1984

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1984 Book 1, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Carelessly leaving the diary open on the table, Winston opens the door. It is a neighbor, Mrs. Parsons, who wants Winston to help unblock her sink. While Winston is fixing the sink the Parsons children appear, wearing the uniform of the Spies, a youth organization that encourages children to spy on their parents and report behavior disloyal to the Party. The boy points a toy gun at Winston, accuses him of thoughtcrime, then begs to go to see a public execution. As Winston leaves the Parsons' apartment, he is struck in the neck by an object the boy has launched at him with a slingshot.
The behavior of the Parsons boy shows the degree of surveillance Party members are subject to and the breakdown of loyalty between family members: the only loyalty that is important in 1984 is loyalty to the State. The Spies resembles the Hitler Youth movement, which indoctrinated children into the Nazi Party and turned them into ruthless and remorseless killers.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Back in his flat, Winston remembers a dream he once had in which someone in a dark room said to him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness." He identifies the voice as O'Brien's. The telescreen reports a victory over the Eurasian army and announces that the chocolate ration will be reduced.
The reduction of the chocolate ration illustrates to Winston how willing the public is to engage in doublethink: to forget facts when it is ideologically convenient. His dream ambiguously foreshadows the future.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Winston wonders why he's keeping the diary, since it's doubtful that it will survive him when, inevitably, he is vaporized. He decides that he's keeping it in order to stay sane, not to communicate with the future. Realizing that he's a dead man, but determined to stay alive as long as possible, he puts the diary away and returns to work.
Winston understands that in order to combat the reality control practiced by the State, he must record his private thoughts, even if he cannot share them with another person. Winston's struggle to hold onto his beliefs is the ultimate subject of the novel.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon