After seeing the atrocities committed during World War II, George Orwell feared for the future of civilization. He predicted that if we as a species continued to progress in the manner displayed during WWII, then we would be doomed to a society dominated by dictatorships and suffering. The book was written in the year 1948, and Orwell predicted what the future would be like in the year 1984. The novel's protagonist is Winston Smith, a member of the all powerful political party of the time. He is one of the countless drones doing the party's bidding. His specific job is to destroy historical documents so that if they party claims something is right, they will always have the evidence to prove it. The party controls all aspects of life, both work and social. They have television screens in every room, and are always looking for those who stand against them. Any freedom of speech or thought, because they now had thought police to take you away if you were thought to be thinking badly of the party, resulted in a mysterious disappearance. Th party even creates a new language called "New Speak," in order to eliminate the meanings of words they feel contradict them. Most of society lives in poverty that is forced upon them by the party, and they are known as proles. The party uses propaganda to teach the members to believe only the party. Kids are put into youth programs, and are taught to betray their parents if they hear anything bad about the party. In social and work settings, one cannot show any emotion or free thought or they will be reported to the party as being suspicious. No one can trust anyone, ensuring that a rebellion cannot occur.
One day, on an impulse, Winston buys a diary and begins to write in it about his life. He writes in his room in a place that the television screen cannot see him, so he thinks he is safe. This is strictly forbidden, and, if caught, he would surely be taken away and never seen again. He begins to show his despise for the party, and one day one of his co-workers sees this in his face and sends him a note reading "I love you." Her name is Julia, and she does not wish to report him. At first, Winston wants to kill her, but soon realizes that she is on his side. They develop a relationship and do things that the party prohibits. Their social skills are rudimentary because they have never truly socialized before. They both agree that they want to contribute to a rumored rebellious group. One of the people who they work with, named O'Brien, seems like he would help them, or so Winston thinks. Winston's anger and rebellious attitude grow as his relationship with Julia develops, and he is finally coming out of his shell. Later in the novel, O'Brien finally calls for Winston and Julia to come to see him, and they both believe that he will be involved with the rebellion. However, things are not as they seem with O'Brien, and there are some things about him that Winston and Julia do not know. Will he be able to help them to contact the rebellion, or is there something else going on with this mysterious character? You'll have to read the novel to find out the rest.
1. If you were a person living in this nightmare society, do you think you would be brave enough to begin to rebel? Would you try to tell others that they are all doing the wrong thing by supporting the party?
2. If another member of the party approached you and said what Julia said to Winston, would you believe them? Would you go against the entire society to make an attempt to do what is right?