1984

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1984 Book 2, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the sixth day of Hate Week it is announced that Oceania is, and has always been, at war with Eastasia, and that Eurasia is an ally. Winston has to work long hours to rectify all of the now obsolete references to Oceania's war with Eurasia. At one rally, the orator actually had to change his speech in the middle, shifting from a diatribe against Eurasia to one against Eastasia. The people in the crowd blamed their anti-Eurasia signs on sabotage by Emmanuel Goldstein's agents. For five days Winston works around the clock.
The Party once again demonstrates its power over reality, completely flipping, in a single day, a single instant, its enemy and ally. Yet while such power to manipulate history gives the party power, it also serves as a contrast to the private reality of love that Winston and Julia have created and which they believe the Party can't interfere with.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
At last the workers are given a day off. Winston goes to the room above Mr. Charrington's shop and begins reading the book while he waits for Julia to arrive. Written by Emmanuel Goldstein and titled The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, the book claims that all societies are divided into High (Inner Party), Middle (Outer Party), and Low classes (proles), whose aims are irreconcilable.
The private room becomes not just a place for Winston to build a private relationship with Julia, but also a place for Winston to fully, without fear, explore ways to try to overthrow the Party. The book begins by describing class struggle (in much the same terms that Marxism does)
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Winston turns to Chapter 3, "War Is Peace," which is a description of the permanent state of war that exists between the three superstates that govern the world: Oceania, created by the absorption of the British Empire by the United States; Eurasia, created when Russia absorbed Europe; and Eastasia, which includes China, Japan, and Mongolia. All three are totalitarian states governed by similar ideological systems (in Oceania, Ingsoc; in Eurasia, Neo-Bolshevism; in Eastasia, Death-worship). Each superstate has all the natural resources it needs, and each is unable to destroy any of the others because they are too evenly matched. But the purpose of the perpetual border war between the three states isn't victory, anyway. Rather, the aim of the war is to create fear that makes it seem logical to concentrate power in the hands of the High class, while also distracting the middle and lower classes and keeping them unaware that conditions are the same everywhere and that the terrible things they have been told about the enemy are lies. Reality control is the method by which these states subdue their subjects, through the techniques of doublethink and the falsification of historical documents.
The book outlines that all of the totalitarian control, surveillance, and reality control are efforts by the high class to maintain its grip on power. Constant war provides the government in power with a reason to need to maintain power–the government can justify its grip on power as the sole means by which it can protect its citizens. But, in fact, it perpetuates the war without ever trying to win it In other words, the government doesn't maintain power in order to protect its citizens from enemies. Rather, the government maintains enemies in order to justify holding onto power and repressing its citizens. And it them does everything in its power to make sure that the citizens have no means of understanding what it is doing to them.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
As Winston is reading, Julia arrives. She is glad that he has the book, but shows little interest in reading it herself. Instead, she throws herself into Winston's arms, while, outside, the red-armed prole woman sings in the courtyard.
Julia remains uninterested in overthrowing the Party. She cares about love and sex – the primitive emotions Winston both admires and looks down upon in the Proles.
Themes
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
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Winston insists that Julia listen as he reads to her. Returning to Chapter 1, "Ignorance Is Strength," Winston reads that history is a cycle of class struggle. The aim of the High group is to stay in power; the aim of the Middle is to change places with the High; and the aim of the Low is to create a society where everyone is equal. The Middle and Low groups join forces against the High, and when the High group is overthrown the Middle seizes power and thrusts the Low back into servitude. Eventually a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, and the struggle begins anew.
The book continues to explain how class struggle leads to intermittent revolution, and how the high and middle classes switch position by using and abusing the low class. Once again, this description of history is reminiscent to that described in Marxism.
Themes
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
When the Party seized power in Oceania, the new High group, or Inner Party, realized that to keep a new Middle group from splitting off and rebelling, it needed to use mind control. They invented a figurehead named Big Brother to serve as a focus for feelings of love, fear, and reverence. The Thought Police were appointed to keep a constant watch over Party members for signs of unorthodox opinions and instincts. Laws to punish crime were eliminated, but anyone deemed a danger to the Party could be tortured or vaporized at the Party's whim. Elaborate mental training for children was developed that teaches them to avoid unorthodox, and therefore dangerous, thoughts (this is called crimestop). To further ensure compliance, the Party controls access to the past in order to keep citizens from realizing that they are not better off than previous generations, and also to prove that the Party's predictions are infallible. Finally, all Party members are trained in doublethink—to simultaneously remember and forget when convenient, and to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them—for "it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely." Unlike Party members, the proles were granted intellectual liberty because they were considered too stupid to rebel.
This section of the book details how the Party stops the cycle of revolutions between middle and high classes, and therefore keeps itself in power, through reality control. The Party doesn't just exert power over its citizens, it makes it so that the citizens are unable to think for themselves or recognize that the government is not helping them live better lives. The Party does everything it can to eliminate any reference point against which citizens can measure the quality of their lives, and, further, trains its citizens so that they are bad at recognizing any reference points that do get through the Party's control. The proles, the low class, are ignored because they are not considered to be intelligent enough to recognize their strength or the way that they are being used.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
Winston notices that Julia is sleeping. Although he still has not learned the ultimate secret—he understands how the Party has seized power, but not why—he falls asleep reassured that the book contains the truth and that he is not insane for hating the Party.
Julia remains uninterested. Her rebellion is private. She doesn't care about overthrowing the Party. Winston is losing his self-doubt and is more confident in his own desire for revolution.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon