Brief Summary and analysis of Chapter 4 (Book Two) of 1984.
Winston has taken a risky step in this chapter. Despite knowing he cannot conceal it from the thought police or the inner party members for long, he has rented Mr. Charrington’s room to meet Julia. While he is afraid that he has blundered, neither he and not Julia are able to resist the temptation of meeting there. Charrington was happy with Winston’s proposal as it was going to bring him a few extra dollars. He willingly rented out the room and added a few amenities to make there stay comfortable. He had not problem with Winston using the room for a romantic affair. At the other rendezvous points, both Winston and Julia were uncomfortable, but excited since they were going to sleep together in a large bed for the first time.
Julia had brought coffee and real sugar to make coffee in the room which also had an oil stove. A monstrous woman kept singing a tune in the yard behind the room. She sang in pleasant voice that made the tune appear pleasant. Julia removed her overalls and changed into a frock. The girl looked prettier in light make up which she had bought from the prole area. Julia’s make up also reminded Winston of the prostitute he had sex with inside a basement kitchen. They sleep together for sometime. A strange thing happened when they woke up. Julia saw a rat in a corner of the room and threw a shoe at it. She tells Winston about the rat, he starts shaking. He is full of terror and hatred to think of rats. It is for the first time in the book, that Orwell reveals Winston’s worst fear. It is related to a nightmare that continuously haunts Winston. He tried his best but feels helpless against his fear and cannot remove it from his consciousness.
Orwell does not provide any explanation of why Winston is afraid of rats. It might be related to some terrible childhood experience or some accident. However, at several points when Winston tries to search for an explanation for anything, his memories are a mess like somebody has wiped out his memory or disrupted it so Winston cannot connect the dots throughout his life. Apart from that, his fear of rats could also be an indication of a terrible event in the distant future. For example, at several points in the book, the events in Winston’s life were almost a repetition of his dreams or bear a close resemblance to his dreams. In his first meeting with Julia, he found out that the landscape was the Golden country he had seen in his dream. Julia pulled her clothes off the same way she did in Winston’s dream.
In the room, Julia sings several lines of the rhyme that Mr. Charrington had taught Winston. She had learnt it from a great grandfather who had been evaporated when she was only eight. The author does not shed much light on Julia’s past but it appears she has also led a terrible life and was orphaned when quite young. The beautiful glass paperweight is a major symbol and Winston sees it as a small model of a beautiful world. He feels immersed in its beauty and for a moment is completely lost in it as if he is living inside the paperweight with Julia. The glass paperweight symbolizes hope and peace.
A detailed summary of 1984 chapter 4 (Part Two)
Winston is standing in the room above Mr Charrington’s antique shop. It bore a hospitable look as if waiting for someone’s arrival. The bed beside the window was made up with blankets and a large pillow without a cover. The antique clock was ticking on the mantelpiece and Winston had brought with him the glass paperweight he had bought from the same store on his last visit. He had placed it on the gateleg table in the corner, and the piece gleamed out of soft darkness. Mr Charrington had provided him with a tin oil stove, a sauce pan and two cups. Winston was still alone. He lit the burner and set a pan of water on the stove to boil. He had brought coffee and saccharin tablets with him. It was seven thirty in the evening, but the clock hands were two hours behind time. Julia was coming at seven thirty.
Winston felt uneasy thinking of his latest blunder. His heart said he had committed a folly deliberately, which would cost him everything. It was absolutely suicidal. A party member could not possibly conceal such a crime. This idea had come to his mind in the form of a vision. He saw the glass paperweight shining on the gateleg table in his vision. So he had set out to rent the room from Mr Charrington. As expected, Charrington made no excuses and rented it out to Winston readily. He was actually happy about the few dollars it would bring him. He was not shocked either to learn about Winston’s purpose behind renting the room. Mr Charrington was not the slightest offended by the idea that Winston had rented the room for a love affair. Instead, he fully cooperated and maintained a soft tone to not interrupt Winston’s privacy. According to Mr Charrington, privacy was valuable and everyone wanted to be occasionally alone. Out of courtesy and for the sake of Winston, he was going to keep it a secret from others. Before he vanished, he had let Winston know that there were two doors to the house. The second one was in the back and opened into a courtyard that opened on an alley.
Winston heard somebody singing from under the window. He peeped out from behind the Muslin curtain. The June sun was still high in the sky. An enormous woman stood in the yard singing a song. The monstrous woman had brawny forearms and an apron around her waist. She was singing while hopping to and fro between a washtub and a clothes line. She was washing babies’ diapers and spreading them on the clothesline. She sang in a powerful contralto whenever there were no cloth pegs in her mouth.
It was only an ‘opeless fancy.
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred!
stolen my ‘eart awye!1984. (chapter 4- part two)
This tune had haunted London for the past several weeks. It was one of the countless similar songs a Music department’s subsection published for the proles. The lyrics were not composed by a human but a machine called versificator. However the woman’s melody was so sweet that the rubbish song appeared pleasant. He heard the woman singing and the scraping of her shoes on the flagstones. Cries of children kept coming from the streets. There was also a faint roar of traffic coming from a distance while the room remained curiously silent. It was because there was no telescreen.
Winston was again thinking of his mistake and his heart cried folly. They could not use this place for more than a few weeks without getting caught. He knew it was too risky. However, having an indoor hiding place nearby had tempted both him and Julia. They had not spent time with each other since their last meeting at that ruined church. The Hate Week was approaching, and their working hours had increased drastically. It was still a month away, but there were major and complex preparations involved. Everyone was busy. Somehow they managed to secure a free afternoon at last on the same day and agreed to meet in the clearing in the woods. They met the evening beforehand in the streets. While they were moving towards each other in the crowd, Winston hardly cast a glance at her. He looked briefly at Julia, she appeared more pale than before. Soon as Julia thought it was safe to meet, she told him that they would have to cancel the meeting set for the next day. Winston was surprised. She said her cycles had begun early.
For a moment, Winston was violently angry. During the month Winston had known her, his desire for her had grown. His love for her was initially not as sensual. The first time when they made love, it was just an act of will. However, after the second time, he had started sinking in it. Now, he wanted her. The smell of her hair, her kiss, her skin, everything seemed to have gotten into him and turned her into a necessity. She was necessary in a way that he did not just want her but felt like he owned her. Winston felt cheated when she said they could not meet tomorrow.
While Winston was thinking all this, the crowd pressed them together and their hands were joined accidentally. Julia gave the tips of his fingers a quick squeeze meant to invite his affection and not desire. Winston’s anger was gone. He had started understanding that this was quite normal when you were in a relationship with a woman. He felt deep love for Julia like he had never felt earlier. He started wanting her more than ever and wished they were married for ten years.
Winston wanted to roam freely in the streets with her, not like now when they could not even openly exchange a glance. He just sought the kind of freedom to be with Julia that was improbable in Oceania’s orthodox society. He wanted to talk to her about odd things in life and everyday household purchases. Above all else, he wanted to be with her alone at some place where they did not have the obligation to make love but where they could peacefully spend time with each other. Winston was seriously in love. However, it was not then but the next day that the idea occurred to him that he could rent Mr Charrington’s room for this purpose. He suggested it to Julia who instead of being skeptical agreed readily. Both knew it was a blunder and that they could not be more foolish, but then the desire to be with each other had grown so strong, they were willing to stand at the edges of their graves.
As Winston sat on the edge of the double bed in the room, he thought of the cellars of the Ministry of love where the thought police tortured the convicts. It was horrible to imagine the thing, but he felt with certainty that it would happen and Winston could not remove the idea from his consciousness. It was just as certain as 99 precedes 100. It was somewhere written in his future. It was his destiny Winston thought. He might postpone it and manage to stay safe for a while but then one wilful mistake and the interval grew shorter before they picked you up at midnight and took you to the cellars of the Ministry of Love. At this point, Winston’s character feels strangely hollow. The way he feels afraid of the thought police and is full of doubt and negativity about himself proves he can never face the dictatorship openly. Despite his love for Julia, he appears weak and feels inferior before her. He feels guilty about everything he does. However, when it comes to Julia, he is absolutely honest. Orwell is not trying to turn him into a hero and despite his shortcomings he retains the readers’ sympathy. At the same time, it also happens that Winston is being led to his future by an invisible force; perhaps the party itself or might be love, towards an invisible future. Nobody knows where he would end up. They might escape to a safer world or end up in the cellars of the Ministry of Love. Winston is not a hero like Robinhood but he is still an engaging character and it is difficult to lose interest in either him or Julia. It is also probable that a real hero might emerge from inside him later in the plot. However, there are no such signs yet.
Winston was still thinking in the room when he heard a sudden footstep on the stairs. Julia burst into the room carrying a tool bag made of coarse brown canvas like Winston had often seen her carrying at the Ministry. He moved to hold her in his arms the next instant but she shook him off asking him to wait because she was still holding the bag. She wanted to show Winston what she had brought. She asked him if he had brought that filthy tasting victory coffee. If he had, he could put it away since they were not going to need it. The next moment Julia was on her knees and opened her bag. She removed the contents which filled the top of the bag. There were spanners and a screwdriver.
Underneath these things were some neat packets. She passed a packet to Winston. Its smell seemed vaguely familiar to him. The packet contained some sand-like stuff. Winston pressed the packet and asked Julia if it was not sugar. Yes, it was real sugar and not saccharin, she responded. She also produced a real loaf of bread, different from the one they ate at the canteen. Julia pulled out a little pot of Jam and a tin of milk from her bag. Then she produced from the bag the last remaining marvel. She had wrapped it in a bit of sacking. The smell of coffee had already filled the room. Winston knew the smell from somewhere in his memory but was again unable to pinpoint. She had obtained a whole kilo of coffee that only the inner party members had access to. He was amazed at how she did that. She told him that the inner party swines enjoyed all these privileges, but the waiters and servants always pinched things and that’s how she got hold of all of it. There was also a small packet of coffee that Winston sat down on the floor and tore open. It was real tea, not blackberry leaves. A lot of tea reached Oceania recently. Since Oceania had captured India, tea was found in abundance here. Then she asked Winston to go near the window and not turn around for a few moments. Winston gazed through the Muslin curtain. That enormous woman was still there and singing:
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!
It appeared she knew that crap song well. Her voice appeared charged with a sweet melancholia and floated with hot summer air. She could have kept singing that rubbish endlessly if only she had enough clothes to dry forever and that June evening could last endlessly. It suddenly struck Winston that he had never heard a party member sing as spontaneously. However, he realized very well why party members never sang spontaneously. Singing was unorthodox and represented eccentricity like enjoying one’s own company and talking to oneself. Perhaps, only the people in the lower rungs of the Oceanian society sang. Julia’s voice rang from behind. Winston was shocked as he turned around. He could not recognize her for almost a second. He expected her to be naked but a bigger surprise awaited him. Julia was wearing makeup. She must have obtained some make up from a prole store.
Julia appeared different with deeply red lips, rouged cheeks, a powdered nose and some eye make up. Her eyes shone brighter because of the makeup. Julia was not so skilled and her make up was not perfect. But then Winston was not expecting much either. Whatever Julia had done to her face made her appear very beautiful in the eyes of Winston. Only a little bit of makeup had changed her so much. She looked much more beautiful and feminine. Winston had never seen any party woman wearing makeup. With Julia’s short hair, and boyish overalls, the effect had grown deeper. Winston hugged her and his nostrils were filled with the scent of Julia’s perfume. He remembered the prostitute he once had sex with in a basement kitchen and her large open mouth. She was wearing the same perfume. However, it did not matter right now. Winston asked her about the scent. She said yes, she had done all that for him. She was also going to get hold of a frock and high heels and wear them like a woman instead of the party overalls.
Both removed their clothes and got into the large mahogany bed. Winston had stripped himself for the first time in somebody’s presence. He had remained ashamed of his thin and pale body, the varicose veins on his calves and the discolored patch he had on his ankle. There were no bed sheets but the blanket was threadbare and smooth. They were also astonished at how large and springy the bed was. They did not care even if the bed had bugs. These large double beds were found in only prole homes nowadays. Winston had slept in one when he was a boy and Julia had never slept on it as far as she could remember.
They slept for some time and when Winston woke up, Julia was still asleep. Most of the make up was off her face but her cheekbones still shone beautifully because of the rouge. The sun was sinking and a last ray of the sun fell across the bed and lit the fireplace. Water was boiling in the saucepan. Winston could not hear the woman singing in the yard, but he could still hear the children crying in the streets. He just had a wonderful experience of his lifetime. He wondered if life might have been in this way in the past when a man and woman could sleep naked peacefully in a large room and make love as they liked and talk about anything or listen to the sounds outside. Julia woke up rubbing her eyes and looked at the oilstove. Half of the water in the pan had boiled away. Julia said she would make coffee. They had an hour more. She asked Wisnton when they cut off lights at his apartments. Winston told her it was eleven thirty at night. At Julia’s hostel, they cut off lights at eleven but she needed to reach there early. The next moment, Julia bent from the bed and picked a shoe. Which she hurled into a corner of the room like she had hurled the dictionary at Goldstein’s face during the hate meeting. Winston felt surprised at her move. He asked her why she did that. Julia was aiming at a rat sticking out its nose in the corner of the room. Winston was not amused and murmured why there were rats in that room.
They were all over London and some areas were actually swarming with rats, Julia told Winston. They were there in her hostel’s kitchen. However, that was not all. The large brown ones could attack and hurt children and therefore in some parts of London, women could not leave a child alone for even a few minutes. While she kept talking, Winston had grown afraid and closed his eyes tightly. He asked Julia to stop. Winston had grown pale. Julia asked why he was looking so sick. Was it because of the rats? Rats were the most horrible things for Winston in the entire world.
Julia pressed her body against WIsnton in an effort to reassure him he was safe. Winston’s eyes were still tightly shut. For several moments, it appeared that he was through a nightmare that kept occurring again and again in his life. It was mostly the same nightmare. Winston was standing before a wall of darkness not knowing what lay beyond it. It was like his most dreadful fear was standing on the other side of the wall. However, even in his dream, he felt like he was deceiving himself because he really knew what lay behind that wall of darkness. Its fear was eating his brain. He always woke up without knowing it was, but it was now clear that it somehow related to the thing Julia was talking about when Winston had cut her short. Winston felt sorry for his state. He told Julia it was nothing but just that he could not stop hating the filthy rats. Julia asked him not to worry. She would fill the hole with some sacking and later plaster it when she had time. Winston was feeling ashamed of himself. He sat up against the bed head.
Julia got out of the bed and pulled on her overalls. She got busy making coffee. Its scent was just so strong, she closed the window so nobody outside got curious. Wisnton had been using saccharin for many years and he had almost forgotten sugar. The silky texture sugar gave the coffee fascinated Winston. Meanwhile, Julia wandered around the room holding bread and jam in one hand, and her other hand in his pocket. She was observing the furniture in the room, the antique clock and then reached that glass paperweight. She brought it to the bed to have a better look. Winston was always fascinated to look at it. He took it from Julia’s hands. She asked him what it was. Winston said it was nothing but only a forgotten piece from history, the party had somehow missed or like a message from the past that only someone who knew how to read could know.
Julia was also curious about the picture on the wall and if it was more than a century old. Winston felt sure it was more than two centuries old since it was now impossible to precisely know a thing’s age. She went to observe the picture closely. The rat had stuck its nose out from the wainscoting below the picture. Winston told her the Church’s name – St Clemens Danes. Winston remembered the fragment of the rhyme Mr Charrington had taught him.
‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s!’
Winston was surprised when Julia continued singing the rhyme:
’You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s, When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey——’
She did not remember the rest of the rhyme but its end only.
‘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 password Winston thought. Perhaps, he could find about the rest of the lines where Julia had stopped from Mr Charrington. He asked Julia who had taught her the rhyme. It was her grandfather who had been vaporized when she was just eight. She had never seen a lemon, but knew oranges – round yellow fruits with a thick skin. Winston remembered the Lemons from the fifties which were just so sour that their smell could pout your teeth on the edge. Julia better there were bugs behind that picture and someday she could give it a good clean. She thought they should start preparing to leave. Julia was bored by her makeup and wanted to clean it off and remove the lipstick from Winston’s face.
Winston stayed in bed for a few minutes more. The room was growing darker. Winston turned over towards light and kept staring at the glass paperweight. He was totally immersed in its interior. Despite its great depth, the glass piece was almost transparent as air. The surface of the glass piece appeared like the arch of the sky enclosing a complete world in itself with its atmosphere. Winston felt like getting inside or that he was already in it. Everything was inside that paperweight including the bed, the gateleg table, the painting and even the paperweight itself. The paperweight was the room he was in, the coral in it was his and Julia’s life, fixed forever inside that crystal.