1984 by George Orwell

Title: Nineteen eighty-four
Author: George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Blair) (1903-1950)


Chapter 1

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the
vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions,
though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering
along with him.

The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a
coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall.
It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a
man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome
features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even
at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric
current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive
in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston,
who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went
slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the
lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was
one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about
when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had
something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an
oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface
of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank
somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument
(the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of
shutting it off completely. He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail
figure, the meagreness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls
which were the uniform of the party. His hair was very fair, his face
naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor
blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.

Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down in
the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into
spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there
seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered
everywhere. The black-moustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding
corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER
IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into
Winston’s own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner,
flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the
single word INGSOC. In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between
the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again
with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people’s
windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police

Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away
about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The
telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston
made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it,
moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal
plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course
no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How
often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual
wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all
the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted
to. You had to live–did live, from habit that became instinct–in the
assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in
darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he
well knew, even a back can be revealing. A kilometre away the Ministry of
Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape.
This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste–this was London, chief
city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of
Oceania. He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him
whether London had always been quite like this. Were there always these
vistas of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored up with
baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs
with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions?
And the bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the
willow-herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places where the
bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had sprung up sordid colonies
of wooden dwellings like chicken-houses? But it was no use, he could not
remember: nothing remained of his childhood except a series of bright-lit
tableaux occurring against no background and mostly unintelligible.

The Ministry of Truth–Minitrue, in Newspeak [Newspeak was the official
language of Oceania. For an account of its structure and etymology see
Appendix.]–was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It
was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring
up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston
stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in
elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above
ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London
there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So
completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof
of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They
were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus
of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself
with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of
Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which
maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible
for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv,
and Miniplenty.

The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows
in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor
within half a kilometre of it. It was a place impossible to enter except
on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of
barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even
the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced
guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.

Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features into the
expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing
the telescreen. He crossed the room into the tiny kitchen. By leaving
the Ministry at this time of day he had sacrificed his lunch in the
canteen, and he was aware that there was no food in the kitchen except
a hunk of dark-coloured bread which had got to be saved for tomorrow’s
breakfast. He took down from the shelf a bottle of colourless liquid
with a plain white label marked VICTORY GIN. It gave off a sickly, oily
smell, as of Chinese rice-spirit. Winston poured out nearly a teacupful,
nerved himself for a shock, and gulped it down like a dose of medicine.

Instantly his face turned scarlet and the water ran out of his eyes. The
stuff was like nitric acid, and moreover, in swallowing it one had the
sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The
next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world
began to look more cheerful. He took a cigarette from a crumpled packet
marked VICTORY CIGARETTES and incautiously held it upright, whereupon the
tobacco fell out on to the floor. With the next he was more successful.
He went back to the living-room and sat down at a small table that stood
to the left of the telescreen. From the table drawer he took out a
penholder, a bottle of ink, and a thick, quarto-sized blank book with a
red back and a marbled cover.

For some reason the telescreen in the living-room was in an unusual
position. Instead of being placed, as was normal, in the end wall, where
it could command the whole room, it was in the longer wall, opposite the
window. To one side of it there was a shallow alcove in which Winston
was now sitting, and which, when the flats were built, had probably been
intended to hold bookshelves. By sitting in the alcove, and keeping well
back, Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen, so
far as sight went. He could be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed
in his present position he could not be seen. It was partly the unusual
geography of the room that had suggested to him the thing that he was now
about to do.

But it had also been suggested by the book that he had just taken out of
the drawer. It was a peculiarly beautiful book. Its smooth creamy paper,
a little yellowed by age, was of a kind that had not been manufactured for
at least forty years past. He could guess, however, that the book was much
older than that. He had seen it lying in the window of a frowsy little
junk-shop in a slummy quarter of the town (just what quarter he did not
now remember) and had been stricken immediately by an overwhelming desire
to possess it. Party members were supposed not to go into ordinary shops
(‘dealing on the free market’, it was called), but the rule was not
strictly kept, because there were various things, such as shoelaces and
razor blades, which it was impossible to get hold of in any other way. He
had given a quick glance up and down the street and then had slipped inside
and bought the book for two dollars fifty. At the time he was not conscious
of wanting it for any particular purpose. He had carried it guiltily home
in his briefcase. Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising

The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal
(nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected
it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least
by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp. Winston fitted a nib into
the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. The pen was an archaic
instrument, seldom used even for signatures, and he had procured one,
furtively and with some difficulty, simply because of a feeling that the
beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead
of being scratched with an ink-pencil. Actually he was not used to writing
by hand. Apart from very short notes, it was usual to dictate everything
into the speak-write which was of course impossible for his present
purpose. He dipped the pen into the ink and then faltered for just a
second. A tremor had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the
decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote:

April 4th, 1984.

He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To
begin with, he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984. It
must be round about that date, since he was fairly sure that his age was
thirty-nine, and he believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945; but
it was never possible nowadays to pin down any date within a year or two.

For whom, it suddenly occurred to him to wonder, was he writing this diary?
For the future, for the unborn. His mind hovered for a moment round the
doubtful date on the page, and then fetched up with a bump against the
Newspeak word DOUBLETHINK. For the first time the magnitude of what he had
undertaken came home to him. How could you communicate with the future? It
was of its nature impossible. Either the future would resemble the present,
in which case it would not listen to him: or it would be different from it,
and his predicament would be meaningless.

For some time he sat gazing stupidly at the paper. The telescreen had
changed over to strident military music. It was curious that he seemed
not merely to have lost the power of expressing himself, but even to have
forgotten what it was that he had originally intended to say. For weeks
past he had been making ready for this moment, and it had never crossed
his mind that anything would be needed except courage. The actual writing
would be easy. All he had to do was to transfer to paper the interminable
restless monologue that had been running inside his head, literally for
years. At this moment, however, even the monologue had dried up. Moreover
his varicose ulcer had begun itching unbearably. He dared not scratch it,
because if he did so it always became inflamed. The seconds were ticking
by. He was conscious of nothing except the blankness of the page in front
of him, the itching of the skin above his ankle, the blaring of the music,
and a slight booziness caused by the gin.

Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly aware of what
he was setting down. His small but childish handwriting straggled up and
down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its
full stops:

April 4th, 1984. Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good
one of a ship full of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away
with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the
water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights,
then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as
suddenly as though the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with
laughter when he sank. then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a
helicopter hovering over it. there was a middle-aged woman might have been
a jewess sitting up in the bow with a little boy about three years old in
her arms. little boy screaming with fright and hiding his head between her
breasts as if he was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting
her arms round him and comforting him although she was blue with fright
herself, all the time covering him up as much as possible as if she thought
her arms could keep the bullets off him. then the helicopter planted a 20
kilo bomb in among them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood.
then there was a wonderful shot of a child’s arm going up up up right up
into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it
up and there was a lot of applause from the party seats but a woman down in
the prole part of the house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting
they didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it aint
right not in front of kids it aint until the police turned her turned her
out i dont suppose anything happened to her nobody cares what the proles
say typical prole reaction they never—-

Winston stopped writing, partly because he was suffering from cramp. He did
not know what had made him pour out this stream of rubbish. But the curious
thing was that while he was doing so a totally different memory had
clarified itself in his mind, to the point where he almost felt equal to
writing it down. It was, he now realized, because of this other incident
that he had suddenly decided to come home and begin the diary today.

It had happened that morning at the Ministry, if anything so nebulous could
be said to happen.

It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston
worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them
in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for
the Two Minutes Hate. Winston was just taking his place in one of the
middle rows when two people whom he knew by sight, but had never spoken
to, came unexpectedly into the room. One of them was a girl whom he often
passed in the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that she
worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably–since he had sometimes seen
her with oily hands and carrying a spanner–she had some mechanical job
on one of the novel-writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of
about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic
movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was
wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to
bring out the shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the
very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the
atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths and community hikes and general
clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked
nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always
the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted
adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and
nosers-out of unorthodoxy. But this particular girl gave him the impression
of being more dangerous than most. Once when they passed in the corridor
she gave him a quick sidelong glance which seemed to pierce right into
him and for a moment had filled him with black terror. The idea had even
crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police. That,
it was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar
uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as hostility, whenever
she was anywhere near him.

The other person was a man named O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party and
holder of some post so important and remote that Winston had only a dim
idea of its nature. A momentary hush passed over the group of people
round the chairs as they saw the black overalls of an Inner Party member
approaching. O’Brien was a large, burly man with a thick neck and a coarse,
humorous, brutal face. In spite of his formidable appearance he had a
certain charm of manner. He had a trick of resettling his spectacles on
his nose which was curiously disarming–in some indefinable way, curiously
civilized. It was a gesture which, if anyone had still thought in such
terms, might have recalled an eighteenth-century nobleman offering his
snuffbox. Winston had seen O’Brien perhaps a dozen times in almost as many
years. He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because he was intrigued
by the contrast between O’Brien’s urbane manner and his prize-fighter’s
physique. Much more it was because of a secretly held belief–or perhaps
not even a belief, merely a hope–that O’Brien’s political orthodoxy was
not perfect. Something in his face suggested it irresistibly. And again,
perhaps it was not even unorthodoxy that was written in his face, but
simply intelligence. But at any rate he had the appearance of being a
person that you could talk to if somehow you could cheat the telescreen and
get him alone. Winston had never made the smallest effort to verify this
guess: indeed, there was no way of doing so. At this moment O’Brien glanced
at his wrist-watch, saw that it was nearly eleven hundred, and evidently
decided to stay in the Records Department until the Two Minutes Hate was
over. He took a chair in the same row as Winston, a couple of places away.
A small, sandy-haired woman who worked in the next cubicle to Winston was
between them. The girl with dark hair was sitting immediately behind.

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine
running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room.
It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the
back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had
flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the
audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and
disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago
(how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading
figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and
then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned
to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes
of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in
which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor,
the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against
the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations,
sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still
alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea,
under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even–so it was
occasionally rumoured–in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.

Winston’s diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of
Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face,
with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard–a
clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile
silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles
was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a
sheep-like quality. Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack
upon the doctrines of the Party–an attack so exaggerated and perverse that
a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible
enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less
level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big
Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding
the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom
of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought,
he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed–and all
this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the
habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak
words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally
use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to
the reality which Goldstein’s specious claptrap covered, behind his head on
the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the Eurasian army–row
after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam
up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others
exactly similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers’ boots formed the
background to Goldstein’s bleating voice.

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable
exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.
The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power
of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides,
the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger
automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia
or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was
generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although
Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a
thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers,
in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the
general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were–in spite of all this,
his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes
waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs
acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police.
He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of
conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State. The Brotherhood, its
name was supposed to be. There were also whispered stories of a terrible
book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author
and which circulated clandestinely here and there. It was a book without a
title. People referred to it, if at all, simply as THE BOOK. But one knew
of such things only through vague rumours. Neither the Brotherhood nor
THE BOOK was a subject that any ordinary Party member would mention if
there was a way of avoiding it.

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and
down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort
to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little
sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and
shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed.
He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and
quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The
dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’
and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the
screen. It struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued
inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the
others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The
horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to
act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining
in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous
ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash
faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of
people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into
a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an
abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to
another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston’s hatred
was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against
Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such moments his
heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian
of truth and sanity in a world of lies. And yet the very next instant he
was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein
seemed to him to be true. At those moments his secret loathing of Big
Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an
invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes
of Asia, and Goldstein, in spite of his isolation, his helplessness, and
the doubt that hung about his very existence, seemed like some sinister
enchanter, capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the structure
of civilization.

It was even possible, at moments, to switch one’s hatred this way or that
by a voluntary act. Suddenly, by the sort of violent effort with which one
wrenches one’s head away from the pillow in a nightmare, Winston succeeded
in transferring his hatred from the face on the screen to the dark-haired
girl behind him. Vivid, beautiful hallucinations flashed through his mind.
He would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon. He would tie her naked
to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. He would
ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax. Better than before,
moreover, he realized WHY it was that he hated her. He hated her because
she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with
her and would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist, which
seemed to ask you to encircle it with your arm, there was only the odious
scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity.

The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had become an actual
sheep’s bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep.
Then the sheep-face melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed
to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and
seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some of the
people in the front row actually flinched backwards in their seats. But
in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the
hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother, black-haired,
black-moustachio’d, full of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that
it almost filled up the screen. Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying.
It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are
uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but
restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big
Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood
out in bold capitals:


But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several seconds on the
screen, as though the impact that it had made on everyone’s eyeballs was
too vivid to wear off immediately. The little sandy-haired woman had flung
herself forward over the back of the chair in front of her. With a
tremulous murmur that sounded like ‘My Saviour!’ she extended her arms
towards the screen. Then she buried her face in her hands. It was apparent
that she was uttering a prayer.

At this moment the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow,
rhythmical chant of ‘B-B!…B-B!’–over and over again, very slowly, with a
long pause between the first ‘B’ and the second–a heavy, murmurous sound,
somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the
stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms. For perhaps as much as
thirty seconds they kept it up. It was a refrain that was often heard in
moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom
and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis,
a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.
Winston’s entrails seemed to grow cold. In the Two Minutes Hate he could
not help sharing in the general delirium, but this sub-human chanting of
‘B-B!…B-B!’ always filled him with horror. Of course he chanted with the
rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to
control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive
reaction. But there was a space of a couple of seconds during which the
expression of his eyes might conceivably have betrayed him. And it was
exactly at this moment that the significant thing happened–if, indeed,
it did happen.

Momentarily he caught O’Brien’s eye. O’Brien had stood up. He had taken
off his spectacles and was in the act of resettling them on his nose with
his characteristic gesture. But there was a fraction of a second when
their eyes met, and for as long as it took to happen Winston knew–yes, he
KNEW!–that O’Brien was thinking the same thing as himself. An unmistakable
message had passed. It was as though their two minds had opened and the
thoughts were flowing from one into the other through their eyes. ‘I am
with you,’ O’Brien seemed to be saying to him. ‘I know precisely what you
are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred, your disgust.
But don’t worry, I am on your side!’ And then the flash of intelligence
was gone, and O’Brien’s face was as inscrutable as everybody else’s.

That was all, and he was already uncertain whether it had happened. Such
incidents never had any sequel. All that they did was to keep alive in him
the belief, or hope, that others besides himself were the enemies of the
Party. Perhaps the rumours of vast underground conspiracies were true after
all–perhaps the Brotherhood really existed! It was impossible, in spite
of the endless arrests and confessions and executions, to be sure that the
Brotherhood was not simply a myth. Some days he believed in it, some days
not. There was no evidence, only fleeting glimpses that might mean anything
or nothing: snatches of overheard conversation, faint scribbles on lavatory
walls–once, even, when two strangers met, a small movement of the hand
which had looked as though it might be a signal of recognition. It was all
guesswork: very likely he had imagined everything. He had gone back to his
cubicle without looking at O’Brien again. The idea of following up their
momentary contact hardly crossed his mind. It would have been inconceivably
dangerous even if he had known how to set about doing it. For a second, two
seconds, they had exchanged an equivocal glance, and that was the end of
the story. But even that was a memorable event, in the locked loneliness in
which one had to live.

Winston roused himself and sat up straighter. He let out a belch. The gin
was rising from his stomach.

His eyes re-focused on the page. He discovered that while he sat helplessly
musing he had also been writing, as though by automatic action. And it was
no longer the same cramped, awkward handwriting as before. His pen had slid
voluptuously over the smooth paper, printing in large neat capitals–


over and over again, filling half a page.

He could not help feeling a twinge of panic. It was absurd, since the
writing of those particular words was not more dangerous than the initial
act of opening the diary, but for a moment he was tempted to tear out the
spoiled pages and abandon the enterprise altogether.

He did not do so, however, because he knew that it was useless. Whether he
wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made
no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go
on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the
same. He had committed–would still have committed, even if he had never
set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself.
Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be
concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for
years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

It was always at night–the arrests invariably happened at night. The
sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights
glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces round the bed. In the vast
majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People
simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the
registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your
one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished,
annihilated: VAPORIZED was the usual word.

For a moment he was seized by a kind of hysteria. He began writing in a
hurried untidy scrawl:

theyll shoot me i don’t care theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i
dont care down with big brother they always shoot you in the back of the
neck i dont care down with big brother—-

He sat back in his chair, slightly ashamed of himself, and laid down
the pen. The next moment he started violently. There was a knocking at
the door.

Already! He sat as still as a mouse, in the futile hope that whoever it was
might go away after a single attempt. But no, the knocking was repeated.
The worst thing of all would be to delay. His heart was thumping like a
drum, but his face, from long habit, was probably expressionless. He got
up and moved heavily towards the door.

Chapter 2

As he put his hand to the door-knob Winston saw that he had left the
diary open on the table. DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER was written all over it,
in letters almost big enough to be legible across the room. It was an
inconceivably stupid thing to have done. But, he realized, even in his
panic he had not wanted to smudge the creamy paper by shutting the book
while the ink was wet.

He drew in his breath and opened the door. Instantly a warm wave of relief
flowed through him. A colourless, crushed-looking woman, with wispy hair
and a lined face, was standing outside.

‘Oh, comrade,’ she began in a dreary, whining sort of voice, ‘I thought I
heard you come in. Do you think you could come across and have a look at
our kitchen sink? It’s got blocked up and—-‘

It was Mrs Parsons, the wife of a neighbour on the same floor. (‘Mrs’ was
a word somewhat discountenanced by the Party–you were supposed to call
everyone ‘comrade’–but with some women one used it instinctively.) She was
a woman of about thirty, but looking much older. One had the impression
that there was dust in the creases of her face. Winston followed her down
the passage. These amateur repair jobs were an almost daily irritation.
Victory Mansions were old flats, built in 1930 or thereabouts, and were
falling to pieces. The plaster flaked constantly from ceilings and walls,
the pipes burst in every hard frost, the roof leaked whenever there was
snow, the heating system was usually running at half steam when it was not
closed down altogether from motives of economy. Repairs, except what you
could do for yourself, had to be sanctioned by remote committees which
were liable to hold up even the mending of a window-pane for two years.

‘Of course it’s only because Tom isn’t home,’ said Mrs Parsons vaguely.

The Parsons’ flat was bigger than Winston’s, and dingy in a different
way. Everything had a battered, trampled-on look, as though the
place had just been visited by some large violent animal. Games
impedimenta–hockey-sticks, boxing-gloves, a burst football, a pair of
sweaty shorts turned inside out–lay all over the floor, and on the
table there was a litter of dirty dishes and dog-eared exercise-books.
On the walls were scarlet banners of the Youth League and the Spies, and
a full-sized poster of Big Brother. There was the usual boiled-cabbage
smell, common to the whole building, but it was shot through by a sharper
reek of sweat, which–one knew this at the first sniff, though it was
hard to say how–was the sweat of some person not present at the moment.
In another room someone with a comb and a piece of toilet paper was
trying to keep tune with the military music which was still issuing
from the telescreen.

‘It’s the children,’ said Mrs Parsons, casting a half-apprehensive glance
at the door. ‘They haven’t been out today. And of course—-‘

She had a habit of breaking off her sentences in the middle. The kitchen
sink was full nearly to the brim with filthy greenish water which smelt
worse than ever of cabbage. Winston knelt down and examined the angle-joint
of the pipe. He hated using his hands, and he hated bending down, which was
always liable to start him coughing. Mrs Parsons looked on helplessly.

‘Of course if Tom was home he’d put it right in a moment,’ she said.
‘He loves anything like that. He’s ever so good with his hands, Tom is.’

Parsons was Winston’s fellow-employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was
a fattish but active man of paralysing stupidity, a mass of imbecile
enthusiasms–one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on
whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party
depended. At thirty-five he had just been unwillingly evicted from the
Youth League, and before graduating into the Youth League he had managed to
stay on in the Spies for a year beyond the statutory age. At the Ministry
he was employed in some subordinate post for which intelligence was not
required, but on the other hand he was a leading figure on the Sports
Committee and all the other committees engaged in organizing community
hikes, spontaneous demonstrations, savings campaigns, and voluntary
activities generally. He would inform you with quiet pride, between whiffs
of his pipe, that he had put in an appearance at the Community Centre every
evening for the past four years. An overpowering smell of sweat, a sort of
unconscious testimony to the strenuousness of his life, followed him about
wherever he went, and even remained behind him after he had gone.

‘Have you got a spanner?’ said Winston, fiddling with the nut on the

‘A spanner,’ said Mrs Parsons, immediately becoming invertebrate. ‘I don’t
know, I’m sure. Perhaps the children—-‘

There was a trampling of boots and another blast on the comb as the
children charged into the living-room. Mrs Parsons brought the spanner.
Winston let out the water and disgustedly removed the clot of human hair
that had blocked up the pipe. He cleaned his fingers as best he could in
the cold water from the tap and went back into the other room.

‘Up with your hands!’ yelled a savage voice.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table
and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister,
about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood.
Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red
neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands
above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy’s
demeanour, that it was not altogether a game.

‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal! You’re a
Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting ‘Traitor!’ and
‘Thought-criminal!’ the little girl imitating her brother in every
movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of
tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of
calculating ferocity in the boy’s eye, a quite evident desire to hit or
kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so.
It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.

Mrs Parsons’ eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children, and back
again. In the better light of the living-room he noticed with interest
that there actually was dust in the creases of her face.

‘They do get so noisy,’ she said. ‘They’re disappointed because they
couldn’t go to see the hanging, that’s what it is. I’m too busy to take
them. and Tom won’t be back from work in time.’

‘Why can’t we go and see the hanging?’ roared the boy in his huge voice.

‘Want to see the hanging! Want to see the hanging!’ chanted the little
girl, still capering round.

Some Eurasian prisoners, guilty of war crimes, were to be hanged in the
Park that evening, Winston remembered. This happened about once a month,
and was a popular spectacle. Children always clamoured to be taken to see
it. He took his leave of Mrs Parsons and made for the door. But he had not
gone six steps down the passage when something hit the back of his neck an
agonizingly painful blow. It was as though a red-hot wire had been jabbed
into him. He spun round just in time to see Mrs Parsons dragging her son
back into the doorway while the boy pocketed a catapult.

‘Goldstein!’ bellowed the boy as the door closed on him. But what most
struck Winston was the look of helpless fright on the woman’s greyish face.

Back in the flat he stepped quickly past the telescreen and sat down at the
table again, still rubbing his neck. The music from the telescreen had
stopped. Instead, a clipped military voice was reading out, with a sort of
brutal relish, a description of the armaments of the new Floating Fortress
which had just been anchored between Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of
terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night
and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were
horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as
the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages,
and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the
discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and
everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the
hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship
of Big Brother–it was all a sort of glorious game to them. All their
ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against
foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal
for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with
good reason, for hardly a week passed in which ‘The Times’ did not carry
a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak–‘child hero’
was the phrase generally used–had overheard some compromising remark
and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.

The sting of the catapult bullet had worn off. He picked up his pen
half-heartedly, wondering whether he could find something more to write
in the diary. Suddenly he began thinking of O’Brien again.

Years ago–how long was it? Seven years it must be–he had dreamed that he
was walking through a pitch-dark room. And someone sitting to one side of
him had said as he passed: ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no
darkness.’ It was said very quietly, almost casually–a statement, not a
command. He had walked on without pausing. What was curious was that at the
time, in the dream, the words had not made much impression on him. It was
only later and by degrees that they had seemed to take on significance. He
could not now remember whether it was before or after having the dream that
he had seen O’Brien for the first time, nor could he remember when he had
first identified the voice as O’Brien’s. But at any rate the identification
existed. It was O’Brien who had spoken to him out of the dark.

Winston had never been able to feel sure–even after this morning’s flash
of the eyes it was still impossible to be sure whether O’Brien was a friend
or an enemy. Nor did it even seem to matter greatly. There was a link of
understanding between them, more important than affection or partisanship.
‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,’ he had said.
Winston did not know what it meant, only that in some way or another it
would come true.

The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call, clear and beautiful,
floated into the stagnant air. The voice continued raspingly:

‘Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived
from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious
victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may
well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the

Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory
description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures
of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week,
the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty.

Winston belched again. The gin was wearing off, leaving a deflated feeling.
The telescreen–perhaps to celebrate the victory, perhaps to drown the
memory of the lost chocolate–crashed into ‘Oceania, ’tis for thee’. You
were supposed to stand to attention. However, in his present position he
was invisible.

‘Oceania, ’tis for thee’ gave way to lighter music. Winston walked over to
the window, keeping his back to the telescreen. The day was still cold and
clear. Somewhere far away a rocket bomb exploded with a dull, reverberating
roar. About twenty or thirty of them a week were falling on London at

Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to and fro, and the
word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished. Ingsoc. The sacred principles
of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as
though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a
monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past
was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single
human creature now living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the
dominion of the Party would not endure FOR EVER? Like an answer, the three
slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him:


He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There, too, in tiny
clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of
the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you.
On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on
the wrappings of a cigarette packet–everywhere. Always the eyes watching
you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating,
indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed–no escape. Nothing was your
own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of the Ministry of Truth,
with the light no longer shining on them, looked grim as the loopholes of a
fortress. His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too
strong, it could not be stormed. A thousand rocket bombs would not batter
it down. He wondered again for whom he was writing the diary. For the
future, for the past–for an age that might be imaginary. And in front of
him there lay not death but annihilation. The diary would be reduced to
ashes and himself to vapour. Only the Thought Police would read what he had
written, before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory. How could
you make appeal to the future when not a trace of you, not even an
anonymous word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically survive?

The telescreen struck fourteen. He must leave in ten minutes. He had to be
back at work by fourteen-thirty.

Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put new heart into him.
He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so
long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken.
It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on
the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote:

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men
are different from one another and do not live alone–to a time when truth
exists and what is done cannot be undone:
From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of
Big Brother, from the age of doublethink–greetings!

He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now,
when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken
the decisive step. The consequences of every act are included in the act
itself. He wrote:

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.

Now he had recognized himself as a dead man it became important to stay
alive as long as possible. Two fingers of his right hand were inkstained.
It was exactly the kind of detail that might betray you. Some nosing zealot
in the Ministry (a woman, probably: someone like the little sandy-haired
woman or the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department) might start
wondering why he had been writing during the lunch interval, why he had
used an old-fashioned pen, WHAT he had been writing–and then drop a hint
in the appropriate quarter. He went to the bathroom and carefully scrubbed
the ink away with the gritty dark-brown soap which rasped your skin like
sandpaper and was therefore well adapted for this purpose.

He put the diary away in the drawer. It was quite useless to think of
hiding it, but he could at least make sure whether or not its existence had
been discovered. A hair laid across the page-ends was too obvious. With the
tip of his finger he picked up an identifiable grain of whitish dust and
deposited it on the corner of the cover, where it was bound to be shaken
off if the book was moved.

Chapter 3

Winston was dreaming of his mother.

He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven years old when his mother had
disappeared. She was a tall, statuesque, rather silent woman with slow
movements and magnificent fair hair. His father he remembered more vaguely
as dark and thin, dressed always in neat dark clothes (Winston remembered
especially the very thin soles of his father’s shoes) and wearing
spectacles. The two of them must evidently have been swallowed up in one
of the first great purges of the fifties.

At this moment his mother was sitting in some place deep down beneath him,
with his young sister in her arms. He did not remember his sister at all,
except as a tiny, feeble baby, always silent, with large, watchful eyes.
Both of them were looking up at him. They were down in some subterranean
place–the bottom of a well, for instance, or a very deep grave–but it
was a place which, already far below him, was itself moving downwards.
They were in the saloon of a sinking ship, looking up at him through the
darkening water. There was still air in the saloon, they could still see
him and he them, but all the while they were sinking down, down into the
green waters which in another moment must hide them from sight for ever.
He was out in the light and air while they were being sucked down to death,
and they were down there because he was up here. He knew it and they knew
it, and he could see the knowledge in their faces. There was no reproach
either in their faces or in their hearts, only the knowledge that they
must die in order that he might remain alive, and that this was part of
the unavoidable order of things.

He could not remember what had happened, but he knew in his dream that in
some way the lives of his mother and his sister had been sacrificed to his
own. It was one of those dreams which, while retaining the characteristic
dream scenery, are a continuation of one’s intellectual life, and in which
one becomes aware of facts and ideas which still seem new and valuable
after one is awake. The thing that now suddenly struck Winston was that his
mother’s death, nearly thirty years ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in
a way that was no longer possible. Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the
ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship,
and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to
know the reason. His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she had died
loving him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return, and
because somehow, he did not remember how, she had sacrificed herself to a
conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such things, he
saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but
no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows. All this he seemed to
see in the large eyes of his mother and his sister, looking up at him
through the green water, hundreds of fathoms down and still sinking.

Suddenly he was standing on short springy turf, on a summer evening when
the slanting rays of the sun gilded the ground. The landscape that he was
looking at recurred so often in his dreams that he was never fully certain
whether or not he had seen it in the real world. In his waking thoughts he
called it the Golden Country. It was an old, rabbit-bitten pasture, with a
foot-track wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged
hedge on the opposite side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were
swaying very faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in dense
masses like women’s hair. Somewhere near at hand, though out of sight,
there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in the
pools under the willow trees.

The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across the field. With
what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them
disdainfully aside. Her body was white and smooth, but it aroused no desire
in him, indeed he barely looked at it. What overwhelmed him in that instant
was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside.
With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture,
a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the
Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid
movement of the arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time.
Winston woke up with the word ‘Shakespeare’ on his lips.

The telescreen was giving forth an ear-splitting whistle which continued on
the same note for thirty seconds. It was nought seven fifteen, getting-up
time for office workers. Winston wrenched his body out of bed–naked, for
a member of the Outer Party received only 3,000 clothing coupons annually,
and a suit of pyjamas was 600–and seized a dingy singlet and a pair of
shorts that were lying across a chair. The Physical Jerks would begin in
three minutes. The next moment he was doubled up by a violent coughing fit
which nearly always attacked him soon after waking up. It emptied his lungs
so completely that he could only begin breathing again by lying on his back
and taking a series of deep gasps. His veins had swelled with the effort of
the cough, and the varicose ulcer had started itching.

‘Thirty to forty group!’ yapped a piercing female voice. ‘Thirty to forty
group! Take your places, please. Thirties to forties!’

Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreen, upon which the
image of a youngish woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in tunic and
gym-shoes, had already appeared.

‘Arms bending and stretching!’ she rapped out. ‘Take your time by me. ONE,
two, three, four! ONE, two, three, four! Come on, comrades, put a bit of
life into it! ONE, two, three four! ONE two, three, four!…’

The pain of the coughing fit had not quite driven out of Winston’s mind the
impression made by his dream, and the rhythmic movements of the exercise
restored it somewhat. As he mechanically shot his arms back and forth,
wearing on his face the look of grim enjoyment which was considered proper
during the Physical Jerks, he was struggling to think his way backward into
the dim period of his early childhood. It was extraordinarily difficult.
Beyond the late fifties everything faded. When there were no external
records that you could refer to, even the outline of your own life lost
its sharpness. You remembered huge events which had quite probably not
happened, you remembered the detail of incidents without being able to
recapture their atmosphere, and there were long blank periods to which you
could assign nothing. Everything had been different then. Even the names of
countries, and their shapes on the map, had been different. Airstrip One,
for instance, had not been so called in those days: it had been called
England or Britain, though London, he felt fairly certain, had always been
called London.

Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been
at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly long interval of
peace during his childhood, because one of his early memories was of an air
raid which appeared to take everyone by surprise. Perhaps it was the time
when the atomic bomb had fallen on Colchester. He did not remember the raid
itself, but he did remember his father’s hand clutching his own as they
hurried down, down, down into some place deep in the earth, round and round
a spiral staircase which rang under his feet and which finally so wearied
his legs that he began whimpering and they had to stop and rest. His
mother, in her slow, dreamy way, was following a long way behind them. She
was carrying his baby sister–or perhaps it was only a bundle of blankets
that she was carrying: he was not certain whether his sister had been born
then. Finally they had emerged into a noisy, crowded place which he had
realized to be a Tube station.

There were people sitting all over the stone-flagged floor, and other
people, packed tightly together, were sitting on metal bunks, one above
the other. Winston and his mother and father found themselves a place on
the floor, and near them an old man and an old woman were sitting side by
side on a bunk. The old man had on a decent dark suit and a black cloth cap
pushed back from very white hair: his face was scarlet and his eyes were
blue and full of tears. He reeked of gin. It seemed to breathe out of his
skin in place of sweat, and one could have fancied that the tears welling
from his eyes were pure gin. But though slightly drunk he was also
suffering under some grief that was genuine and unbearable. In his childish
way Winston grasped that some terrible thing, something that was beyond
forgiveness and could never be remedied, had just happened. It also seemed
to him that he knew what it was. Someone whom the old man loved–a little
granddaughter, perhaps–had been killed. Every few minutes the old man kept

‘We didn’t ought to ‘ave trusted ’em. I said so, Ma, didn’t I? That’s what
comes of trusting ’em. I said so all along. We didn’t ought to ‘ave trusted
the buggers.’

But which buggers they didn’t ought to have trusted Winston could not now

Since about that time, war had been literally continuous, though strictly
speaking it had not always been the same war. For several months during his
childhood there had been confused street fighting in London itself, some
of which he remembered vividly. But to trace out the history of the whole
period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been
utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made
mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for
example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and
in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever
admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different
lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania
had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was
merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because
his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of
partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore
Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always
represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future
agreement with him was impossible.

The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he
forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were
gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be
good for the back muscles)–the frightening thing was that it might all be
true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or
that event, IT NEVER HAPPENED–that, surely, was more terrifying than mere
torture and death?

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He,
Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short
a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his
own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all
others accepted the lie which the Party imposed–if all records told the
same tale–then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls
the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the
present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature
alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from
everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was
an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’,
they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.

‘Stand easy!’ barked the instructress, a little more genially.

Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air.
His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know
and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling
carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which
cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of
them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim
to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the
guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then
to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and
then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process
to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to
induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of
the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word
‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

The instructress had called them to attention again. ‘And now let’s see
which of us can touch our toes!’ she said enthusiastically. ‘Right over
from the hips, please, comrades. ONE-two! ONE-two!…’

Winston loathed this exercise, which sent shooting pains all the way from
his heels to his buttocks and often ended by bringing on another coughing
fit. The half-pleasant quality went out of his meditations. The past, he
reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For
how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no
record outside your own memory? He tried to remember in what year he had
first heard mention of Big Brother. He thought it must have been at some
time in the sixties, but it was impossible to be certain. In the Party
histories, of course, Big Brother figured as the leader and guardian of the
Revolution since its very earliest days. His exploits had been gradually
pushed backwards in time until already they extended into the fabulous
world of the forties and the thirties, when the capitalists in their
strange cylindrical hats still rode through the streets of London in great
gleaming motor-cars or horse carriages with glass sides. There was no
knowing how much of this legend was true and how much invented. Winston
could not even remember at what date the Party itself had come into
existence. He did not believe he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before
1960, but it was possible that in its Oldspeak form–‘English Socialism’,
that is to say–it had been current earlier. Everything melted into mist.
Sometimes, indeed, you could put your finger on a definite lie. It was not
true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that the
Party had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since his earliest
childhood. But you could prove nothing. There was never any evidence. Just
once in his whole life he had held in his hands unmistakable documentary
proof of the falsification of an historical fact. And on that occasion—-

‘Smith!’ screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith W.!
Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not
trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the
whole squad, and watch me.’

A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston’s body. His face
remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment!
A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while
the instructress raised her arms above her head and–one could not say
gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency–bent over and
tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.

‘THERE, comrades! THAT’S how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again.
I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four children. Now look.’ She bent over again.
‘You see MY knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to,’ she added
as she straightened herself up. ‘Anyone under forty-five is perfectly
capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have the privilege of fighting
in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on
the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think
what THEY have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade,
that’s MUCH better,’ she added encouragingly as Winston, with a violent
lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with knees unbent, for the first
time in several years.

Chapter 4

With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the nearness of the
telescreen could prevent him from uttering when his day’s work started,
Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its
mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled and clipped
together four small cylinders of paper which had already flopped out of
the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side of his desk.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the
speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a
larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of
Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last
was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or
tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at
short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed
memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or
even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic
action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in,
whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous
furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

Winston examined the four slips of paper which he had unrolled. Each
contained a message of only one or two lines, in the abbreviated
jargon–not actually Newspeak, but consisting
largely of Newspeak words–which was used in the Ministry for internal
purposes. They ran:

times 17.3.84 bb speech malreported africa rectify

times 19.12.83 forecasts 3 yp 4th quarter 83 misprints verify current issue

times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted chocolate rectify

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite
fullwise upsub antefiling

With a faint feeling of satisfaction Winston laid the fourth message aside.
It was an intricate and responsible job and had better be dealt with last.
The other three were routine matters, though the second one would probably
mean some tedious wading through lists of figures.

Winston dialled ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and called for the
appropriate issues of ‘The Times’, which slid out of the pneumatic tube
after only a few minutes’ delay. The messages he had received referred to
articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought
necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For
example, it appeared from ‘The Times’ of the seventeenth of March that Big
Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South
Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly
be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command
had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It
was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in
such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. Or
again, ‘The Times’ of the nineteenth of December had published the official
forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the
fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth
Three-Year Plan. Today’s issue contained a statement of the actual output,
from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly
wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them
agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very
simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short
a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise
(a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be
no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston
was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes
to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to
substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be
necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his
speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of ‘The Times’ and pushed
them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as
possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes
that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be
devoured by the flames.

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the pneumatic tubes led, he
did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all
the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number
of ‘The Times’ had been assembled and collated, that number would be
reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on
the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied
not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters,
leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs–to every kind of
literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or
ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past
was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party
could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any
item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the
needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was
a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was
necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done,
to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of
the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked,
consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all
copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded
and were due for destruction. A number of ‘The Times’ which might, because
of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big
Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing
its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also,
were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued
without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written
instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of
as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of
forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors,
misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the
interests of accuracy.

But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s
figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one
piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing
with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of
connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much
a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great
deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For
example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of
boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as
sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked
the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim
that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was
no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very
likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew
how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every
quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps
half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every
class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a
shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become

Winston glanced across the hall. In the corresponding cubicle on the other
side a small, precise-looking, dark-chinned man named Tillotson was working
steadily away, with a folded newspaper on his knee and his mouth very close
to the mouthpiece of the speakwrite. He had the air of trying to keep what
he was saying a secret between himself and the telescreen. He looked up,
and his spectacles darted a hostile flash in Winston’s direction.

Winston hardly knew Tillotson, and had no idea what work he was employed
on. People in the Records Department did not readily talk about their jobs.
In the long, windowless hall, with its double row of cubicles and its
endless rustle of papers and hum of voices murmuring into speakwrites,
there were quite a dozen people whom Winston did not even know by name,
though he daily saw them hurrying to and fro in the corridors or
gesticulating in the Two Minutes Hate. He knew that in the cubicle next
to him the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in day out, simply at
tracking down and deleting from the Press the names of people who had been
vaporized and were therefore considered never to have existed. There was a
certain fitness in this, since her own husband had been vaporized a couple
of years earlier. And a few cubicles away a mild, ineffectual, dreamy
creature named Ampleforth, with very hairy ears and a surprising talent
for juggling with rhymes and metres, was engaged in producing garbled
versions–definitive texts, they were called–of poems which had become
ideologically offensive, but which for one reason or another were to be
retained in the anthologies. And this hall, with its fifty workers or
thereabouts, was only one sub-section, a single cell, as it were, in the
huge complexity of the Records Department. Beyond, above, below, were other
swarms of workers engaged in an unimaginable multitude of jobs. There were
the huge printing-shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts,
and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs. There
was the tele-programmes section with its engineers, its producers, and its
teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating voices. There
were the armies of reference clerks whose job was simply to draw up lists
of books and periodicals which were due for recall. There were the vast
repositories where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden
furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other,
quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole
effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this
fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other
rubbed out of existence.

And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a single branch of
the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job was not to reconstruct the past
but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks,
telescreen programmes, plays, novels–with every conceivable kind of
information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan,
from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child’s
spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary. And the Ministry had not only to
supply the multifarious needs of the party, but also to repeat the whole
operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There
was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian
literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced
rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and
astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and
sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a
special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even
a whole sub-section–Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak–engaged in
producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed
packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it,
was permitted to look at.

Three messages had slid out of the pneumatic tube while Winston was
working, but they were simple matters, and he had disposed of them before
the Two Minutes Hate interrupted him. When the Hate was over he returned
to his cubicle, took the Newspeak dictionary from the shelf, pushed the
speakwrite to one side, cleaned his spectacles, and settled down to his
main job of the morning.

Winston’s greatest pleasure in life was in his work. Most of it was a
tedious routine, but included in it there were also jobs so difficult and
intricate that you could lose yourself in them as in the depths of a
mathematical problem–delicate pieces of forgery in which you had nothing
to guide you except your knowledge of the principles of Ingsoc and your
estimate of what the Party wanted you to say. Winston was good at this kind
of thing. On occasion he had even been entrusted with the rectification of
‘The Times’ leading articles, which were written entirely in Newspeak.
He unrolled the message that he had set aside earlier. It ran:

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons
rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

In Oldspeak (or standard English) this might be rendered:

The reporting of Big Brother’s Order for the Day in ‘The Times’ of December
3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to non-existent
persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority
before filing.

Winston read through the offending article. Big Brother’s Order for the
Day, it seemed, had been chiefly devoted to praising the work of an
organization known as FFCC, which supplied cigarettes and other comforts
to the sailors in the Floating Fortresses. A certain Comrade Withers, a
prominent member of the Inner Party, had been singled out for special
mention and awarded a decoration, the Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second

Three months later FFCC had suddenly been dissolved with no reasons given.
One could assume that Withers and his associates were now in disgrace, but
there had been no report of the matter in the Press or on the telescreen.
That was to be expected, since it was unusual for political offenders to
be put on trial or even publicly denounced. The great purges involving
thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals
who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed,
were special show-pieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of
years. More commonly, people who had incurred the displeasure of the
Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. One never had the
smallest clue as to what had happened to them. In some cases they might
not even be dead. Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston, not
counting his parents, had disappeared at one time or another.

Winston stroked his nose gently with a paper-clip. In the cubicle
across the way Comrade Tillotson was still crouching secretively over
his speakwrite. He raised his head for a moment: again the hostile
spectacle-flash. Winston wondered whether Comrade Tillotson was engaged
on the same job as himself. It was perfectly possible. So tricky a piece
of work would never be entrusted to a single person: on the other hand,
to turn it over to a committee would be to admit openly that an act of
fabrication was taking place. Very likely as many as a dozen people were
now working away on rival versions of what Big Brother had actually said.
And presently some master brain in the Inner Party would select this
version or that, would re-edit it and set in motion the complex processes
of cross-referencing that would be required, and then the chosen lie
would pass into the permanent records and become truth.

Winston did not know why Withers had been disgraced. Perhaps it was for
corruption or incompetence. Perhaps Big Brother was merely getting rid of
a too-popular subordinate. Perhaps Withers or someone close to him had
been suspected of heretical tendencies. Or perhaps–what was likeliest of
all–the thing had simply happened because purges and vaporizations were a
necessary part of the mechanics of government. The only real clue lay in
the words ‘refs unpersons’, which indicated that Withers was already dead.
You could not invariably assume this to be the case when people were
arrested. Sometimes they were released and allowed to remain at liberty
for as much as a year or two years before being executed. Very occasionally
some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly
reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of
others by his testimony before vanishing, this time for ever. Withers,
however, was already an UNPERSON. He did not exist: he had never existed.
Winston decided that it would not be enough simply to reverse the tendency
of Big Brother’s speech. It was better to make it deal with something
totally unconnected with its original subject.

He might turn the speech into the usual denunciation of traitors and
thought-criminals, but that was a little too obvious, while to invent a
victory at the front, or some triumph of over-production in the Ninth
Three-Year Plan, might complicate the records too much. What was needed
was a piece of pure fantasy. Suddenly there sprang into his mind, ready
made as it were, the image of a certain Comrade Ogilvy, who had recently
died in battle, in heroic circumstances. There were occasions when Big
Brother devoted his Order for the Day to commemorating some humble,
rank-and-file Party member whose life and death he held up as an example
worthy to be followed. Today he should commemorate Comrade Ogilvy. It was
true that there was no such person as Comrade Ogilvy, but a few lines of
print and a couple of faked photographs would soon bring him into

Winston thought for a moment, then pulled the speakwrite towards him and
began dictating in Big Brother’s familiar style: a style at once military
and pedantic, and, because of a trick of asking questions and then
promptly answering them (‘What lessons do we learn from this fact,
comrades? The lesson–which is also one of the fundamental principles
of Ingsoc–that,’ etc., etc.), easy to imitate.

At the age of three Comrade Ogilvy had refused all toys except a drum, a
sub-machine gun, and a model helicopter. At six–a year early, by a special
relaxation of the rules–he had joined the Spies, at nine he had been a
troop leader. At eleven he had denounced his uncle to the Thought Police
after overhearing a conversation which appeared to him to have criminal
tendencies. At seventeen he had been a district organizer of the Junior
Anti-Sex League. At nineteen he had designed a hand-grenade which had
been adopted by the Ministry of Peace and which, at its first trial, had
killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst. At twenty-three he had
perished in action. Pursued by enemy jet planes while flying over the
Indian Ocean with important despatches, he had weighted his body with his
machine gun and leapt out of the helicopter into deep water, despatches
and all–an end, said Big Brother, which it was impossible to contemplate
without feelings of envy. Big Brother added a few remarks on the purity
and single-mindedness of Comrade Ogilvy’s life. He was a total abstainer
and a nonsmoker, had no recreations except a daily hour in the gymnasium,
and had taken a vow of celibacy, believing marriage and the care of a
family to be incompatible with a twenty-four-hour-a-day devotion to duty.
He had no subjects of conversation except the principles of Ingsoc, and
no aim in life except the defeat of the Eurasian enemy and the hunting-down
of spies, saboteurs, thought-criminals, and traitors generally.

Winston debated with himself whether to award Comrade Ogilvy the Order of
Conspicuous Merit: in the end he decided against it because of the
unnecessary cross-referencing that it would entail.

Once again he glanced at his rival in the opposite cubicle. Something
seemed to tell him with certainty that Tillotson was busy on the same job
as himself. There was no way of knowing whose job would finally be adopted,
but he felt a profound conviction that it would be his own. Comrade Ogilvy,
unimagined an hour ago, was now a fact. It struck him as curious that you
could create dead men but not living ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never
existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of
forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the
same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar.

Chapter 5

In the low-ceilinged canteen, deep underground, the lunch queue jerked
slowly forward. The room was already very full and deafeningly noisy. From
the grille at the counter the steam of stew came pouring forth, with a sour
metallic smell which did not quite overcome the fumes of Victory Gin. On
the far side of the room there was a small bar, a mere hole in the wall,
where gin could be bought at ten cents the large nip.

‘Just the man I was looking for,’ said a voice at Winston’s back.

He turned round. It was his friend Syme, who worked in the Research
Department. Perhaps ‘friend’ was not exactly the right word. You did not
have friends nowadays, you had comrades: but there were some comrades whose
society was pleasanter than that of others. Syme was a philologist, a
specialist in Newspeak. Indeed, he was one of the enormous team of experts
now engaged in compiling the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary.
He was a tiny creature, smaller than Winston, with dark hair and large,
protuberant eyes, at once mournful and derisive, which seemed to search
your face closely while he was speaking to you.

‘I wanted to ask you whether you’d got any razor blades,’ he said.

‘Not one!’ said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. ‘I’ve tried all over
the place. They don’t exist any longer.’

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he had two unused ones
which he was hoarding up. There had been a famine of them for months past.
At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops
were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning
wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could
only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on
the ‘free’ market.

‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks,’ he added untruthfully.

The queue gave another jerk forward. As they halted he turned and faced
Syme again. Each of them took a greasy metal tray from a pile at the end
of the counter.

‘Did you go and see the prisoners hanged yesterday?’ said Syme.

‘I was working,’ said Winston indifferently. ‘I shall see it on the
flicks, I suppose.’

‘A very inadequate substitute,’ said Syme.

His mocking eyes roved over Winston’s face. ‘I know you,’ the eyes seemed
to say, ‘I see through you. I know very well why you didn’t go to see
those prisoners hanged.’ In an intellectual way, Syme was venomously
orthodox. He would talk with a disagreeable gloating satisfaction of
helicopter raids on enemy villages, and trials and confessions of
thought-criminals, the executions in the cellars of the Ministry of Love.
Talking to him was largely a matter of getting him away from such subjects
and entangling him, if possible, in the technicalities of Newspeak, on
which he was authoritative and interesting. Winston turned his head a
little aside to avoid the scrutiny of the large dark eyes.

‘It was a good hanging,’ said Syme reminiscently. ‘I think it spoils it
when they tie their feet together. I like to see them kicking. And above
all, at the end, the tongue sticking right out, and blue–a quite bright
blue. That’s the detail that appeals to me.’

‘Nex’, please!’ yelled the white-aproned prole with the ladle.

Winston and Syme pushed their trays beneath the grille. On to each was
dumped swiftly the regulation lunch–a metal pannikin of pinkish-grey stew,
a hunk of bread, a cube of cheese, a mug of milkless Victory Coffee, and
one saccharine tablet.

‘There’s a table over there, under that telescreen,’ said Syme. ‘Let’s pick
up a gin on the way.’

The gin was served out to them in handleless china mugs. They threaded
their way across the crowded room and unpacked their trays on to the
metal-topped table, on one corner of which someone had left a pool of stew,
a filthy liquid mess that had the appearance of vomit. Winston took up his
mug of gin, paused for an instant to collect his nerve, and gulped the
oily-tasting stuff down. When he had winked the tears out of his eyes he
suddenly discovered that he was hungry. He began swallowing spoonfuls of
the stew, which, in among its general sloppiness, had cubes of spongy
pinkish stuff which was probably a preparation of meat. Neither of them
spoke again till they had emptied their pannikins. From the table at
Winston’s left, a little behind his back, someone was talking rapidly and
continuously, a harsh gabble almost like the quacking of a duck, which
pierced the general uproar of the room.

‘How is the Dictionary getting on?’ said Winston, raising his voice to
overcome the noise.

‘Slowly,’ said Syme. ‘I’m on the adjectives. It’s fascinating.’

He had brightened up immediately at the mention of Newspeak. He pushed his
pannikin aside, took up his hunk of bread in one delicate hand and his
cheese in the other, and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak
without shouting.

‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting
the language into its final shape–the shape it’s going to have when nobody
speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will
have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job
is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words–scores
of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to
the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become
obsolete before the year 2050.’

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then
continued speaking, with a sort of pedant’s passion. His thin dark face
had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown
almost dreamy.

‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great
wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns
that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also
the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is
simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in
itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what
need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well–better,
because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you
want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole
string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the
rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you
want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but
in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the
whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words–in
reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was
B.B.’s idea originally, of course,’ he added as an afterthought.

A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston’s face at the mention of
Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately detected a certain lack of

‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’ he said almost
sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read
some of those pieces that you write in “The Times” occasionally. They’re
good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick
to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning.
You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that
Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller
every year?’

Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not
trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the
dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of
thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible,
because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that
can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning
rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.
Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the
process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year
fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little
smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing
thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control.
But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will
be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc
is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever
occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a
single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation
as we are having now?’

‘Except—-‘ began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped.

It had been on the tip of his tongue to say ‘Except the proles,’ but he
checked himself, not feeling fully certain that this remark was not in
some way unorthodox. Syme, however, had divined what he was about to say.

‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘By 2050–earlier,
probably–all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole
literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare,
Milton, Byron–they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed
into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory
of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change.
Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is
slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate
of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we
understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think.
Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will
be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too
plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear.
It is written in his face.

Winston had finished his bread and cheese. He turned a little sideways
in his chair to drink his mug of coffee. At the table on his left the man
with the strident voice was still talking remorselessly away. A young
woman who was perhaps his secretary, and who was sitting with her back
to Winston, was listening to him and seemed to be eagerly agreeing with
everything that he said. From time to time Winston caught some such remark
as ‘I think you’re so right, I do so agree with you’, uttered in a youthful
and rather silly feminine voice. But the other voice never stopped for an
instant, even when the girl was speaking. Winston knew the man by sight,
though he knew no more about him than that he held some important post
in the Fiction Department. He was a man of about thirty, with a muscular
throat and a large, mobile mouth. His head was thrown back a little, and
because of the angle at which he was sitting, his spectacles caught the
light and presented to Winston two blank discs instead of eyes. What was
slightly horrible, was that from the stream of sound that poured out of
his mouth it was almost impossible to distinguish a single word. Just
once Winston caught a phrase–‘complete and final elimination of
Goldsteinism’–jerked out very rapidly and, as it seemed, all in one piece,
like a line of type cast solid. For the rest it was just a noise, a
quack-quack-quacking. And yet, though you could not actually hear what the
man was saying, you could not be in any doubt about its general nature.
He might be denouncing Goldstein and demanding sterner measures against
thought-criminals and saboteurs, he might be fulminating against the
atrocities of the Eurasian army, he might be praising Big Brother or the
heroes on the Malabar front–it made no difference. Whatever it was, you
could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure Ingsoc.
As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down,
Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but
some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was
his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but
it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in
unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Syme had fallen silent for a moment, and with the handle of his spoon was
tracing patterns in the puddle of stew. The voice from the other table
quacked rapidly on, easily audible in spite of the surrounding din.

‘There is a word in Newspeak,’ said Syme, ‘I don’t know whether you know
it: DUCKSPEAK, to quack like a duck. It is one of those interesting words
that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse,
applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.’

Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. He thought
it with a kind of sadness, although well knowing that Syme despised him
and slightly disliked him, and was fully capable of denouncing him as a
thought-criminal if he saw any reason for doing so. There was something
subtly wrong with Syme. There was something that he lacked: discretion,
aloofness, a sort of saving stupidity. You could not say that he was
unorthodox. He believed in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big
Brother, he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics, not merely with
sincerity but with a sort of restless zeal, an up-to-dateness of
information, which the ordinary Party member did not approach. Yet a faint
air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have
been better unsaid, he had read too many books, he frequented the Chestnut
Tree Cafe, haunt of painters and musicians. There was no law, not even an
unwritten law, against frequenting the Chestnut Tree Cafe, yet the place
was somehow ill-omened. The old, discredited leaders of the Party had been
used to gather there before they were finally purged. Goldstein himself,
it was said, had sometimes been seen there, years and decades ago. Syme’s
fate was not difficult to foresee. And yet it was a fact that if Syme
grasped, even for three seconds, the nature of his, Winston’s, secret
opinions, he would betray him instantly to the Thought Police. So would
anybody else, for that matter: but Syme more than most. Zeal was not
enough. Orthodoxy was unconsciousness.

Syme looked up. ‘Here comes Parsons,’ he said.

Something in the tone of his voice seemed to add, ‘that bloody fool’.
Parsons, Winston’s fellow-tenant at Victory Mansions, was in fact threading
his way across the room–a tubby, middle-sized man with fair hair and a
froglike face. At thirty-five he was already putting on rolls of fat at
neck and waistline, but his movements were brisk and boyish. His whole
appearance was that of a little boy grown large, so much so that although
he was wearing the regulation overalls, it was almost impossible not to
think of him as being dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirt, and red
neckerchief of the Spies. In visualizing him one saw always a picture of
dimpled knees and sleeves rolled back from pudgy forearms. Parsons did,
indeed, invariably revert to shorts when a community hike or any other
physical activity gave him an excuse for doing so. He greeted them both
with a cheery ‘Hullo, hullo!’ and sat down at the table, giving off an
intense smell of sweat. Beads of moisture stood out all over his pink face.
His powers of sweating were extraordinary. At the Community Centre you
could always tell when he had been playing table-tennis by the dampness of
the bat handle. Syme had produced a strip of paper on which there was a
long column of words, and was studying it with an ink-pencil between his

‘Look at him working away in the lunch hour,’ said Parsons, nudging
Winston. ‘Keenness, eh? What’s that you’ve got there, old boy? Something
a bit too brainy for me, I expect. Smith, old boy, I’ll tell you why I’m
chasing you. It’s that sub you forgot to give me.’

‘Which sub is that?’ said Winston, automatically feeling for money. About
a quarter of one’s salary had to be earmarked for voluntary subscriptions,
which were so numerous that it was difficult to keep track of them.

‘For Hate Week. You know–the house-by-house fund. I’m treasurer for our
block. We’re making an all-out effort–going to put on a tremendous show.
I tell you, it won’t be my fault if old Victory Mansions doesn’t have the
biggest outfit of flags in the whole street. Two dollars you promised me.’

Winston found and handed over two creased and filthy notes, which Parsons
entered in a small notebook, in the neat handwriting of the illiterate.

‘By the way, old boy,’ he said. ‘I hear that little beggar of mine let fly
at you with his catapult yesterday. I gave him a good dressing-down for it.
In fact I told him I’d take the catapult away if he does it again.’

‘I think he was a little upset at not going to the execution,’ said

‘Ah, well–what I mean to say, shows the right spirit, doesn’t it?
Mischievous little beggars they are, both of them, but talk about keenness!
All they think about is the Spies, and the war, of course. D’you know what
that little girl of mine did last Saturday, when her troop was on a hike
out Berkhamsted way? She got two other girls to go with her, slipped off
from the hike, and spent the whole afternoon following a strange man. They
kept on his tail for two hours, right through the woods, and then, when
they got into Amersham, handed him over to the patrols.’

‘What did they do that for?’ said Winston, somewhat taken aback. Parsons
went on triumphantly:

‘My kid made sure he was some kind of enemy agent–might have been dropped
by parachute, for instance. But here’s the point, old boy. What do you
think put her on to him in the first place? She spotted he was wearing a
funny kind of shoes–said she’d never seen anyone wearing shoes like that
before. So the chances were he was a foreigner. Pretty smart for a nipper
of seven, eh?’

‘What happened to the man?’ said Winston.

‘Ah, that I couldn’t say, of course. But I wouldn’t be altogether surprised
if—-‘ Parsons made the motion of aiming a rifle, and clicked his tongue
for the explosion.

‘Good,’ said Syme abstractedly, without looking up from his strip of paper.

‘Of course we can’t afford to take chances,’ agreed Winston dutifully.

‘What I mean to say, there is a war on,’ said Parsons.

As though in confirmation of this, a trumpet call floated from the
telescreen just above their heads. However, it was not the proclamation of
a military victory this time, but merely an announcement from the Ministry
of Plenty.

‘Comrades!’ cried an eager youthful voice. ‘Attention, comrades! We have
glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now
completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the
standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past
year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous
demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and
paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big
Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed
upon us. Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs—-‘

The phrase ‘our new, happy life’ recurred several times. It had been a
favourite of late with the Ministry of Plenty. Parsons, his attention
caught by the trumpet call, sat listening with a sort of gaping solemnity,
a sort of edified boredom. He could not follow the figures, but he was
aware that they were in some way a cause for satisfaction. He had lugged
out a huge and filthy pipe which was already half full of charred tobacco.
With the tobacco ration at 100 grammes a week it was seldom possible to
fill a pipe to the top. Winston was smoking a Victory Cigarette which he
held carefully horizontal. The new ration did not start till tomorrow and
he had only four cigarettes left. For the moment he had shut his ears to
the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the
telescreen. It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank
Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And
only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was
to be REDUCED to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could
swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons
swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature
at the other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious
desire to track down, denounce, and vaporize anyone who should suggest that
last week the ration had been thirty grammes. Syme, too–in some more
complex way, involving doublethink, Syme swallowed it. Was he, then, ALONE
in the possession of a memory?

The fabulous statistics continued to pour out of the telescreen. As
compared with last year there was more food, more clothes, more houses,
more furniture, more cooking-pots, more fuel, more ships, more helicopters,
more books, more babies–more of everything except disease, crime, and
insanity. Year by year and minute by minute, everybody and everything was
whizzing rapidly upwards. As Syme had done earlier Winston had taken up
his spoon and was dabbling in the pale-coloured gravy that dribbled across
the table, drawing a long streak of it out into a pattern. He meditated
resentfully on the physical texture of life. Had it always been like
this? Had food always tasted like this? He looked round the canteen.
A low-ceilinged, crowded room, its walls grimy from the contact of
innumerable bodies; battered metal tables and chairs, placed so close
together that you sat with elbows touching; bent spoons, dented trays,
coarse white mugs; all surfaces greasy, grime in every crack; and a
sourish, composite smell of bad gin and bad coffee and metallic stew and
dirty clothes. Always in your stomach and in your skin there was a sort
of protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something that you had
a right to. It was true that he had no memories of anything greatly
different. In any time that he could accurately remember, there had never
been quite enough to eat, one had never had socks or underclothes that
were not full of holes, furniture had always been battered and rickety,
rooms underheated, tube trains crowded, houses falling to pieces,
bread dark-coloured, tea a rarity, coffee filthy-tasting, cigarettes
insufficient–nothing cheap and plentiful except synthetic gin. And though,
of course, it grew worse as one’s body aged, was it not a sign that this
was NOT the natural order of things, if one’s heart sickened at the
discomfort and dirt and scarcity, the interminable winters, the stickiness
of one’s socks, the lifts that never worked, the cold water, the gritty
soap, the cigarettes that came to pieces, the food with its strange evil
tastes? Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind
of ancestral memory that things had once been different?

He looked round the canteen again. Nearly everyone was ugly, and would
still have been ugly even if dressed otherwise than in the uniform blue
overalls. On the far side of the room, sitting at a table alone, a small,
curiously beetle-like man was drinking a cup of coffee, his little eyes
darting suspicious glances from side to side. How easy it was, thought
Winston, if you did not look about you, to believe that the physical type
set up by the Party as an ideal–tall muscular youths and deep-bosomed
maidens, blond-haired, vital, sunburnt, carefree–existed and even
predominated. Actually, so far as he could judge, the majority of people
in Airstrip One were small, dark, and ill-favoured. It was curious how that
beetle-like type proliferated in the Ministries: little dumpy men, growing
stout very early in life, with short legs, swift scuttling movements, and
fat inscrutable faces with very small eyes. It was the type that seemed to
flourish best under the dominion of the Party.

The announcement from the Ministry of Plenty ended on another trumpet call
and gave way to tinny music. Parsons, stirred to vague enthusiasm by the
bombardment of figures, took his pipe out of his mouth.

‘The Ministry of Plenty’s certainly done a good job this year,’ he said
with a knowing shake of his head. ‘By the way, Smith old boy, I suppose
you haven’t got any razor blades you can let me have?’

‘Not one,’ said Winston. ‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks

‘Ah, well–just thought I’d ask you, old boy.’

‘Sorry,’ said Winston.

The quacking voice from the next table, temporarily silenced during the
Ministry’s announcement, had started up again, as loud as ever. For some
reason Winston suddenly found himself thinking of Mrs Parsons, with her
wispy hair and the dust in the creases of her face. Within two years those
children would be denouncing her to the Thought Police. Mrs Parsons would
be vaporized. Syme would be vaporized. Winston would be vaporized. O’Brien
would be vaporized. Parsons, on the other hand, would never be vaporized.
The eyeless creature with the quacking voice would never be vaporized.
The little beetle-like men who scuttle so nimbly through the labyrinthine
corridors of Ministries they, too, would never be vaporized. And the girl
with dark hair, the girl from the Fiction Department–she would never be
vaporized either. It seemed to him that he knew instinctively who would
survive and who would perish: though just what it was that made for
survival, it was not easy to say.

At this moment he was dragged out of his reverie with a violent jerk. The
girl at the next table had turned partly round and was looking at him. It
was the girl with dark hair. She was looking at him in a sidelong way, but
with curious intensity. The instant she caught his eye she looked away

The sweat started out on Winston’s backbone. A horrible pang of terror
went through him. It was gone almost at once, but it left a sort of nagging
uneasiness behind. Why was she watching him? Why did she keep following him
about? Unfortunately he could not remember whether she had already been at
the table when he arrived, or had come there afterwards. But yesterday, at
any rate, during the Two Minutes Hate, she had sat immediately behind him
when there was no apparent need to do so. Quite likely her real object had
been to listen to him and make sure whether he was shouting loudly enough.

His earlier thought returned to him: probably she was not actually a member
of the Thought Police, but then it was precisely the amateur spy who was
the greatest danger of all. He did not know how long she had been looking
at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible
that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly
dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place
or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away.
A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to
yourself–anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of
having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on
your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example)
was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak:
FACECRIME, it was called.

The girl had turned her back on him again. Perhaps after all she was not
really following him about, perhaps it was coincidence that she had sat so
close to him two days running. His cigarette had gone out, and he laid it
carefully on the edge of the table. He would finish smoking it after work,
if he could keep the tobacco in it. Quite likely the person at the next
table was a spy of the Thought Police, and quite likely he would be in the
cellars of the Ministry of Love within three days, but a cigarette end
must not be wasted. Syme had folded up his strip of paper and stowed it
away in his pocket. Parsons had begun talking again.

‘Did I ever tell you, old boy,’ he said, chuckling round the stem of his
pipe, ‘about the time when those two nippers of mine set fire to the old
market-woman’s skirt because they saw her wrapping up sausages in a poster
of B.B.? Sneaked up behind her and set fire to it with a box of matches.
Burned her quite badly, I believe. Little beggars, eh? But keen as mustard!
That’s a first-rate training they give them in the Spies nowadays–better
than in my day, even. What d’you think’s the latest thing they’ve served
them out with? Ear trumpets for listening through keyholes! My little
girl brought one home the other night–tried it out on our sitting-room
door, and reckoned she could hear twice as much as with her ear to the
hole. Of course it’s only a toy, mind you. Still, gives ’em the right
idea, eh?’

At this moment the telescreen let out a piercing whistle. It was the
signal to return to work. All three men sprang to their feet to join in
the struggle round the lifts, and the remaining tobacco fell out of
Winston’s cigarette.

Chapter 6

Winston was writing in his diary:

It was three years ago. It was on a dark evening, in a narrow
side-street near one of the big railway stations. She was standing near a
doorway in the wall, under a street lamp that hardly gave any light. She
had a young face, painted very thick. It was really the paint that appealed
to me, the whiteness of it, like a mask, and the bright red lips. Party
women never paint their faces. There was nobody else in the street, and no
telescreens. She said two dollars. I—-

For the moment it was too difficult to go on. He shut his eyes and pressed
his fingers against them, trying to squeeze out the vision that kept
recurring. He had an almost overwhelming temptation to shout a string of
filthy words at the top of his voice. Or to bang his head against the wall,
to kick over the table, and hurl the inkpot through the window–to do any
violent or noisy or painful thing that might black out the memory that was
tormenting him.

Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment
the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible
symptom. He thought of a man whom he had passed in the street a few weeks
back; a quite ordinary-looking man, a Party member, aged thirty-five to
forty, tallish and thin, carrying a brief-case. They were a few metres
apart when the left side of the man’s face was suddenly contorted by a sort
of spasm. It happened again just as they were passing one another: it was
only a twitch, a quiver, rapid as the clicking of a camera shutter, but
obviously habitual. He remembered thinking at the time: That poor devil is
done for. And what was frightening was that the action was quite possibly
unconscious. The most deadly danger of all was talking in your sleep. There
was no way of guarding against that, so far as he could see.

He drew his breath and went on writing:

I went with her through the doorway and across a backyard into a
basement kitchen. There was a bed against the wall, and a lamp on the
table, turned down very low. She—-

His teeth were set on edge. He would have liked to spit. Simultaneously
with the woman in the basement kitchen he thought of Katharine, his wife.
Winston was married–had been married, at any rate: probably he still was
married, so far as he knew his wife was not dead. He seemed to breathe
again the warm stuffy odour of the basement kitchen, an odour compounded
of bugs and dirty clothes and villainous cheap scent, but nevertheless
alluring, because no woman of the Party ever used scent, or could be
imagined as doing so. Only the proles used scent. In his mind the smell
of it was inextricably mixed up with fornication.

When he had gone with that woman it had been his first lapse in two years
or thereabouts. Consorting with prostitutes was forbidden, of course, but
it was one of those rules that you could occasionally nerve yourself to
break. It was dangerous, but it was not a life-and-death matter. To be
caught with a prostitute might mean five years in a forced-labour camp:
not more, if you had committed no other offence. And it was easy enough,
provided that you could avoid being caught in the act. The poorer quarters
swarmed with women who were ready to sell themselves. Some could even be
purchased for a bottle of gin, which the proles were not supposed to drink.
Tacitly the Party was even inclined to encourage prostitution, as an outlet
for instincts which could not be altogether suppressed. Mere debauchery
did not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless and only
involved the women of a submerged and despised class. The unforgivable
crime was promiscuity between Party members. But–though this was one
of the crimes that the accused in the great purges invariably confessed
to–it was difficult to imagine any such thing actually happening.

The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming
loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared
purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much
as eroticism was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it. All
marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee
appointed for the purpose, and–though the principle was never clearly
stated–permission was always refused if the couple concerned gave
the impression of being physically attracted to one another. The only
recognized purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of
the Party. Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting
minor operation, like having an enema. This again was never put into plain
words, but in an indirect way it was rubbed into every Party member from
childhood onwards. There were even organizations such as the Junior
Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. All
children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (ARTSEM, it was
called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions. This, Winston
was aware, was not meant altogether seriously, but somehow it fitted in
with the general ideology of the Party. The Party was trying to kill the
sex instinct, or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty
it. He did not know why this was so, but it seemed natural that it should
be so. And as far as the women were concerned, the Party’s efforts were
largely successful.

He thought again of Katharine. It must be nine, ten–nearly eleven years
since they had parted. It was curious how seldom he thought of her. For
days at a time he was capable of forgetting that he had ever been married.
They had only been together for about fifteen months. The Party did not
permit divorce, but it rather encouraged separation in cases where there
were no children.

Katharine was a tall, fair-haired girl, very straight, with splendid
movements. She had a bold, aquiline face, a face that one might have called
noble until one discovered that there was as nearly as possible nothing
behind it. Very early in her married life he had decided–though perhaps
it was only that he knew her more intimately than he knew most people–that
she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had
ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan,
and there was no imbecility, absolutely none that she was not capable of
swallowing if the Party handed it out to her. ‘The human sound-track’ he
nicknamed her in his own mind. Yet he could have endured living with her
if it had not been for just one thing–sex.

As soon as he touched her she seemed to wince and stiffen. To embrace her
was like embracing a jointed wooden image. And what was strange was that
even when she was clasping him against her he had the feeling that she
was simultaneously pushing him away with all her strength. The rigidity
of her muscles managed to convey that impression. She would lie there
with shut eyes, neither resisting nor co-operating but SUBMITTING. It was
extraordinarily embarrassing, and, after a while, horrible. But even then
he could have borne living with her if it had been agreed that they should
remain celibate. But curiously enough it was Katharine who refused this.
They must, she said, produce a child if they could. So the performance
continued to happen, once a week quite regularly, whenever it was not
impossible. She even used to remind him of it in the morning, as something
which had to be done that evening and which must not be forgotten. She had
two names for it. One was ‘making a baby’, and the other was ‘our duty to
the Party’ (yes, she had actually used that phrase). Quite soon he grew to
have a feeling of positive dread when the appointed day came round. But
luckily no child appeared, and in the end she agreed to give up trying,
and soon afterwards they parted.

Winston sighed inaudibly. He picked up his pen again and

She threw herself down on the bed, and at once, without any kind of
preliminary in the most coarse, horrible way you can imagine, pulled up
her skirt. I—-

He saw himself standing there in the dim lamplight, with the smell of bugs
and cheap scent in his nostrils, and in his heart a feeling of defeat and
resentment which even at that moment was mixed up with the thought of
Katharine’s white body, frozen for ever by the hypnotic power of the Party.
Why did it always have to be like this? Why could he not have a woman of
his own instead of these filthy scuffles at intervals of years? But a real
love affair was an almost unthinkable event. The women of the Party were
all alike. Chastity was as deep ingrained in them as Party loyalty. By
careful early conditioning, by games and cold water, by the rubbish that
was dinned into them at school and in the Spies and the Youth League, by
lectures, parades, songs, slogans, and martial music, the natural feeling
had been driven out of them. His reason told him that there must be
exceptions, but his heart did not believe it. They were all impregnable,
as the Party intended that they should be. And what he wanted, more even
than to be loved, was to break down that wall of virtue, even if it were
only once in his whole life. The sexual act, successfully performed, was
rebellion. Desire was thoughtcrime. Even to have awakened Katharine, if he
could have achieved it, would have been like a seduction, although she was
his wife.

But the rest of the story had got to be written down. He wrote:

I turned up the lamp. When I saw her in the light—-

After the darkness the feeble light of the paraffin lamp had seemed very
bright. For the first time he could see the woman properly. He had taken a
step towards her and then halted, full of lust and terror. He was painfully
conscious of the risk he had taken in coming here. It was perfectly
possible that the patrols would catch him on the way out: for that matter
they might be waiting outside the door at this moment. If he went away
without even doing what he had come here to do—-!

It had got to be written down, it had got to be confessed. What he had
suddenly seen in the lamplight was that the woman was OLD. The paint was
plastered so thick on her face that it looked as though it might crack
like a cardboard mask. There were streaks of white in her hair; but the
truly dreadful detail was that her mouth had fallen a little open,
revealing nothing except a cavernous blackness. She had no teeth at all.

He wrote hurriedly, in scrabbling handwriting:

When I saw her in the light she was quite an old woman, fifty years old
at least. But I went ahead and did it just the same.

He pressed his fingers against his eyelids again. He had written it down
at last, but it made no difference. The therapy had not worked. The urge
to shout filthy words at the top of his voice was as strong as ever.

Chapter 7

‘If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.’

If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those
swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania,
could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could
not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had
no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if
the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was
inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than
twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflexion of the
voice, at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only
they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no
need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like
a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to
pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to
do it? And yet—-!

He remembered how once he had been walking down a crowded street when a
tremendous shout of hundreds of voices women’s voices–had burst from a
side-street a little way ahead. It was a great formidable cry of anger
and despair, a deep, loud ‘Oh-o-o-o-oh!’ that went humming on like the
reverberation of a bell. His heart had leapt. It’s started! he had thought.
A riot! The proles are breaking loose at last! When he had reached the spot
it was to see a mob of two or three hundred women crowding round the stalls
of a street market, with faces as tragic as though they had been the doomed
passengers on a sinking ship. But at this moment the general despair broke
down into a multitude of individual quarrels. It appeared that one of the
stalls had been selling tin saucepans. They were wretched, flimsy things,
but cooking-pots of any kind were always difficult to get. Now the supply
had unexpectedly given out. The successful women, bumped and jostled by
the rest, were trying to make off with their saucepans while dozens of
others clamoured round the stall, accusing the stall-keeper of favouritism
and of having more saucepans somewhere in reserve. There was a fresh
outburst of yells. Two bloated women, one of them with her hair coming
down, had got hold of the same saucepan and were trying to tear it out of
one another’s hands. For a moment they were both tugging, and then the
handle came off. Winston watched them disgustedly. And yet, just for a
moment, what almost frightening power had sounded in that cry from only
a few hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout like that
about anything that mattered?

He wrote:

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they
have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

That, he reflected, might almost have been a transcription from one of the
Party textbooks. The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles
from bondage. Before the Revolution they had been hideously oppressed by
the capitalists, they had been starved and flogged, women had been forced
to work in the coal mines (women still did work in the coal mines, as a
matter of fact), children had been sold into the factories at the age
of six. But simultaneously, true to the Principles of doublethink, the
Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in
subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules. In
reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary to
know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other
activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned
loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life
that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were
born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed
through a brief blossoming-period of beauty and sexual desire, they married
at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part,
at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty
quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling,
filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not
difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them,
spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few
individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt
was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not
desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that
was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to
whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or
shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes
did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas,
they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils
invariably escaped their notice. The great majority of proles did not even
have telescreens in their homes. Even the civil police interfered with them
very little. There was a vast amount of criminality in London, a whole
world-within-a-world of thieves, bandits, prostitutes, drug-peddlers, and
racketeers of every description; but since it all happened among the proles
themselves, it was of no importance. In all questions of morals they were
allowed to follow their ancestral code. The sexual puritanism of the
Party was not imposed upon them. Promiscuity went unpunished, divorce
was permitted. For that matter, even religious worship would have been
permitted if the proles had shown any sign of needing or wanting it.
They were beneath suspicion. As the Party slogan put it: ‘Proles and
animals are free.’

Winston reached down and cautiously scratched his varicose ulcer. It
had begun itching again. The thing you invariably came back to was the
impossibility of knowing what life before the Revolution had really been
like. He took out of the drawer a copy of a children’s history textbook
which he had borrowed from Mrs Parsons, and began copying a passage into
the diary:

In the old days (it ran), before the glorious Revolution, London was
not the beautiful city that we know today. It was a dark, dirty, miserable
place where hardly anybody had enough to eat and where hundreds and
thousands of poor people had no boots on their feet and not even a roof to
sleep under. Children no older than you had to work twelve hours a day for
cruel masters who flogged them with whips if they worked too slowly and
fed them on nothing but stale breadcrusts and water. But in among all
this terrible poverty there were just a few great big beautiful houses
that were lived in by rich men who had as many as thirty servants to look
after them. These rich men were called capitalists. They were fat, ugly
men with wicked faces, like the one in the picture on the opposite page.
You can see that he is dressed in a long black coat which was called a
frock coat, and a queer, shiny hat shaped like a stovepipe, which was
called a top hat. This was the uniform of the capitalists, and no one else
was allowed to wear it. The capitalists owned everything in the world, and
everyone else was their slave. They owned all the land, all the houses,
all the factories, and all the money. If anyone disobeyed them they could
throw them into prison, or they could take his job away and starve him to
death. When any ordinary person spoke to a capitalist he had to cringe and
bow to him, and take off his cap and address him as ‘Sir’. The chief of
all the capitalists was called the King, and—-

But he knew the rest of the catalogue. There would be mention of the
bishops in their lawn sleeves, the judges in their ermine robes, the
pillory, the stocks, the treadmill, the cat-o’-nine tails, the Lord Mayor’s
Banquet, and the practice of kissing the Pope’s toe. There was also
something called the JUS PRIMAE NOCTIS, which would probably not be
mentioned in a textbook for children. It was the law by which every
capitalist had the right to sleep with any woman working in one of his

How could you tell how much of it was lies? It MIGHT be true that the
average human being was better off now than he had been before the
Revolution. The only evidence to the contrary was the mute protest in your
own bones, the instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were
intolerable and that at some other time they must have been different. It
struck him that the truly characteristic thing about modern life was not
its cruelty and insecurity, but simply its bareness, its dinginess, its
listlessness. Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only
to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals
that the Party was trying to achieve. Great areas of it, even for a Party
member, were neutral and non-political, a matter of slogging through dreary
jobs, fighting for a place on the Tube, darning a worn-out sock, cadging
a saccharine tablet, saving a cigarette end. The ideal set up by the
Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering–a world of steel
and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons–a nation of
warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the
same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting,
triumphing, persecuting–three hundred million people all with the same
face. The reality was decaying, dingy cities where underfed people shuffled
to and fro in leaky shoes, in patched-up nineteenth-century houses that
smelt always of cabbage and bad lavatories. He seemed to see a vision of
London, vast and ruinous, city of a million dustbins, and mixed up with it
was a picture of Mrs Parsons, a woman with lined face and wispy hair,
fiddling helplessly with a blocked waste-pipe.

He reached down and scratched his ankle again. Day and night the
telescreens bruised your ears with statistics proving that people today
had more food, more clothes, better houses, better recreations–that they
lived longer, worked shorter hours, were bigger, healthier, stronger,
happier, more intelligent, better educated, than the people of fifty years
ago. Not a word of it could ever be proved or disproved. The Party claimed,
for example, that today 40 per cent of adult proles were literate: before
the Revolution, it was said, the number had only been 15 per cent. The
Party claimed that the infant mortality rate was now only 160 per
thousand, whereas before the Revolution it had been 300–and so it went
on. It was like a single equation with two unknowns. It might very well be
that literally every word in the history books, even the things that one
accepted without question, was pure fantasy. For all he knew there might
never have been any such law as the JUS PRIMAE NOCTIS, or any such creature
as a capitalist, or any such garment as a top hat.

Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten,
the lie became truth. Just once in his life he had possessed–AFTER the
event: that was what counted–concrete, unmistakable evidence of an act of
falsification. He had held it between his fingers for as long as thirty
seconds. In 1973, it must have been–at any rate, it was at about the time
when he and Katharine had parted. But the really relevant date was seven
or eight years earlier.

The story really began in the middle sixties, the period of the great
purges in which the original leaders of the Revolution were wiped out
once and for all. By 1970 none of them was left, except Big Brother
himself. All the rest had by that time been exposed as traitors and
counter-revolutionaries. Goldstein had fled and was hiding no one knew
where, and of the others, a few had simply disappeared, while the majority
had been executed after spectacular public trials at which they made
confession of their crimes. Among the last survivors were three men named
Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. It must have been in 1965 that these three
had been arrested. As often happened, they had vanished for a year or more,
so that one did not know whether they were alive or dead, and then had
suddenly been brought forth to incriminate themselves in the usual way.
They had confessed to intelligence with the enemy (at that date, too, the
enemy was Eurasia), embezzlement of public funds, the murder of various
trusted Party members, intrigues against the leadership of Big Brother
which had started long before the Revolution happened, and acts of sabotage
causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people. After confessing to
these things they had been pardoned, reinstated in the Party, and given
posts which were in fact sinecures but which sounded important. All three
had written long, abject articles in ‘The Times’, analysing the reasons
for their defection and promising to make amends.

Some time after their release Winston had actually seen all three of them
in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He remembered the sort of terrified fascination
with which he had watched them out of the corner of his eye. They were men
far older than himself, relics of the ancient world, almost the last great
figures left over from the heroic days of the Party. The glamour of the
underground struggle and the civil war still faintly clung to them. He had
the feeling, though already at that time facts and dates were growing
blurry, that he had known their names years earlier than he had known that
of Big Brother. But also they were outlaws, enemies, untouchables, doomed
with absolute certainty to extinction within a year or two. No one who had
once fallen into the hands of the Thought Police ever escaped in the end.
They were corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave.

There was no one at any of the tables nearest to them. It was not wise
even to be seen in the neighbourhood of such people. They were sitting
in silence before glasses of the gin flavoured with cloves which was the
speciality of the cafe. Of the three, it was Rutherford whose appearance
had most impressed Winston. Rutherford had once been a famous caricaturist,
whose brutal cartoons had helped to inflame popular opinion before and
during the Revolution. Even now, at long intervals, his cartoons were
appearing in The Times. They were simply an imitation of his earlier
manner, and curiously lifeless and unconvincing. Always they were a
rehashing of the ancient themes–slum tenements, starving children, street
battles, capitalists in top hats–even on the barricades the capitalists
still seemed to cling to their top hats an endless, hopeless effort to
get back into the past. He was a monstrous man, with a mane of greasy
grey hair, his face pouched and seamed, with thick negroid lips. At one
time he must have been immensely strong; now his great body was sagging,
sloping, bulging, falling away in every direction. He seemed to be breaking
up before one’s eyes, like a mountain crumbling.

It was the lonely hour of fifteen. Winston could not now remember how he
had come to be in the cafe at such a time. The place was almost empty. A
tinny music was trickling from the telescreens. The three men sat in their
corner almost motionless, never speaking. Uncommanded, the waiter brought
fresh glasses of gin. There was a chessboard on the table beside them, with
the pieces set out but no game started. And then, for perhaps half a minute
in all, something happened to the telescreens. The tune that they were
playing changed, and the tone of the music changed too. There came into
it–but it was something hard to describe. It was a peculiar, cracked,
braying, jeering note: in his mind Winston called it a yellow note. And
then a voice from the telescreen was singing:

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.

The three men never stirred. But when Winston glanced again at Rutherford’s
ruinous face, he saw that his eyes were full of tears. And for the first
time he noticed, with a kind of inward shudder, and yet not knowing
AT WHAT he shuddered, that both Aaronson and Rutherford had broken noses.

A little later all three were re-arrested. It appeared that they had
engaged in fresh conspiracies from the very moment of their release. At
their second trial they confessed to all their old crimes over again, with
a whole string of new ones. They were executed, and their fate was recorded
in the Party histories, a warning to posterity. About five years after
this, in 1973, Winston was unrolling a wad of documents which had just
flopped out of the pneumatic tube on to his desk when he came on a fragment
of paper which had evidently been slipped in among the others and then
forgotten. The instant he had flattened it out he saw its significance.
It was a half-page torn out of ‘The Times’ of about ten years earlier–the
top half of the page, so that it included the date–and it contained a
photograph of the delegates at some Party function in New York. Prominent
in the middle of the group were Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. There was
no mistaking them, in any case their names were in the caption at the

The point was that at both trials all three men had confessed that on that
date they had been on Eurasian soil. They had flown from a secret airfield
in Canada to a rendezvous somewhere in Siberia, and had conferred with
members of the Eurasian General Staff, to whom they had betrayed important
military secrets. The date had stuck in Winston’s memory because it chanced
to be midsummer day; but the whole story must be on record in countless
other places as well. There was only one possible conclusion: the
confessions were lies.

Of course, this was not in itself a discovery. Even at that time Winston
had not imagined that the people who were wiped out in the purges had
actually committed the crimes that they were accused of. But this was
concrete evidence; it was a fragment of the abolished past, like a fossil
bone which turns up in the wrong stratum and destroys a geological theory.
It was enough to blow the Party to atoms, if in some way it could have
been published to the world and its significance made known.

He had gone straight on working. As soon as he saw what the photograph
was, and what it meant, he had covered it up with another sheet of paper.
Luckily, when he unrolled it, it had been upside-down from the point of
view of the telescreen.

He took his scribbling pad on his knee and pushed back his chair so as
to get as far away from the telescreen as possible. To keep your face
expressionless was not difficult, and even your breathing could be
controlled, with an effort: but you could not control the beating of your
heart, and the telescreen was quite delicate enough to pick it up. He let
what he judged to be ten minutes go by, tormented all the while by the
fear that some accident–a sudden draught blowing across his desk, for
instance–would betray him. Then, without uncovering it again, he dropped
the photograph into the memory hole, along with some other waste papers.
Within another minute, perhaps, it would have crumbled into ashes.

That was ten–eleven years ago. Today, probably, he would have kept that
photograph. It was curious that the fact of having held it in his fingers
seemed to him to make a difference even now, when the photograph itself,
as well as the event it recorded, was only memory. Was the Party’s hold
upon the past less strong, he wondered, because a piece of evidence which
existed no longer HAD ONCE existed?

But today, supposing that it could be somehow resurrected from its ashes,
the photograph might not even be evidence. Already, at the time when he
made his discovery, Oceania was no longer at war with Eurasia, and it must
have been to the agents of Eastasia that the three dead men had betrayed
their country. Since then there had been other changes–two, three,
he could not remember how many. Very likely the confessions had been
rewritten and rewritten until the original facts and dates no longer
had the smallest significance. The past not only changed, but changed
continuously. What most afflicted him with the sense of nightmare was that
he had never clearly understood why the huge imposture was undertaken.
The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the
ultimate motive was mysterious. He took up his pen again and wrote:

I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.

He wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was
a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. At one time it
had been a sign of madness to believe that the earth goes round the sun;
today, to believe that the past is unalterable. He might be ALONE in
holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the thought of being
a lunatic did not greatly trouble him: the horror was that he might also
be wrong.

He picked up the children’s history book and looked at the portrait of
Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into
his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon
you–something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your
brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to
deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that
two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable
that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their
position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very
existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The
heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that
they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right.
For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the
force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past
and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is
controllable what then?

But no! His courage seemed suddenly to stiffen of its own accord. The face
of O’Brien, not called up by any obvious association, had floated into his
mind. He knew, with more certainty than before, that O’Brien was on his
side. He was writing the diary for O’Brien–TO O’Brien: it was like an
interminable letter which no one would ever read, but which was addressed
to a particular person and took its colour from that fact.

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was
their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of
the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party
intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he
would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the
right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the
true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid
world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet,
objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre. With the feeling that
he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important
axiom, he wrote:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is
granted, all else follows.

Chapter 8

From somewhere at the bottom of a passage the smell of roasting
coffee–real coffee, not Victory Coffee–came floating out into the street.
Winston paused involuntarily. For perhaps two seconds he was back in the
half-forgotten world of his childhood. Then a door banged, seeming to cut
off the smell as abruptly as though it had been a sound.

He had walked several kilometres over pavements, and his varicose ulcer
was throbbing. This was the second time in three weeks that he had missed
an evening at the Community Centre: a rash act, since you could be certain
that the number of your attendances at the Centre was carefully checked.
In principle a Party member had no spare time, and was never alone except
in bed. It was assumed that when he was not working, eating, or sleeping
he would be taking part in some kind of communal recreation: to do anything
that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself,
was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak:
OWNLIFE, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity. But this
evening as he came out of the Ministry the balminess of the April air had
tempted him. The sky was a warmer blue than he had seen it that year, and
suddenly the long, noisy evening at the Centre, the boring, exhausting
games, the lectures, the creaking camaraderie oiled by gin, had seemed
intolerable. On impulse he had turned away from the bus-stop and wandered
off into the labyrinth of London, first south, then east, then north again,
losing himself among unknown streets and hardly bothering in which
direction he was going.

‘If there is hope,’ he had written in the diary, ‘it lies in the proles.’
The words kept coming back to him, statement of a mystical truth and a
palpable absurdity. He was somewhere in the vague, brown-coloured slums
to the north and east of what had once been Saint Pancras Station. He was
walking up a cobbled street of little two-storey houses with battered
doorways which gave straight on the pavement and which were somehow
curiously suggestive of ratholes. There were puddles of filthy water here
and there among the cobbles. In and out of the dark doorways, and down
narrow alley-ways that branched off on either side, people swarmed in
astonishing numbers–girls in full bloom, with crudely lipsticked mouths,
and youths who chased the girls, and swollen waddling women who showed you
what the girls would be like in ten years’ time, and old bent creatures
shuffling along on splayed feet, and ragged barefooted children who played
in the puddles and then scattered at angry yells from their mothers.
Perhaps a quarter of the windows in the street were broken and boarded up.
Most of the people paid no attention to Winston; a few eyed him with a
sort of guarded curiosity. Two monstrous women with brick-red forearms
folded across their aprons were talking outside a doorway. Winston caught
scraps of conversation as he approached.

‘”Yes,” I says to ‘er, “that’s all very well,” I says. “But if you’d of
been in my place you’d of done the same as what I done. It’s easy to
criticize,” I says, “but you ain’t got the same problems as what I got.”‘

‘Ah,’ said the other, ‘that’s jest it. That’s jest where it is.’

The strident voices stopped abruptly. The women studied him in hostile
silence as he went past. But it was not hostility, exactly; merely a kind
of wariness, a momentary stiffening, as at the passing of some unfamiliar
animal. The blue overalls of the Party could not be a common sight in a
street like this. Indeed, it was unwise to be seen in such places, unless
you had definite business there. The patrols might stop you if you happened
to run into them. ‘May I see your papers, comrade? What are you doing here?
What time did you leave work? Is this your usual way home?’–and so on and
so forth. Not that there was any rule against walking home by an unusual
route: but it was enough to draw attention to you if the Thought Police
heard about it.

Suddenly the whole street was in commotion. There were yells of warning
from all sides. People were shooting into the doorways like rabbits. A
young woman leapt out of a doorway a little ahead of Winston, grabbed up a
tiny child playing in a puddle, whipped her apron round it, and leapt back
again, all in one movement. At the same instant a man in a concertina-like
black suit, who had emerged from a side alley, ran towards Winston,
pointing excitedly to the sky.

‘Steamer!’ he yelled. ‘Look out, guv’nor! Bang over’ead! Lay down quick!’

‘Steamer’ was a nickname which, for some reason, the proles applied to
rocket bombs. Winston promptly flung himself on his face. The proles were
nearly always right when they gave you a warning of this kind. They seemed
to possess some kind of instinct which told them several seconds in advance
when a rocket was coming, although the rockets supposedly travelled faster
than sound. Winston clasped his forearms above his head. There was a roar
that seemed to make the pavement heave; a shower of light objects pattered
on to his back. When he stood up he found that he was covered with
fragments of glass from the nearest window.

He walked on. The bomb had demolished a group of houses 200 metres up the
street. A black plume of smoke hung in the sky, and below it a cloud of
plaster dust in which a crowd was already forming around the ruins. There
was a little pile of plaster lying on the pavement ahead of him, and in
the middle of it he could see a bright red streak. When he got up to it he
saw that it was a human hand severed at the wrist. Apart from the bloody
stump, the hand was so completely whitened as to resemble a plaster cast.

He kicked the thing into the gutter, and then, to avoid the crowd, turned
down a side-street to the right. Within three or four minutes he was out
of the area which the bomb had affected, and the sordid swarming life of
the streets was going on as though nothing had happened. It was nearly
twenty hours, and the drinking-shops which the proles frequented (‘pubs’,
they called them) were choked with customers. From their grimy swing doors,
endlessly opening and shutting, there came forth a smell of urine, sawdust,
and sour beer. In an angle formed by a projecting house-front three men
were standing very close together, the middle one of them holding a
folded-up newspaper which the other two were studying over his shoulder.
Even before he was near enough to make out the expression on their faces,
Winston could see absorption in every line of their bodies. It was
obviously some serious piece of news that they were reading. He was a few
paces away from them when suddenly the group broke up and two of the men
were in violent altercation. For a moment they seemed almost on the point
of blows.

‘Can’t you bleeding well listen to what I say? I tell you no number ending
in seven ain’t won for over fourteen months!’

‘Yes, it ‘as, then!’

‘No, it ‘as not! Back ‘ome I got the ‘ole lot of ’em for over two years
wrote down on a piece of paper. I takes ’em down reg’lar as the clock. An’
I tell you, no number ending in seven—-‘

‘Yes, a seven ‘AS won! I could pretty near tell you the bleeding number.
Four oh seven, it ended in. It were in February–second week in February.’

‘February your grandmother! I got it all down in black and white. An’ I
tell you, no number—-‘

‘Oh, pack it in!’ said the third man.

They were talking about the Lottery. Winston looked back when he had gone
thirty metres. They were still arguing, with vivid, passionate faces.
The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public
event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that
there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal
if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their
folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was
concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of
intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole
tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and
lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery,
which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed
everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary.
Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being
non-existent persons. In the absence of any real intercommunication between
one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange.

But if there was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling on to that.
When you put it in words it sounded reasonable: it was when you looked at
the human beings passing you on the pavement that it became an act of
faith. The street into which he had turned ran downhill. He had a feeling
that he had been in this neighbourhood before, and that there was a main
thoroughfare not far away. From somewhere ahead there came a din of
shouting voices. The street took a sharp turn and then ended in a flight
of steps which led down into a sunken alley where a few stall-keepers
were selling tired-looking vegetables. At this moment Winston remembered
where he was. The alley led out into the main street, and down the next
turning, not five minutes away, was the junk-shop where he had bought the
blank book which was now his diary. And in a small stationer’s shop not
far away he had bought his penholder and his bottle of ink.

He paused for a moment at the top of the steps. On the opposite side of
the alley there was a dingy little pub whose windows appeared to be frosted
over but in reality were merely coated with dust. A very old man, bent but
active, with white moustaches that bristled forward like those of a prawn,
pushed open the swing door and went in. As Winston stood watching, it
occurred to him that the old man, who must be eighty at the least, had
already been middle-aged when the Revolution happened. He and a few others
like him were the last links that now existed with the vanished world of
capitalism. In the Party itself there were not many people left whose ideas
had been formed before the Revolution. The older generation had mostly
been wiped out in the great purges of the fifties and sixties, and the few
who survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual
surrender. If there was any one still alive who could give you a truthful
account of conditions in the early part of the century, it could only be a
prole. Suddenly the passage from the history book that he had copied into
his diary came back into Winston’s mind, and a lunatic impulse took hold
of him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance with that
old man and question him. He would say to him: ‘Tell me about your life
when you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better
than they are now, or were they worse?’

Hurriedly, lest he should have time to become frightened, he descended the
steps and crossed the narrow street. It was madness of course. As usual,
there was no definite rule against talking to proles and frequenting their
pubs, but it was far too unusual an action to pass unnoticed. If the
patrols appeared he might plead an attack of faintness, but it was not
likely that they would believe him. He pushed open the door, and a hideous
cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face. As he entered the din of
voices dropped to about half its volume. Behind his back he could feel
everyone eyeing his blue overalls. A game of darts which was going on at
the other end of the room interrupted itself for perhaps as much as thirty
seconds. The old man whom he had followed was standing at the bar, having
some kind of altercation with the barman, a large, stout, hook-nosed young
man with enormous forearms. A knot of others, standing round with glasses
in their hands, were watching the scene.

‘I arst you civil enough, didn’t I?’ said the old man, straightening his
shoulders pugnaciously. ‘You telling me you ain’t got a pint mug in the
‘ole bleeding boozer?’

‘And what in hell’s name IS a pint?’ said the barman, leaning forward with
the tips of his fingers on the counter.

”Ark at ‘im! Calls ‘isself a barman and don’t know what a pint is! Why,
a pint’s the ‘alf of a quart, and there’s four quarts to the gallon.
‘Ave to teach you the A, B, C next.’

‘Never heard of ’em,’ said the barman shortly. ‘Litre and half
litre–that’s all we serve. There’s the glasses on the shelf in front
of you.’

‘I likes a pint,’ persisted the old man. ‘You could ‘a drawed me off a pint
easy enough. We didn’t ‘ave these bleeding litres when I was a young man.’

‘When you were a young man we were all living in the treetops,’ said the
barman, with a glance at the other customers.

There was a shout of laughter, and the uneasiness caused by Winston’s entry
seemed to disappear. The old man’s white-stubbled face had flushed pink. He
turned away, muttering to himself, and bumped into Winston. Winston caught
him gently by the arm.

‘May I offer you a drink?’ he said.

‘You’re a gent,’ said the other, straightening his shoulders again. He
appeared not to have noticed Winston’s blue overalls. ‘Pint!’ he added
aggressively to the barman. ‘Pint of wallop.’

The barman swished two half-litres of dark-brown beer into thick glasses
which he had rinsed in a bucket under the counter. Beer was the only drink
you could get in prole pubs. The proles were supposed not to drink gin,
though in practice they could get hold of it easily enough. The game of
darts was in full swing again, and the knot of men at the bar had begun
talking about lottery tickets. Winston’s presence was forgotten for a
moment. There was a deal table under the window where he and the old man
could talk without fear of being overheard. It was horribly dangerous, but
at any rate there was no telescreen in the room, a point he had made sure
of as soon as he came in.

”E could ‘a drawed me off a pint,’ grumbled the old man as he settled down
behind a glass. ‘A ‘alf litre ain’t enough. It don’t satisfy. And a ‘ole
litre’s too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price.’

‘You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,’ said
Winston tentatively.

The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and
from the bar to the door of the Gents, as though it were in the bar-room
that he expected the changes to have occurred.

‘The beer was better,’ he said finally. ‘And cheaper! When I was a young
man, mild beer–wallop we used to call it–was fourpence a pint. That was
before the war, of course.’

‘Which war was that?’ said Winston.

‘It’s all wars,’ said the old man vaguely. He took up his glass, and his
shoulders straightened again. ”Ere’s wishing you the very best of ‘ealth!’

In his lean throat the sharp-pointed Adam’s apple made a surprisingly rapid
up-and-down movement, and the beer vanished. Winston went to the bar and
came back with two more half-litres. The old man appeared to have forgotten
his prejudice against drinking a full litre.

‘You are very much older than I am,’ said Winston. ‘You must have been a
grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old
days, before the Revolution. People of my age don’t really know anything
about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says
in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that. The
history books say that life before the Revolution was completely different
from what it is now. There was the most terrible oppression, injustice,
poverty worse than anything we can imagine. Here in London, the great mass
of the people never had enough to eat from birth to death. Half of them
hadn’t even boots on their feet. They worked twelve hours a day, they left
school at nine, they slept ten in a room. And at the same time there were
a very few people, only a few thousands–the capitalists, they were
called–who were rich and powerful. They owned everything that there was
to own. They lived in great gorgeous houses with thirty servants, they
rode about in motor-cars and four-horse carriages, they drank champagne,
they wore top hats—-‘

The old man brightened suddenly.

‘Top ‘ats!’ he said. ‘Funny you should mention ’em. The same thing come
into my ‘ead only yesterday, I dono why. I was jest thinking, I ain’t seen
a top ‘at in years. Gorn right out, they ‘ave. The last time I wore one
was at my sister-in-law’s funeral. And that was–well, I couldn’t give you
the date, but it must’a been fifty years ago. Of course it was only ‘ired
for the occasion, you understand.’

‘It isn’t very important about the top hats,’ said Winston patiently.
‘The point is, these capitalists–they and a few lawyers and priests and
so forth who lived on them–were the lords of the earth. Everything existed
for their benefit. You–the ordinary people, the workers–were their
slaves. They could do what they liked with you. They could ship you off to
Canada like cattle. They could sleep with your daughters if they chose.
They could order you to be flogged with something called a cat-o’-nine
tails. You had to take your cap off when you passed them. Every capitalist
went about with a gang of lackeys who—-‘

The old man brightened again.

‘Lackeys!’ he said. ‘Now there’s a word I ain’t ‘eard since ever so long.
Lackeys! That reg’lar takes me back, that does. I recollect–oh, donkey’s
years ago–I used to sometimes go to ‘Yde Park of a Sunday afternoon to
‘ear the blokes making speeches. Salvation Army, Roman Catholics, Jews,
Indians–all sorts there was. And there was one bloke–well, I couldn’t
give you ‘is name, but a real powerful speaker ‘e was. ‘E didn’t ‘alf
give it ’em! “Lackeys!” ‘e says, “lackeys of the bourgeoisie! Flunkies of
the ruling class!” Parasites–that was another of them. And ‘yenas–‘e
definitely called ’em ‘yenas. Of course ‘e was referring to the Labour
Party, you understand.’

Winston had the feeling that they were talking at cross-purposes.

‘What I really wanted to know was this,’ he said. ‘Do you feel that you
have more freedom now than you had in those days? Are you treated more
like a human being? In the old days, the rich people, the people at the

‘The ‘Ouse of Lords,’ put in the old man reminiscently.

‘The House of Lords, if you like. What I am asking is, were these people
able to treat you as an inferior, simply because they were rich and you
were poor? Is it a fact, for instance, that you had to call them “Sir” and
take off your cap when you passed them?’

The old man appeared to think deeply. He drank off about a quarter of his
beer before answering.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘They liked you to touch your cap to ’em. It showed
respect, like. I didn’t agree with it, myself, but I done it often enough.
Had to, as you might say.’

‘And was it usual–I’m only quoting what I’ve read in history books–was
it usual for these people and their servants to push you off the pavement
into the gutter?’

‘One of ’em pushed me once,’ said the old man. ‘I recollect it as if it
was yesterday. It was Boat Race night–terribly rowdy they used to get on
Boat Race night–and I bumps into a young bloke on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Quite a gent, ‘e was–dress shirt, top ‘at, black overcoat. ‘E was kind
of zig-zagging across the pavement, and I bumps into ‘im accidental-like.
‘E says, “Why can’t you look where you’re going?” ‘e says. I say, “Ju think
you’ve bought the bleeding pavement?” ‘E says, “I’ll twist your bloody ‘ead
off if you get fresh with me.” I says, “You’re drunk. I’ll give you in
charge in ‘alf a minute,” I says. An’ if you’ll believe me, ‘e puts ‘is
‘and on my chest and gives me a shove as pretty near sent me under the
wheels of a bus. Well, I was young in them days, and I was going to ‘ave
fetched ‘im one, only—-‘

A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man’s memory was
nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day
without getting any real information. The party histories might still be
true, after a fashion: they might even be completely true. He made a last

‘Perhaps I have not made myself clear,’ he said. ‘What I’m trying to say
is this. You have been alive a very long time; you lived half your life
before the Revolution. In 1925, for instance, you were already grown up.
Would you say from what you can remember, that life in 1925 was better
than it is now, or worse? If you could choose, would you prefer to live
then or now?’

The old man looked meditatively at the darts board. He finished up his
beer, more slowly than before. When he spoke it was with a tolerant
philosophical air, as though the beer had mellowed him.

‘I know what you expect me to say,’ he said. ‘You expect me to say as I’d
sooner be young again. Most people’d say they’d sooner be young, if you
arst ’em. You got your ‘ealth and strength when you’re young. When you
get to my time of life you ain’t never well. I suffer something wicked
from my feet, and my bladder’s jest terrible. Six and seven times a night
it ‘as me out of bed. On the other ‘and, there’s great advantages in being
a old man. You ain’t got the same worries. No truck with women, and that’s
a great thing. I ain’t ‘ad a woman for near on thirty year, if you’d
credit it. Nor wanted to, what’s more.’

Winston sat back against the window-sill. It was no use going on. He was
about to buy some more beer when the old man suddenly got up and shuffled
rapidly into the stinking urinal at the side of the room. The extra
half-litre was already working on him. Winston sat for a minute or two
gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet carried him out
into the street again. Within twenty years at the most, he reflected, the
huge and simple question, ‘Was life better before the Revolution than it
is now?’ would have ceased once and for all to be answerable. But in effect
it was unanswerable even now, since the few scattered survivors from the
ancient world were incapable of comparing one age with another. They
remembered a million useless things, a quarrel with a workmate, a hunt for
a lost bicycle pump, the expression on a long-dead sister’s face, the
swirls of dust on a windy morning seventy years ago: but all the relevant
facts were outside the range of their vision. They were like the ant,
which can see small objects but not large ones. And when memory failed and
written records were falsified–when that happened, the claim of the Party
to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted,
because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard
against which it could be tested.

At this moment his train of thought stopped abruptly. He halted and looked
up. He was in a narrow street, with a few dark little shops, interspersed
among dwelling-houses. Immediately above his head there hung three
discoloured metal balls which looked as if they had once been gilded. He
seemed to know the place. Of course! He was standing outside the junk-shop
where he had bought the diary.

A twinge of fear went through him. It had been a sufficiently rash act to
buy the book in the beginning, and he had sworn never to come near the
place again. And yet the instant that he allowed his thoughts to wander,
his feet had brought him back here of their own accord. It was precisely
against suicidal impulses of this kind that he had hoped to guard himself
by opening the diary. At the same time he noticed that although it was
nearly twenty-one hours the shop was still open. With the feeling that he
would be less conspicuous inside than hanging about on the pavement, he
stepped through the doorway. If questioned, he could plausibly say that
he was trying to buy razor blades.

The proprietor had just lighted a hanging oil lamp which gave off an
unclean but friendly smell. He was a man of perhaps sixty, frail and
bowed, with a long, benevolent nose, and mild eyes distorted by thick
spectacles. His hair was almost white, but his eyebrows were bushy and
still black. His spectacles, his gentle, fussy movements, and the fact
that he was wearing an aged jacket of black velvet, gave him a vague air
of intellectuality, as though he had been some kind of literary man, or
perhaps a musician. His voice was soft, as though faded, and his accent
less debased than that of the majority of proles.

‘I recognized you on the pavement,’ he said immediately. ‘You’re the
gentleman that bought the young lady’s keepsake album. That was a beautiful
bit of paper, that was. Cream-laid, it used to be called. There’s been no
paper like that made for–oh, I dare say fifty years.’ He peered at Winston
over the top of his spectacles. ‘Is there anything special I can do for
you? Or did you just want to look round?’

‘I was passing,’ said Winston vaguely. ‘I just looked in. I don’t want
anything in particular.’

‘It’s just as well,’ said the other, ‘because I don’t suppose I could have
satisfied you.’ He made an apologetic gesture with his softpalmed hand.
‘You see how it is; an empty shop, you might say. Between you and me, the
antique trade’s just about finished. No demand any longer, and no stock
either. Furniture, china, glass it’s all been broken up by degrees. And
of course the metal stuff’s mostly been melted down. I haven’t seen a brass
candlestick in years.’

The tiny interior of the shop was in fact uncomfortably full, but there
was almost nothing in it of the slightest value. The floorspace was very
restricted, because all round the walls were stacked innumerable dusty
picture-frames. In the window there were trays of nuts and bolts, worn-out
chisels, penknives with broken blades, tarnished watches that did not even
pretend to be in going order, and other miscellaneous rubbish. Only on a
small table in the corner was there a litter of odds and ends–lacquered
snuffboxes, agate brooches, and the like–which looked as though they might
include something interesting. As Winston wandered towards the table his
eye was caught by a round, smooth thing that gleamed softly in the
lamplight, and he picked it up.

It was a heavy lump of glass, curved on one side, flat on the other, making
almost a hemisphere. There was a peculiar softness, as of rainwater, in
both the colour and the texture of the glass. At the heart of it, magnified
by the curved surface, there was a strange, pink, convoluted object that
recalled a rose or a sea anemone.

‘What is it?’ said Winston, fascinated.

‘That’s coral, that is,’ said the old man. ‘It must have come from the
Indian Ocean. They used to kind of embed it in the glass. That wasn’t made
less than a hundred years ago. More, by the look of it.’

‘It’s a beautiful thing,’ said Winston.

‘It is a beautiful thing,’ said the other appreciatively. ‘But there’s not
many that’d say so nowadays.’ He coughed. ‘Now, if it so happened that you
wanted to buy it, that’d cost you four dollars. I can remember when a thing
like that would have fetched eight pounds, and eight pounds was–well, I
can’t work it out, but it was a lot of money. But who cares about genuine
antiques nowadays–even the few that’s left?’

Winston immediately paid over the four dollars and slid the coveted thing
into his pocket. What appealed to him about it was not so much its beauty
as the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different
from the present one. The soft, rainwatery glass was not like any glass
that he had ever seen. The thing was doubly attractive because of its
apparent uselessness, though he could guess that it must once have been
intended as a paperweight. It was very heavy in his pocket, but fortunately
it did not make much of a bulge. It was a queer thing, even a compromising
thing, for a Party member to have in his possession. Anything old, and for
that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect. The old man had
grown noticeably more cheerful after receiving the four dollars. Winston
realized that he would have accepted three or even two.

‘There’s another room upstairs that you might care to take a look at,’ he
said. ‘There’s not much in it. Just a few pieces. We’ll do with a light if
we’re going upstairs.’

He lit another lamp, and, with bowed back, led the way slowly up the
steep and worn stairs and along a tiny passage, into a room which did
not give on the street but looked out on a cobbled yard and a forest of
chimney-pots. Winston noticed that the furniture was still arranged as
though the room were meant to be lived in. There was a strip of carpet on
the floor, a picture or two on the walls, and a deep, slatternly arm-chair
drawn up to the fireplace. An old-fashioned glass clock with a twelve-hour
face was ticking away on the mantelpiece. Under the window, and occupying
nearly a quarter of the room, was an enormous bed with the mattress still
on it.

‘We lived here till my wife died,’ said the old man half apologetically.
‘I’m selling the furniture off by little and little. Now that’s a beautiful
mahogany bed, or at least it would be if you could get the bugs out of it.
But I dare say you’d find it a little bit cumbersome.’

He was holding the lamp high up, so as to illuminate the whole room, and
in the warm dim light the place looked curiously inviting. The thought
flitted through Winston’s mind that it would probably be quite easy to
rent the room for a few dollars a week, if he dared to take the risk. It
was a wild, impossible notion, to be abandoned as soon as thought of; but
the room had awakened in him a sort of nostalgia, a sort of ancestral
memory. It seemed to him that he knew exactly what it felt like to sit in
a room like this, in an arm-chair beside an open fire with your feet in
the fender and a kettle on the hob; utterly alone, utterly secure, with
nobody watching you, no voice pursuing you, no sound except the singing
of the kettle and the friendly ticking of the clock.

‘There’s no telescreen!’ he could not help murmuring.

‘Ah,’ said the old man, ‘I never had one of those things. Too expensive.
And I never seemed to feel the need of it, somehow. Now that’s a nice
gateleg table in the corner there. Though of course you’d have to put new
hinges on it if you wanted to use the flaps.’

There was a small bookcase in the other corner, and Winston had already
gravitated towards it. It contained nothing but rubbish. The hunting-down
and destruction of books had been done with the same thoroughness in the
prole quarters as everywhere else. It was very unlikely that there existed
anywhere in Oceania a copy of a book printed earlier than 1960. The old
man, still carrying the lamp, was standing in front of a picture in a
rosewood frame which hung on the other side of the fireplace, opposite
the bed.

‘Now, if you happen to be interested in old prints at all—-‘ he began

Winston came across to examine the picture. It was a steel engraving of an
oval building with rectangular windows, and a small tower in front. There
was a railing running round the building, and at the rear end there was
what appeared to be a statue. Winston gazed at it for some moments. It
seemed vaguely familiar, though he did not remember the statue.

‘The frame’s fixed to the wall,’ said the old man, ‘but I could unscrew it
for you, I dare say.’

‘I know that building,’ said Winston finally. ‘It’s a ruin now. It’s in
the middle of the street outside the Palace of Justice.’

‘That’s right. Outside the Law Courts. It was bombed in–oh, many years
ago. It was a church at one time, St Clement Danes, its name was.’ He
smiled apologetically, as though conscious of saying something slightly
ridiculous, and added: ‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s!’

‘What’s that?’ said Winston.

‘Oh–“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s.” That was a rhyme
we had when I was a little boy. How it goes on I don’t remember, but I do
know it ended up, “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a
chopper to chop off your head.” It was a kind of a dance. They held out
their arms for you to pass under, and when they came to “Here comes a
chopper to chop off your head” they brought their arms down and caught you.
It was just names of churches. All the London churches were in it–all the
principal ones, that is.’

Winston wondered vaguely to what century the church belonged. It was always
difficult to determine the age of a London building. Anything large and
impressive, if it was reasonably new in appearance, was automatically
claimed as having been built since the Revolution, while anything that was
obviously of earlier date was ascribed to some dim period called the Middle
Ages. The centuries of capitalism were held to have produced nothing of any
value. One could not learn history from architecture any more than one
could learn it from books. Statues, inscriptions, memorial stones, the
names of streets–anything that might throw light upon the past had been
systematically altered.

‘I never knew it had been a church,’ he said.

‘There’s a lot of them left, really,’ said the old man, ‘though they’ve
been put to other uses. Now, how did that rhyme go? Ah! I’ve got it!

“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s—-”

there, now, that’s as far as I can get. A farthing, that was a small copper
coin, looked something like a cent.’

‘Where was St Martin’s?’ said Winston.

‘St Martin’s? That’s still standing. It’s in Victory Square, alongside the
picture gallery. A building with a kind of a triangular porch and pillars
in front, and a big flight of steps.’

Winston knew the place well. It was a museum used for propaganda displays
of various kinds–scale models of rocket bombs and Floating Fortresses,
waxwork tableaux illustrating enemy atrocities, and the like.

‘St Martin’s-in-the-Fields it used to be called,’ supplemented the old man,
‘though I don’t recollect any fields anywhere in those parts.’

Winston did not buy the picture. It would have been an even more
incongruous possession than the glass paperweight, and impossible to carry
home, unless it were taken out of its frame. But he lingered for some
minutes more, talking to the old man, whose name, he discovered, was not
Weeks–as one might have gathered from the inscription over the
shop-front–but Charrington. Mr Charrington, it seemed, was a widower aged
sixty-three and had inhabited this shop for thirty years. Throughout that
time he had been intending to alter the name over the window, but had never
quite got to the point of doing it. All the while that they were talking
the half-remembered rhyme kept running through Winston’s head. Oranges and
lemons say the bells of St Clement’s, You owe me three farthings, say
the bells of St Martin’s! It was curious, but when you said it to yourself
you had the illusion of actually hearing bells, the bells of a lost London
that still existed somewhere or other, disguised and forgotten. From one
ghostly steeple after another he seemed to hear them pealing forth. Yet so
far as he could remember he had never in real life heard church bells

He got away from Mr Charrington and went down the stairs alone, so as not
to let the old man see him reconnoitring the street before stepping out of
the door. He had already made up his mind that after a suitable
interval–a month, say–he would take the risk of visiting the shop again.
It was perhaps not more dangerous than shirking an evening at the Centre.
The serious piece of folly had been to come back here in the first place,
after buying the diary and without knowing whether the proprietor of the
shop could be trusted. However—-!

Yes, he thought again, he would come back. He would buy further scraps of
beautiful rubbish. He would buy the engraving of St Clement Danes, take
it out of its frame, and carry it home concealed under the jacket of his
overalls. He would drag the rest of that poem out of Mr Charrington’s
memory. Even the lunatic project of renting the room upstairs flashed
momentarily through his mind again. For perhaps five seconds exaltation
made him careless, and he stepped out on to the pavement without so much
as a preliminary glance through the window. He had even started humming
to an improvised tune

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,
You owe me three farthings, say the—-

Suddenly his heart seemed to turn to ice and his bowels to water. A figure
in blue overalls was coming down the pavement, not ten metres away. It was
the girl from the Fiction Department, the girl with dark hair. The light
was failing, but there was no difficulty in recognizing her. She looked
him straight in the face, then walked quickly on as though she had not
seen him.

For a few seconds Winston was too paralysed to move. Then he turned to the
right and walked heavily away, not noticing for the moment that he was
going in the wrong direction. At any rate, one question was settled. There
was no doubting any longer that the girl was spying on him. She must have
followed him here, because it was not credible that by pure chance she
should have happened to be walking on the same evening up the same obscure
backstreet, kilometres distant from any quarter where Party members lived.
It was too great a coincidence. Whether she was really an agent of the
Thought Police, or simply an amateur spy actuated by officiousness, hardly
mattered. It was enough that she was watching him. Probably she had seen
him go into the pub as well.

It was an effort to walk. The lump of glass in his pocket banged against
his thigh at each step, and he was half minded to take it out and throw it
away. The worst thing was the pain in his belly. For a couple of minutes
he had the feeling that he would die if he did not reach a lavatory soon.
But there would be no public lavatories in a quarter like this. Then the
spasm passed, leaving a dull ache behind.

The street was a blind alley. Winston halted, stood for several seconds
wondering vaguely what to do, then turned round and began to retrace his
steps. As he turned it occurred to him that the girl had only passed him
three minutes ago and that by running he could probably catch up with her.
He could keep on her track till they were in some quiet place, and then
smash her skull in with a cobblestone. The piece of glass in his pocket
would be heavy enough for the job. But he abandoned the idea immediately,
because even the thought of making any physical effort was unbearable. He
could not run, he could not strike a blow. Besides, she was young and lusty
and would defend herself. He thought also of hurrying to the Community
Centre and staying there till the place closed, so as to establish a
partial alibi for the evening. But that too was impossible. A deadly
lassitude had taken hold of him. All he wanted was to get home quickly and
then sit down and be quiet.

It was after twenty-two hours when he got back to the flat. The lights
would be switched off at the main at twenty-three thirty. He went into the
kitchen and swallowed nearly a teacupful of Victory Gin. Then he went to
the table in the alcove, sat down, and took the diary out of the drawer.
But he did not open it at once. From the telescreen a brassy female voice
was squalling a patriotic song. He sat staring at the marbled cover of the
book, trying without success to shut the voice out of his consciousness.

It was at night that they came for you, always at night. The proper thing
was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly some people did so.
Many of the disappearances were actually suicides. But it needed desperate
courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and
certain poison, were completely unprocurable. He thought with a kind of
astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery
of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment
when a special effort is needed. He might have silenced the dark-haired
girl if only he had acted quickly enough: but precisely because of the
extremity of his danger he had lost the power to act. It struck him that
in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but
always against one’s own body. Even now, in spite of the gin, the dull
ache in his belly made consecutive thought impossible. And it is the same,
he perceived, in all seemingly heroic or tragic situations. On the
battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that
you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until
it fills the universe, and even when you are not paralysed by fright or
screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or
cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth.

He opened the diary. It was important to write something down. The woman
on the telescreen had started a new song. Her voice seemed to stick into
his brain like jagged splinters of glass. He tried to think of O’Brien,
for whom, or to whom, the diary was written, but instead he began thinking
of the things that would happen to him after the Thought Police took him
away. It would not matter if they killed you at once. To be killed was
what you expected. But before death (nobody spoke of such things, yet
everybody knew of them) there was the routine of confession that had to
be gone through: the grovelling on the floor and screaming for mercy, the
crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth and bloody clots of hair.

Why did you have to endure it, since the end was always the same? Why was
it not possible to cut a few days or weeks out of your life? Nobody ever
escaped detection, and nobody ever failed to confess. When once you had
succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be
dead. Why then did that horror, which altered nothing, have to lie embedded
in future time?

He tried with a little more success than before to summon up the image of
O’Brien. ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,’ O’Brien
had said to him. He knew what it meant, or thought he knew. The place where
there is no darkness was the imagined future, which one would never see,
but which, by foreknowledge, one could mystically share in. But with the
voice from the telescreen nagging at his ears he could not follow the train
of thought further. He put a cigarette in his mouth. Half the tobacco
promptly fell out on to his tongue, a bitter dust which was difficult to
spit out again. The face of Big Brother swam into his mind, displacing that
of O’Brien. Just as he had done a few days earlier, he slid a coin out of
his pocket and looked at it. The face gazed up at him, heavy, calm,
protecting: but what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache?
Like a leaden knell the words came back at him:



Chapter 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 pain.

A curious emotion stirred in Winston’s heart. In front of him was an enemy
who was trying to kill him: in front of him, also, was a human creature,
in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. Already he had instinctively
started forward to help her. In the moment when he had seen her fall on
the bandaged arm, it had been as though he felt the pain in his own body.

‘You’re hurt?’ he said.

‘It’s nothing. My arm. It’ll be all right in a second.’

She spoke as though her heart were fluttering. She had certainly turned
very pale.

‘You haven’t broken anything?’

‘No, I’m all right. It hurt for a moment, that’s all.’

She held out her free hand to him, and he helped her up. She had regained
some of her colour, and appeared very much better.

‘It’s nothing,’ she repeated shortly. ‘I only gave my wrist a bit of a
bang. Thanks, comrade!’

And with that she walked on in the direction in which she had been going,
as briskly as though it had really been nothing. The whole incident could
not have taken as much as half a minute. Not to let one’s feelings appear
in one’s face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct,
and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen
when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to
betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was
helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no
question that she had done it intentionally. It was something small and
flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his
pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers. It was a scrap of paper
folded into a square.

While he stood at the urinal he managed, with a little more fingering, to
get it unfolded. Obviously there must be a message of some kind written on
it. For a moment he was tempted to take it into one of the water-closets
and read it at once. But that would be shocking folly, as he well knew.
There was no place where you could be more certain that the telescreens
were watched continuously.

He went back to his cubicle, sat down, threw the fragment of paper
casually among the other papers on the desk, put on his spectacles and
hitched the speakwrite towards him. ‘Five minutes,’ he told himself,
‘five minutes at the very least!’ His heart bumped in his breast with
frightening loudness. Fortunately the piece of work he was engaged on was
mere routine, the rectification of a long list of figures, not needing
close attention.

Whatever was written on the paper, it must have some kind of political
meaning. So far as he could see there were two possibilities. One, much
the more likely, was that the girl was an agent of the Thought Police,
just as he had feared. He did not know why the Thought Police should
choose to deliver their messages in such a fashion, but perhaps they had
their reasons. The thing that was written on the paper might be a threat, a
summons, an order to commit suicide, a trap of some description. But there
was another, wilder possibility that kept raising its head, though he
tried vainly to suppress it. This was, that the message did not come from
the Thought Police at all, but from some kind of underground organization.
Perhaps the Brotherhood existed after all! Perhaps the girl was part of it!
No doubt the idea was absurd, but it had sprung into his mind in the very
instant of feeling the scrap of paper in his hand. It was not till a couple
of minutes later that the other, more probable explanation had occurred to
him. And even now, though his intellect told him that the message probably
meant death–still, that was not what he believed, and the unreasonable
hope persisted, and his heart banged, and it was with difficulty that he
kept his voice from trembling as he murmured his figures into the

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:


For several seconds he was too stunned even to throw the incriminating
thing into the memory hole. When he did so, although he knew very well the
danger of showing too much interest, he could not resist reading it once
again, just to make sure that the words were really there.

For the rest of the morning it was very difficult to work. What was even
worse than having to focus his mind on a series of niggling jobs was the
need to conceal his agitation from the telescreen. He felt as though a
fire were burning in his belly. Lunch in the hot, crowded, noise-filled
canteen was torment. He had hoped to be alone for a little while during
the lunch hour, but as bad luck would have it the imbecile Parsons flopped
down beside him, the tang of his sweat almost defeating the tinny smell of
stew, and kept up a stream of talk about the preparations for Hate Week.
He was particularly enthusiastic about a papier-mache model of Big
Brother’s head, two metres wide, which was being made for the occasion by
his daughter’s troop of Spies. The irritating thing was that in the racket
of voices Winston could hardly hear what Parsons was saying, and was
constantly having to ask for some fatuous remark to be repeated. Just once
he caught a glimpse of the girl, at a table with two other girls at the
far end of the room. She appeared not to have seen him, and he did not
look in that direction again.

The afternoon was more bearable. Immediately after lunch there arrived a
delicate, difficult piece of work which would take several hours and
necessitated putting everything else aside. It consisted in falsifying a
series of production reports of two years ago, in such a way as to cast
discredit on a prominent member of the Inner Party, who was now under a
cloud. This was the kind of thing that Winston was good at, and for more
than two hours he succeeded in shutting the girl out of his mind
altogether. Then the memory of her face came back, and with it a raging,
intolerable desire to be alone. Until he could be alone it was impossible
to think this new development out. Tonight was one of his nights at the
Community Centre. He wolfed another tasteless meal in the canteen, hurried
off to the Centre, took part in the solemn foolery of a ‘discussion group’,
played two games of table tennis, swallowed several glasses of gin, and
sat for half an hour through a lecture entitled ‘Ingsoc in relation to
chess’. His soul writhed with boredom, but for once he had had no impulse
to shirk his evening at the Centre. At the sight of the words I LOVE YOU
the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor
risks suddenly seemed stupid. It was not till twenty-three hours, when he
was home and in bed–in the darkness, where you were safe even from the
telescreen so long as you kept silent–that he was able to think

It was a physical problem that had to be solved: how to get in touch with
the girl and arrange a meeting. He did not consider any longer the
possibility that she might be laying some kind of trap for him. He knew
that it was not so, because of her unmistakable agitation when she handed
him the note. Obviously she had been frightened out of her wits, as well
she might be. Nor did the idea of refusing her advances even cross his
mind. Only five nights ago he had contemplated smashing her skull in with
a cobblestone, but that was of no importance. He thought of her naked,
youthful body, as he had seen it in his dream. He had imagined her a fool
like all the rest of them, her head stuffed with lies and hatred, her
belly full of ice. A kind of fever seized him at the thought that he might
lose her, the white youthful body might slip away from him! What he feared
more than anything else was that she would simply change her mind if he
did not get in touch with her quickly. But the physical difficulty of
meeting was enormous. It was like trying to make a move at chess when you
were already mated. Whichever way you turned, the telescreen faced you.
Actually, all the possible ways of communicating with her had occurred to
him within five minutes of reading the note; but now, with time to think,
he went over them one by one, as though laying out a row of instruments
on a table.

Obviously the kind of encounter that had happened this morning could not
be repeated. If she had worked in the Records Department it might have
been comparatively simple, but he had only a very dim idea whereabouts in
the building the Fiction Department lay, and he had no pretext for going
there. If he had known where she lived, and at what time she left work,
he could have contrived to meet her somewhere on her way home; but to try
to follow her home was not safe, because it would mean loitering about
outside the Ministry, which was bound to be noticed. As for sending a
letter through the mails, it was out of the question. By a routine that
was not even secret, all letters were opened in transit. Actually, few
people ever wrote letters. For the messages that it was occasionally
necessary to send, there were printed postcards with long lists of phrases,
and you struck out the ones that were inapplicable. In any case he did not
know the girl’s name, let alone her address. Finally he decided that the
safest place was the canteen. If he could get her at a table by herself,
somewhere in the middle of the room, not too near the telescreens, and
with a sufficient buzz of conversation all round–if these conditions
endured for, say, thirty seconds, it might be possible to exchange a few

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 him.

The next day she reappeared. Her arm was out of the sling and she had a
band of sticking-plaster round her wrist. The relief of seeing her was
so great that he could not resist staring directly at her for several
seconds. On the following day he very nearly succeeded in speaking to her.
When he came into the canteen she was sitting at a table well out from the
wall, and was quite alone. It was early, and the place was not very full.
The queue edged forward till Winston was almost at the counter, then was
held up for two minutes because someone in front was complaining that he
had not received his tablet of saccharine. But the girl was still alone
when Winston secured his tray and began to make for her table. He walked
casually towards her, his eyes searching for a place at some table beyond
her. She was perhaps three metres away from him. Another two seconds would
do it. Then a voice behind him called, ‘Smith!’ He pretended not to hear.
‘Smith!’ repeated the voice, more loudly. It was no use. He turned round.
A blond-headed, silly-faced young man named Wilsher, whom he barely knew,
was inviting him with a smile to a vacant place at his table. It was not
safe to refuse. After having been recognized, he could not go and sit at
a table with an unattended girl. It was too noticeable. He sat down with
a friendly smile. The silly blond face beamed into his. Winston had a
hallucination of himself smashing a pick-axe right into the middle of it.
The girl’s table filled up a few minutes later.

But she must have seen him coming towards her, and perhaps she would take
the hint. Next day he took care to arrive early. Surely enough, she was at
a table in about the same place, and again alone. The person immediately
ahead of him in the queue was a small, swiftly-moving, beetle-like man
with a flat face and tiny, suspicious eyes. As Winston turned away from
the counter with his tray, he saw that the little man was making straight
for the girl’s table. His hopes sank again. There was a vacant place at a
table further away, but something in the little man’s appearance suggested
that he would be sufficiently attentive to his own comfort to choose the
emptiest table. With ice at his heart Winston followed. It was no use
unless he could get the girl alone. At this moment there was a tremendous
crash. The little man was sprawling on all fours, his tray had gone flying,
two streams of soup and coffee were flowing across the floor. He started
to his feet with a malignant glance at Winston, whom he evidently
suspected of having tripped him up. But it was all right. Five seconds
later, with a thundering heart, Winston was sitting at the girl’s table.

He did not look at her. He unpacked his tray and promptly began eating.
It was all-important to speak at once, before anyone else came, but now
a terrible fear had taken possession of him. A week had gone by since
she had first approached him. She would have changed her mind, she must
have changed her mind! It was impossible that this affair should end
successfully; such things did not happen in real life. He might have
flinched altogether from speaking if at this moment he had not seen
Ampleforth, the hairy-eared poet, wandering limply round the room with
a tray, looking for a place to sit down. In his vague way Ampleforth
was attached to Winston, and would certainly sit down at his table if
he caught sight of him. There was perhaps a minute in which to act. Both
Winston and the girl were eating steadily. The stuff they were eating was
a thin stew, actually a soup, of haricot beans. In a low murmur Winston
began speaking. Neither of them looked up; steadily they spooned the
watery stuff into their mouths, and between spoonfuls exchanged the few
necessary words in low expressionless voices.

‘What time do you leave work?’


‘Where can we meet?’

‘Victory Square, near the monument.’

‘It’s full of telescreens.’

‘It doesn’t matter if there’s a crowd.’

‘Any signal?’

‘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.’

‘What time?’

‘Nineteen hours.’

‘All right.’

Ampleforth failed to see Winston and sat down at another table. They did
not speak again, and, so far as it was possible for two people sitting on
opposite sides of the same table, they did not look at one another. The
girl finished her lunch quickly and made off, while Winston stayed to
smoke a cigarette.

Winston was in Victory Square before the appointed time. He wandered round
the base of the enormous fluted column, at the top of which Big Brother’s
statue gazed southward towards the skies where he had vanquished the
Eurasian aeroplanes (the Eastasian aeroplanes, it had been, a few years
ago) in the Battle of Airstrip One. In the street in front of it there was
a statue of a man on horseback which was supposed to represent Oliver
Cromwell. At five minutes past the hour the girl had still not appeared.
Again the terrible fear seized upon Winston. She was not coming, she had
changed her mind! He walked slowly up to the north side of the square and
got a sort of pale-coloured pleasure from identifying St Martin’s Church,
whose bells, when it had bells, had chimed ‘You owe me three farthings.’
Then he saw the girl standing at the base of the monument, reading or
pretending to read a poster which ran spirally up the column. It was not
safe to go near her until some more people had accumulated. There were
telescreens all round the pediment. But at this moment there was a din of
shouting and a zoom of heavy vehicles from somewhere to the left. Suddenly
everyone seemed to be running across the square. The girl nipped nimbly
round the lions at the base of the monument and joined in the rush.
Winston followed. As he ran, he gathered from some shouted remarks that
a convoy of Eurasian prisoners was passing.

Already a dense mass of people was blocking the south side of the square.
Winston, at normal times the kind of person who gravitates to the outer
edge of any kind of scrimmage, shoved, butted, squirmed his way forward
into the heart of the crowd. Soon he was within arm’s length of the girl,
but the way was blocked by an enormous prole and an almost equally enormous
woman, presumably his wife, who seemed to form an impenetrable wall of
flesh. Winston wriggled himself sideways, and with a violent lunge managed
to drive his shoulder between them. For a moment it felt as though his
entrails were being ground to pulp between the two muscular hips, then he
had broken through, sweating a little. He was next to the girl. They were
shoulder to shoulder, both staring fixedly in front of them.

A long line of trucks, with wooden-faced guards armed with sub-machine
guns standing upright in each corner, was passing slowly down the street.
In the trucks little yellow men in shabby greenish uniforms were squatting,
jammed close together. Their sad, Mongolian faces gazed out over the sides
of the trucks utterly incurious. Occasionally when a truck jolted there
was a clank-clank of metal: all the prisoners were wearing leg-irons.
Truck-load after truck-load of the sad faces passed. Winston knew they
were there but he saw them only intermittently. The girl’s shoulder, and
her arm right down to the elbow, were pressed against his. Her cheek was
almost near enough for him to feel its warmth. She had immediately taken
charge of the situation, just as she had done in the canteen. She began
speaking in the same expressionless voice as before, with lips barely
moving, a mere murmur easily drowned by the din of voices and the rumbling
of the trucks.

‘Can you hear me?’


‘Can you get Sunday afternoon off?’


‘Then listen carefully. You’ll have to remember this. Go to Paddington

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.

Chapter 2

Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled light and shade,
stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted. Under the
trees to the left of him the ground was misty with bluebells. The air
seemed to kiss one’s skin. It was the second of May. From somewhere deeper
in the heart of the wood came the droning of ring-doves.

He was a bit early. There had been no difficulties about the journey, and
the girl was so evidently experienced that he was less frightened than he
would normally have been. Presumably she could be trusted to find a safe
place. In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the
country than in London. There were no telescreens, of course, but there
was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might
be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey
by yourself without attracting attention. For distances of less than
100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but
sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who
examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward
questions. However, no patrols had appeared, and on the walk from the
station he had made sure by cautious backward glances that he was not
being followed. The train was full of proles, in holiday mood because of
the summery weather. The wooden-seated carriage in which he travelled was
filled to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from a toothless
great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going out to spend an afternoon
with ‘in-laws’ in the country, and, as they freely explained to Winston,
to get hold of a little black-market butter.

The lane widened, and in a minute he came to the footpath she had told him
of, a mere cattle-track which plunged between the bushes. He had no watch,
but it could not be fifteen yet. The bluebells were so thick underfoot
that it was impossible not to tread on them. He knelt down and began
picking some partly to pass the time away, but also from a vague idea that
he would like to have a bunch of flowers to offer to the girl when they
met. He had got together a big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly
scent when a sound at his back froze him, the unmistakable crackle of a
foot on twigs. He went on picking bluebells. It was the best thing to do.
It might be the girl, or he might have been followed after all. To look
round was to show guilt. He picked another and another. A hand fell
lightly on his shoulder.

He looked up. It was the girl. She shook her head, evidently as a warning
that he must keep silent, then parted the bushes and quickly led the way
along the narrow track into the wood. Obviously she had been that way
before, for she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed,
still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling was relief, but as
he watched the strong slender body moving in front of him, with the scarlet
sash that was just tight enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the
sense of his own inferiority was heavy upon him. Even now it seemed quite
likely that when she turned round and looked at him she would draw back
after all. The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted
him. Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him
feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of
London in the pores of his skin. It occurred to him that till now she had
probably never seen him in broad daylight in the open. They came to the
fallen tree that she had spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart
the bushes, in which there did not seem to be an opening. When Winston
followed her, he found that they were in a natural clearing, a tiny grassy
knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely. The girl
stopped and turned.

‘Here we are,’ she said.

He was facing her at several paces’ distance. As yet he did not dare move
nearer to her.

‘I didn’t want to say anything in the lane,’ she went on, ‘in case there’s
a mike hidden there. I don’t suppose there is, but there could be. There’s
always the chance of one of those swine recognizing your voice. We’re all
right here.’

He still had not the courage to approach her. ‘We’re all right here?’
he repeated stupidly.

‘Yes. Look at the trees.’ They were small ashes, which at some time had
been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of
them thicker than one’s wrist. ‘There’s nothing big enough to hide a mike
in. Besides, I’ve been here before.’

They were only making conversation. He had managed to move closer to her
now. She stood before him very upright, with a smile on her face that
looked faintly ironical, as though she were wondering why he was so slow
to act. The bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to have
fallen of their own accord. He took her hand.

‘Would you believe,’ he said, ‘that till this moment I didn’t know what
colour your eyes were?’ They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of
brown, with dark lashes. ‘Now that you’ve seen what I’m really like,
can you still bear to look at me?’

‘Yes, easily.’

‘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 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

‘Never mind, dear. There’s no hurry. We’ve got the whole afternoon. Isn’t
this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I got lost once on a community
hike. If anyone was coming you could hear them a hundred metres away.’

‘What is your name?’ said Winston.

‘Julia. I know yours. It’s Winston–Winston Smith.’

‘How did you find that out?’

‘I expect I’m better at finding things out than you are, dear. Tell me,
what did you think of me before that day I gave you the note?’

He did not feel any temptation to tell lies to her. It was even a sort of
love-offering to start off by telling the worst.

‘I hated the sight of you,’ he said. ‘I wanted to rape you and then murder
you afterwards. Two weeks ago I thought seriously of smashing your head in
with a cobblestone. If you really want to know, I imagined that you had
something to do with the Thought Police.’

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

‘You thought I was a good Party member. Pure in word and deed. Banners,
processions, slogans, games, community hikes all that stuff. And you
thought that if I had a quarter of a chance I’d denounce you as a
thought-criminal and get you killed off?’

‘Yes, something of that kind. A great many young girls are like that,
you know.’

‘It’s this bloody thing that does it,’ she said, ripping off the scarlet
sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging it on to a bough. Then,
as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in
the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She
broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had
taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was
dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was
dull-brown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it,
like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted
chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent
had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was
powerful and troubling.

‘Where did you get this stuff?’ he said.

‘Black market,’ she said indifferently. ‘Actually I am that sort of girl,
to look at. I’m good at games. I was a troop-leader in the Spies. I do
voluntary work three evenings a week for the Junior Anti-Sex League. Hours
and hours I’ve spent pasting their bloody rot all over London. I always
carry one end of a banner in the processions. I always look cheerful and
I never shirk anything. Always yell with the crowd, that’s what I say.
It’s the only way to be safe.’

The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston’s tongue. The taste
was delightful. But there was still that memory moving round the edges of
his consciousness, something strongly felt but not reducible to definite
shape, like an object seen out of the corner of one’s eye. He pushed it
away from him, aware only that it was the memory of some action which he
would have liked to undo but could not.

‘You are very young,’ he said. ‘You are ten or fifteen years younger than
I am. What could you see to attract you in a man like me?’

‘It was something in your face. I thought I’d take a chance. I’m good at
spotting people who don’t belong. As soon as I saw you I knew you were
against THEM.’

THEM, it appeared, meant the Party, and above all the Inner Party, about
whom she talked with an open jeering hatred which made Winston feel uneasy,
although he knew that they were safe here if they could be safe anywhere.
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
stopped him.

‘Don’t go out into the open. There might be someone watching. We’re all
right if we keep behind the boughs.’

They were standing in the shade of hazel bushes. The sunlight, filtering
through innumerable leaves, was still hot on their faces. Winston looked
out into the field beyond, and underwent a curious, slow shock of
recognition. He knew it by sight. An old, close-bitten pasture, with a
footpath wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged
hedge on the opposite side the boughs of the elm trees swayed just
perceptibly in the breeze, and their leaves stirred faintly in dense
masses like women’s hair. Surely somewhere nearby, but out of sight,
there must be a stream with green pools where dace were swimming?

‘Isn’t there a stream somewhere near here?’ he whispered.

‘That’s right, there is a stream. It’s at the edge of the next field,
actually. There are fish in it, great big ones. You can watch them lying
in the pools under the willow trees, waving their tails.’

‘It’s the Golden Country–almost,’ he murmured.

‘The Golden Country?’

‘It’s nothing, really. A landscape I’ve seen sometimes in a dream.’

‘Look!’ whispered Julia.

A thrush had alighted on a bough not five metres away, almost at the level
of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen them. It was in the sun, they in
the shade. It spread out its wings, fitted them carefully into place
again, ducked its head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance
to the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song. In the
afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston and Julia clung
together, fascinated. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with
astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as though the
bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity. Sometimes it stopped
for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then swelled its
speckled breast and again burst into song. Winston watched it with a sort
of vague reverence. For whom, for what, was that bird singing? No mate,
no rival was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood
and pour its music into nothingness? He wondered whether after all there
was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He and Julia had spoken only in
low whispers, and it would not pick up what they had said, but it would
pick up the thrush. Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small,
beetle-like man was listening intently–listening to that. But by degrees
the flood of music drove all speculations out of his mind. It was as
though it were a kind of liquid stuff that poured all over him and got
mixed up with the sunlight that filtered through the leaves. He stopped
thinking and merely felt. The girl’s waist in the bend of his arm was soft
and warm. He pulled her round so that they were breast to breast; her body
seemed to melt into his. Wherever his hands moved it was all as yielding as
water. Their mouths clung together; it was quite different from the hard
kisses they had exchanged earlier. When they moved their faces apart again
both of them sighed deeply. The bird took fright and fled with a clatter
of wings.

Winston put his lips against her ear. ‘NOW,’ he whispered.

‘Not here,’ she whispered back. ‘Come back to the hide-out. It’s safer.’

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

‘Yes, perfectly.’

‘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.

Chapter 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 meeting.

‘And now I must go,’ she said as soon as he had mastered his instructions.
‘I’m due back at nineteen-thirty. I’ve got to put in two hours for the
Junior Anti-Sex League, handing out leaflets, or something. Isn’t it
bloody? Give me a brush-down, would you? Have I got any twigs in my hair?
Are you sure? Then good-bye, my love, good-bye!’

She flung herself into his arms, kissed him almost violently, and a moment
later pushed her way through the saplings and disappeared into the wood
with very little noise. Even now he had not found out her surname or her
address. However, it made no difference, for it was inconceivable that
they could ever meet indoors or exchange any kind of written communication.

As it happened, they never went back to the clearing in the wood. During
the month of May there was only one further occasion on which they actually
succeeded in making love. That was in another hiding-place known to Julia,
the belfry of a ruinous church in an almost-deserted stretch of country
where an atomic bomb had fallen thirty years earlier. It was a good
hiding-place when once you got there, but the getting there was very
dangerous. For the rest they could meet only in the streets, in a different
place every evening and never for more than half an hour at a time. In the
street it was usually possible to talk, after a fashion. As they drifted
down the crowded pavements, not quite abreast and never looking at one
another, they carried on a curious, intermittent conversation which flicked
on and off like the beams of a lighthouse, suddenly nipped into silence
by the approach of a Party uniform or the proximity of a telescreen, then
taken up again minutes later in the middle of a sentence, then abruptly
cut short as they parted at the agreed spot, then continued almost without
introduction on the following day. Julia appeared to be quite used to this
kind of conversation, which she called ‘talking by instalments’. She was
also surprisingly adept at speaking without moving her lips. Just once in
almost a month of nightly meetings they managed to exchange a kiss. They
were passing in silence down a side-street (Julia would never speak when
they were away from the main streets) when there was a deafening roar, the
earth heaved, and the air darkened, and Winston found himself lying on his
side, bruised and terrified. A rocket bomb must have dropped quite near at
hand. Suddenly he became aware of Julia’s face a few centimetres from his
own, deathly white, as white as chalk. Even her lips were white. She was
dead! He clasped her against him and found that he was kissing a live
warm face. But there was some powdery stuff that got in the way of his
lips. Both of their faces were thickly coated with plaster.

There were evenings when they reached their rendezvous and then had to
walk past one another without a sign, because a patrol had just come round
the corner or a helicopter was hovering overhead. Even if it had been
less dangerous, it would still have been difficult to find time to meet.
Winston’s working week was sixty hours, Julia’s was even longer, and
their free days varied according to the pressure of work and did not
often coincide. Julia, in any case, seldom had an evening completely free.
She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and
demonstrations, distributing literature for the junior Anti-Sex League,
preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings
campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said, it was camouflage.
If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones. She even induced
Winston to mortgage yet another of his evenings by enrolling himself for
the part-time munition work which was done voluntarily by zealous Party
members. So, one evening every week, Winston spent four hours of paralysing
boredom, screwing together small bits of metal which were probably parts
of bomb fuses, in a draughty, ill-lit workshop where the knocking of
hammers mingled drearily with the music of the telescreens.

When they met in the church tower the gaps in their fragmentary
conversation were filled up. It was a blazing afternoon. The air in the
little square chamber above the bells was hot and stagnant, and smelt
overpoweringly of pigeon dung. They sat talking for hours on the dusty,
twig-littered floor, one or other of them getting up from time to time to
cast a glance through the arrowslits and make sure that no one was coming.

Julia was twenty-six years old. She lived in a hostel with thirty other
girls (‘Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!’ she said
parenthetically), and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing
machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted
chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor.
She was ‘not clever’, but was fond of using her hands and felt at home
with machinery. She could describe the whole process of composing a novel,
from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the
final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the
finished product. She ‘didn’t much care for reading,’ she said. Books were
just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

She had no memories of anything before the early sixties and the only
person she had ever known who talked frequently of the days before the
Revolution was a grandfather who had disappeared when she was eight. At
school she had been captain of the hockey team and had won the gymnastics
trophy two years running. She had been a troop-leader in the Spies and a
branch secretary in the Youth League before joining the Junior Anti-Sex
League. She had always borne an excellent character. She had even (an
infallible mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in Pornosec,
the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap
pornography for distribution among the proles. It was nicknamed Muck House
by the people who worked in it, she remarked. There she had remained for
a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like
‘Spanking Stories’ or ‘One Night in a Girls’ School’, to be bought
furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they
were buying something illegal.

‘What are these books like?’ said Winston curiously.

‘Oh, ghastly rubbish. They’re boring, really. They only have six plots,
but they swap them round a bit. Of course I was only on the kaleidoscopes.
I was never in the Rewrite Squad. I’m not literary, dear–not even enough
for that.’

He learned with astonishment that all the workers in Pornosec, except the
heads of the departments, were girls. The theory was that men, whose sex
instincts were less controllable than those of women, were in greater
danger of being corrupted by the filth they handled.

‘They don’t even like having married women there,’ she added. Girls are
always supposed to be so pure. Here’s one who isn’t, anyway.

She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member
of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. ‘And a good job too,’
said Julia, ‘otherwise they’d have had my name out of him when he
confessed.’ Since then there had been various others. Life as she saw it
was quite simple. You wanted a good time; ‘they’, meaning the Party,
wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules as best you could. She
seemed to think it just as natural that ‘they’ should want to rob you of
your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught. She hated
the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general
criticism of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she had no
interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never used Newspeak words
except the ones that had passed into everyday use. She had never heard of
the Brotherhood, and refused to believe in its existence. Any kind of
organized revolt against the Party, which was bound to be a failure,
struck her as stupid. The clever thing was to break the rules and stay
alive all the same. He wondered vaguely how many others like her there
might be in the younger generation people who had grown up in the world of
the Revolution, knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something
unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority but simply
evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog.

They did not discuss the possibility of getting married. It was too remote
to be worth thinking about. No imaginable committee would ever sanction
such a marriage even if Katharine, Winston’s wife, could somehow have been
got rid of. It was hopeless even as a daydream.

‘What was she like, your wife?’ said Julia.

‘She was–do you know the Newspeak word GOODTHINKFUL? Meaning naturally
orthodox, incapable of thinking a bad thought?’

‘No, I didn’t know the word, but I know the kind of person, right enough.’

He began telling her the story of his married life, but curiously enough
she appeared to know the essential parts of it already. She described
to him, almost as though she had seen or felt it, the stiffening of
Katharine’s body as soon as he touched her, the way in which she still
seemed to be pushing him from her with all her strength, even when her
arms were clasped tightly round him. With Julia he felt no difficulty in
talking about such things: Katharine, in any case, had long ceased to be
a painful memory and became merely a distasteful one.

‘I could have stood it if it hadn’t been for one thing,’ he said. He told
her about the frigid little ceremony that Katharine had forced him to go
through on the same night every week. ‘She hated it, but nothing would
make her stop doing it. She used to call it–but you’ll never guess.’

‘Our duty to the Party,’ said Julia promptly.

‘How did you know that?’

‘I’ve been at school too, dear. Sex talks once a month for the
over-sixteens. And in the Youth Movement. They rub it into you for years.
I dare say it works in a lot of cases. But of course you can never tell;
people are such hypocrites.’

She began to enlarge upon the subject. With Julia, everything came back
to her own sexuality. As soon as this was touched upon in any way she was
capable of great acuteness. Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner
meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex
instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control
and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more
important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable
because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship. The way
she put it was:

‘When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy
and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that.
They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching
up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If
you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother
and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of
their bloody rot?’

That was very true, he thought. There was a direct intimate connexion
between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the
hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be
kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct
and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the
Party, and the Party had turned it to account. They had played a similar
trick with the instinct of parenthood. The family could not actually be
abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their
children, in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand,
were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them
and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension
of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be
surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.

Abruptly his mind went back to Katharine. Katharine would unquestionably
have denounced him to the Thought Police if she had not happened to be too
stupid to detect the unorthodoxy of his opinions. But what really recalled
her to him at this moment was the stifling heat of the afternoon, which
had brought the sweat out on his forehead. He began telling Julia of
something that had happened, or rather had failed to happen, on another
sweltering summer afternoon, eleven years ago.

It was three or four months after they were married. They had lost their
way on a community hike somewhere in Kent. They had only lagged behind
the others for a couple of minutes, but they took a wrong turning, and
presently found themselves pulled up short by the edge of an old chalk
quarry. It was a sheer drop of ten or twenty metres, with boulders at the
bottom. There was nobody of whom they could ask the way. As soon as she
realized that they were lost Katharine became very uneasy. To be away
from the noisy mob of hikers even for a moment gave her a feeling of
wrong-doing. She wanted to hurry back by the way they had come and start
searching in the other direction. But at this moment Winston noticed some
tufts of loosestrife growing in the cracks of the cliff beneath them.
One tuft was of two colours, magenta and brick-red, apparently growing on
the same root. He had never seen anything of the kind before, and he called
to Katharine to come and look at it.

‘Look, Katharine! Look at those flowers. That clump down near the bottom.
Do you see they’re two different colours?’

She had already turned to go, but she did rather fretfully come back for
a moment. She even leaned out over the cliff face to see where he was
pointing. He was standing a little behind her, and he put his hand on
her waist to steady her. At this moment it suddenly occurred to him how
completely alone they were. There was not a human creature anywhere, not a
leaf stirring, not even a bird awake. In a place like this the danger that
there would be a hidden microphone was very small, and even if there was a
microphone it would only pick up sounds. It was the hottest sleepiest hour
of the afternoon. The sun blazed down upon them, the sweat tickled his
face. And the thought struck him…

‘Why didn’t you give her a good shove?’ said Julia. ‘I would have.’

‘Yes, dear, you would have. I would, if I’d been the same person then as
I am now. Or perhaps I would–I’m not certain.’

‘Are you sorry you didn’t?’

‘Yes. On the whole I’m sorry I didn’t.’

They were sitting side by side on the dusty floor. He pulled her closer
against him. Her head rested on his shoulder, the pleasant smell of her
hair conquering the pigeon dung. She was very young, he thought, she
still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push
an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.

‘Actually it would have made no difference,’ he said.

‘Then why are you sorry you didn’t do it?’

‘Only because I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game that we’re
playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds,
that’s all.’

He felt her shoulders give a wriggle of dissent. She always contradicted
him when he said anything of this kind. She would not accept it as a law
of nature that the individual is always defeated. In a way she realized
that she herself was doomed, that sooner or later the Thought Police would
catch her and kill her, but with another part of her mind she believed
that it was somehow possible to construct a secret world in which you could
live as you chose. All you needed was luck and cunning and boldness. She
did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the
only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from
the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself
as a corpse.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We’re not dead yet,’ said Julia prosaically.

‘Not physically. Six months, a year–five years, conceivably. I am afraid
of death. You are young, so presumably you’re more afraid of it than I am.
Obviously we shall put it off as long as we can. But it makes very little
difference. So long as human beings stay human, death and life are the
same thing.’

‘Oh, rubbish! Which would you sooner sleep with, me or a skeleton? Don’t
you enjoy being alive? Don’t you like feeling: This is me, this is my hand,
this is my leg, I’m real, I’m solid, I’m alive! Don’t you like THIS?’

She twisted herself round and pressed her bosom against him. He could feel
her breasts, ripe yet firm, through her overalls. Her body seemed to be
pouring some of its youth and vigour into his.

‘Yes, I like that,’ he said.

‘Then stop talking about dying. And now listen, dear, we’ve got to fix
up about the next time we meet. We may as well go back to the place in
the wood. We’ve given it a good long rest. But you must get there by a
different way this time. I’ve got it all planned out. You take the
train–but look, I’ll draw it out for you.’

And in her practical way she scraped together a small square of dust,
and with a twig from a pigeon’s nest began drawing a map on the floor.

Chapter 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.’

‘Why not?’

‘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 here.’

She fell on her knees, threw open the bag, and tumbled out some spanners
and a screwdriver that filled the top part of it. Underneath were a number
of neat paper packets. The first packet that she passed to Winston had a
strange and yet vaguely familiar feeling. It was filled with some kind of
heavy, sand-like stuff which yielded wherever you touched it.

‘It isn’t sugar?’ he said.

‘Real sugar. Not saccharine, sugar. And here’s a loaf of bread–proper
white bread, not our bloody stuff–and a little pot of jam. And here’s a
tin of milk–but look! This is the one I’m really proud of. I had to wrap
a bit of sacking round it, because—-‘

But she did not need to tell him why she had wrapped it up. The smell was
already filling the room, a rich hot smell which seemed like an emanation
from his early childhood, but which one did occasionally meet with even
now, blowing down a passage-way before a door slammed, or diffusing itself
mysteriously in a crowded street, sniffed for an instant and then lost

‘It’s coffee,’ he murmured, ‘real coffee.’

‘It’s Inner Party coffee. There’s a whole kilo here,’ she said.

‘How did you manage to get hold of all these things?’

‘It’s all Inner Party stuff. There’s nothing those swine don’t have,
nothing. But of course waiters and servants and people pinch things,
and–look, I got a little packet of tea as well.’

Winston had squatted down beside her. He tore open a corner of the packet.

‘It’s real tea. Not blackberry leaves.’

‘There’s been a lot of tea about lately. They’ve captured India, or
something,’ she said vaguely. ‘But listen, dear. I want you to turn your
back on me for three minutes. Go and sit on the other side of the bed.
Don’t go too near the window. And don’t turn round till I tell you.’

Winston gazed abstractedly through the muslin curtain. Down in the yard
the red-armed woman was still marching to and fro between the washtub and
the line. She took two more pegs out of her mouth and sang with deep

They sye that time ‘eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years
They twist my ‘eart-strings yet!

She knew the whole drivelling song by heart, it seemed. Her voice floated
upward with the sweet summer air, very tuneful, charged with a sort of
happy melancholy. One had the feeling that she would have been perfectly
content, if the June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes
inexhaustible, to remain there for a thousand years, pegging out diapers
and singing rubbish. It struck him as a curious fact that he had never
heard a member of the Party singing alone and spontaneously. It would even
have seemed slightly unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to
oneself. Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near the starvation
level that they had anything to sing about.

‘You can turn round now,’ said Julia.

He turned round, and for a second almost failed to recognize her. What he
had actually expected was to see her naked. But she was not naked. The
transformation that had happened was much more surprising than that. She
had painted her face.

She must have slipped into some shop in the proletarian quarters and bought
herself a complete set of make-up materials. Her lips were deeply reddened,
her cheeks rouged, her nose powdered; there was even a touch of something
under the eyes to make them brighter. It was not very skilfully done, but
Winston’s standards in such matters were not high. He had never before
seen or imagined a woman of the Party with cosmetics on her face. The
improvement in her appearance was startling. With just a few dabs of colour
in the right places she had become not only very much prettier, but, above
all, far more feminine. Her short hair and boyish overalls merely added
to the effect. As he took her in his arms a wave of synthetic violets
flooded his nostrils. He remembered the half-darkness of a basement
kitchen, and a woman’s cavernous mouth. It was the very same scent that
she had used; but at the moment it did not seem to matter.

‘Scent too!’ he said.

‘Yes, dear, scent too. And do you know what I’m going to do next? I’m
going to get hold of a real woman’s frock from somewhere and wear it
instead of these bloody trousers. I’ll wear silk stockings and high-heeled
shoes! In this room I’m going to be a woman, not a Party comrade.’

They flung their clothes off and climbed into the huge mahogany bed. It
was the first time that he had stripped himself naked in her presence.
Until now he had been too much ashamed of his pale and meagre body, with
the varicose veins standing out on his calves and the discoloured patch
over his ankle. There were no sheets, but the blanket they lay on was
threadbare and smooth, and the size and springiness of the bed astonished
both of them. ‘It’s sure to be full of bugs, but who cares?’ said Julia.
One never saw a double bed nowadays, except in the homes of the proles.
Winston had occasionally slept in one in his boyhood: Julia had never been
in one before, so far as she could remember.

Presently they fell asleep for a little while. When Winston woke up the
hands of the clock had crept round to nearly nine. He did not stir, because
Julia was sleeping with her head in the crook of his arm. Most of her
make-up had transferred itself to his own face or the bolster, but a light
stain of rouge still brought out the beauty of her cheekbone. A yellow ray
from the sinking sun fell across the foot of the bed and lighted up the
fireplace, where the water in the pan was boiling fast. Down in the yard
the woman had stopped singing, but the faint shouts of children floated in
from the street. He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past it had
been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in the cool of a summer
evening, a man and a woman with no clothes on, making love when they chose,
talking of what they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply
lying there and listening to peaceful sounds outside. Surely there could
never have been a time when that seemed ordinary? Julia woke up, rubbed
her eyes, and raised herself on her elbow to look at the oilstove.

‘Half that water’s boiled away,’ she said. ‘I’ll get up and make some
coffee in another moment. We’ve got an hour. What time do they cut the
lights off at your flats?’

‘Twenty-three thirty.’

‘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

‘Of all horrors in the world–a rat!’

She pressed herself against him and wound her limbs round him, as though
to reassure him with the warmth of her body. He did not reopen his eyes
immediately. For several moments he had had the feeling of being back in a
nightmare which had recurred from time to time throughout his life. It was
always very much the same. He was standing in front of a wall of darkness,
and on the other side of it there was something unendurable, something too
dreadful to be faced. In the dream his deepest feeling was always one of
self-deception, because he did in fact know what was behind the wall of
darkness. With a deadly effort, like wrenching a piece out of his own
brain, he could even have dragged the thing into the open. He always woke
up without discovering what it was: but somehow it was connected with what
Julia had been saying when he cut her short.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘it’s nothing. I don’t like rats, that’s all.’

‘Don’t worry, dear, we’re not going to have the filthy brutes in here.
I’ll stuff the hole with a bit of sacking before we go. And next time we
come here I’ll bring some plaster and bung it up properly.’

Already the black instant of panic was half-forgotten. Feeling slightly
ashamed of himself, he sat up against the bedhead. Julia got out of bed,
pulled on her overalls, and made the coffee. The smell that rose from the
saucepan was so powerful and exciting that they shut the window lest
anybody outside should notice it and become inquisitive. What was even
better than the taste of the coffee was the silky texture given to it by
the sugar, a thing Winston had almost forgotten after years of saccharine.
With one hand in her pocket and a piece of bread and jam in the other,
Julia wandered about the room, glancing indifferently at the bookcase,
pointing out the best way of repairing the gateleg table, plumping herself
down in the ragged arm-chair to see if it was comfortable, and examining
the absurd twelve-hour clock with a sort of tolerant amusement. She brought
the glass paperweight over to the bed to have a look at it in a better
light. He took it out of her hand, fascinated, as always, by the soft,
rainwatery appearance of the glass.

‘What is it, do you think?’ said Julia.

‘I don’t think it’s anything–I mean, I don’t think it was ever put to any
use. That’s what I like about it. It’s a little chunk of history that
they’ve forgotten to alter. It’s a message from a hundred years ago, if
one knew how to read it.’

‘And that picture over there’–she nodded at the engraving on the opposite
wall–‘would that be a hundred years old?’

‘More. Two hundred, I dare say. One can’t tell. It’s impossible to discover
the age of anything nowadays.’

She went over to look at it. ‘Here’s where that brute stuck his nose out,’
she said, kicking the wainscoting immediately below the picture. ‘What is
this place? I’ve seen it before somewhere.’

‘It’s a church, or at least it used to be. St Clement Danes its name was.’
The fragment of rhyme that Mr Charrington had taught him came back into
his head, and he added half-nostalgically: “Oranges and lemons, say the
bells of St Clement’s!”

To his astonishment she capped the line:

‘You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey—-‘

‘I can’t remember how it goes on after that. But anyway I remember it ends
up, “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop
off your head!”‘

It was like the two halves of a countersign. But there must be another
line after ‘the bells of Old Bailey’. Perhaps it could be dug out of
Mr Charrington’s memory, if he were suitably prompted.

‘Who taught you that?’ he said.

‘My grandfather. He used to say it to me when I was a little girl. He was
vaporized when I was eight–at any rate, he disappeared. I wonder what a
lemon was,’ she added inconsequently. ‘I’ve seen oranges. They’re a kind
of round yellow fruit with a thick skin.’

‘I can remember lemons,’ said Winston. ‘They were quite common in the
fifties. They were so sour that it set your teeth on edge even to smell

‘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.

Chapter 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 existed.

The weather was baking hot. In the labyrinthine Ministry the windowless,
air-conditioned rooms kept their normal temperature, but outside the
pavements scorched one’s feet and the stench of the Tubes at the rush hours
was a horror. The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the
staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings,
military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen
programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies
built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs
faked. Julia’s unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the
production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets.
Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in
going through back files of ‘The Times’ and altering and embellishing news
items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night, when crowds of
rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air. The
rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance
there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which
there were wild rumours.

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song,
it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged
on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly
be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared out by
hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying. The
proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the midnight streets it competed
with the still-popular ‘It was only a hopeless fancy’. The Parsons children
played it at all hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a
piece of toilet paper. Winston’s evenings were fuller than ever. Squads of
volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing the street for Hate Week,
stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and
perilously slinging wires across the street for the reception of streamers.
Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display four hundred
metres of bunting. He was in his native element and as happy as a lark.
The heat and the manual work had even given him a pretext for reverting
to shorts and an open shirt in the evenings. He was everywhere at once,
pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying everyone along
with comradely exhortations and giving out from every fold of his body what
seemed an inexhaustible supply of acrid-smelling sweat.

A new poster had suddenly appeared all over London. It had no caption,
and represented simply the monstrous figure of a Eurasian soldier, three
or four metres high, striding forward with expressionless Mongolian face
and enormous boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip. From whatever
angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun, magnified by the
foreshortening, seemed to be pointed straight at you. The thing had been
plastered on every blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the
portraits of Big Brother. The proles, normally apathetic about the war,
were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism.
As though to harmonize with the general mood, the rocket bombs had been
killing larger numbers of people than usual. One fell on a crowded film
theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins. The
whole population of the neighbourhood turned out for a long, trailing
funeral which went on for hours and was in effect an indignation meeting.
Another bomb fell on a piece of waste ground which was used as a playground
and several dozen children were blown to pieces. There were further angry
demonstrations, Goldstein was burned in effigy, hundreds of copies of the
poster of the Eurasian soldier were torn down and added to the flames, and
a number of shops were looted in the turmoil; then a rumour flew round
that spies were directing the rocket bombs by means of wireless waves, and
an old couple who were suspected of being of foreign extraction had their
house set on fire and perished of suffocation.

In the room over Mr Charrington’s shop, when they could get there, Julia
and Winston lay side by side on a stripped bed under the open window,
naked for the sake of coolness. The rat had never come back, but the bugs
had multiplied hideously in the heat. It did not seem to matter. Dirty or
clean, the room was paradise. As soon as they arrived they would sprinkle
everything with pepper bought on the black market, tear off their clothes,
and make love with sweating bodies, then fall asleep and wake to find that
the bugs had rallied and were massing for the counter-attack.

Four, five, six–seven times they met during the month of June. Winston
had dropped his habit of drinking gin at all hours. He seemed to have lost
the need for it. He had grown fatter, his varicose ulcer had subsided,
leaving only a brown stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of
coughing in the early morning had stopped. The process of life had ceased
to be intolerable, he had no longer any impulse to make faces at the
telescreen or shout curses at the top of his voice. Now that they had a
secure hiding-place, almost a home, it did not even seem a hardship that
they could only meet infrequently and for a couple of hours at a time.
What mattered was that the room over the junk-shop should exist. To know
that it was there, inviolate, was almost the same as being in it. The room
was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk.
Mr Charrington, thought Winston, was another extinct animal. He usually
stopped to talk with Mr Charrington for a few minutes on his way upstairs.
The old man seemed seldom or never to go out of doors, and on the other
hand to have almost no customers. He led a ghostlike existence between the
tiny, dark shop, and an even tinier back kitchen where he prepared his
meals and which contained, among other things, an unbelievably ancient
gramophone with an enormous horn. He seemed glad of the opportunity to
talk. Wandering about among his worthless stock, with his long nose and
thick spectacles and his bowed shoulders in the velvet jacket, he had
always vaguely the air of being a collector rather than a tradesman.
With a sort of faded enthusiasm he would finger this scrap of rubbish or
that–a china bottle-stopper, the painted lid of a broken snuffbox, a
pinchbeck locket containing a strand of some long-dead baby’s hair–never
asking that Winston should buy it, merely that he should admire it. To
talk to him was like listening to the tinkling of a worn-out musical-box.
He had dragged out from the corners of his memory some more fragments of
forgotten rhymes. There was one about four and twenty blackbirds, and
another about a cow with a crumpled horn, and another about the death
of poor Cock Robin. ‘It just occurred to me you might be interested,’ he
would say with a deprecating little laugh whenever he produced a new
fragment. But he could never recall more than a few lines of any one

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.

Chapter 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 O’Brien.

At last they were face to face, and it seemed that his only impulse was
to run away. His heart bounded violently. He would have been incapable of
speaking. O’Brien, however, had continued forward in the same movement,
laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston’s arm, so that the two of
them were walking side by side. He began speaking with the peculiar grave
courtesy that differentiated him from the majority of Inner Party members.

‘I had been hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,’ he said. ‘I was
reading one of your Newspeak articles in ‘The Times’ the other day. You
take a scholarly interest in Newspeak, I believe?’

Winston had recovered part of his self-possession. ‘Hardly scholarly,’ he
said. ‘I’m only an amateur. It’s not my subject. I have never had anything
to do with the actual construction of the language.’

‘But you write it very elegantly,’ said O’Brien. ‘That is not only my own
opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of yours who is certainly an
expert. His name has slipped my memory for the moment.’

Again Winston’s heart stirred painfully. It was inconceivable that this
was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme was not only dead,
he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have
been mortally dangerous. O’Brien’s remark must obviously have been intended
as a signal, a codeword. By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had
turned the two of them into accomplices. They had continued to stroll
slowly down the corridor, but now O’Brien halted. With the curious,
disarming friendliness that he always managed to put in to the gesture he
resettled his spectacles on his nose. Then he went on:

‘What I had really intended to say was that in your article I noticed you
had used two words which have become obsolete. But they have only become
so very recently. Have you seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak

‘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

They were standing in front of a telescreen. Somewhat absent-mindedly
O’Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered
notebook and a gold ink-pencil. Immediately beneath the telescreen, in
such a position that anyone who was watching at the other end of the
instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled an address, tore
out the page and handed it to Winston.

‘I am usually at home in the evenings,’ he said. ‘If not, my servant will
give you the dictionary.’

He was gone, leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper, which this time
there was no need to conceal. Nevertheless he carefully memorized what was
written on it, and some hours later dropped it into the memory hole along
with a mass of other papers.

They had been talking to one another for a couple of minutes at the most.
There was only one meaning that the episode could possibly have. It had
been contrived as a way of letting Winston know O’Brien’s address. This
was necessary, because except by direct enquiry it was never possible to
discover where anyone lived. There were no directories of any kind. ‘If
you ever want to see me, this is where I can be found,’ was what O’Brien
had been saying to him. Perhaps there would even be a message concealed
somewhere in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain. The
conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had reached the outer
edges of it.

He knew that sooner or later he would obey O’Brien’s summons. 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.

Chapter 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 waking.

He lay back with his eyes shut, still sodden in the atmosphere of the
dream. It was a vast, luminous dream in which his whole life seemed to
stretch out before him like a landscape on a summer evening after rain.
It had all occurred inside the glass paperweight, but the surface of the
glass was the dome of the sky, and inside the dome everything was flooded
with clear soft light in which one could see into interminable distances.
The dream had also been comprehended by–indeed, in some sense it had
consisted in–a gesture of the arm made by his mother, and made again
thirty years later by the Jewish woman he had seen on the news film,
trying to shelter the small boy from the bullets, before the helicopter
blew them both to pieces.

‘Do you know,’ he said, ‘that until this moment I believed I had murdered
my mother?’

‘Why did you murder her?’ said Julia, almost asleep.

‘I didn’t murder her. Not physically.’

In the dream he had remembered his last glimpse of his mother, and within
a few moments of waking the cluster of small events surrounding it had all
come back. It was a memory that he must have deliberately pushed out of
his consciousness over many years. He was not certain of the date, but he
could not have been less than ten years old, possibly twelve, when it had

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 mealtimes. He would ask his mother naggingly,
over and over again, why there was not more food, he would shout and storm
at her (he even remembered the tones of his voice, which was beginning to
break prematurely and sometimes boomed in a peculiar way), or he would
attempt a snivelling note of pathos in his efforts to get more than his
share. His mother was quite ready to give him more than his share. She
took it for granted that he, ‘the boy’, should have the biggest portion;
but however much she gave him he invariably demanded more. At every meal
she would beseech him not to be selfish and to remember that his little
sister was sick and also needed food, but it was no use. He would cry out
with rage when she stopped ladling, he would try to wrench the saucepan
and spoon out of her hands, he would grab bits from his sister’s plate.
He knew that he was starving the other two, but he could not help it; he
even felt that he had a right to do it. The clamorous hunger in his belly
seemed to justify him. Between meals, if his mother did not stand guard,
he was constantly pilfering at the wretched store of food on the shelf.

One day a chocolate ration was issued. There had been no such issue for
weeks or months past. He remembered quite clearly that precious little
morsel of chocolate. It was a two-ounce slab (they still talked about
ounces in those days) between the three of them. It was obvious that it
ought to be divided into three equal parts. Suddenly, as though he were
listening to somebody else, Winston heard himself demanding in a loud
booming voice that he should be given the whole piece. His mother told him
not to be greedy. There was a long, nagging argument that went round and
round, with shouts, whines, tears, remonstrances, bargainings. His tiny
sister, clinging to her mother with both hands, exactly like a baby monkey,
sat looking over her shoulder at him with large, mournful eyes. In the
end his mother broke off three-quarters of the chocolate and gave it to
Winston, giving the other quarter to his sister. The little girl took hold
of it and looked at it dully, perhaps not knowing what it was. Winston
stood watching her for a moment. Then with a sudden swift spring he had
snatched the piece of chocolate out of his sister’s hand and was fleeing
for the door.

‘Winston, Winston!’ his mother called after him. ‘Come back! Give your
sister back her chocolate!’

He stopped, but did not come back. His mother’s anxious eyes were fixed on
his face. Even now he was thinking about the thing, he did not know what
it was that was on the point of happening. His sister, conscious of having
been robbed of something, had set up a feeble wail. His mother drew her
arm round the child and pressed its face against her breast. Something in
the gesture told him that his sister was dying. He turned and fled down
the stairs, with the chocolate growing sticky in his hand.

He never saw his mother again. After he had devoured the chocolate he felt
somewhat ashamed of himself and hung about in the streets for several
hours, until hunger drove him home. When he came back his mother had
disappeared. This was already becoming normal at that time. Nothing was
gone from the room except his mother and his sister. They had not taken
any clothes, not even his mother’s overcoat. To this day he did not know
with any certainty that his mother was dead. It was perfectly possible
that she had merely been sent to a forced-labour camp. As for his sister,
she might have been removed, like Winston himself, to one of the colonies
for homeless children (Reclamation Centres, they were called) which had
grown up as a result of the civil war, or she might have been sent to the
labour camp along with his mother, or simply left somewhere or other
to die.

The dream was still vivid in his mind, especially the enveloping protecting
gesture of the arm in which its whole meaning seemed to be contained. His
mind went back to another dream of two months ago. Exactly as his mother
had sat on the dingy white-quilted bed, with the child clinging to her, so
she had sat in the sunken ship, far underneath him, and drowning deeper
every minute, but still looking up at him through the darkening water.

He told Julia the story of his mother’s disappearance. Without opening her
eyes she rolled over and settled herself into a more comfortable position.

‘I expect you were a beastly little swine in those days,’ she said
indistinctly. ‘All children are swine.’

‘Yes. But the real point of the story—-‘

From her breathing it was evident that she was going off to sleep again.
He would have liked to continue talking about his mother. He did not
suppose, from what he could remember of her, that she had been an unusual
woman, still less an intelligent one; and yet she had possessed a kind of
nobility, a kind of purity, simply because the standards that she obeyed
were private ones. Her feelings were her own, and could not be altered
from outside. It would not have occurred to her that an action which is
ineffectual thereby becomes meaningless. If you loved someone, you loved
him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love. When
the last of the chocolate was gone, his mother had clasped the child in
her arms. It was no use, it changed nothing, it did not produce more
chocolate, it did not avert the child’s death or her own; but it seemed
natural to her to do it. The refugee woman in the boat had also covered
the little boy with her arm, which was no more use against the bullets
than a sheet of paper. The terrible thing that the Party had done was to
persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while
at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. When
once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel,
what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference.
Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever
heard of again. You were lifted clean out of the stream of history. And
yet to the people of only two generations ago this would not have seemed
all-important, because they were not attempting to alter history. They
were governed by private loyalties which they did not question. What
mattered were individual relationships, and a completely helpless gesture,
an embrace, a tear, a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in
itself. The proles, it suddenly occurred to him, had remained in this
condition. They were not loyal to a party or a country or an idea, they
were loyal to one another. For the first time in his life he did not
despise the proles or think of them merely as an inert force which would
one day spring to life and regenerate the world. The proles had stayed
human. They had not become hardened inside. They had held on to the
primitive emotions which he himself had to re-learn by conscious effort.
And in thinking this he remembered, without apparent relevance, how a few
weeks ago he had seen a severed hand lying on the pavement and had kicked
it into the gutter as though it had been a cabbage-stalk.

‘The proles are human beings,’ he said aloud. ‘We are not human.’

‘Why not?’ said Julia, who had woken up again.

He thought for a little while. ‘Has it ever occurred to you,’ he said,
‘that the best thing for us to do would be simply to walk out of here
before it’s too late, and never see each other again?’

‘Yes, dear, it has occurred to me, several times. But I’m not going to do
it, all the same.’

‘We’ve been lucky,’ he said ‘but it can’t last much longer. You’re young.
You look normal and innocent. If you keep clear of people like me, you
might stay alive for another fifty years.’

‘No. I’ve thought it all out. What you do, I’m going to do. And don’t be
too downhearted. I’m rather good at staying alive.’

‘We may be together for another six months–a year–there’s no knowing.
At the end we’re certain to be apart. Do you realize how utterly alone we
shall be? When once they get hold of us there will be nothing, literally
nothing, that either of us can do for the other. If I confess, they’ll
shoot you, and if I refuse to confess, they’ll shoot you just the same.
Nothing that I can do or say, or stop myself from saying, will put off
your death for as much as five minutes. Neither of us will even know
whether the other is alive or dead. We shall be utterly without power of
any kind. The one thing that matters is that we shouldn’t betray one
another, although even that can’t make the slightest difference.’

‘If you mean confessing,’ she said, ‘we shall do that, right enough.
Everybody always confesses. You can’t help it. They torture you.’

‘I don’t mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do
doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving
you–that would be the real betrayal.’

She thought it over. ‘They can’t do that,’ she said finally. ‘It’s the one
thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything–ANYTHING–but they
can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.’

‘No,’ he said a little more hopefully, ‘no; that’s quite true. They can’t
get inside you. If you can FEEL that staying human is worth while, even
when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.’

He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy
upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit
them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of
finding out what another human being was thinking. Perhaps that was less
true when you were actually in their hands. One did not know what happened
inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs,
delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual
wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning.
Facts, at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down
by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture. But if the object
was not to stay alive but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately
make? They could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not
alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the
utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the
inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained

Chapter 8

They had done it, they had done it at last!

The room they were standing in was long-shaped and softly lit. The
telescreen was dimmed to a low murmur; the richness of the dark-blue carpet
gave one the impression of treading on velvet. At the far end of the room
O’Brien was sitting at a table under a green-shaded lamp, with a mass of
papers on either side of him. He had not bothered to look up when the
servant showed Julia and Winston in.

Winston’s heart was thumping so hard that he doubted whether he would be
able to speak. They had done it, they had done it at last, was all he
could think. It had been a rash act to come here at all, and sheer folly
to arrive together; though it was true that they had come by different
routes and only met on O’Brien’s doorstep. But merely to walk into such a
place needed an effort of the nerve. It was only on very rare occasions
that one saw inside the dwelling-places of the Inner Party, or even
penetrated into the quarter of the town where they lived. The whole
atmosphere of the huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of
everything, the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco, the
silent and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the white-jacketed
servants hurrying to and fro–everything was intimidating. Although he had
a good pretext for coming here, he was haunted at every step by the fear
that a black-uniformed guard would suddenly appear from round the corner,
demand his papers, and order him to get out. O’Brien’s servant, however,
had admitted the two of them without demur. He was a small, dark-haired
man in a white jacket, with a diamond-shaped, completely expressionless
face which might have been that of a Chinese. The passage down which he
led them was softly carpeted, with cream-papered walls and white
wainscoting, all exquisitely clean. That too was intimidating. Winston
could not remember ever to have seen a passageway whose walls were not
grimy from the contact of human bodies.

O’Brien had a slip of paper between his fingers and seemed to be studying
it intently. His heavy face, bent down so that one could see the line of
the nose, looked both formidable and intelligent. For perhaps twenty
seconds he sat without stirring. Then he pulled the speakwrite towards
him and rapped out a message in the hybrid jargon of the Ministries:

‘Items one comma five comma seven approved fullwise stop suggestion
contained item six doubleplus ridiculous verging crimethink cancel stop
unproceed constructionwise antegetting plusfull estimates machinery
overheads stop end message.’

He rose deliberately from his chair and came towards them across the
soundless carpet. A little of the official atmosphere seemed to have fallen
away from him with the Newspeak words, but his expression was grimmer than
usual, as though he were not pleased at being disturbed. The terror that
Winston already felt was suddenly shot through by a streak of ordinary
embarrassment. It seemed to him quite possible that he had simply made a
stupid mistake. For what evidence had he in reality that O’Brien was any
kind of political conspirator? Nothing but a flash of the eyes and a single
equivocal remark: beyond that, only his own secret imaginings, founded on
a dream. He could not even fall back on the pretence that he had come to
borrow the dictionary, because in that case Julia’s presence was impossible
to explain. As O’Brien passed the telescreen a thought seemed to strike
him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed a switch on the wall. There was
a sharp snap. The voice had stopped.

Julia uttered a tiny sound, a sort of squeak of surprise. Even in the midst
of his panic, Winston was too much taken aback to be able to hold his

‘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 pretentious:

‘We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret
organization working against the Party, and that you are involved in it.
We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the Party. We
disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc. We are thought-criminals. We are
also adulterers. I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your
mercy. If you want us to incriminate ourselves in any other way, we are

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

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

‘No!’ broke in Julia.

It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before he answered. For a
moment he seemed even to have been deprived of the power of speech. His
tongue worked soundlessly, forming the opening syllables first of one word,
then of the other, over and over again. Until he had said it, he did not
know which word he was going to say. ‘No,’ he said finally.

‘You did well to tell me,’ said O’Brien. ‘It is necessary for us to know

He turned himself toward Julia and added in a voice with somewhat more
expression in it:

‘Do you understand that even if he survives, it may be as a different
person? We may be obliged to give him a new identity. His face, his
movements, the shape of his hands, the colour of his hair–even his voice
would be different. And you yourself might have become a different person.
Our surgeons can alter people beyond recognition. Sometimes it is
necessary. Sometimes we even amputate a limb.’

Winston could not help snatching another sidelong glance at Martin’s
Mongolian face. There were no scars that he could see. Julia had turned a
shade paler, so that her freckles were showing, but she faced O’Brien
boldly. She murmured something that seemed to be assent.

‘Good. Then that is settled.’

There was a silver box of cigarettes on the table. With a rather
absent-minded air O’Brien pushed them towards the others, took one himself,
then stood up and began to pace slowly to and fro, as though he could think
better standing. They were very good cigarettes, very thick and
well-packed, with an unfamiliar silkiness in the paper. O’Brien looked at
his wrist-watch again.

‘You had better go back to your Pantry, Martin,’ he said. ‘I shall switch
on in a quarter of an hour. Take a good look at these comrades’ faces
before you go. You will be seeing them again. I may not.’

Exactly as they had done at the front door, the little man’s dark eyes
flickered over their faces. There was not a trace of friendliness in his
manner. He was memorizing their appearance, but he felt no interest in
them, or appeared to feel none. It occurred to Winston that a synthetic
face was perhaps incapable of changing its expression. Without speaking
or giving any kind of salutation, Martin went out, closing the door
silently behind him. O’Brien was strolling up and down, one hand in the
pocket of his black overalls, the other holding his cigarette.

‘You understand,’ he said, ‘that you will be fighting in the dark. You
will always be in the dark. You will receive orders and you will obey them,
without knowing why. Later I shall send you a book from which you will
learn the true nature of the society we live in, and the strategy by which
we shall destroy it. When you have read the book, you will be full members
of the Brotherhood. But between the general aims that we are fighting for
and the immediate tasks of the moment, you will never know anything. I
tell you that the Brotherhood exists, but I cannot tell you whether it
numbers a hundred members, or ten million. From your personal knowledge
you will never be able to say that it numbers even as many as a dozen. You
will have three or four contacts, who will be renewed from time to time as
they disappear. As this was your first contact, it will be preserved. When
you receive orders, they will come from me. If we find it necessary to
communicate with you, it will be through Martin. When you are finally
caught, you will confess. That is unavoidable. But you will have very
little to confess, other than your own actions. You will not be able to
betray more than a handful of unimportant people. Probably you will not
even betray me. By that time I may be dead, or I shall have become a
different person, with a different face.’

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

‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch.’

‘You knew the last line!’ said Winston.

‘Yes, I knew the last line. And now, I am afraid, it is time for you to go.
But wait. You had better let me give you one of these tablets.’

As Winston stood up O’Brien held out a hand. His powerful grip crushed
the bones of Winston’s palm. At the door Winston looked back, but O’Brien
seemed already to be in process of putting him out of mind. He was waiting
with his hand on the switch that controlled the telescreen. Beyond him
Winston could see the writing-table with its green-shaded lamp and the
speakwrite and the wire baskets deep-laden with papers. The incident was
closed. Within thirty seconds, it occurred to him, O’Brien would be back
at his interrupted and important work on behalf of the Party.

Chapter 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 considerable.

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:

Emmanuel Goldstein

Winston began reading:

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 equilibrium,
however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable…

Winston stopped reading, chiefly in order to appreciate the fact that he
was reading, in comfort and safety. He was alone: no telescreen, no ear at
the keyhole, no nervous impulse to glance over his shoulder or cover the
page with his hand. The sweet summer air played against his cheek. From
somewhere far away there floated the faint shouts of children: in the room
itself there was no sound except the insect voice of the clock. He settled
deeper into the arm-chair and put his feet up on the fender. It was bliss,
it was eternity. Suddenly, as one sometimes does with a book of which one
knows that one will ultimately read and re-read every word, he opened it
at a different place and found himself at Chapter III. He went on reading:

Chapter III
War is Peace

The splitting up of the world into three great super-states was an event
which could be and indeed was foreseen before the middle of the twentieth
century. With the absorption of Europe by Russia and of the British Empire
by the United States, two of the three existing powers, Eurasia and
Oceania, were already effectively in being. The third, Eastasia, only
emerged as a distinct unit after another decade of confused fighting. The
frontiers between the three super-states are in some places arbitrary, and
in others they fluctuate according to the fortunes of war, but in general
they follow geographical lines. Eurasia comprises the whole of the northern
part of the European and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering
Strait. Oceania comprises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the
British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa. Eastasia,
smaller than the others and with a less definite western frontier,
comprises China and the countries to the south of it, the Japanese islands
and a large but fluctuating portion of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet.

In one combination or another, these three super-states are permanently at
war, and have been so for the past twenty-five years. War, however, is no
longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early
decades of the twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between
combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause
for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference.
This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing
attitude towards it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous.
On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries,
and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction
of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners which
extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal,
and, when they are committed by one’s own side and not by the enemy,
meritorious. But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of
people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively few
casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague
frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round
the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes. In
the centres of civilization war means no more than a continuous shortage
of consumption goods, and the occasional crash of a rocket bomb which may
cause a few scores of deaths. War has in fact changed its character. More
exactly, the reasons for which war is waged have changed in their order of
importance. Motives which were already present to some small extent in the
great wars of the early twentieth century have now become dominant and
are consciously recognized and acted upon.

To understand the nature of the present war–for in spite of the regrouping
which occurs every few years, it is always the same war–one must realize
in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive. None of
the three super-states could be definitively conquered even by the other
two in combination. They are too evenly matched, and their natural defences
are too formidable. Eurasia is protected by its vast land spaces, Oceania
by the width of the Atlantic and the Pacific, Eastasia by the fecundity
and industriousness of its inhabitants. Secondly, there is no longer, in
a material sense, anything to fight about. With the establishment of
self-contained economies, in which production and consumption are geared
to one another, the scramble for markets which was a main cause of
previous wars has come to an end, while the competition for raw materials
is no longer a matter of life and death. In any case each of the three
super-states is so vast that it can obtain almost all the materials that
it needs within its own boundaries. In so far as the war has a direct
economic purpose, it is a war for labour power. Between the frontiers of
the super-states, and not permanently in the possession of any of them,
there lies a rough quadrilateral with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville,
Darwin, and Hong Kong, containing within it about a fifth of the population
of the earth. It is for the possession of these thickly-populated regions,
and of the northern ice-cap, that the three powers are constantly
struggling. In practice no one power ever controls the whole of the
disputed area. Portions of it are constantly changing hands, and it is the
chance of seizing this or that fragment by a sudden stroke of treachery
that dictates the endless changes of alignment.

All of the disputed territories contain valuable minerals, and some of
them yield important vegetable products such as rubber which in colder
climates it is necessary to synthesize by comparatively expensive methods.
But above all they contain a bottomless reserve of cheap labour. Whichever
power controls equatorial Africa, or the countries of the Middle East, or
Southern India, or the Indonesian Archipelago, disposes also of the bodies
of scores or hundreds of millions of ill-paid and hard-working coolies.
The inhabitants of these areas, reduced more or less openly to the status
of slaves, pass continually from conqueror to conqueror, and are expended
like so much coal or oil in the race to turn out more armaments, to capture
more territory, to control more labour power, to turn out more armaments,
to capture more territory, and so on indefinitely. It should be noted that
the fighting never really moves beyond the edges of the disputed areas.
The frontiers of Eurasia flow back and forth between the basin of the Congo
and the northern shore of the Mediterranean; the islands of the Indian
Ocean and the Pacific are constantly being captured and recaptured by
Oceania or by Eastasia; in Mongolia the dividing line between Eurasia and
Eastasia is never stable; round the Pole all three powers lay claim to
enormous territories which in fact are largely uninhabited and unexplored:
but the balance of power always remains roughly even, and the territory
which forms the heartland of each super-state always remains inviolate.
Moreover, the labour of the exploited peoples round the Equator is not
really necessary to the world’s economy. They add nothing to the wealth of
the world, since whatever they produce is used for purposes of war, and
the object of waging a war is always to be in a better position in which
to wage another war. By their labour the slave populations allow the tempo
of continuous warfare to be speeded up. But if they did not exist, the
structure of world society, and the process by which it maintains itself,
would not be essentially different.

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 entire world.

All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming conquest as an
article of faith. It is to be achieved either by gradually acquiring more
and more territory and so building up an overwhelming preponderance of
power, or by the discovery of some new and unanswerable weapon. The search
for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the very few remaining
activities in which the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any
outlet. In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has
almost ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for ‘Science’. The
empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of
the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of
Ingsoc. And even technological progress only happens when its products can
in some way be used for the diminution of human liberty. In all the useful
arts the world is either standing still or going backwards. The fields are
cultivated with horse-ploughs while books are written by machinery. But
in matters of vital importance–meaning, in effect, war and police
espionage–the empirical approach is still encouraged, or at least
tolerated. The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of
the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent
thought. There are therefore two great problems which the Party is
concerned to solve. One is how to discover, against his will, what another
human being is thinking, and the other is how to kill several hundred
million people in a few seconds without giving warning beforehand. In
so far as scientific research still continues, this is its subject matter.
The scientist of today is either a mixture of psychologist and inquisitor,
studying with real ordinary minuteness the meaning of facial expressions,
gestures, and tones of voice, and testing the truth-producing effects of
drugs, shock therapy, hypnosis, and physical torture; or he is chemist,
physicist, or biologist concerned only with such branches of his special
subject as are relevant to the taking of life. In the vast laboratories
of the Ministry of Peace, and in the experimental stations hidden in the
Brazilian forests, or in the Australian desert, or on lost islands of
the Antarctic, the teams of experts are indefatigably at work. Some are
concerned simply with planning the logistics of future wars; others devise
larger and larger rocket bombs, more and more powerful explosives, and more
and more impenetrable armour-plating; others search for new and deadlier
gases, or for soluble poisons capable of being produced in such quantities
as to destroy the vegetation of whole continents, or for breeds of disease
germs immunized against all possible antibodies; others strive to produce
a vehicle that shall bore its way under the soil like a submarine under
the water, or an aeroplane as independent of its base as a sailing-ship;
others explore even remoter possibilities such as focusing the sun’s rays
through lenses suspended thousands of kilometres away in space, or
producing artificial earthquakes and tidal waves by tapping the heat at
the earth’s centre.

But none of these projects ever comes anywhere near realization, and none
of the three super-states ever gains a significant lead on the others.
What is more remarkable is that all three powers already possess, in the
atomic bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any that their present
researches are likely to discover. Although the Party, according to its
habit, claims the invention for itself, atomic bombs first appeared as
early as the nineteen-forties, and were first used on a large scale about
ten years later. At that time some hundreds of bombs were dropped on
industrial centres, chiefly in European Russia, Western Europe, and
North America. The effect was to convince the ruling groups of all
countries that a few more atomic bombs would mean the end of organized
society, and hence of their own power. Thereafter, although no formal
agreement was ever made or hinted at, no more bombs were dropped. All three
powers merely continue to produce atomic bombs and store them up against
the decisive opportunity which they all believe will come sooner or later.
And meanwhile the art of war has remained almost stationary for thirty or
forty years. Helicopters are more used than they were formerly, bombing
planes have been largely superseded by self-propelled projectiles, and the
fragile movable battleship has given way to the almost unsinkable Floating
Fortress; but otherwise there has been little development. The tank, the
submarine, the torpedo, the machine gun, even the rifle and the hand
grenade are still in use. And in spite of the endless slaughters reported
in the Press and on the telescreens, the desperate battles of earlier wars,
in which hundreds of thousands or even millions of men were often killed
in a few weeks, have never been repeated.

None of the three super-states ever attempts any manoeuvre which involves
the risk of serious defeat. When any large operation is undertaken, it is
usually a surprise attack against an ally. The strategy that all three
powers are following, or pretend to themselves that they are following,
is the same. The plan is, by a combination of fighting, bargaining, and
well-timed strokes of treachery, to acquire a ring of bases completely
encircling one or other of the rival states, and then to sign a pact of
friendship with that rival and remain on peaceful terms for so many years
as to lull suspicion to sleep. During this time rockets loaded with atomic
bombs can be assembled at all the strategic spots; finally they will all
be fired simultaneously, with effects so devastating as to make retaliation
impossible. It will then be time to sign a pact of friendship with the
remaining world-power, in preparation for another attack. This scheme, it
is hardly necessary to say, is a mere daydream, impossible of realization.
Moreover, no fighting ever occurs except in the disputed areas round the
Equator and the Pole: no invasion of enemy territory is ever undertaken.
This explains the fact that in some places the frontiers between the
super-states are arbitrary. Eurasia, for example, could easily conquer the
British Isles, which are geographically part of Europe, or on the other
hand it would be possible for Oceania to push its frontiers to the Rhine
or even to the Vistula. But this would violate the principle, followed on
all sides though never formulated, of cultural integrity. If Oceania were
to conquer the areas that used once to be known as France and Germany, it
would be necessary either to exterminate the inhabitants, a task of great
physical difficulty, or to assimilate a population of about a hundred
million people, who, so far as technical development goes, are roughly on
the Oceanic level. The problem is the same for all three super-states.
It is absolutely necessary to their structure that there should be no
contact with foreigners, except, to a limited extent, with war prisoners
and coloured slaves. Even the official ally of the moment is always
regarded with the darkest suspicion. War prisoners apart, the average
citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or
Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he
were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are
creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about
them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the
fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might
evaporate. It is therefore realized on all sides that however often Persia,
or Egypt, or Java, or Ceylon may change hands, the main frontiers must
never be crossed by anything except bombs.

Under this lies a fact never mentioned aloud, but tacitly understood and
acted upon: namely, that the conditions of life in all three super-states
are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called
Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is
called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps
better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The citizen of Oceania is not
allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but
he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and
common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable,
and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all.
Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of
semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous
warfare. It follows that the three super-states not only cannot conquer
one another, but would gain no advantage by doing so. On the contrary,
so long as they remain in conflict they prop one another up, like three
sheaves of corn. And, as usual, the ruling groups of all three powers are
simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing. Their lives are
dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it is necessary that
the war should continue everlastingly and without victory. Meanwhile the
fact that there IS no danger of conquest makes possible the denial of
reality which is the special feature of Ingsoc and its rival systems of
thought. Here it is necessary to repeat what has been said earlier, that
by becoming continuous war has fundamentally changed its character.

In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or
later came to an end, usually in unmistakable victory or defeat. In the
past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies
were kept in touch with physical reality. All rulers in all ages have tried
to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but they could
not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military
efficiency. So long as defeat meant the loss of independence, or some other
result generally held to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat
had to be serious. Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or
religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when
one was designing a gun or an aeroplane they had to make four. Inefficient
nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for
efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was
necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly
accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers and history
books were, of course, always coloured and biased, but falsification of
the kind that is practised today would have been impossible. War was a
sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned
it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be
won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.

But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous.
When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity.
Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or
disregarded. As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific
are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially a
kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show results is not important.
Efficiency, even military efficiency, is no longer needed. Nothing is
efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police. Since each of the three
super-states is unconquerable, each is in effect a separate universe within
which almost any perversion of thought can be safely practised. Reality
only exerts its pressure through the needs of everyday life–the need to
eat and drink, to get shelter and clothing, to avoid swallowing poison or
stepping out of top-storey windows, and the like. Between life and death,
and between physical pleasure and physical pain, there is still a
distinction, but that is all. Cut off from contact with the outer world,
and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar
space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down.
The rulers of such a state are absolute, as the Pharaohs or the Caesars
could not be. They are obliged to prevent their followers from starving
to death in numbers large enough to be inconvenient, and they are obliged
to remain at the same low level of military technique as their rivals; but
once that minimum is achieved, they can twist reality into whatever shape
they choose.

The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is
merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant
animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of
hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It
eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the
special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs. War, it will
be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups
of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and
therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another,
and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are
not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling
group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make
or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society
intact. The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading. It would
probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to
exist. The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the
Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been
replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same
if the three super-states, instead of fighting one another, should agree
to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For
in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed for ever
from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly
permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This–although the vast
majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense–is the
inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.

Winston stopped reading for a moment. Somewhere in remote distance a
rocket bomb thundered. The blissful feeling of being alone with the
forbidden book, in a room with no telescreen, had not worn off. Solitude
and safety were physical sensations, mixed up somehow with the tiredness
of his body, the softness of the chair, the touch of the faint breeze from
the window that played upon his cheek. The book fascinated him, or more
exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but
that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it
had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was
the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful,
more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those
that tell you what you know already. He had just turned back to Chapter I
when he heard Julia’s footstep on the stair and started out of his chair
to meet her. She dumped her brown tool-bag on the floor and flung herself
into his arms. It was more than a week since they had seen one another.

‘I’ve got THE BOOK,’ he said as they disentangled themselves.

‘Oh, you’ve got it? Good,’ she said without much interest, and almost
immediately knelt down beside the oil stove to make the coffee.

They did not return to the subject until they had been in bed for half an
hour. The evening was just cool enough to make it worth while to pull up
the counterpane. From below came the familiar sound of singing and the
scrape of boots on the flagstones. The brawny red-armed woman whom Winston
had seen there on his first visit was almost a fixture in the yard. There
seemed to be no hour of daylight when she was not marching to and fro
between the washtub and the line, alternately gagging herself with clothes
pegs and breaking forth into lusty song. Julia had settled down on her
side and seemed to be already on the point of falling asleep. He reached
out for the book, which was lying on the floor, and sat up against the

‘We must read it,’ he said. ‘You too. All members of the Brotherhood have
to read it.’

‘You read it,’ she said with her eyes shut. ‘Read it aloud. That’s the
best way. Then you can explain it to me as you go.’

The clock’s hands said six, meaning eighteen. They had three or four hours
ahead of them. He propped the book against his knees and began reading:

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 equilibrium,
however far it is pushed one way or the other

‘Julia, are you awake?’ said Winston.

‘Yes, my love, I’m listening. Go on. It’s marvellous.’

He continued reading:

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of
the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change
places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim–for it
is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed
by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside
their daily lives–is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in
which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is
the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods
the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always
comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their
capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the
Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they
are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their
objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of
servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group
splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the
struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never
even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an
exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of
a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human
being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no
advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has
ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of
the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the
name of their masters.

By the late nineteenth century the recurrence of this pattern had become
obvious to many observers. There then rose schools of thinkers who
interpreted history as a cyclical process and claimed to show that
inequality was the unalterable law of human life. This doctrine, of course,
had always had its adherents, but in the manner in which it was now put
forward there was a significant change. In the past the need for a
hierarchical form of society had been the doctrine specifically of the
High. It had been preached by kings and aristocrats and by the priests,
lawyers, and the like who were parasitical upon them, and it had generally
been softened by promises of compensation in an imaginary world beyond the
grave. The Middle, so long as it was struggling for power, had always made
use of such terms as freedom, justice, and fraternity. Now, however, the
concept of human brotherhood began to be assailed by people who were not
yet in positions of command, but merely hoped to be so before long. In the
past the Middle had made revolutions under the banner of equality, and
then had established a fresh tyranny as soon as the old one was overthrown.
The new Middle groups in effect proclaimed their tyranny beforehand.
Socialism, a theory which appeared in the early nineteenth century and was
the last link in a chain of thought stretching back to the slave rebellions
of antiquity, was still deeply infected by the Utopianism of past ages.
But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the
aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly
abandoned. The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the
century, Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship, as
it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating
UNfreedom and INequality. These new movements, of course, grew out of the
old ones and tended to keep their names and pay lip-service to their
ideology. But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and freeze
history at a chosen moment. The familiar pendulum swing was to happen once
more, and then stop. As usual, the High were to be turned out by the
Middle, who would then become the High; but this time, by conscious
strategy, the High would be able to maintain their position permanently.

The new doctrines arose partly because of the accumulation of historical
knowledge, and the growth of the historical sense, which had hardly existed
before the nineteenth century. The cyclical movement of history was now
intelligible, or appeared to be so; and if it was intelligible, then it
was alterable. But the principal, underlying cause was that, as early
as the beginning of the twentieth century, human equality had become
technically possible. It was still true that men were not equal in their
native talents and that functions had to be specialized in ways that
favoured some individuals against others; but there was no longer any real
need for class distinctions or for large differences of wealth. In earlier
ages, class distinctions had been not only inevitable but desirable.
Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine
production, however, the case was altered. Even if it was still necessary
for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary
for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from
the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power,
human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to
be averted. In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was
in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it. The idea of
an earthly paradise in which men should live together in a state of
brotherhood, without laws and without brute labour, had haunted the human
imagination for thousands of years. And this vision had had a certain hold
even on the groups who actually profited by each historical change. The
heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed
in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality
before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be
influenced by them to some extent. But by the fourth decade of the
twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were
authoritarian. 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
over-production, which has been latent in our society since the development
of machine technique, it is solved by the device of continuous warfare
(see Chapter III), which is also useful in keying up public morale to the
necessary pitch. From the point of view of our present rulers, therefore,
the only genuine dangers are the splitting-off of a new group of able,
under-employed, power-hungry people, and the growth of liberalism and
scepticism in their own ranks. The problem, that is to say, is educational.
It is a problem of continuously moulding the consciousness both of the
directing group and of the larger executive group that lies immediately
below it. The consciousness of the masses needs only to be influenced in
a negative way.

Given this background, one could infer, if one did not know it already,
the general structure of Oceanic society. At the apex of the pyramid comes
Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful. Every success,
every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, all
knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue
directly from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen Big
Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen. We
may be reasonably sure that he will never die, and there is already
considerable uncertainty as to when he was born. Big Brother is the guise
in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world. His function is
to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which
are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization.
Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party. Its numbers limited to six
millions, or something less than 2 per cent of the population of Oceania.
Below the Inner Party comes the Outer Party, which, if the Inner Party is
described as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the hands.
Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as ‘the
proles’, numbering perhaps 85 per cent of the population. In the terms
of our earlier classification, the proles are the Low: for the slave
population of the equatorial lands who pass constantly from conqueror
to conqueror, are not a permanent or necessary part of the structure.

In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary. The
child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party.
Admission to either branch of the Party is by examination, taken at the
age of sixteen. Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked
domination of one province by another. Jews, Negroes, South Americans of
pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and
the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of
that area. In no part of Oceania do the inhabitants have the feeling that
they are a colonial population ruled from a distant capital. Oceania has
no capital, and its titular head is a person whose whereabouts nobody
knows. Except that English is its chief LINGUA FRANCA and Newspeak its
official language, it is not centralized in any way. Its rulers are not
held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine. It is
true that our society is stratified, and very rigidly stratified, on what
at first sight appear to be hereditary lines. There is far less to-and-fro
movement between the different groups than happened under capitalism or
even in the pre-industrial age. Between the two branches of the Party
there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure
that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious
members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise.
Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party. The
most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent,
are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated. But this
state of affairs is not necessarily permanent, nor is it a matter of
principle. The Party is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does
not aim at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if there
were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the top, it would be
perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new generation from the ranks of
the proletariat. In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a
hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition. The older kind
of Socialist, who had been trained to fight against something called
‘class privilege’ assumed that what is not hereditary cannot be permanent.
He did not see that the continuity of an oligarchy need not be physical,
nor did he pause to reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been
shortlived, whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic Church
have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. The essence of
oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of
a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon
the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate
its successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but
with perpetuating itself. WHO wields power is not important, provided that
the hierarchical structure remains always the same.

All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that
characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of
the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being
perceived. Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move towards rebellion,
is at present not possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared.
Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and
from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without
any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world
could be other than it is. They could only become dangerous if the advance
of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly;
but, since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the
level of popular education is actually declining. What opinions the masses
hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can
be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party
member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on
the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.

A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought
Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone.
Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in
bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is
being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his
relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children, the expression
of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the
characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not
only any actual misdemeanour, but any eccentricity, however small, any
change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom
of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of
choice in any direction whatever. On the other hand his actions are not
regulated by law or by any clearly formulated code of behaviour. In Oceania
there is no law. Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean certain
death are not formally forbidden, and the endless purges, arrests,
tortures, imprisonments, and vaporizations are not inflicted as punishment
for crimes which have actually been committed, but are merely the
wiping-out of persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in the
future. A Party member is required to have not only the right opinions,
but the right instincts. Many of the beliefs and attitudes demanded of him
are never plainly stated, and could not be stated without laying bare the
contradictions inherent in Ingsoc. If he is a person naturally orthodox
(in Newspeak a GOODTHINKER), he will in all circumstances know, without
taking thought, what is the true belief or the desirable emotion. But in
any case an elaborate mental training, undergone in childhood and grouping
itself round the Newspeak words CRIMESTOP, BLACKWHITE, and DOUBLETHINK,
makes him unwilling and unable to think too deeply on any subject whatever.

A Party member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites
from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred
of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and
self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents
produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards
and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the
speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude
are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline. The first
and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young
children, is called, in Newspeak, CRIMESTOP. CRIMESTOP means the faculty
of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous
thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to
perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if
they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train
of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. CRIMESTOP,
in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the
contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own
mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body.
Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is
omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big
Brother is not omnipotent and the party is not infallible, there is need
for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts.
The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has
two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the
habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the
plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to
say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means
also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that
black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.
This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the
system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known
in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK.

The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons, one of which is
subsidiary and, so to speak, precautionary. The subsidiary reason is that
the Party member, like the proletarian, tolerates present-day conditions
partly because he has no standards of comparison. He must be cut off from
the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign countries, because it is
necessary for him to believe that he is better off than his ancestors and
that the average level of material comfort is constantly rising. But by
far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the
need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party. It is not merely that
speeches, statistics, and records of every kind must be constantly brought
up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in
all cases right. It is also that no change in doctrine or in political
alignment can ever be admitted. For to change one’s mind, or even one’s
policy, is a confession of weakness. If, for example, Eurasia or Eastasia
(whichever it may be) is the enemy today, then that country must always
have been the enemy. And if the facts say otherwise then the facts must
be altered. Thus history is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day
falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as
necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and
espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.

The mutability of the past is the central tenet of Ingsoc. Past events,
it is argued, have no objective existence, but survive only in written
records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and the
memories agree upon. And since the Party is in full control of all records
and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that
the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it. It also follows that
though the past is alterable, it never has been altered in any specific
instance. For when it has been recreated in whatever shape is needed at
the moment, then this new version IS the past, and no different past can
ever have existed. This holds good even when, as often happens, the same
event has to be altered out of recognition several times in the course of
a year. At all times the Party is in possession of absolute truth, and
clearly the absolute can never have been different from what it is now.
It will be seen that the control of the past depends above all on the
training of memory. To make sure that all written records agree with
the orthodoxy of the moment is merely a mechanical act. But it is also
necessary to REMEMBER that events happened in the desired manner. And if
it is necessary to rearrange one’s memories or to tamper with written
records, then it is necessary to FORGET that one has done so. The trick of
doing this can be learned like any other mental technique. It is learned
by the majority of Party members, and certainly by all who are intelligent
as well as orthodox. In Oldspeak it is called, quite frankly, ‘reality
control’. In Newspeak it is called DOUBLETHINK, though DOUBLETHINK
comprises much else as well.

DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s
mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual
knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows
that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK
he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to
be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision,
but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of
falsity and hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc,
since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while
retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell
deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that
has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to
draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the
existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the
reality which one denies–all this is indispensably necessary. Even in
using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK. For
by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a
fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely,
with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means
of DOUBLETHINK that the Party has been able–and may, for all we know,
continue to be able for thousands of years–to arrest the course of

All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossified
or because they grew soft. Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed
to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown; or
they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have
used force, and once again were overthrown. They fell, that is to say,
either through consciousness or through unconsciousness. It is the
achievement of the Party to have produced a system of thought in which
both conditions can exist simultaneously. And upon no other intellectual
basis could the dominion of the Party be made permanent. If one is to rule,
and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality.
For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own
infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.

It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are
those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental
cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is
happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is.
In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the
more intelligent, the less sane. One clear illustration of this is the
fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social
scale. Those whose attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are
the subject peoples of the disputed territories. To these people the war
is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and fro over their bodies
like a tidal wave. Which side is winning is a matter of complete
indifference to them. They are aware that a change of overlordship means
simply that they will be doing the same work as before for new masters who
treat them in the same manner as the old ones. The slightly more favoured
workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only intermittently conscious of the
war. When it is necessary they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and
hatred, but when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for
long periods that the war is happening. It is in the ranks of the Party,
and above all of the Inner Party, that the true war enthusiasm is found.
World-conquest is believed in most firmly by those who know it to be
impossible. This peculiar linking-together of opposites–knowledge with
ignorance, cynicism with fanaticism–is one of the chief distinguishing
marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds with contradictions
even when there is no practical reason for them. Thus, the Party rejects
and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally
stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches
a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it
dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual
workers and was adopted for that reason. It systematically undermines the
solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a
direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the
four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in
their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns
itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love
with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These
contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary
hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For it is only
by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.
In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is
to be for ever averted–if the High, as we have called them, are to keep
their places permanently–then the prevailing mental condition must be
controlled insanity.

But there is one question which until this moment we have almost ignored.
It is; WHY should human equality be averted? Supposing that the mechanics
of the process have been rightly described, what is the motive for this
huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment
of time?

Here we reach the central secret. As we have seen. the mystique of the
Party, and above all of the Inner Party, depends upon DOUBLETHINK But
deeper than this lies the original motive, the never-questioned instinct
that first led to the seizure of power and brought DOUBLETHINK, the
Thought Police, continuous warfare, and all the other necessary
paraphernalia into existence afterwards. This motive really consists…

Winston became aware of silence, as one becomes aware of a new sound. It
seemed to him that Julia had been very still for some time past. She was
lying on her side, naked from the waist upwards, with her cheek pillowed
on her hand and one dark lock tumbling across her eyes. Her breast rose
and fell slowly and regularly.


No answer.

‘Julia, are you awake?’

No answer. She was asleep. He shut the book, put it carefully on the floor,
lay down, and pulled the coverlet over both of them.

He had still, he reflected, not learned the ultimate secret. He understood
HOW; he did not understand WHY. Chapter I, like Chapter III, had not
actually told him anything that he did not know, it had merely systematized
the knowledge that he possessed already. But after reading it he knew
better than before that he was not mad. Being in a minority, even a
minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was
untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you
were not mad. A yellow beam from the sinking sun slanted in through the
window and fell across the pillow. He shut his eyes. The sun on his face
and the girl’s smooth body touching his own gave him a strong, sleepy,
confident feeling. He was safe, everything was all right. He fell asleep
murmuring ‘Sanity is not statistical,’ with the feeling that this remark
contained in it a profound wisdom.

When he woke it was with the sensation of having slept for a long time,
but a glance at the old-fashioned clock told him that it was only
twenty-thirty. He lay dozing for a while; then the usual deep-lunged
singing struck up from the yard below:

‘It was only an ‘opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred
They ‘ave stolen my ‘eart awye!’

The drivelling song seemed to have kept its popularity. You still heard it
all over the place. It had outlived the Hate Song. Julia woke at the
sound, stretched herself luxuriously, and got out of bed.

‘I’m hungry,’ she said. ‘Let’s make some more coffee. Damn! The stove’s
gone out and the water’s cold.’ She picked the stove up and shook it.
‘There’s no oil in it.’

‘We can get some from old Charrington, I expect.’

‘The funny thing is I made sure it was full. I’m going to put my clothes
on,’ she added. ‘It seems to have got colder.’

Winston also got up and dressed himself. The indefatigable voice sang on:

‘They sye that time ‘eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years
They twist my ‘eart-strings yet!’

As he fastened the belt of his overalls he strolled across to the window.
The sun must have gone down behind the houses; it was not shining into the
yard any longer. The flagstones were wet as though they had just been
washed, and he had the feeling that the sky had been washed too, so fresh
and pale was the blue between the chimney-pots. Tirelessly the woman
marched to and fro, corking and uncorking herself, singing and falling
silent, and pegging out more diapers, and more and yet more. He wondered
whether she took in washing for a living or was merely the slave of twenty
or thirty grandchildren. Julia had come across to his side; together they
gazed down with a sort of fascination at the sturdy figure below. As he
looked at the woman in her characteristic attitude, her thick arms reaching
up for the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded, it struck him
for the first time that she was beautiful. It had never before occurred to
him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up to monstrous dimensions by
childbearing, then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the
grain like an over-ripe turnip, could be beautiful. But it was so, and
after all, he thought, why not? The solid, contourless body, like a block
of granite, and the rasping red skin, bore the same relation to the body
of a girl as the rose-hip to the rose. Why should the fruit be held
inferior to the flower?

‘She’s beautiful,’ he murmured.

‘She’s a metre across the hips, easily,’ said Julia.

‘That is her style of beauty,’ said Winston.

He held Julia’s supple waist easily encircled by his arm. From the hip to
the knee her flank was against his. Out of their bodies no child would
ever come. That was the one thing they could never do. Only by word of
mouth, from mind to mind, could they pass on the secret. The woman down
there had no mind, she had only strong arms, a warm heart, and a fertile
belly. He wondered how many children she had given birth to. It might
easily be fifteen. She had had her momentary flowering, a year, perhaps,
of wild-rose beauty and then she had suddenly swollen like a fertilized
fruit and grown hard and red and coarse, and then her life had been
laundering, scrubbing, darning, cooking, sweeping, polishing, mending,
scrubbing, laundering, first for children, then for grandchildren, over
thirty unbroken years. At the end of it she was still singing. The mystical
reverence that he felt for her was somehow mixed up with the aspect of
the pale, cloudless sky, stretching away behind the chimney-pots into
interminable distance. It was curious to think that the sky was the same
for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people
under the sky were also very much the same–everywhere, all over the world,
hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant
of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and
yet almost exactly the same–people who had never learned to think but who
were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that
would one day overturn the world. If there was hope, it lay in the proles!
Without having read to the end of THE BOOK, he knew that that must be
Goldstein’s final message. The future belonged to the proles. And could he
be sure that when their time came the world they constructed would not be
just as alien to him, Winston Smith, as the world of the Party? Yes,
because at the least it would be a world of sanity. Where there is
equality there can be sanity. Sooner or later it would happen, strength
would change into consciousness. The proles were immortal, you could not
doubt it when you looked at that valiant figure in the yard. In the end
their awakening would come. And until that happened, though it might be a
thousand years, they would stay alive against all the odds, like birds,
passing on from body to body the vitality which the Party did not share
and could not kill.

‘Do you remember,’ he said, ‘the thrush that sang to us, that first day,
at the edge of the wood?’

‘He wasn’t singing to us,’ said Julia. ‘He was singing to please himself.
Not even that. He was just singing.’

The birds sang, the proles sang. the Party did not sing. All round the
world, in London and New York, in Africa and Brazil, and in the mysterious,
forbidden lands beyond the frontiers, in the streets of Paris and Berlin,
in the villages of the endless Russian plain, in the bazaars of China and
Japan–everywhere stood the same solid unconquerable figure, made monstrous
by work and childbearing, toiling from birth to death and still singing.
Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come.
You were the dead, theirs was the future. But you could share in that
future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body, and passed
on the secret doctrine that two plus two make four.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.

They sprang apart. Winston’s entrails seemed to have turned into ice. He
could see the white all round the irises of Julia’s eyes. Her face had
turned a milky yellow. The smear of rouge that was still on each cheekbone
stood out sharply, almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.

‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.

‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.

‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you
are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except
stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the
house before it was too late–no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable
to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch
had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen
to the floor uncovering the telescreen behind it.

‘Now they can see us,’ said Julia.

‘Now we can see you,’ said the voice. ‘Stand out in the middle of the
room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch
one another.’

They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he could feel Julia’s
body shaking. Or perhaps it was merely the shaking of his own. He could
just stop his teeth from chattering, but his knees were beyond his control.
There was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and outside.
The yard seemed to be full of men. Something was being dragged across the
stones. The woman’s singing had stopped abruptly. There was a long, rolling
clang, as though the washtub had been flung across the yard, and then a
confusion of angry shouts which ended in a yell of pain.

‘The house is surrounded,’ said Winston.

‘The house is surrounded,’ said the voice.

He heard Julia snap her teeth together. ‘I suppose we may as well say
good-bye,’ she said.

‘You may as well say good-bye,’ said the voice. And then another quite
different voice, a thin, cultivated voice which Winston had the impression
of having heard before, struck in; ‘And by the way, while we are on the
subject, “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to
chop off your head”!’

Something crashed on to the bed behind Winston’s back. The head of a ladder
had been thrust through the window and had burst in the frame. Someone was
climbing through the window. There was a stampede of boots up the stairs.
The room was full of solid men in black uniforms, with iron-shod boots on
their feet and truncheons in their hands.

Winston was not trembling any longer. Even his eyes he barely moved. One
thing alone mattered; to keep still, to keep still and not give them an
excuse to hit you! A man with a smooth prize-fighter’s jowl in which the
mouth was only a slit paused opposite him balancing his truncheon
meditatively between thumb and forefinger. Winston met his eyes. The
feeling of nakedness, with one’s hands behind one’s head and one’s face
and body all exposed, was almost unbearable. The man protruded the tip
of a white tongue, licked the place where his lips should have been, and
then passed on. There was another crash. Someone had picked up the glass
paperweight from the table and smashed it to pieces on the hearth-stone.

The fragment of coral, a tiny crinkle of pink like a sugar rosebud from
a cake, rolled across the mat. How small, thought Winston, how small it
always was! There was a gasp and a thump behind him, and he received a
violent kick on the ankle which nearly flung him off his balance. One of
the men had smashed his fist into Julia’s solar plexus, doubling her up
like a pocket ruler. She was thrashing about on the floor, fighting for
breath. Winston dared not turn his head even by a millimetre, but sometimes
her livid, gasping face came within the angle of his vision. Even in his
terror it was as though he could feel the pain in his own body, the deadly
pain which nevertheless was less urgent than the struggle to get back her
breath. He knew what it was like; the terrible, agonizing pain which was
there all the while but could not be suffered yet, because before all else
it was necessary to be able to breathe. Then two of the men hoisted her
up by knees and shoulders, and carried her out of the room like a sack.
Winston had a glimpse of her face, upside down, yellow and contorted, with
the eyes shut, and still with a smear of rouge on either cheek; and that
was the last he saw of her.

He stood dead still. No one had hit him yet. Thoughts which came of their
own accord but seemed totally uninteresting began to flit through his
mind. He wondered whether they had got Mr Charrington. He wondered what
they had done to the woman in the yard. He noticed that he badly wanted
to urinate, and felt a faint surprise, because he had done so only two or
three hours ago. He noticed that the clock on the mantelpiece said nine,
meaning twenty-one. But the light seemed too strong. Would not the light
be fading at twenty-one hours on an August evening? He wondered whether
after all he and Julia had mistaken the time–had slept the clock round
and thought it was twenty-thirty when really it was nought eight-thirty
on the following morning. But he did not pursue the thought further.
It was not interesting.

There was another, lighter step in the passage. Mr Charrington came into
the room. The demeanour of the black-uniformed men suddenly became more
subdued. Something had also changed in Mr Charrington’s appearance. His
eye fell on the fragments of the glass paperweight.

‘Pick up those pieces,’ he said sharply.

A man stooped to obey. The cockney accent had disappeared; Winston suddenly
realized whose voice it was that he had heard a few moments ago on the
telescreen. Mr Charrington was still wearing his old velvet jacket, but
his hair, which had been almost white, had turned black. Also he was not
wearing his spectacles. He gave Winston a single sharp glance, as though
verifying his identity, and then paid no more attention to him. He was
still recognizable, but he was not the same person any longer. His body
had straightened, and seemed to have grown bigger. His face had undergone
only tiny changes that had nevertheless worked a complete transformation.
The black eyebrows were less bushy, the wrinkles were gone, the whole
lines of the face seemed to have altered; even the nose seemed shorter. It
was the alert, cold face of a man of about five-and-thirty. It occurred to
Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking, with knowledge,
at a member of the Thought Police.


Chapter 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 each wall.

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 politicals.

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 meself, quite.’

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 stomach, like.’

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 face.

‘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 himself 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 rhyme.’

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

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 had come.

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

‘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

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

The chinless man dropped the piece of bread on the floor.

‘Remain standing where you are,’ said the voice. ‘Face the door. Make no

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 mouth.

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 together.

‘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 green.

‘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 lean arm.

‘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 feet.

‘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 this, 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 arm.

Chapter 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

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 understand

‘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

‘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 one-time 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 child.

‘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 mine!’

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

‘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

‘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’s 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 at 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 brain.

‘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 remember that?’


‘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.

Chapter 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?’

‘As 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 therefore—-‘

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
understand me?’

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, death—-‘

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

‘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

‘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 ever.’

‘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 doublethink?’

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 and 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

‘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.’

‘Why not?’

‘It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit

‘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 attack.

‘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

‘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

‘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 clothes.’

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, grey-coloured,
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 malignant disease.

‘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

‘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

‘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 explanation.

‘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.’

Chapter 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 dentures.

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 clumsy


Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it:


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:


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
self-deception. 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, truly happens.

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

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 weakness?

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 cyst.

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 Big Brother?

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 Brother?’

‘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

He released Winston with a little push towards the guards.

‘Room 101,’ he said.

Chapter 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

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

‘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.

Chapter 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

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
overfulfilled 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 tinkling music struck up

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 communications 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, cauterized 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

‘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
ever-flowing 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’ll 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 childhood.

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 moment.

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 long-hoped-for
bullet was entering his brain.

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.



The Principles of Newspeak

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet
the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984
there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of
communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in
‘The Times’ were written in it, but this was a TOUR DE FORCE which could
only be carried out by a specialist. It was expected that Newspeak would
have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should
call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile it gained ground steadily, all
Party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions
more and more in their everyday speech. The version in use in 1984, and
embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak Dictionary, was
a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic
formations which were due to be suppressed later. It is with the final,
perfected version, as embodied in the Eleventh Edition of the Dictionary,
that we are concerned here.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression
for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc,
but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that
when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten,
a heretical thought–that is, a thought diverging from the principles of
Ingsoc–should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is
dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and
often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could
properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the
possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly
by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable
words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and
so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single
example. The word FREE still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be
used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is
free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically
free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no
longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless.
Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction
of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be
dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend
but to DIMINISH the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly
assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.

Newspeak was founded on the English language as we now know it, though
many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly-created words,
would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day. Newspeak
words were divided into three distinct classes, known as the A vocabulary,
the B vocabulary (also called compound words), and the C vocabulary.
It will be simpler to discuss each class separately, but the grammatical
peculiarities of the language can be dealt with in the section devoted to
the A vocabulary, since the same rules held good for all three categories.

THE A VOCABULARY. The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the
business of everyday life–for such things as eating, drinking, working,
putting on one’s clothes, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles,
gardening, cooking, and the like. It was composed almost entirely of words
that we already possess words like HIT, RUN, DOG, TREE, SUGAR, HOUSE,
FIELD–but in comparison with the present-day English vocabulary their
number was extremely small, while their meanings were far more rigidly
defined. All ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged out of
them. So far as it could be achieved, a Newspeak word of this class was
simply a staccato sound expressing ONE clearly understood concept. It
would have been quite impossible to use the A vocabulary for literary
purposes or for political or philosophical discussion. It was intended
only to express simple, purposive thoughts, usually involving concrete
objects or physical actions.

The grammar of Newspeak had two outstanding peculiarities. The first of
these was an almost complete interchangeability between different parts of
speech. Any word in the language (in principle this applied even to very
abstract words such as IF or WHEN) could be used either as verb, noun,
adjective, or adverb. Between the verb and the noun form, when they were
of the same root, there was never any variation, this rule of itself
involving the destruction of many archaic forms. The word THOUGHT, for
example, did not exist in Newspeak. Its place was taken by THINK, which
did duty for both noun and verb. No etymological principle was followed
here: in some cases it was the original noun that was chosen for retention,
in other cases the verb. Even where a noun and verb of kindred meaning
were not etymologically connected, one or other of them was frequently
suppressed. There was, for example, no such word as CUT, its meaning being
sufficiently covered by the noun-verb KNIFE. Adjectives were formed by
adding the suffix -FUL to the noun-verb, and adverbs by adding -WISE. Thus
for example, SPEEDFUL meant ‘rapid’ and SPEEDWISE meant ‘quickly’. Certain
of our present-day adjectives, such as GOOD, STRONG, BIG, BLACK, SOFT,
were retained, but their total number was very small. There was little
need for them, since almost any adjectival meaning could be arrived at by
adding -FUL to a noun-verb. None of the now-existing adverbs was retained,
except for a very few already ending in -WISE: the -WISE termination was
invariable. The word WELL, for example, was replaced by GOODWISE.

In addition, any word–this again applied in principle to every word in
the language–could be negatived by adding the affix UN-, or could be
strengthened by the affix PLUS-, or, for still greater emphasis,
DOUBLEPLUS-. Thus, for example, UNCOLD meant ‘warm’, while PLUSCOLD and
DOUBLEPLUSCOLD meant, respectively, ‘very cold’ and ‘superlatively cold’.
It was also possible, as in present-day English, to modify the meaning of
almost any word by prepositional affixes such as ANTE-, POST-, UP-, DOWN-,
etc. By such methods it was found possible to bring about an enormous
diminution of vocabulary. Given, for instance, the word GOOD, there was no
need for such a word as BAD, since the required meaning was equally
well–indeed, better–expressed by UNGOOD. All that was necessary, in any
case where two words formed a natural pair of opposites, was to decide
which of them to suppress. DARK, for example, could be replaced by UNLIGHT,
or LIGHT by UNDARK, according to preference.

The second distinguishing mark of Newspeak grammar was its regularity.
Subject to a few exceptions which are mentioned below all inflexions
followed the same rules. Thus, in all verbs the preterite and the past
participle were the same and ended in -ED. The preterite of STEAL was
STEALED, the preterite of THINK was THINKED, and so on throughout the
language, all such forms as SWAM, GAVE, BROUGHT, SPOKE, TAKEN, etc., being
abolished. All plurals were made by adding -S or -ES as the case might be.
The plurals OF MAN, OX, LIFE, were MANS, OXES, LIFES. Comparison of
adjectives was invariably made by adding -ER, -EST (GOOD, GOODER, GOODEST),
irregular forms and the MORE, MOST formation being suppressed.

The only classes of words that were still allowed to inflect irregularly
were the pronouns, the relatives, the demonstrative adjectives, and the
auxiliary verbs. All of these followed their ancient usage, except that
WHOM had been scrapped as unnecessary, and the SHALL, SHOULD tenses had
been dropped, all their uses being covered by WILL and WOULD. There were
also certain irregularities in word-formation arising out of the need for
rapid and easy speech. A word which was difficult to utter, or was liable
to be incorrectly heard, was held to be ipso facto a bad word; occasionally
therefore, for the sake of euphony, extra letters were inserted into a word
or an archaic formation was retained. But this need made itself felt
chiefly in connexion with the B vocabulary. WHY so great an importance was
attached to ease of pronunciation will be made clear later in this essay.

THE B VOCABULARY. The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been
deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say,
which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended
to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them. Without
a full understanding of the principles of Ingsoc it was difficult to use
these words correctly. In some cases they could be translated into
Oldspeak, or even into words taken from the A vocabulary, but this usually
demanded a long paraphrase and always involved the loss of certain
overtones. The B words were a sort of verbal shorthand, often packing
whole ranges of ideas into a few syllables, and at the same time more
accurate and forcible than ordinary language.

The B words were in all cases compound words. [Compound words such as
SPEAKWRITE, were of course to be found in the A vocabulary, but these were
merely convenient abbreviations and had no special ideological colour.]
They consisted of two or more words, or portions of words, welded together
in an easily pronounceable form. The resulting amalgam was always a
noun-verb, and inflected according to the ordinary rules. To take a single
example: the word GOODTHINK, meaning, very roughly, ‘orthodoxy’, or, if
one chose to regard it as a verb, ‘to think in an orthodox manner’. This
inflected as follows: noun-verb, GOODTHINK; past tense and past participle,
GOODTHINKED; present participle, GOOD-THINKING; adjective, GOODTHINKFUL;
adverb, GOODTHINKWISE; verbal noun, GOODTHINKER.

The B words were not constructed on any etymological plan. The words of
which they were made up could be any parts of speech, and could be placed
in any order and mutilated in any way which made them easy to pronounce
while indicating their derivation. In the word CRIMETHINK (thoughtcrime),
for instance, the THINK came second, whereas in THINKPOL (Thought Police)
it came first, and in the latter word POLICE had lost its second syllable.
Because of the great difficulty in securing euphony, irregular formations
were commoner in the B vocabulary than in the A vocabulary. For example,
the adjective forms of MINITRUE, MINIPAX, and MINILUV were, respectively,
-PAXFUL, and -LOVEFUL were slightly awkward to pronounce. In principle,
however, all B words could inflect, and all inflected in exactly the
same way.

Some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to
anyone who had not mastered the language as a whole. Consider, for example,
such a typical sentence from a ‘Times’ leading article as OLDTHINKERS
UNBELLYFEEL INGSOC. The shortest rendering that one could make of this
in Oldspeak would be: ‘Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution
cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English
Socialism.’ But this is not an adequate translation. To begin with, in
order to grasp the full meaning of the Newspeak sentence quoted above,
one would have to have a clear idea of what is meant by INGSOC. And in
addition, only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate
the full force of the word BELLYFEEL, which implied a blind, enthusiastic
acceptance difficult to imagine today; or of the word OLDTHINK, which was
inextricably mixed up with the idea of wickedness and decadence. But the
special function of certain Newspeak words, of which OLDTHINK was one,
was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them. These words,
necessarily few in number, had had their meanings extended until they
contained within themselves whole batteries of words which, as they were
sufficiently covered by a single comprehensive term, could now be scrapped
and forgotten. The greatest difficulty facing the compilers of the Newspeak
Dictionary was not to invent new words, but, having invented them, to make
sure what they meant: to make sure, that is to say, what ranges of words
they cancelled by their existence.

As we have already seen in the case of the word FREE, words which had
once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of
convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them.
DEMOCRACY, SCIENCE, and RELIGION had simply ceased to exist. A few blanket
words covered them, and, in covering them, abolished them. All words
grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for
instance, were contained in the single word CRIMETHINK, while all words
grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism
were contained in the single word OLDTHINK. Greater precision would have
been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar
to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that
all nations other than his own worshipped ‘false gods’. He did not need to
know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the
like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy.
He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that
all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods. In somewhat
the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in
exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from
it were possible. His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by
the two Newspeak words SEXCRIME (sexual immorality) and GOODSEX (chastity).
SEXCRIME covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication,
adultery, homosexuality, and other perversions, and, in addition, normal
intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate
them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle,
all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific
and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialized names to
certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them.
He knew what was meant by GOODSEX–that is to say, normal intercourse
between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and
without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was SEXCRIME.
In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further
than the perception that it WAS heretical: beyond that point the necessary
words were nonexistent.

No word in the B vocabulary was ideologically neutral. A great many were
euphemisms. Such words, for instance, as JOYCAMP (forced-labour camp) or
MINIPAX (Ministry of Peace, i.e. Ministry of War) meant almost the exact
opposite of what they appeared to mean. Some words, on the other hand,
displayed a frank and contemptuous understanding of the real nature of
Oceanic society. An example was PROLEFEED, meaning the rubbishy
entertainment and spurious news which the Party handed out to the masses.
Other words, again, were ambivalent, having the connotation ‘good’ when
applied to the Party and ‘bad’ when applied to its enemies. But in
addition there were great numbers of words which at first sight appeared
to be mere abbreviations and which derived their ideological colour not
from their meaning, but from their structure.

So far as it could be contrived, everything that had or might have
political significance of any kind was fitted into the B vocabulary. The
name of every organization, or body of people, or doctrine, or country, or
institution, or public building, was invariably cut down into the familiar
shape; that is, a single easily pronounced word with the smallest number
of syllables that would preserve the original derivation. In the Ministry
of Truth, for example, the Records Department, in which Winston Smith
worked, was called RECDEP, the Fiction Department was called FICDEP, the
Teleprogrammes Department was called TELEDEP, and so on. This was not
done solely with the object of saving time. Even in the early decades of
the twentieth century, telescoped words and phrases had been one of the
characteristic features of political language; and it had been noticed
that the tendency to use abbreviations of this kind was most marked in
totalitarian countries and totalitarian organizations. Examples were such
the practice had been adopted as it were instinctively, but in Newspeak
it was used with a conscious purpose. It was perceived that in thus
abbreviating a name one narrowed and subtly altered its meaning, by
cutting out most of the associations that would otherwise cling to it.
The words COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL, for instance, call up a composite
picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx,
and the Paris Commune. The word COMINTERN, on the other hand, suggests
merely a tightly-knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine.
It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in
purpose, as a chair or a table. COMINTERN is a word that can be uttered
almost without taking thought, whereas COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL is a phrase
over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily. In the same way,
the associations called up by a word like MINITRUE are fewer and more
controllable than those called up by MINISTRY OF TRUTH. This accounted not
only for the habit of abbreviating whenever possible, but also for the
almost exaggerated care that was taken to make every word easily

In Newspeak, euphony outweighed every consideration other than exactitude
of meaning. Regularity of grammar was always sacrificed to it when it
seemed necessary. And rightly so, since what was required, above all for
political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which
could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the
speaker’s mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from
the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably
BELLYFEEL, THINKPOL, and countless others–were words of two or three
syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable
and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at
once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The
intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not
ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness.
For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes
necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to
make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the
correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets.
His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost
foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound
and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of
Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.

So did the fact of having very few words to choose from. Relative to our
own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were
constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other
languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every
year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice,
the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to
make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher
brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word
DUCKSPEAK, meaning ‘to quack like a duck’. Like various other words in
the B vocabulary, DUCKSPEAK was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the
opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but
praise, and when ‘The Times’ referred to one of the orators of the Party
as a DOUBLEPLUSGOOD DUCKSPEAKER it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

THE C VOCABULARY. The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and
consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms. These resembled the
scientific terms in use today, and were constructed from the same roots,
but the usual care was taken to define them rigidly and strip them of
undesirable meanings. They followed the same grammatical rules as the
words in the other two vocabularies. Very few of the C words had any
currency either in everyday speech or in political speech. Any scientific
worker or technician could find all the words he needed in the list devoted
to his own speciality, but he seldom had more than a smattering of the
words occurring in the other lists. Only a very few words were common to
all lists, and there was no vocabulary expressing the function of Science
as a habit of mind, or a method of thought, irrespective of its particular
branches. There was, indeed, no word for ‘Science’, any meaning that it
could possibly bear being already sufficiently covered by the word INGSOC.

From the foregoing account it will be seen that in Newspeak the expression
of unorthodox opinions, above a very low level, was well-nigh impossible.
It was of course possible to utter heresies of a very crude kind, a
species of blasphemy. It would have been possible, for example, to say
BIG BROTHER IS UNGOOD. But this statement, which to an orthodox ear merely
conveyed a self-evident absurdity, could not have been sustained by
reasoned argument, because the necessary words were not available. Ideas
inimical to Ingsoc could only be entertained in a vague wordless form,
and could only be named in very broad terms which lumped together and
condemned whole groups of heresies without defining them in doing so.
One could, in fact, only use Newspeak for unorthodox purposes by
illegitimately translating some of the words back into Oldspeak. For
example, ALL MANS ARE EQUAL was a possible Newspeak sentence, but only
in the same sense in which ALL MEN ARE REDHAIRED is a possible Oldspeak
sentence. It did not contain a grammatical error, but it expressed
a palpable untruth–i.e. that all men are of equal size, weight, or
strength. The concept of political equality no longer existed, and this
secondary meaning had accordingly been purged out of the word EQUAL.
In 1984, when Oldspeak was still the normal means of communication,
the danger theoretically existed that in using Newspeak words one might
remember their original meanings. In practice it was not difficult for
any person well grounded in DOUBLETHINK to avoid doing this, but within
a couple of generations even the possibility of such a lapse would have
vanished. A person growing up with Newspeak as his sole language would no
more know that EQUAL had once had the secondary meaning of ‘politically
equal’, or that FREE had once meant ‘intellectually free’, than for
instance, a person who had never heard of chess would be aware of the
secondary meanings attaching to QUEEN and ROOK. There would be many
crimes and errors which it would be beyond his power to commit, simply
because they were nameless and therefore unimaginable. And it was to be
foreseen that with the passage of time the distinguishing characteristics
of Newspeak would become more and more pronounced–its words growing
fewer and fewer, their meanings more and more rigid, and the chance of
putting them to improper uses always diminishing.

When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with
the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten,
but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there,
imperfectly censored, and so long as one retained one’s knowledge of
Oldspeak it was possible to read them. In the future such fragments, even
if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable.
It was impossible to translate any passage of Oldspeak into Newspeak unless
it either referred to some technical process or some very simple everyday
action, or was already orthodox (GOODTHINKFUL would be the Newspeak
expression) in tendency. In practice this meant that no book written before
approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Pre-revolutionary
literature could only be subjected to ideological translation–that is,
alteration in sense as well as language. Take for example the well-known
passage from the Declaration of Independence:


It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while
keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing
so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word CRIMETHINK.
A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby
Jefferson’s words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.

A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being
transformed in this way. Considerations of prestige made it desirable to
preserve the memory of certain historical figures, while at the same time
bringing their achievements into line with the philosophy of Ingsoc.
Various writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and
some others were therefore in process of translation: when the task had
been completed, their original writings, with all else that survived of
the literature of the past, would be destroyed. These translations were
a slow and difficult business, and it was not expected that they would
be finished before the first or second decade of the twenty-first
century. There were also large quantities of merely utilitarian
literature–indispensable technical manuals, and the like–that had to
be treated in the same way. It was chiefly in order to allow time for
the preliminary work of translation that the final adoption of Newspeak
had been fixed for so late a date as 2050.