1984

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1984 Book 1, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Instead of going to the Community Center, Winston wanders through prole neighborhoods. He is fearful because he knows the Party disapproves of ownlife, the desire for solitude. Preoccupied with the fact that he may be stopped by a patrol, he is nearly struck by a rocket bomb. Getting to his feet, he sees a severed hand on the pavement and kicks it into the gutter.
Kicking the hand into the gutter shows how Winston's empathy for other people has atrophied because of the Party's policy of discouraging emotional bonds between individuals.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Winston passes by a group of proles who are standing outside a pub and arguing about the Lottery. Winston knows that the prizes are largely imaginary and wonders how the proles can be taken in, but still believes that hope lies in the possibility that they will someday rebel against the Party.
The lower classes, or proles, are easily distracted from recognizing that they are poor and disenfranchised by activities such as gambling.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Winston follows an old man into another pub, intending to ask him about life before the Revolution. He buys the man beer and asks him about the past, but the old man is incoherent. Winston realizes that there is no one alive who can tell him whether life was better or worse in the past—that history has been obliterated.
The inability of the old prole to satisfy Winston's curiosity about the past is an indicator that the Party has succeeded in its program of mind control. Winston's hope that the proles will rebel seems increasingly futile.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Next, Winston finds himself outside the junk shop where he had bought the diary. The owner, an intelligent prole named Mr. Charrington, shows him a glass paperweight with a piece of coral inside, which Winston buys, and a print of an old church in an upstairs bedroom. Winston notices that the bedroom has no telescreen. Charrington then teaches Winston a few lines of an old nursery rhyme, "Oranges and Lemons," about the churches of London.
Because he suspects that life has grown worse under Party rule, Winston is fascinated by Mr. Charrington and his possessions from the past. The paperweight, a beautiful relic from a more civilized age, symbolizes the fragility of memory. The paperweight is eventually destroyed by the Thought Police.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
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Winston leaves, planning to return in a month's time to buy the print, learn the rest of the nursery rhyme, and possibly arrange to rent the bedroom, the privacy of which appeals to him. In the street, he sees the dark-haired girl coming toward him, but she does not give any sign of recognition.
The nursery rhyme is another scrap of the past that Winston seizes upon. The print of the church, St. Clement's Dane, is likewise a relic, since the Party has outlawed religion—a possible threat to its power.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Convinced that the girl is spying on him, Winston considers smashing her skull with a cobblestone. Full of dread, he hurries home, drinks some gin, and opens the diary, but cannot stop thinking of what will happen to him when he's inevitably arrested: torture, then death. He thinks again of O'Brien's mysterious comment about meeting in a place where there is no darkness. He takes a coin out of his pocket and looks at it. The face of Big Brother stares back at him.
Winston's violent thoughts toward Julia may be connected to his frustrated sexual desire. The scene in which Winston gazes at the image of Big Brother on the coin parallels the final scene, in which he gazes at the same image on a poster, but with very different thoughts and feelings.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon