Tag Archives: 1984


Invisible Man chapter 3

Mr. Norton is having a most “interesting” afternoon.  In search of refreshment, our narrator rushes the trustee to the local watering hole, The Golden Day.  The bar choice could have been better.  In the midst of Mr. Norton’s fainting spells, the mentally unstable, veteran doctor gives a diagnosis.  First to Mr. Norton.  But his ailment is not shared with the reader.  A few pages later the vet describes the narrator’s troubles.

… “Behold! a walking zombie!  Already he’s learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity.  He’s invisible. a walking personification of the Negative, the most perfect achievement of your dreams, sir!  The mechanical man!”

Repressing emotions and humanity?
Sounds to me like the narrator has a serious case of 1984-itis.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Invisible Man


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Big Founder

Maybe it’s because I so recently finished 1984, but every time I read about the Founder in Invisible Man, I think of Big Brother.  In my mind, the bronze statue of the college Founder has a moustache and piercing eyes.  Is anyone else having this problem?

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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Invisible Man


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book%2Bcover%2B1984%2BcopyI finished 1984.

So let me get this straight.

For seven years O’Brien turned Winston away from The Party.  He whispered to him through the telescreen; he set temptations in front of him; he lured him into Thought Crimes…

just so he could torture him and bring him back to being a proper comrade and member of The Party (a broken member, but a member).

Did I miss anything?

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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in 1984


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A Confidant

Book III chapter ii

O’Brien is taking his time torturing Winston.  He’s using the special machine with the dial to reteach Winston the proper way to think: doublethink.  In the midst of unspeakable pain, Winston is finally able to say all the things he’s always wanted to.  He talks about the war and its ever-changing enemy.  He talks about his diary.  He talks about the newspaper photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford.

O’Brien is determined.  He will teach Winston that 2+ 2=5.

The torture continues until finally Winston can’t even answer the simple math question.  He receives pain medicine.

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 the 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.

“O’Brien was a person who could be talked to.”

In the margin of my book I wrote, “like Bigger with Max”.

Certainly Max isn’t like O’Brien.  Native Son ‘s Jewish lawyer really did want to help his client Bigger Thomas, but Winston and Bigger have experienced the same kind of isolation.  Both men were alone with their thoughts… always.  It was never safe for them to share ideas… with anyone.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in 1984


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Thought Crime

1984 check-in

I finished Part III of 1984 this weekend.  I think I need to make more doctor’s appointments for my children.  Waiting rooms are where I’m most productive with WEM reading.  How many of you went ahead and read Orwell’s Appendix?  I’m tempted to skip it but don’t want the WEM Thought Police to come after me.  Help me decide?

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in 1984


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19841984 CCOM
Book II chapter viii

It’s Hate Week.  In the midst of “celebrating”, the war switches from Eurasia to Eastaisa with the explanation that it was Goldstein sabotage.  Five year’s worth of corrections must be made by Winston’s department, but when the work is done, no evidence remains and the war is transferred.  No questions asked.



Have you ever told your kids the plan for the day and then switched it, pretending nothing’s changed?

Mom: Children, we’re going to run some errands and end the day by going out for pizza.
Children: Yea!  We’re going out for pizza.  We’re going out for pizza.
Mom: Children, you are absolutely correct.  We’re going to run some errands and end the day by going out for fried chicken.

Children: crickets.    What?!  Mom, you said we’re going out for pizza!  I heard you!  She said, “pizza,” didn’t she?!  You heard her.  Mom said pizza and now she’s switching it to chicken.  Mom, you can’t switch it.  You promised!

Oceania doesn’t even blink.

Doubleplus Ridiculous.

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in 1984


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Book II chapter vii

Winston and Julia are talking about what will happen when they’re caught.

“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.”

I was struck by how different Winston and Julia’s relationship is from the one in our last book.  Can you imagine The Stranger’s Mersault telling Marie, “only feelings matter”?  Mersault?  When Marie brought up the topic of marriage, Mersault could take it or leave it

Ahhh, a character who emotes.  It’s nice to be back in the land of feelings.
Even if they are Ingsoc suppressed feelings.

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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in 1984


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1984 check-in

How is your reading of 1984 coming?  I’m stuck in the Brotherhood Book section.  I think I’ve been at the end of Book II for about a week.  Doublebored.

But, I did find this idea of Winston’s interesting:

The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.

Do you agree?


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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in 1984


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Classic Connections

We’ve had a few series that have popped up during the lifetime of this blog: Stupid Questions, Classic Word of the Day, What’s on My Nightstand?.
Maybe it’s time to add another series: Classic Connections?  Literary Links? Book Bridges?

I’m not sure what to call it, but as we get closer to the end of the novel list, things keep popping up that remind me of previous titles.  Sometimes is a quote from the text.  Sometimes it’s a different literary device like a theme, motif or symbol.  Sometimes it’s an actual literary device.

In chapter viii of Book 1 Winston takes a trip through the prole neighborhood.  It’s risky behavior.  The dark-haired girl spots him.  Whether she “spies” him we don’t know.  For a moment Winston ponders bludgeoning her with his newly purchased paperweight.

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.

After reading this passage I thought of Crime and Punishment’s Raskolnikov”, another character whose body worked against him when he was trying desperately to keep a secret.

Have you made any connections between Winston Smith and other WEM characters?


Posted by on November 2, 2013 in 1984


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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.

The quote is from 1984 Book I chapter V.

Raise your hand if you can imagine Bigger Thomas saying those same words in Native Son.

Me too.

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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in 1984


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