From the Bottom

18 Nov

They’re above suspicion.

It’s that funny turn of phrase that we use to describe someone so thoroughly good that to imagine them in wrong-doing is unfathomable.  So, were you as surprised as I was to hear Orwell turn the expression on its head?

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.

This excerpt from Book I Chapter VII  kicked off my proletarian disbelief, which held fast to the end.  Over and over I wrote in my reading journal phrases like this, “Proles are 85% of the population. 85%!?!?”  “Why are the proles so complacent?”  “So the proles don’t have telescreens?  What . . .?”

The revolt of the peasants on the estate of Prince Shahovskoy by Ivan Vladimirov

I didn’t understand how so many citizens could be left uncensored by Big Brother and not rebel.  I’ll admit that I’m fairly new to the study of history, but Peoples’ Rebellions are real things, right?

Later in the novel we learn from The Book that the lowest class of people does not concern the middle or upper classes, for the low is seldom able to strive for anything, and when they do, it is the grandiose and impossible goal of a classless society of equals.

So is this an accurate portrayal of those in poverty?  Are their stomachs so empty, their lives so unprotected, their minds so vacant that even when they constitute an overwhelming majority of the population they are unable to organize a rebellion?  Are they so deprived that they are even incapable of seeing the need for one?  What made the peasant revolts of the past work?  Or did they?

I feel like these are just questions, not stupid ones, but then again, I might be below suspicion.

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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in 1984


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