One way a totalitarian regime seeks to stay in power is by denying human beings their individuality, eradicating independent thought through the use of propaganda and terror. Throughout Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston tries to assert his individual nature against the collective identity the Party wishes him to adopt. He keeps a private diary, engages in a forbidden sexual relationship, and insists that his version of reality is the truth, as opposed to what the Party says it is. Instead of going to the Community Center or participating in social groups, he wanders the prole neighborhoods alone and seeks solitude in his apartment, engaging in behavior the Party calls ownlife and considers dangerous. After Winston is caught, the seven years of torture to which O'Brien subjects him are designed to destroy Winston's ability to think unorthodox thoughts. Before he enters Room 101, Winston is able to see that to die hating the Party is freedom, but by the end of the novel he is no longer capable of this. In order to save himself from O'Brien's rats, Winston does the one thing he can never forgive himself for—he betrays Julia and in doing so relinquishes his own morality and self-respect.
The Individual vs. Collective Identity ThemeTracker
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Quotes in 1984
Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood out in bold capitals:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer." — "No," he said, "you don't feel the same."