an evening full of dull lectures at the community center. Without knowing where to go, he just wanders off into the prole area. A bomb falls on that part of city where Winston is walking and he falls down flat on the pavement to protect himself. Next, Winston approaches an old man inside a pub in the prole area to learn about life before the revolution. However, the old man is unable to provide clear answers to his questions. Winston decides to leave the old man alone. Soon he finds himself standing before the same stationery store he had purchased his diary from. He had decided not to get back again to the store in the past. However, he is unable to stop himself and enters the store again. The proprietor of the store, aged sixty three is a widower who introduces him to a secret room above the store. Winston liked the room and the furniture in it. He leaves the store having bought a paper weight for four dollars. As he steps out of the store and walks a few steps, he is shocked to see someone wearing blue overalls approaching him in the street. It turns out that the dark haired girl from the fiction department had followed him all along. He is afraid she would report him to the authorities. Winston feels like he would crumble as his belly starts aching. He returns to his room late at night and sits in the corner where he is hiding his diary. His mind was numb due to fear and he imagined everything the thought police would do to him. Winston was certain that thought police will come to pick him up. He even considers suicide for a moment but does not have anything that can facilitate quick death without struggle. At the end, he again remembers O’Brien and his words that they would meet in a place where there is no darkness.
Winston is unable to bear the monotony of his life and so decides to take a free walk into the prole areas in this chapter. He is afraid that he might be found out as his actions will not remain unnoticed for long. He finds out at the end that he has been careless and the girl from the fiction department has been following him. Winston is seeking the truth, but the party has carefully erased all the signs that could have led him to the truth of London before the revolution. He expects to find that same life again. Winston’s desire to seek freedom has been growing stronger but he is also losing control. His efforts are yielding no results and he is making those mistakes he had pledged not to commit. The suspense in this chapter grows stronger towards its end as readers are still unable to know the truth of the dark haired girl and why she was following Winston. It is clear that Winston does not like Big Brother and the party. Everything around him is surrounded in darkness that does not let him see anything. There is a lot of uncertainty about his fate and if he will find freedom or like many others, become a victim to the thought police. While Winston has been trying his best to not leave any footprints, he is doubtful about the storekeeper and the dark haired girl. If his efforts to dig out the truth are discovered by the party, he will have to bear weeks of torture before the confessions and the final execution.
The antiques shop is a symbol Orwell has used creatively to express the condition of Oceania and how primitive thinking has turned people into antiques. The entire Oceania is like an antique shop. Everything that was once important and valuable has lost its charm including family values and relationships. The primitive environment of the country has nearly wiped out creative thinking and therefore nobody has the more important things on mind. The trifle issues occupy the cores of people’s minds and things like freedom, culture and education have moved to the periphery. People are expected to be like antique furniture and they seem to have accepted their fate. Nobody except Winston is busy digging old graves to collect the evidence of a glorious past. The old man in the pub is also an antique which has forgotten its value and even his life’s trajectory. He remembers odd instances from his life but nothing of value. For Winston, it is nothing less than hell to imagine a future for himself like the antique (old man) he met at the pub. However, as we read in the previous chapter, Winston’s wife was also a similar antique. The good thing is that Winston likes the room above the store and feels like having returned to his own private world there. He feels secure inside the room and therefore wants to rent it out for himself.
Winston appears hurried and confused in this chapter. He is wandering aimlessly to try to find out anything about London before the revolution. One the one hand, he is afraid, he might be discovered sooner or later, on the other, he cannot help making the mistakes he made expecting somewhere a better world exists. There are major risks involved in what he is doing. However, he is still determined to uncover the truth. The way he is moving from one street to another, shows his confusion and a lack of strategy. He does not have a plan and that is also making it difficult for him to connect the dots. He has not discovered anything important in this part of London. Apart from it, he is expecting the proles to bring down the part and Big Brother, despite knowing that these proles will never have a strong enough reason to do so. The vast prole population is both useless and helpless because despite their numbers, they lack the education, ability and unity they need to stand against the party. They appear to be content with their lives and till they have the basic things they need, they do not need to stand against the party. As for Winston, his private space is shrinking and he is inching closer to getting caught and arrested by the thought police. Winston’s is courageous and wants to bring down the party. However, his character has several weaknesses too. He finds it difficult to manage his fear and apart from that he expects nothing of himself. He expects the proles will bring down the party. He also lacks the ability to see what’s lurking in the darkness. Living in London under the party rule is like being half blind. However, despite all these problems, he is trying to find a path to freedom.
A detailed summary of chapter 8 of 1984 (Book One)
In the chapter 8 of the book, Winston is out on a walk in the part of the city where the proles live. He smelled roasted coffee while in the street. The scent of coffee was coming from the bottom of a passage down the street. Winston was used to victory coffee. However, the smell of real coffee made him stop involuntarily. Suddenly, the bang of a door cut the smell. Winston had walked several kilometers over the pavement and his varicose ulcer had been itching a lot. In the last three weeks, Winston had missed an evening at the community center for the second time. The party carefully checked every member’s attendance at the community center. He was worried that his negligence could prove costly. The party members were left alone only when in their beds. The rest of the time if they were not working, they had to be engaged in some kind of communal recreation. Remaining in solitude was considered to be offensive since it meant eccentricity and individualism. In Newspeak, they had a word for it called ‘Ownlife’. The deliciously mild and soothing air of April had tempted him to take a walk as he came out of the Ministry. The sky was also a warmer blue compared to the rest of the year. Winston knew that the evening would be dull and full of boring games and lectures if he visited the community center. He could not tolerate the gin or the corrosive camaraderie either. He felt the impulse to wander alone. Winston turned away from the bus stop and wandered off into the labyrinthine streets of London. He was not concerned about the direction he took because he wanted to lose himself in those streets. His own words kept ringing in his mind that hope lay among the proles. It was absurd but true. He was in the slums near the area which was once known as Saint Pancras Station.
Winston was walking up a stone paved street with two storeyed houses on its side that looked like ratholes. The road had several little puddles of filthy water in it. There were people standing at the doorways and down the alleys on each side of the road. There were people of all ages from young girls wearing a lot of lipstick, fat middle aged women, children in rags and aged people. Ragged little children were playing in the puddles who scattered when their mothers yelled at them. Around a quarter of the windows in the street were broken and boarded up. Most of the people in the streets paid no attention to Winston but a few of them watched him with caution and curiosity. Two large women were talking loudly and Winston managed to overhear pieces of their conversation. One was saying to the other that it was always easy to criticize but if she was in her place she too would have done the same. However, the second did not look too convinced by her argument. As Winston passed by, the two grew silent. They were not worried but they seemed alert to see an unfamiliar person passing by. Winston was wearing the blue overalls that the party members wore and it was not a common sight in this part of London. However, unless he had some definite and important business there, Winston was not expected to be in this area. The patrols might check his papers if they saw him and enquire about so many things including if this was his regular path back home, when he left work and what he was doing here. No law expressly prohibited taking an unusual route to home but it could still draw the thought police’s attention.
Suddenly, Winston felt a commotion in the street. Everyone was yelling and people were shooting indoors like rabbits. A woman shot out of a door a little ahead of Winston, picked up a child playing in a puddle and shot back indoors like lightning. Another man wearing a black suit emerged from a side alley and ran towards Winston pointing to the sky. The proles called the rocket bombs steamers. The man warned Winston that a steamer was falling. Winston knew he must believe when the proles gave such a warning. He flung himself to the ground with his hands behind his head. Those rocket bombs travelled faster than sound but the proles had instincts, which told them in advance about when one of those was about to fall. The pavement shook due to the roar. Light objects fell on Winston’s back. As he stood up, he saw fragments of glass from the nearest window had fallen on his back. He walked on. Winston saw that a group of houses had been demolished by the blast. A crowd was forming around the ruined area above which a cloud of plaster dust hung. There were black fumes in the sky. Ahead of him there was a little pile of plaster on the road and in the middle of it, he could identify a red streak. On observing closely he found that it was a hand severed from the wrist. Except for the bloody stump, the rest of the hand was completely whitened and looked like a plaster cast. He kicked the severed hand into the gutter and to avoid the crowd, he took a side street to his right. In just three or four minutes, he was out of the area affected by the bomb blast. Life was again swarming in the rest areas like nothing had happened. It was around eight in the evening and the pubs were swarming with proles. From their doors that kept opening and closing due to the arrival and departure of customers, there came the mixed odor of urine, sawdust and sour beer. Winston saw three people reading something in a newspaper very keenly. Suddenly two of them were in a violent altercation. It seemed they were ready to exchange blows.
They were arguing fiercely over the lottery. One of them was saying that the number seven had never won a lottery whereas the other one was adamant that it was the number seven this time. When Winston had moved around thirty meters ahead, he looked back and saw that they were still arguing passionately.
A large number of prole lives revolved around lottery. It was the only public event that they paid attention to seriously. Millions of proles lived for the lottery. It was the joy of their lives and their most important business to which they paid serious attention. Lottery was just so interesting to them that even the barely literate could perform mind blowing calculations and memorize data generally difficult to remember. Many of the proles earned their living selling lucky amulets and lottery forecasts. The Ministry of Plenty managed the Lottery. However, Winston knew that most prizes were fake. The big prizes were never handed out to real people. Only small sums were really paid. Party easily arranged it since people in one part of Oceania could not know those from the other patriot because of the lack of intercommunication. Winston still thought that hope lay in the proles. It looked more attractive in his diary but in reality it seemed his faith would shake. The street Winston took ran downhill. He felt like he had been here before and soon he would reach the main road.
He could hear loud voices nearby. The street took a sharp turn and Winston saw stairs that led down to a few stalls in the alley where vegetable sellers were selling tired looking vegetables. Now Winston remembered where he was. The alley led to the main road and some five minutes away was the shop from where he had bought the diary. The small stationery shop from where he had bought his pen holder and bottle of ink was also close. Winston paused at the top of the steps. He could see a pub from there on the opposite side of the alley. Its windows looked frosted but they were wearing just a coat of dust. He saw a very old man with whiskers entering the pub. The old man was around eighty and Winston thought that he must have been middle aged when the revolution had happened. The world of capitalism had vanished but a few last people like the old man remained who could still recount those days. There were a few in the party also who had been young before the revolution. Most of the older generation had vanished during the great purges of the fifties and sixties. However, the ones who remained had also lost their intellectual freedom. Winston suddenly remembered the passage he had copied from the history text book and he felt a strong impulse. He will go to the pub and start a conversation with the old man. He wanted to know if life had become better since his youth or not. He hurried thinking that the party’s fear might force him to change his mind.
While there was no law that prohibited moving among the proles or visiting their pubs but it was not going to remain unnoticed. If patrols appeared he would act like he had fainted but he knew patrols will not believe him. As he pushed the door of the pub open, a hideous cheesy smell of bear struck him. People inside the pub lowered their voices and the game of darts going on in a corner stopped for as much as 30 seconds. Winston turned to the counter where the old man was standing. He was arguing with the bartender over a pint of beer. The bartender said they sold half a liter or a liter. However, the old man was arguing that he wanted a pint and not more. Some people around them holding their glasses were watching the argument with interest. The old man said that there were no liters but only pints when he was young and the bartender replies that people lived on treetops when he was young. The people watching with interest gave a hearty laugh. The laughter wiped the uneasiness in the air caused by Winston’s entry. The old man was feeling slightly embarrassed. He turned around from the bar and bumped into Winston. He held the old man and asked if he could offer him beer. The old man appreciated Winston’s offer and turned back to the bar and asked the bartender for a pint of gallop.
The only drink available in the pubs in the prole areas was beer. They were not expected to drink gin though they could easily find it if they wanted. In a corner of the pub the game of darts was again in full swing and several people inside the prole had started discussing the lottery once again. For a second it appeared everyone had forgotten about having a party member among them. Winston saw a table under the window where he and the old man could talk conveniently without being overheard. While it was a dangerous thing to do, Winston knew that there was no telescreen inside the pub. He had ascertained it right the second he had entered the pub. The old man grumbled that he was not satisfied with half a litre and a whole liter was just too much for him. It set his bladder running. Apart from that, the cost of beer was too high. Winston was eager to learn from the old man but felt hesitant to be too direct. He started talking to the old man and asked that he must have certainly seen major changes since he was a boy. The old man scanned the bar from one corner to the other as though he had seen most of the changes taking place inside the bar. He replied that beer used to be cheaper and better when he was young. They sold a mild beer called Wallop when he was young and it came for four pence a pint. Following that the old man gulped down the beer in his glass. Winston went back to the bar and brought two more half liter glasses. The old man seemed to be ready to drink one whole litre.
Winston returned to his point. He asked the old man if he remembered the days before the revolution. People of Winston’s age knew nothing about the revolution except what was recorded in the history textbooks. According to the textbooks, the days before the revolution were completely different. There was wretched poverty and oppression before the revolution. A large part of London’s population never got enough to eat throughout its life. Half the population did not have boots to wear and ten people slept in a single room. They had to work twelve hours a day to feed themselves. There were just a few thousand capitalists overall who owned everything in London. Winston continued talking about the capitalists who lived in large houses with lots of servants, drove around in motor cars or four horse carriages, drank champagne and wore top hats. Suddenly, the old man’s face brightened at the mention of top hats. He found it funny that Winston mentioned top hats. They had not been seen for years now and only yesterday the old man was reminded of those hats. The last time he had worn those hats was some fifty years ago when his sister in law died. He had rented one for the funeral ceremony.
Winston thought they had deviated from the point. He reminded the old man that it was not about the hats but the capitalists who wore them and some lawyers and priests. These people owned nearly everything in London, He put forth everything he had learnt from the textbook. Everything existed for the benefit of the capitalists who had the poor workers as slaves. They could ship the workers to Canada or sleep with their daughters if they chose. The capitalists could get the workers flogged with something called a cat-o’-nine tails. The old man’s face brightened when Winston mentioned the ‘Lackeys’. These lackeys were like the henchmen of the capitalists and a gang followed each of them. The old man’s face brightened at the mention of the lackeys. He recalled that people used to refer to the lackeys as hyenas and parasites when he was young. Winston felt that they were again deviating from the topic. So, he tried to bring the conversation back on track and asked the old man directly that he wanted to know if life was better now compared to years ago and he had more freedom than ever or not. He asked the old man if he felt like he was treated as a human being or not. Winston again came back to the capitalists and the rich people. The old man cut him in the middle and told him it was called the house of lords, to prove that he had the knowledge Winston needed. Winston was not satisfied. He told the old man that he could refer to the rich as whatever he liked but his concern was to know if they treated him well. Winston further asked the old man if he was required to remove his cap when he came across the rich.
The old man thought deeply before replying. He drank a quarter of the beer in his glass and then responded. They were required to touch their caps to show respect to the richer people. He had done it quite often despite not wanting to do so. Winston had read more in the history textbooks and he wanted to clarify before forming any opinion of his own. He asked if the rich people and their servants would usually push the workers off the pavement into the gutter. The old man said he had been pushed once by a rich man. However, he had protested against it and given the other man a bitter response. It was on a boat race night and a man pushed him so that he could have gotten under a bus. However, that was the only instance he could remember.
Winston felt helpless as the old man was unable to offer him something as concrete as he wanted. His memory was just a heap of rubbish. Winston knew that even if he questioned the old man throughout the day he would not receive any useful information.
For a second Winston thought that the party’s accounts given in history books might be completely true. Despite that he believed it was worth taking one last attempt. So, he asked the old man if his life before 1925, when he must have been grown up enough, was better or is it now.
The old man was looking at the dartboard and thinking deeply. He gulped the rest of the beer in his glass somewhat slowly. However, his response was just wild enough to make Winston realize that it was no use talking to him any more. The old man started complaining of his terrible bladder. The only relief was that he did not have to care for any women in his life.
Winston sat against the window and was about to buy more beer for the old man when he got up and shot into the stinking urinal nearby. For a minute or two Winston sat there staring at his empty glass and suddenly he did not know when he left the pub and got out into the streets. His question was still unanswered. He thought that within the next twenty years, the question would have lost its relevance completely. There would be no one alive who would be able to answer the question definitively whether life was better now or before the revolution. The problem was that even now there was no survivor who could have handled the question safely and given him a definite and proper response. While they remembered a hundred other useless things from their lives, none of them was able to provide any facts that Winston needed. These survivors were like the ants that could see the small objects but not the larger ones. Once the records were falsified and things were wiped out from people’s memories, people would have to believe what the records stated. In that case, everyone would need to accept as the party claimed that living conditions had improved over time since there would be no standard measure it against.
As Winston stopped and looked, up he found himself standing in a dark street with a few little shops located between the several houses. There were three discolored metal balls hanging above his head. He remembered he was standing at the stationer’s shop where he had bought his diary from. Suddenly, he felt afraid. Buying the diary was already an act of defiance and Winston had promised himself he was never going to come back to the store. However, he had once again lost control and let himself wander off. It was a suicidal act since he could have given rise to enough suspicion for the thought police to get hold of him. He had decided to remain cautious and his main motive behind opening the diary was to guard himself against such mistakes. Winston noticed that the store was open even at nine at night. However, he felt he was safer inside the store than standing on the pavement and therefore decided to step in. If the patrols questioned him, he could safely tell them that he was looking for razor blades. The store owner had just lit an oil lamp that gave off an unclean but pleasant smell. The man was around sixty, frail, and wore spectacles. His hair was almost white but his bushy eyebrows were still black. With his spectacles, black velvet jacket and gentle movements, he appeared to be an intellectual or a musician. He spoke in a soft voice and his accent was much better compared to most proles.
The store owner recognized Winston as soon as he entered the store. He told Winston that he remembered him. He was the man who had bought the young lady’s keepsake album, referring to the diary. The beautiful paper was called creamlaid and such paper had not been made for at least the past fifty years, he told Winston. He looked at Winston from above his spectacles and asked him if he could do anything special for him or if he had just decided to pay a casual visit. Winston replied that nothing special had brought him there. The store keeper made an apologetic gesture with his hands telling Winston that there was not much on offer in his store. It was mostly empty except for a few items. The demand for antique products was dead in London. Furniture and china glass were not selling. The stuff made of metal had all been melted. The store keeper had not seen any brass candlestick in years. The small interior of the store housed only useless things including dusty picture frames, broken chisels, trays of nuts and bolts. However, there was a small table in a corner with odd things among which Winston thought he could find something interesting. He went to the table and saw something like a beautiful paperweight among other things on the table with a coral inside it. The store keeper told him that it might have been worth at least eight pounds in the good old days. However, Winston could have it for just four dollars. Winston found the piece attractive. The store keeper told him that it was more than a century old. Winton paid him four dollars which made the store keeper happy. He knew the storekeeper would have accepted even two or three dollars. It weighed heavily in his pocket but did not form a large enough bulge to catch attention. Such a beautiful and antique piece in a party member’s possession could give rise to suspicion. The store keeper told him of another room upstairs where Winston might find something interesting.
He lit another lamp and took Winston with himself to a room upstairs that still had furniture arranged in it as if someone lived there. The room did not open on the street but into a yard and Winston could see many chimney pots from where he stood. The floor was carpeted and there were a few pictures on the wall. Apart from them, there was an armchair near the fireplace. There was also an old glass clock in the room and a large bed occupied most of the room. The large mahogany bed had bugs in it. The old man lived here with his wife till she was alive. Now he was selling the furniture in the room piece by piece. Winston looked around at the room, which looked curiously inviting in the light of the lamp that the old man was holding high. He thought he could rent the room for a few dollars a week if he was willing to take the risk.
The room gave rise to a kind of nostalgic feeling inside Winston, a type of ancestral memory due to which he could not help thinking of living there. It felt so secure and peaceful inside the room. Winston murmured that there was no telescreen in the room. The old man did not have any telescreen as it was too costly for him, he told Winston. He pointed to a gateleg table Winston could use. Winston moved to the corner where there was a small bookcase but there was nothing but rubbish on it. The party had wiped out all forms of valuable literature that could remind people of the period before the revolution. None of the books in the case were older than 1960. There was an old picture hanging on the other side of the fireplace in a rosewood frame opposite of the bed. The old man stood before it holding the lamp and wanted to know if Winston was interested in old prints. Winston came closer to take a look. The picture had an oval building with rectangular windows and a tower in its front as well as a statue in the rear part. Winston appeared to be familiar with the building but could not remember its name and location. He kept watching it for several moments. The old man was ready to unscrew the painting that was fixed to the wall. Winston remembered where that building in the picture was located. He told the old man that he knew the building. It was in the middle of the street outside the palace of justice, now in ruins. The old man confirmed. It was an old church building outside the courts of law and was bombed many years ago. Its name was St. Clement Danes.
He recited a rhyme he remembered from his childhood. —‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s.’ Then he recited the last lines – ‘Here comes a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.’ The rhyme included the names of all the leading churches of London, the old man told Winston. Winston wondered how old the Church was. It was difficult to determine the ages of those buildings because anything large and impressive and reasonably new was attributed to the period after the revolution and anything old was attributed to a vague period called the middle ages. According to the party records, the years of capitalist rule had not produced anything of significant value. Anything that could throw light on the past like a street name or an old statue had been systematically altered by the party.
There were many more churches in London, the old man told Winston. However, these buildings were now used for other things. He cited a St Martin’s church that stood at the Victory Square. It was now the party’s museum where it displayed propaganda items like rocket bombs and floating fortresses.
Winston did not buy the picture since, he could not have hidden it from the prying eyes of the Thought Police. However, he remained there talking to the old man whose name it turned out was Charrington, not Weeks as it appeared in the front of the shop. He was a widower aged sixty three and had been living in the shop for at least thirty years. The old man had intended to change the name on the door several times but could never make up his mind. While Winston stood there, the few lines of the rhyme the old man recited and which he had remembered kept running through his mind. He could hear the bells coming from those lost churches giving him a feeling that the old London still existed somewhere disguised and hidden. As far as Winston remembered he had never heard the church bells in real life. He left the old man and got down the stairs alone as he did not want him to see him observing the street quietly before stepping out. He had made up his mind that he would visit the shop again in future after a suitable interval or something like a month. He could again miss an evening at the community centre. He had already committed the more serious crime. He had not checked before coming back to the shop. The proprietor might have been an informer for the thought police. However, Winston had made up his mind. He was going to come again to the shop. Winston was planning to buy more of that beautiful rubbish. He will buy that painting, take it out of its frame and then take it home hidden inside his jacket. Apart from that, he was interested in the rest of the poem that Mr. Charrington recited. For a few moments he also considered the lunatic idea of renting out the room upstairs the old man had just shown him. He became so happily careless that he forgot to peep out of the window before stepping on to the pavement. He was happily humming a tune when his heart seemed to freeze and his bowels were sweating buckets. Some ten meters away, there was a figure in blue overalls approaching him. He recognized the approaching figure even in dim light. It was the dark haired girl from the fiction department. The girl looked him straight in the face and then walked on quickly as if she had not seen Winston.
Winston was too paralysed to move for a second, and the next second, he took a right turn and moved on, unable to notice that he was moving in the wrong direction. He felt sure that the girl was spying at him and had not been there by chance. She could not be miles away from the quarters where party members lived, just by chance. It was just too obvious to be considered a coincidence. It did not matter if she was an agent of the thought police or just an amateur spy. All that mattered was that she was watching him and had followed him there. She might have also seen him enter the pub.
Winston was trying to walk. His steps had grown heavy. The glass piece in his pocket banged against his thighs at each step and he was thinking of throwing it away. Fear had confused and frustrated him. His belly was aching. For a few minutes, it felt like he would die if he did not find a lavatory soon. However, in that area Winston knew there would be no public lavatories. Soon, the spasm passed and Winston was feeling only a dull ache in his belly.
Winston was in a blind alley. He stopped there wondering what to do. Then he turned around and started retracing his steps. As he turned around, a thought flashed in his mind. The girl had passed him just three minutes ago and if he tried he could catch up with her. He could smash her head using a cobblestone. The stone in his pocket must have been sufficient to do this. However, he soon abandoned that idea since it was not possible for him to make any physical effort. He could not run and chase a young girl and strike a blow. He also thought of hurrying to the community center and staying there till it closed to establish a partial alibi. That was also not possible. He was feeling worn out. All he wanted to do was to reach home and sit quietly.
He reached home by ten at night. The lights at the main gate of the apartment were switched off by eleven thirty. Winston went to the kitchen and swallowed a full cup of Victory Gin. Next, he went to the table and pulled the diary out of the drawer. A loud and harsh female voice was singing a patriotic song from the telescreen. Winston tried his best but it was impossible to shut the voice out of his mind. So, he sat watching the marbled cover of the diary.
The thought police always came to take people away at midnight. Winston was badly nervous and anticipated the thought police would arrive. He was also thinking of suicide since many people had committed suicide to save themselves from the thought police. However, anyone who wanted to commit suicide in Winston’s world needed to have enough courage since there was no way to procure any firearms or poison that could kill fast. He thought of how his body grew inert at the times when he needed to set it in motion. Even his mind became unable to think when there was a need to react. He was still afraid and worried. Winston thought that he could have silenced the dark haired girl if he had anyhow acted fast enough. It came to him that when there was a danger or when he desperately needed, his body was not fighting against an external enemy, but against itself. Even now after having taken a full cup of gin, Winston felt that the dull aching in his belly was making it impossible for him to think continuously. It was the truth in all the situations whether heroic or tragic since the body was always fighting one or the other concern. Even if one was not screaming with pain or freight, he was battling a sour stomach, a toothache or cold and hunger.
Winston opened his diary. He wanted to write something. The voice from the telescreen had started singing a new song. The harsh voice was penetrating his mind and Winston felt like it was piercing his brain like glass splinters. He wanted to think of O’Brien but it was impossible. Instead the thoughts that appeared in his mind were related to the thought police and the things it would do to him after they took him away. The problem was that they never killed you at once instead there was a long battle between being arrested and dying. The torture and the confessions, lying on the floor, screaming for mercy, broken bones and other horrors were troubling Winston’s mind. Nobody talked of these horrors but everyone knew what would follow once the thought police had arrested him.
Winston was thinking why one had to endure all that when it all had to end in death? Was it not possible to cut it short? Couldn’t somebody cut the ordeal shorter by a few weeks? Even worse, everyone who thought against the party was detected one day or another and had to confess. Once you had committed a thoughtcrime, it was known that you would succumb to death one day? Why then was it impossible to get rid of the horror that was a certain part of the future?
Winston was placing his trust in O’Brien still. He again thought of O’Brien and remembered his words that they were going to meet in a place where there was no darkness. There was always hope that one would emerge from this darkness someday. It was the imagined future which Winston did not expect to certainly happen. Now, it had become impossible for him to continue thinking about O’Brien since the voice from the telescreen was making it difficult for him to continue thinking. He took a cigarette in his mouth and half the tobacco fell on his tongue. It tasted bitter but Winston could not spit out. The picture of O’Brien in his mind was replaced by the picture of Big Brother. He pulled a coin out of his pocket and stared at Big Brother’s face on it. He could not imagine the smile under the moustache. He was again reminded of the three slogans.
- WAR IS PEACE.
- FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.
- IGNORE IS STRENGTH.