1984

by

George Orwell

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The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in 1984, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon

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.

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The Individual vs. Collective Identity Quotes in 1984

Below you will find the important quotes in 1984 related to the theme of The Individual vs. Collective Identity.
Book 1, Chapter 1 Quotes
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any given individual wire was guesswork. It was conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
The thing that [Winston] was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labor camp.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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

Related Characters: Winston Smith
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes
It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak—“child hero” was the phrase generally used—had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Parsons, Mrs. Parsons
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 5 Quotes
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. […] Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”
Related Characters: Syme (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 8 Quotes
What appealed to [Winston] about it was not so much its beauty as the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different from the present one. The soft, rainwatery glass was not like any glass that he had ever seen. The thing was doubly attractive because of its apparent uselessness, though he could guess that it must once have been intended as a paperweight. It was very heavy in his pocket, but fortunately it did not make much of a bulge. It was a queer thing, even a compromising thing, for a Party member to have in his possession. Anything old, and for that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Mr. Charrington
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 2 Quotes
In the old days, he thought, a man looked at a girl's body and saw that it was desirable, and that was the end of the story. But you could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 3 Quotes
There was a direct, intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 4 Quotes
He turned over towards the light and lay gazing into the glass paperweight. The inexhaustibly interesting thing was not the fragment of coral but the interior of the glass itself. There was such a depth of it, and yet it was almost as transparent as air. It was as though the surface of the glass had been the arch of the sky, enclosing a tiny world with its atmosphere complete. He had the feeling that he could get inside it, and that in fact he was inside it, along with the mahogany bed and the gateleg table and the clock and the steel engraving and the paperweight itself. The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia's life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 5 Quotes
Now that [Winston and Julia] had a secure hiding place, almost a home, it did not even seem a hardship that they could only meet infrequently and for a couple of hours at a time. What mattered was that the room over the junk shop should exist. To know that it was there, inviolate, was almost the same as being in it. The room was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk. Mr. Charrington, thought Winston, was another extinct animal.
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 7 Quotes
The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. When once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel, what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference. Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 9 Quotes
The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought. There are therefore two great problems which the Party is concerned to solve. One is how to discover, against his will, what another human being is thinking, and the other is how to kill several hundred million people in a few seconds without giving warning beforehand.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
The heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be influenced by them to some extent. But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable. Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set in round about 1930, practices which had been long abandoned, in some cases for hundreds of years--imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages, and the deportation of whole populations--not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 204-205
Explanation and Analysis:
Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:
The blissful feeling of being alone with the forbidden book, in a room with no telescreen, had not worn off. […] The book fascinated [Winston], or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 10 Quotes
There was another crash. Someone had picked up the glass paperweight from the table and smashed it to pieces on the hearthstone. The fragment of coral, a tiny crinkle of pink like a sugar rosebud from a cake, rolled across the mat. How small, thought Winston, how small it always was!
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 2 Quotes
“We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
Related Characters: O'Brien (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 3 Quotes
[Winston] knew in advance what O’Brien would say: that the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail, cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the Party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, O'Brien
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
“But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
Related Characters: O'Brien (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 4 Quotes
To die hating them, that was freedom.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 6 Quotes
"They can't get inside you," she had said. But they could get inside you. "What happens to you here is forever," O'Brien had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you could never recover. Something was killed in your breast; burnt out, cauterized out.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl (speaker), O'Brien (speaker)
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:
"Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something—something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, ‘Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself, and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."
"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."
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl (speaker)
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:
Appendix Quotes
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis: