Brief Summary and Analysis of Chapter One 1984 (Part Two)
This chapter marks a fresh turn in Winston’s life. Unexpectedly, he meets the dark haired girl in a corridor in the Ministry, four days later than they encountered each other the last time in the prole area. The girl had broken her wrist and her arm was hanging in a sling. She tripped before Winston while they were a few metres apart. Winston moved quickly to help her. In the short 30 seconds long meeting, she had slipped something into his hand. It was a small paper with a brief message. While Winston as at first doubtful about the content of the message and kept imagining things, he later took a look at it and found that she loved him. However, the two could not meet again for several days. He was afraid that the girl might have changed her mind and kept growing restless. At last, Winston was successful at approaching her in the canteen where the two fixed a date and location for meeting. The two met again after some days at the town square in the middle of a large crowd to avoid getting noticed by the telescreens. A convoy of captive Eurasian prisoners was passing along. The two did not look at each other and kept staring at the row of trucks carrying the prisoners. The girl gave him detailed directions about a secret location where the two could meet each other in a few days. Winston could not look into her eyes but felt her hand in the crowd.
In this chapter, Winston’s life takes a sudden turn. Once he finds out that the dark haired girl loves him, he feels alive again. He is now more cautious than before and afraid of making any mistakes and attracting unnecessary attention, he makes sure that nobody knows about their meeting. Winston is feeling romantic and longs for the girl’s beautiful body. It is too risky to romance a comrade but both are acting very cautiously. Winston has registered a spectacular win because he could not imagine a better change in his life. He is elated but also afraid that they might be caught.
Detailed Summary of Book Two Chapter One – 1984
Four days had passed since Winston had encountered the dark haired girl in the prole area. Nothing had happened in these four days. He was inside his office in the middle of the morning. Winston left his cubicle for the lavatory. He was passing through a long brightly lit corridor when he saw the dark haired girl approaching from the other end. As she drew closer Winston observed that her right arm was in a sling. The sling was of the same color as her overall and therefore difficult to recognize from a distance. Winston thought she must have crushed her hand while hanging round one of the kaleidoscopes that were used to create rough drafts of novels. Such accidents happened regularly inside the fiction department.
The two were almost four metres apart when the girl stumbled and fell almost flat on her face. She gave out a sharp cry of pain. The girl must have fallen on her injured hand, Winston thought. She got back on her knees and her face had turned a milky yellow making her mouth appear redder than ever. Her eyes were fixed on Winston’s and they had an appealing expression in them that rather than pain was fear. Winston felt a ridiculous emotion. He was feeling both hatred and sympathy for her. There was an enemy in front of him trying to kill him, but also a human who was in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. He had already stepped forward to help her as if instinctively. The second she fell on the floor, Winston had felt the pain in his own body. He asked her if she was hurt. She replied that it was only her arm and it would be right in a second. She spoke with a trembling voice and had certainly grown very pale. Winston again asked her if she had broken anything. She was fine, she replied. As she held her hand towards Winston, he helped her get up from the floor. In the meantime, the girl had nearly regained her color. Shortly, she added that she had hurt her wrist and thanked him saying Thanks comrade as they addressed their colleagues in the Ministry. Following that, she walked on briskly as if nothing had happened to her.
It all happened within half a minute. People were habituated of not letting their emotions appear on their face in the Ministry. Apart from that, the two had been standing certainly before a telescreen and so there was no chance they could make the mistake. However, for Winston it had been quite difficult to not betray any surprise on his face for a moment or two. The girl had slipped something in his hand while he was busy helping her. She had intentionally slipped something small and flat into his hands. While passing through the lavatory door, Winston passed it into his pockets and tried to feel it with the tips of his fingers. It felt like paper folded into a square. He was able to unfold it using his fingers while standing at the urinal. Winston knew there was some message in the paper. He wanted to go to the water closets and open the paper at once. However, that was a dangerous thing to do since the closets were watched through telescreens all the time. So, he went back to his cubicle and threw that piece of paper among the others lying on his table and pulled on his spectacles. Winston also pulled the Speakwrite closer. His heart was beating loudly so he gave himself five minutes. He was engaged in the rectification of a long list of figures which was mere routine work not requiring much attention.
Winston knew that the message in the paper had a political meaning. He could identify two possibilities. The first possibility whose probability was higher was that the girl was an agent of thought police and carrying a message from them. He could not understand why the thought police would deliver its message like that but obviously they too had their reasons as they carried out most of their operations covertly. The paper might be a threat, a summons, an order to suicide or some type of trap. However, there was one more possibility which was definitely a lot less likely and which Winston was trying his best not to think about. The paper might be having a message from some underground network the girl was a part of. The girl’s style of delivering the message gave rise to this thought and despite trying his best, Winston was unable to cancel it. While his heart was banging hard, another explanation that occurred to him was that the message meant sure death. With a lot of difficulty he could manage his voice and keep it from trembling while he kept speaking the figures in the Speakwrite. Eight minutes had passed and Winston had completed the task at hand. He slid the completed bundle of papers into the pneumatic tube. He pulled the next batch of work close which has the scrap of work on its top. He flattened that piece of paper and on its top, there was written in large letters –
I LOVE YOU.
Winston stayed too stunned for several seconds and before he could throw the paper into the memory hole, he read it another time to ensure that the letters were really there on it. There was no doubt. However, he resisted showing too much interest while reading the paper. Winston had a few annoying tasks at hand. His problem was that rather than focusing his mind on them, he remained busy trying to conceal his thoughts from the telescreen. It felt like there was a fire raging in his belly. He was uncomfortable while having lunch in the noisy and crowded canteen. Winston wanted to be alone during the lunch hour but the imbecile Parsons popped there out of nowhere and kept ruining his peace throughout the lunch. Apart from the stink of his sweat, which was just so strong that Winston could not smell anything else, he kept talking of the preparations for the Hate Week and boring Winston to hell. Parsons was very enthusiastic about the head of Big Brother they were making for his daughter’s spies troop using paper and glue.
Winston found his talk silly and pointless. However, it was difficult for him to follow what Parsons was saying amidst all that noise. At regular intervals, he asked Parsons to repeat one or another remark to show that he was interested in listening. He saw the dark haired girl sitting at the far end of the room with two more girls. However, he did not cast a second glance on her to avoid arousing any suspicion.
The afternoon came as a relief for Winston. He was tasked with falsifying some previous production reports from two years ago such as to cast the entire blame on a prominent party member, who was now discredited. Winston was very good at such tasks. For the next two hours, he successfully took his mind away from the dark haired girl. Once the task was completed, Winston again remembered her face and with that he felt a fierce desire to be alone for sometime. He could not think of this new relationship until he was alone. That night, he had to be at the community center. So, he took another tasteless meal at the canteen and reached the community center where he took part in a few foolish discussions, played a few rounds of Table tennis, swallowed several glasses of gin and then took part in a boring lecture called Ingsoc in relation to chess. While his soul was crying out of boredom, Winston did not want to miss the evening at the community center. He did not want to arouse any suspicion anymore. The three words in the message had given rise to a strong desire to remain alive in him and he was not going to make any minor mistakes that could prove risky. Only after reaching home at eleven in night when he was alone in his bed was Winston able to think continuously.
Winston wanted to get in touch with the girl and arrange a meeting. He no longer doubted the girl. Winston had clearly felt the agitation in her as she handed the note to him. She must have been really frightened out of her wits. He did not even think of refusing her advances for a second. Just five nights ago, he was planning to crush her skull with a cobblestone. However it did not matter any longer. He thought of her naked and youthful body just as he had seen in his dream. Earlier he imagined her to be a fool like most others he saw around him who were full of hatred and lies. He felt feverish to think of losing her or that he might lose her youthful and attractive body. More than anything he was afraid that if he did not get in touch quickly, she might just change her mind. However, there were enormous difficulties in his way and meeting her secretly appeared next to impossible. There was hardly any space to make a move. The telescreens were everywhere. Winston had thought of different places to meet her within five minutes of having received the note. However, he was reconsidering his plan when he had time to be alone and think.
A meeting like one that happened in the morning could not be repeated since it would be impossible to escape being noticed this time. Winston did not have any clear idea of the whereabouts of the fiction department in the building either. If she was working in the records department instead of the fiction department, Winston’s task would have been easier. Winston did not know where she lived or what time she left from the ministry. He could have met her on her way home but then he would need to wait near the ministry and that could catch the attention of authorities. It was not possible to send a letter via mail since all letters were opened and not many people wrote letters, which made it even easier for the party to scrutinize all mail. There were postcards with written phrases for people who might occasionally need to send a message. They had to strike out the phrases that did not apply. However, sending a letter was impossible since he did not yet know the girl’s name, let alone her address. Winston finally decided that the safest place to meet her was the canteen. He could safely exchange a few words with her if he could find a seat in the middle of the canteen far from the telescreens and where there is sufficient buzz so that their voices were not picked up by the machines. If they could talk for thirty seconds, he might successfully ask her for a place where they could meet.
Winston remained restless for a week since then. On the next day, the whistle had been blown and Winston was leaving the canteen when she entered it. She might have been transferred to a later shift. The two passed each other but did not look at one another. The next day she came to the canteen at the usual time but there were three girls with her and they were sitting immediately under a tele screen. Winston did not see her in the canteen over the next three days. He spent these days in agony. Her image bothered Winston even during his sleep. He did not even touch his diary over those days. His work was his only relief where Winston could forget himself for a ten minutes stretch. He did not have any clue as to what must have happened to the girl. He could not ask anybody either. She could have been vaporized or committed suicide or been transferred to another end of Oceania or worst of all she might have changed her mind and decided to avoid Winston.
She again appeared in the canteen the next day. This time her hand was out of the sling and a band of sticking plaster was there around her wrist. He felt so relieved to see her that he stared at her for several seconds. The next day Winston nearly succeeded at talking to her. As he entered the canteen, she was sitting alone there far from the walls and the telescreen. Winston had reached the canteen early. The place was still not crowded. He stood in the queue. He had nearly reached the counter but was held there for almost two minutes since the person before him was complaining that he had still not received his saccharine tablet. Soon, Winston had received his tray from the counter. The girl was still sitting alone. Winston started making his way to her table when somebody called his name from behind him. He was just three metres away from the girl’s table when the voice called and Winston at first pretended not to hear. However, he could not ignore the voice any more. As Winston turned around, he saw that a blonde man with a silly face called Wilsher whom he barely knew was calling him to his table. It was not safe to refuse his invitation. He had been recognized and now going to and sitting with an unattended girl would have invited unwanted attention. Winston moved to his table and sat there with a smile. He was irritated inside and hallucinated hacking the guy’s face with an axe. Just a few minutes later the girl’s table was full. However, the girl must have noticed him trying to reach her and taken the hint.
Next day again, Winston arrived early to the canteen. She was sitting alone in about the same place on a table alone. There was a short beetle-like man with a flat face and suspicious eyes ahead of him in the lunch queue. Winston turned away from the counter with his tray and saw that the short man was going straight for the girl’s table. Winston lost hope. He knew the short man would take the seat he was trying to reach for. The next moment, there was a tremendous crash and the short man was lying on the floor on his all fours. His tray had gone flying and his food was lying on the floor. The short guy stood up the next moment and cast a malignant glance at Winston who he suspected of having tripped him. Some five seconds later, Winston was sitting at the girl’s table with a heavily beating heart. Winston instead of looking at her directly, started eating. He needed to talk to her before others came and filled the space around them. However, he was now struck by a terrible fear. Negative thoughts came to his mind. It had been a week since their first meeting and she must have definitely changed her mind since then.
Winston was feeling disgusted at how his mind was thinking. His love affair was never going to become reality. It only happens in fiction, Winston thought. Such love stories like his never succeed. He was nervous and unable to talk. Then his eyes fell on Ampleforth; the poet with hairy ears. He was wandering around the room with a tray in his hands, looking for a place to sit. Ampleforth knew Winston and would have joined him on his table if he had spotted Winston there. Winston had only a minute to act. Both Winston and the girl were eating steadily. It was a soup of haricot beans. While having spoonfuls of the soup, the two of them exchanged a few words in a low expressionless voice. Winston asked her when she left work and where they could meet. She told Winston that she left work at half past six in the evening and that they could meet at the Victory Square near the mansion. Winston hesitated. There were telescreens all over that place. However, it did not really matter since the place was generally crowded, the girl suggested. She told Winston not to approach her unless there were a lot of people around her. They set the time for the meeting at seven. Ampleforth could not see Winston and took a seat at another table. That was the end of their conversation. The girl quickly finished her lunch and went away while Winston stayed there to smoke.
Winston had reached Victory Square before the appointed time. There was an enormous column at the top of which, Big Brother’s statue stood gazing towards the skies where he had vanquished the Eurasian planes in the battle of Airstrip One. Until a few years ago, it was the Eastasian planes. There was another street in front of it, where another statue on horseback was standing. It was supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell. It was now five minutes past seven but the girl was still nowhere in sight. Winston was afraid that she might have changed her mind. Winston walked slowly to the north side of the square and felt pleased to identify St. Martin’s Church. He remembered the rhyme the owner of the antique store had recited. “You owe me three farthings” the bells of St Martin’s would chime when it had bells.
The girl was standing near the base of the column pretending to read a poster. It was not safe to approach her until more people had accumulated there. There were telescreens all around the pediment. Winston heard people shouting on his left and then came the noise of moving heavy vehicles. Suddenly, the crowd rushed across the square. The girl also walked fast to join the rush. Winston followed her. A convoy of Eurasian prisoners was passing by, Winston heard the crowd shouting. There was a dense crowd blocking the southside of the square. Winston normally never stood in the middle of a crowd but this time he moved into the center. As he drew near her, there were two enormous proles, husband and wife blocking his path. He pushed but felt crushed between their hips. With some more effort, he was able to get past them. Soon, he was standing beside the girl shoulder to shoulder. Their eyes were fixed in front of them. A long line of trucks was passing through the street. Wooden faced soldiers stood on the trucks in the corners armed with submachine guns. The prisoners were packed inside those trucks. They were crouched; their sad mongolian faces gazed out of the side of the trucks. The prisoners were wearing leg-iron and the metal clanked when the trucks jolted.
Trucks after trucks filled with sad-faced prisoners passed but Winston could not watch them steadily. He was standing with the girl. Her shoulders and her arms up to the elbow were pressed against his. Winston was so close, he could feel the warmth of her cheeks. Just like in the canteen, she had taken charge of the situation immediately. She had started talking in the same expressionless voice like the day before in the canteen. She murmured in a soft voice that was easily drowned amidst the shouting of the crowd. She asked Winston if he could take the Sunday afternoon off. With a kind of military precision, she gave Winston the directions to reach the spot where they were to meet. At the end, she confirmed if he remembered everything. They had to meet around three in the afternoon. She had given Winston elaborate directions so he did not lose his way. After that, she asked Winston to leave quickly. Winston was himself preparing to leave. However, it was difficult because of the crowd. The trucks filled with captive enemy soldiers were still moving past them and the crowd watched with curiosity.
People’s curiosity was heightened whenever trucks with captive enemy soldiers arrived in London. Whether Eurasians or Eastasians, both were strange animals for the Oceanians. The people had seen them only as captives and that too only when they were being carried about in trucks. Except for the few who were hanged in public, people never knew about what happened to the prisoners. They presumed the prisoners were sent to forced labor camps. After the trucks carrying prisoners with sad mongolian faces had passed, there followed trucks carrying the more European looking prisoners. They were dirty, bearded and exhausted. Their eyes looked into Winston’s with a strange intensity and then flashed again. In the last truck of the convoy, Winston saw an aged man standing with his wrists crossed like he was used to having them tied. His face was covered with grey hair. It was time for Winston and the girl to part, but the crowd was still not letting it happen. At the last moment, the girl held Winston’s hand and gave it a short gentle squeeze. While it lasted for no more than 10 seconds, Winston felt like they had been holding hands for ages. In those ten seconds, Winston had explored her fingers, shaped nails and the smooth flesh under the wrist. Feeling her hand was like taking a detailed look at it for Winston. At the same instant, he remembered that he did not know what color the girl’s eyes were. However, he could not directly turn towards her and check out. That would have been a big mistake. They both stood there staring forward. Instead of the girl’s, the old prisoner’s mournful eyes were staring into Winston’s.