Monday, October 25, 2010

1984


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 His specific job is to destroy historical documents so that if they party claims something is right, they will always have the evidence to prove it.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.

Discussion Questions:

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?

7 comments:

Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. I would rebel because life is worth living to the fullest and if that's not happening then a change should be made. Of course I would be terrified but being unhappy is not worthwile. I would try to tell the others as soon as possible so a change could be made.

Erika B 13-14 said...

I like to think that I would rebel against something I did not believe in and to go against the entire society, but truthfully, I do not believe I would be strong enough to do so. It takes a brave person to stand alone against a large group of people who are all a united force believing the opposite as you do. Many people would be angry at you for trying to rebel against something that they may believe is good and not a nightmare. I believe I would be able to rebel against a small group of peers, but against an entire society would be too much.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

I agree with Erika, I'd like to think I would be strong enough to break away from the evils of the party, but I don't know if I would be able to go against an entire brainwashed society. It would just be too difficult because I would not know where to go with the rebellion, because everyone is trained from a young age to follow the party,so they would only report me to the police if I tried to tell them of my true feelings. Winston is extremely lucky that Julia is not just trying to get him caught, and, without a person like that on my side, I do no think I would be able to rebel.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

I do agree with Bojana, however, that it is important to live life to the fullest. I think that a good strategy to do this would be to obtain the help of the uneducated masses, by showing them how bad their lives really are. Then, I would be able to help the rebellion grow so that one day society might be free once again.

Megan L.11-12 said...

1. Knowing who I am, I definitely would rebel, the society that George Orwell creates definitely merits some defiance. I'd like to believe I would be strong enough to stand up against something that was unjust no matter what the consequences. However, I don't know if I could be heard through an entire society of brainwashed victims. I believe that as long as I wasn't the only one, I would do it.

2. Honestly, unless the person who came to me was someone I absolutely KNEW would never lie, I wouldn't believe them. It would take some evidence to get me to do something as dramatic as overthrow a government.

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

I would definately begin to speak out for what I believe in. It is better to be heard and criticized for it rather than not act and spend your whole life wondering what would have happened if you had. I think this deliberate and daring outspokeness could also inspire a raging passion in others for a movement. Also, I WOULD go against an entire society to do what is right. I am very open minded but also someone who believes that the rights of humans should be protected and that there certaily SHOULD be activators and inspritational people who work towards preserving these rights, even if it means rebelling against what is outlined to be the law of the nation.

Fritz J. 13-14 said...

For 2, i would have to say no, i would find it hard to believe them. And it would take a lot of proof to get me to go up against the entire government