1984

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1984 Book 1, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the canteen at lunch, Winston talks with Syme, a linguist who is working on the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Winston suspects that Syme, despite his political orthodoxy, will one day be arrested by the Thought Police because he's simply too intelligent. Drinking Victory Gin, they talk about the Eleventh Edition, which will be definitive, and much shorter than previous dictionaries. Syme believes the "destruction of words" is a beautiful thing, saying enthusiastically that thoughtcrime will eventually be impossible because there will be no words with which to express disloyal thoughts. The Revolution, he says, will then be complete.
Syme is an example of an ideologically orthodox individual who is nonetheless considered a threat to the totalitarian regime because his intelligence suggests that he may possibly become dangerous. Orwell viewed the impoverishment of vocabulary as a primary tool of totalitarian regimes. Syme's delight in the "destruction of words" is intended to be appalling.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Winston becomes aware of a man speaking to a girl at a table to his left in a quacking voice. Syme tells him that there is a word in Newspeak, duckspeak, that refers to propagandistic speech uttered almost unconsciously. "Orthodoxy is unconsciousness," Winston thinks.
Duckspeak , the automatic regurgitation of correct opinions, is the Party's ideal, and the goal of its efforts to reduce the expressive range of Oldspeak into ever more abbreviated forms.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Parsons, Winston's pudgy, sweaty neighbor, sits down at their table. Syme studies a column of words on a scrap of paper while Parsons demands a donation for Hate Week from Winston. Parsons proudly relates that his daughter followed and then reported a suspicious man to the patrols.
An enthusiastic supporter of the Party, Parsons is eventually turned in to the Thought Police by his own daughter. Winston despises him because he uncritically accepts Party doctrine.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
The telescreen announces that the standard of living in Oceania has gone up by 20 percent, and reports that people are demonstrating in the streets in gratitude to Big Brother for having raised the chocolate ration. Winston is appalled that doublethink has made it possible for people to swallow obvious lies: No one has enough to eat, there are shortages of clothing and cigarettes, the buildings are all dilapidated and underheated, and the Party actually reduced the chocolate ration just the day before.
Totalitarian regimes require complete obedience to the State and unquestioning support of its doctrines and policies. In order to comply with these requirements, citizens must be able to forget facts when they are in conflict with what the Party desires them to believe. The absurdity of this example reveals Orwell's overall satirical intent.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
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As the quacking voice of the man at the next table continues, Winston thinks to himself that Mrs. Parsons will one day be denounced by her children and vaporized, and that Syme, himself and even O'Brien will be vaporized, but not Parsons, the quacking man or the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department. He realizes that it is she who is sitting across from the quacking man and that she is staring at him, Winston. He is terrified and worries that he has committed facecrime, the wearing of an expression that betrays feelings disloyal to the Party. A whistle blows and all return to work.
Winston's fatalistic expectations come true in the case of Mrs. Parsons and Syme. Intelligence, or the ability and desire to question the status quo, seems to Winston to be a guarantee of thoughtcrime and eventual detection and extinction. However, O'Brien's intelligence does not lead to thoughtcrime, Julia's orthodoxy is only apparent, and Parsons' stupidity does not save him.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon