by A.E. Marling



Author’s Note:

I wrote this myself because I am very, very smart. My IQ is higher than other authors. That’s why I write the best books, like this one I wrote.

Note on Formatting:

I got a great deal on formatting. This book has the biggest formatting and the best. Top shelf. If anyone tells you this formatting isn’t good, that’s fake news. Sad.




This story is 100% American-made words. No foreign words were used to write this story. Reading it is patriotic. But don’t get carried away. On reading, I mean. There are women to grab.


Part One


Chapter 1

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking

thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his

breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly

through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not

quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering

along with him.

The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At

one end of it a colored poster, too large for indoor display,

had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous

face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of

about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly

handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was

no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom

working, and at present the electric current was cut

off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive

in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up,

and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer

above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on

the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster

with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of

those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow

you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures

which had something to do with the production of

pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like

a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the

right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice

sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable.

The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be

dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.

He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail figure,

the meagerness of his body merely emphasized by the blue

overalls which were the uniform of the party. His hair was

very fair, his face naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by

coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter

that had just ended.

Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world

looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were

whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the

sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed

to be no color in anything, except the posters that were

plastered everywhere. The blackmoustachio’d face gazed

down from every commanding corner. There was one on

the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS

WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes

looked deep into Winston’s own. Down at street level another

poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind,

alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC.

In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down

between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle,

and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police

patrol, snooping into people’s windows. The patrols did

not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.

Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was

still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment

of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and

transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made,

above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by

it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision

which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen

as well as heard. 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 individual wire was guesswork. It was even 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.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was

safer, though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing.

A kilometer away the Ministry of Truth, his place of work,

towered vast and white above the grimy landscape. This,

he thought with a sort of vague distaste—this was London,

chief city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous

of the provinces of Oceania. He tried to squeeze out some

childhood memory that should tell him whether London

had always been quite like this. Were there always these vistas

of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored

up with baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard

and their roofs with corrugated iron, their crazy

garden walls sagging in all directions? And the bombed

sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the willow-

herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places

where the bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had

sprung up sordid colonies of wooden dwellings like chicken-

houses? But it was no use, he could not remember:

nothing remained of his childhood except a series of brightlit

tableaux occurring against no background and mostly


The Ministry of Truth—Minitrue, in Newspeak [Newspeak

was the official language of Oceania. For an account

of its structure and etymology see Appendix.]—was startlingly

different from any other object in sight. It was an

enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete,

soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 meters into the

air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read,

picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three

slogans of the Party:




The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three

thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding

ramifications below. Scattered about London there were

just three other buildings of similar appearance and size.

So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture

that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see

all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of

the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus

of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which

concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and

the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself

with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and

order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible

for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue,

Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty.

The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one.

There were no windows in it at all. Winston had never been

inside the Ministry of Love, nor within half a kilometer of it.

It was a place impossible to enter except on official business,

and then only by penetrating through a maze of barbedwire

entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun

nests. Even the streets leading up to its outer barriers were

roamed by gorilla-faced guards in black uniforms, armed

with jointed truncheons.

Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features

into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable

to wear when facing the telescreen. He crossed the

room into the tiny kitchen. By leaving the Ministry at this

time of day he had sacrificed his lunch in the canteen, and

he was aware that there was no food in the kitchen except

a hunk of dark-colored bread which had got to be saved

for tomorrow’s breakfast. He took down from the shelf a

bottle of colorless liquid with a plain white label marked

VICTORY GIN. It gave off a sickly, oily smell, as of Chinese

rice-spirit. Winston poured out nearly a teacupful, nerved

himself for a shock, and gulped it down like a dose of medicine.

Instantly his face turned scarlet and the water ran out

of his eyes. The stuff was like nitric acid, and moreover, in

swallowing it one had the sensation of being hit on the back

of the head with a rubber club. The next moment, however,

the burning in his belly died down and the world began to

look more cheerful. He took a cigarette from a crumpled

packet marked VICTORY CIGARETTES and incautiously

held it upright, whereupon the tobacco fell out on to the

floor. With the next he was more successful. He went back

to the living-room and sat down at a small table that stood

to the left of the telescreen. From the table drawer he took

out a penholder, a bottle of ink, and a thick, quarto-sized

blank book with a red back and a marbled cover.

For some reason the telescreen in the living-room was in

an unusual position. Instead of being placed, as was normal,

in the end wall, where it could command the whole room,

it was in the longer wall, opposite the window. To one side

of it there was a shallow alcove in which Winston was now

sitting, and which, when the flats were built, had probably

been intended to hold bookshelves. By sitting in the alcove,

and keeping well back, Winston was able to remain outside

the range of the telescreen, so far as sight went. He could

be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed in his present

position he could not be seen. It was partly the unusual geography

of the room that had suggested to him the thing

that he was now about to do.

But it had also been suggested by the book that he had

just taken out of the drawer. It was a peculiarly beautiful

book. Its smooth creamy paper, a little yellowed by age, was

of a kind that had not been manufactured for at least forty

years past. He could guess, however, that the book was

much older than that. He had seen it lying in the window of

a frowsy little junk-shop in a slummy quarter of the town

(just what quarter he did not now remember) and had been

stricken immediately by an overwhelming desire to possess

it. Party members were supposed not to go into ordinary

shops (’dealing on the free market’, it was called), but the

rule was not strictly kept, because there were various things,

such as shoelaces and razor blades, which it was impossible

to get hold of in any other way. He had given a quick glance

up and down the street and then had slipped inside and

bought the book for two dollars fifty. At the time he was not

conscious of wanting it for any particular purpose. He had

carried it guiltily home in his briefcase. Even with nothing

written in it, it was a compromising possession.

The thing that he 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 twentyfive

years in a forced-labor camp. Winston fitted a nib into

the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. The pen

was an archaic instrument, seldom used even for signatures,

and he had procured one, furtively and with some difficulty,

simply because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper

deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being

scratched with an ink-pencil. Actually he was not used to

writing by hand. Apart from very short notes, it was usual

to dictate everything into the speak-write which was of

course impossible for his present purpose. He dipped the

pen into the ink and then faltered for just a second. A tremor

had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the

decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote:

April 4th, 2017.

He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended

upon him. To begin with, he did not know with any

certainty that this was 2017. It must be round about that

date, since he was fairly sure that his age was thirty-nine,

and he believed that he had been born in 1977 or 1978; but

it was never possible nowadays to pin down any date within

a year or two.

For whom, it suddenly occurred to him to wonder, was he

writing this diary? For the future, for the unborn. His mind

hovered for a moment round the doubtful date on the page,

and then fetched up with a bump against the Newspeak

word DOUBLETHINK. For the first time the magnitude of

what he had undertaken came home to him. How could you

communicate with the future? It was of its nature impossible.

Either the future would resemble the present, in which

case it would not listen to him: or it would be different from

it, and his predicament would be meaningless.

For some time he sat gazing stupidly at the paper. The

telescreen had changed over to strident military music. It

was curious that he seemed not merely to have lost the power

of expressing himself, but even to have forgotten what it

was that he had originally intended to say. For weeks past

he had been making ready for this moment, and it had never

crossed his mind that anything would be needed except

courage. The actual writing would be easy. All he had to

do was to transfer to paper the interminable restless monologue

that had been running inside his head, literally for

years. At this moment, however, even the monologue had

dried up. Moreover his varicose ulcer had begun itching

unbearably. He dared not scratch it, because if he did so it

always became inflamed. The seconds were ticking by. He

was conscious of nothing except the blankness of the page

in front of him, the itching of the skin above his ankle, the

blaring of the music, and a slight booziness caused by the

gin. Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly

aware of what he was setting down. His small but

childish handwriting straggled up and down the page, shedding

first its capital letters and finally even its full stops:

April 4th, 2017. Last night to the flicks. All war films. One

very good one of a ship full of refugees being bombed

somewhere in the Mediterranean. Audience much amused

by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away with

a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along

in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the

helicopters gunsights, then he was full of holes and the sea

round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as though

the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with laughter

when he sank. then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a

helicopter hovering over it. there was a middle-aged woman

might have been a jewess sitting up in the bow with a little

boy about three years old in her arms. little boy screaming

with fright and hiding his head between her breasts as if he

was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting

her arms round him and comforting him although she was

blue with fright herself, all the time covering him up as much

as possible as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets

off him. then the helicopter planted a 20 kilo bomb in among

them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood. then

there was a wonderful shot of a child’s arm going up up up

right up into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose

must have followed it up and there was a lot of applause from

the party seats but a woman down in the prole part of the

house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting they

didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it

aint right not in front of kids it aint until the police turned

her turned her out i dont suppose anything happened to her

nobody cares what the proles say typical prole reaction they


Winston stopped writing, partly because he was suffering

from cramp. He did not know what had made him pour

out this stream of rubbish. But the curious thing was that

while he was doing so a totally different memory had clarified

itself in his mind, to the point where he almost felt

equal to writing it down. It was, he now realized, because

of this other incident that he had suddenly decided to come

home and begin the diary today.

It had happened that morning at the Ministry, if anything

so nebulous could be said to happen.

It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department,

where Winston worked, they were dragging the

chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre

of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for

the Two Minutes Hate. Winston was just taking his place

in one of the middle rows when two people whom he knew

by sight, but had never spoken to, came unexpectedly into

the room. One of them was a girl whom he often passed in

the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that

she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably—since

he had sometimes seen her with oily hands and carrying a

spanner—she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-

writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of about

twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift,

athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the

Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round

the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the

shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the

very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was

because of the atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths

and community hikes and general clean-mindedness which

she managed to carry about with her. He disliked nearly all

women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always

the women, and above all the young ones, who were

the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers

of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unortho14

doxy. But this particular girl gave him the impression of

being more dangerous than most. Once when they passed

in the corridor she gave him a quick sidelong glance which

seemed to pierce right into him and for a moment had filled

him with black terror. The idea had even crossed his mind

that she might be an agent of the Thought Police. That, it

was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar

uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as

hostility, whenever she was anywhere near him.

The other person was a man named O’Brien, a member

of the Inner Party and holder of some post so important

and remote that Winston had only a dim idea of its nature.

A momentary hush passed over the group of people round

the chairs as they saw the black overalls of an Inner Party

member approaching. O’Brien was a large, burly man with

a thick neck and a coarse, humorous, brutal face. In spite of

his formidable appearance he had a certain charm of manner.

He had a trick of resettling his spectacles on his nose

which was curiously disarming—in some indefinable way,

curiously civilized. It was a gesture which, if anyone had

still thought in such terms, might have recalled an eighteenth-

century nobleman offering his snuffbox. Winston

had seen O’Brien perhaps a dozen times in almost as many

years. He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because

he was intrigued by the contrast between O’Brien’s urbane

manner and his prize-fighter’s physique. Much more it was

because of a secretly held belief—or perhaps not even a belief,

merely a hope—that O’Brien’s political orthodoxy was

not perfect. Something in his face suggested it irresistibly.

And again, perhaps it was not even unorthodoxy that was

written in his face, but simply intelligence. But at any rate

he had the appearance of being a person that you could

talk to if somehow you could cheat the telescreen and get

him alone. Winston had never made the smallest effort to

verify this guess: indeed, there was no way of doing so. At

this moment O’Brien glanced at his wrist-watch, saw that it

was nearly eleven hundred, and evidently decided to stay in

the Records Department until the Two Minutes Hate was

over. He took a chair in the same row as Winston, a couple

of places away. A small, sandy-haired woman who worked

in the next cubicle to Winston was between them. The girl

with dark hair was sitting immediately behind.

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some

monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the

big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set

one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s

neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of

the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses

here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired

woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein

was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago

(how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of

the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big

Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary

activities, had been condemned to death, and had

mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programs of

the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was

none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He

was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity.

All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries,

acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out

of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and

hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the

sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps

even—so it was occasionally rumoured—in some hidingplace

in Oceania itself.

Winston’s diaphragm was constricted. He could never

see the face of Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions.

It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of

white hair and a small goatee beard—a clever face, and yet

somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness

in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair

of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep,

and the voice, too, had a sheep-like quality. Goldstein was

delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines

of the Party—an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a

child should have been able to see through it, and yet just

plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that

other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken

in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing

the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate

conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating

freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly,

freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that

the revolution had been betrayed—and all this in rapid

polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual

style of the orators of the Party, and even contained

Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any

Party member would normally use in real life. And all the

while, lest one should be in any doubt as to the reality which

Goldstein’s specious claptrap covered, behind his head on

the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the

Eurasian army—row after row of solid-looking men with

expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam up to the surface

of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly

similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers’ boots

formed the background to Goldstein’s bleating voice.

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable

exclamations of rage were breaking out from half

the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on

the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army

behind it, were too much to be borne: besides, the sight or

even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically.

He was an object of hatred more constant than

either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war

with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the

other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein

was hated and despised by everybody, although every day

and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen,

in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed,

ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish

that they were—in spite of all this, his influence never

seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting

to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and

saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked

by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast

shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators

dedicated to the overthrow of the State. The Brotherhood,

its name was supposed to be. There were also whispered

stories of a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies,

of which Goldstein was the author and which circulated

clandestinely here and there. It was a book without a title.

People referred to it, if at all, simply as THE BOOK. But one

knew of such things only through vague rumors. Neither

the Brotherhood nor THE BOOK was a subject that any ordinary

Party member would mention if there was a way of

avoiding it.

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People

were leaping up and down in their places and shouting

at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening

bleating voice that came from the screen. The

little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and

her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed

fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed. He was sitting

very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and

quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a

wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying

out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up

a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It

struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued

inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he

was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently

against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about

the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act

a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid

joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always

unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness,

a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer,

seemed to flow through the whole group of people

like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will

into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that

one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could

be switched from one object to another like the flame of a

blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston’s hatred was not

turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against

Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such

moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic

on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world

of lies. And yet the very next instant he was at one with the

people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein seemed

to him to be true. At those moments his secret loathing of

Big Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed

to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector, standing like

a rock against the hordes of Asia, and Goldstein, in spite

of his isolation, his helplessness, and the doubt that hung

about his very existence, seemed like some sinister enchanter,

capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the

structure of civilization.

It was even possible, at moments, to switch one’s hatred

this way or that by a voluntary act. Suddenly, by the

sort of violent effort with which one wrenches one’s head

away from the pillow in a nightmare, Winston succeeded

in transferring his hatred from the face on the screen to

the dark-haired girl behind him. Vivid, beautiful hallucinations

flashed through his mind. He would flog her to death

with a rubber truncheon. He would tie her naked to a stake

and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. He would

ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax. Better

than before, moreover, he realized WHY it was that he

hated her. He hated her because she was young and pretty

and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with her and

would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist,

which seemed to ask you to encircle it with your arm, there

was only the odious scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity.

The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had

become an actual sheep’s bleat, and for an instant the face

changed into that of a sheep. Then the sheep-face melted into

the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing,

huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and seeming

to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some

of the people in the front row actually flinched backwards

in their seats. But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh

of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the

face of Big Brother, black-haired, black-moustachio’d, full

of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that it almost

filled up the screen. 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:




But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several

seconds on the screen, as though the impact that it had

made on everyone’s eyeballs was too vivid to wear off immediately.

The little sandy-haired woman had flung herself

forward over the back of the chair in front of her. With a

tremulous murmur that sounded like ‘My Saviour!’ she extended

her arms towards the screen. Then she buried her

face in her hands. It was apparent that she was uttering a


At this moment the entire group of people broke into a

deep, slow, rhythmical chant of ‘B-B!…B-B!’—over and over

again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first ‘B’

and the second—a heavy, murmurous sound, somehow

curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed

to hear the stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tomtoms.

For perhaps as much as thirty seconds they kept it

up. It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of

overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the

wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was

an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness

by means of rhythmic noise. Winston’s entrails seemed

to grow cold. In the Two Minutes Hate he could not help

sharing in the general delirium, but this sub-human chant

ing of ‘B-B!…B-B!’ always filled him with horror. Of course

he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise.

To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what

everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction. But

there was a space of a couple of seconds during which the

expression of his eyes might conceivably have betrayed him.

And it was exactly at this moment that the significant thing

happened—if, indeed, it did happen.

Momentarily he caught O’Brien’s eye. O’Brien had stood

up. He had taken off his spectacles and was in the act of

resettling them on his nose with his characteristic gesture.

But there was a fraction of a second when their eyes met,

and for as long as it took to happen Winston knew—yes, he

KNEW!—that O’Brien was thinking the same thing as himself.

An unmistakable message had passed. It was as though

their two minds had opened and the thoughts were flowing

from one into the other through their eyes. ‘I am with you,’

O’Brien seemed to be saying to him. ‘I know precisely what

you are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred,

your disgust. But don’t worry, I am on your side!’ And

then the flash of intelligence was gone, and O’Brien’s face

was as inscrutable as everybody else’s.

That was all, and he was already uncertain whether it had

happened. Such incidents never had any sequel. All that they

did was to keep alive in him the belief, or hope, that others

besides himself were the enemies of the Party. Perhaps

the rumors of vast underground conspiracies were true

after all—perhaps the Brotherhood really existed! It was

impossible, in spite of the endless arrests and confessions

and executions, to be sure that the Brotherhood was not

simply a myth. Some days he believed in it, some days not.

There was no evidence, only fleeting glimpses that might

mean anything or nothing: snatches of overheard conversation,

faint scribbles on lavatory walls—once, even, when

two strangers met, a small movement of the hand which

had looked as though it might be a signal of recognition. It

was all guesswork: very likely he had imagined everything.

He had gone back to his cubicle without looking at O’Brien

again. The idea of following up their momentary contact

hardly crossed his mind. It would have been inconceivably

dangerous even if he had known how to set about doing it.

For a second, two seconds, they had exchanged an equivocal

glance, and that was the end of the story. But even that

was a memorable event, in the locked loneliness in which

one had to live.

Winston roused himself and sat up straighter. He let out

a belch. The gin was rising from his stomach.

His eyes re-focused on the page. He discovered that

while he sat helplessly musing he had also been writing, as

though by automatic action. And it was no longer the same

cramped, awkward handwriting as before. His pen had slid

voluptuously over the smooth paper, printing in large neat




over and over again, filling half a page.

He could not help feeling a twinge of panic. It was absurd,

since the writing of those particular words was not

more dangerous than the initial act of opening the diary,

but for a moment he was tempted to tear out the spoiled

pages and abandon the enterprise altogether.

He did not do so, however, because he knew that it was

useless. Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER,

or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference.

Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did

not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police

would get him just the same. He had committed—would

still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—

the essential crime that contained all others in itself.

Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing

that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully

for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they

were bound to get you.

It was always at night—the arrests invariably happened

at night. The sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking

your shoulder, the lights glaring in your eyes, the ring of

hard faces round the bed. In the vast majority of cases there

was no trial, no report of the arrest. People simply disappeared,

always during the night. Your name was removed

from the registers, every record of everything you had ever

done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied

and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: VAPORIZED

was the usual word.

For a moment he was seized by a kind of hysteria. He began

writing in a hurried untidy scrawl:

theyll shoot me i don’t care theyll shoot me in the back of the

neck i dont care down with big brother they always shoot you

in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother——

He sat back in his chair, slightly ashamed of himself, and

laid down the pen. The next moment he started violently.

There was a knocking at the door.

Already! He sat as still as a mouse, in the futile hope that

whoever it was might go away after a single attempt. But no,

the knocking was repeated. The worst thing of all would be

to delay. His heart was thumping like a drum, but his face,

from long habit, was probably expressionless. He got up and

moved heavily towards the door.

Chapter 2

As he put his hand to the door-knob Winston saw that

he had left the diary open on the table. DOWN WITH

BIG BROTHER was written all over it, in letters almost big

enough to be legible across the room. It was an inconceivably

stupid thing to have done. But, he realized, even in his

panic he had not wanted to smudge the creamy paper by

shutting the book while the ink was wet.

He drew in his breath and opened the door. Instantly

a warm wave of relief flowed through him. A colorless,

crushed-looking woman, with wispy hair and a lined face,

was standing outside.

‘Oh, comrade,’ she began in a dreary, whining sort of

voice, ‘I thought I heard you come in. Do you think you

could come across and have a look at our kitchen sink? It’s

got blocked up and——’

It was Mrs Parsons, the wife of a neighbor on the same

floor. (’Mrs’ was a word somewhat discountenanced by the

Party—you were supposed to call everyone ‘comrade’—

but with some women one used it instinctively.) She was

a woman of about thirty, but looking much older. One had

the impression that there was dust in the creases of her face.

Winston followed her down the passage. These amateur repair

jobs were an almost daily irritation. Victory Mansions

were old flats, built in 1963 or thereabouts, and were falling

to pieces. The plaster flaked constantly from ceilings and

walls, the pipes burst in every hard frost, the roof leaked

whenever there was snow, the heating system was usually

running at half steam when it was not closed down altogether

from motives of economy. Repairs, except what you

could do for yourself, had to be sanctioned by remote committees

which were liable to hold up even the mending of a

window-pane for two years.

‘Of course it’s only because Tom isn’t home,’ said Mrs

Parsons vaguely.

The Parsons’ flat was bigger than Winston’s, and dingy

in a different way. Everything had a battered, trampled-on

look, as though the place had just been visited by some large

violent animal. Games impedimenta—hockey-sticks, boxing-

gloves, a burst football, a pair of sweaty shorts turned

inside out—lay all over the floor, and on the table there was

a litter of dirty dishes and dog-eared exercise-books. On

the walls were scarlet banners of the Youth League and the

Spies, and a full-sized poster of Big Brother. There was the

usual boiled-cabbage smell, common to the whole building,

but it was shot through by a sharper reek of sweat, which—

one knew this at the first sniff, though it was hard to say

how—was the sweat of some person not present at the moment.

In another room someone with a comb and a piece of

toilet paper was trying to keep tune with the military music

which was still issuing from the telescreen.

‘It’s the children,’ said Mrs Parsons, casting a half-apprehensive

glance at the door. ‘They haven’t been out today.

And of course——’

She had a habit of breaking off her sentences in the middle.

The kitchen sink was full nearly to the brim with filthy

greenish water which smelt worse than ever of cabbage.

Winston knelt down and examined the angle-joint of the

pipe. He hated using his hands, and he hated bending down,

which was always liable to start him coughing. Mrs Parsons

looked on helplessly.

‘Of course if Tom was home he’d put it right in a moment,’

she said. ‘He loves anything like that. He’s ever so

good with his hands, Tom is.’

Parsons was Winston’s fellow-employee at the Ministry

of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing

stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those

completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom,

more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the

Party depended. At thirty-five he had just been unwillingly

evicted from the Youth League, and before graduating

into the Youth League he had managed to stay on in the

Spies for a year beyond the statutory age. At the Ministry

he was employed in some subordinate post for which intelligence

was not required, but on the other hand he was

a leading figure on the Sports Committee and all the other

committees engaged in organizing community hikes, spontaneous

demonstrations, savings campaigns, and voluntary

activities generally. He would inform you with quiet pride,

between whiffs of his pipe, that he had put in an appearance

at the Community Centre every evening for the past four

years. An overpowering smell of sweat, a sort of unconscious

testimony to the strenuousness of his life, followed

him about wherever he went, and even remained behind

him after he had gone.

‘Have you got a spanner?’ said Winston, fiddling with the

nut on the angle-joint.

‘A spanner,’ said Mrs Parsons, immediately becoming

invertebrate. ‘I don’t know, I’m sure. Perhaps the children—


There was a trampling of boots and another blast on the

comb as the children charged into the living-room. Mrs

Parsons brought the spanner. Winston let out the water

and disgustedly removed the clot of human hair that had

blocked up the pipe. He cleaned his fingers as best he could

in the cold water from the tap and went back into the other


‘Up with your hands!’ yelled a savage voice.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up

from behind the table and was menacing him with a toy

automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years

younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood.

Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts,

and red neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies.

Winston raised his hands above his head, but with an uneasy

feeling, so vicious was the boy’s demeanor, that it was

not altogether a game.

‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal!

You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you,

I’ll send you to the salt mines!’

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting

‘Traitor!’ and ‘Thought-criminal!’ the little girl imitating

her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly

frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will

soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating

ferocity in the boy’s eye, a quite evident desire to hit or

kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big

enough to do so. It was a good job it was not a real pistol he

was holding, Winston thought.

Mrs Parsons’ eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the

children, and back again. In the better light of the livingroom

he noticed with interest that there actually was dust

in the creases of her face.

‘They do get so noisy,’ she said. ‘They’re disappointed

because they couldn’t go to see the hanging, that’s what it

is. I’m too busy to take them. and Tom won’t be back from

work in time.’

‘Why can’t we go and see the hanging?’ roared the boy in

his huge voice.

‘Want to see the hanging! Want to see the hanging!’

chanted the little girl, still capering round.

Some Eurasian prisoners, guilty of war crimes, were to

be hanged in the Park that evening, Winston remembered.

This happened about once a month, and was a popular spectacle.

Children always clamored to be taken to see it. He

took his leave of Mrs Parsons and made for the door. But he

had not gone six steps down the passage when something

hit the back of his neck an agonizingly painful blow. It was

as though a red-hot wire had been jabbed into him. He spun

round just in time to see Mrs Parsons dragging her son back

into the doorway while the boy pocketed a catapult.

‘Goldstein!’ bellowed the boy as the door closed on him.

But what most struck Winston was the look of helpless

fright on the woman’s greyish face.

Back in the flat he stepped quickly past the telescreen

and sat down at the table again, still rubbing his neck. The

music from the telescreen had stopped. Instead, a clipped

military voice was reading out, with a sort of brutal relish,

a description of the armaments of the new Floating Fortress

which had just been anchored between Iceland and

the Faroe lslands.

With those children, he thought, that wretched woman

must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and

they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of

unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were horrible.

What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations

as the Spies they were systematically turned into

ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them

no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the

Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything

connected with it. The songs, the processions, the

banners, the hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the

yelling of slogans, the worship of Big Brother—it was all a

sort of glorious game to them. All their ferocity was turned

outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners,

traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. 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 its parents to the Thought Police.

The sting of the catapult bullet had worn off. He picked

up his pen half-heartedly, wondering whether he could find

something more to write in the diary. Suddenly he began

thinking of O’Brien again.

Years ago—how long was it? Seven years it must be—he

had dreamed that he was walking through a pitch-dark

room. And someone sitting to one side of him had said as

he passed: ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no

darkness.’ It was said very quietly, almost casually—a statement,

not a command. He had walked on without pausing.

What was curious was that at the time, in the dream, the

words had not made much impression on him. It was only

later and by degrees that they had seemed to take on significance.

He could not now remember whether it was before

or after having the dream that he had seen O’Brien for the

first time, nor could he remember when he had first identified

the voice as O’Brien’s. But at any rate the identification

existed. It was O’Brien who had spoken to him out of the


Winston had never been able to feel sure—even after this

morning’s flash of the eyes it was still impossible to be sure

whether O’Brien was a friend or an enemy. Nor did it even

seem to matter greatly. There was a link of understanding

between them, more important than affection or partisanship.

‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,’

he had said. Winston did not know what it meant, only that

in some way or another it would come true.

The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call,

clear and beautiful, floated into the stagnant air. The voice

continued raspingly:

Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this

moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South

India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say

that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war

within measurable distance of its end. Here is the newsflash—


Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough,

following on a gory description of the annihilation of a

Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners,

came the announcement that, as from next week, the

chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grams to


Winston belched again. The gin was wearing off, leaving

a deflated feeling. The telescreen—perhaps to celebrate the

victory, perhaps to drown the memory of the lost chocolate—

crashed into ‘Oceania, ‘tis for thee’. You were supposed to

stand to attention. However, in his present position he was


‘Oceania, ‘tis for thee’ gave way to lighter music. Winston

walked over to the window, keeping his back to the

telescreen. The day was still cold and clear. Somewhere far

away a rocket bomb exploded with a dull, reverberating

roar. About twenty or thirty of them a week were falling on

London at present.

Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to

and fro, and the word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished.

Ingsoc. The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak,

doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as though

he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in

a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He

was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable.

What certainty had he that a single human creature now

living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the

dominion of the Party would not endure FOR EVER? Like

an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry

of Truth came back to him:




He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There,

too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed,

and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother.

Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on

stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and

on the wrappings of a cigarette packet—everywhere. Always

the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you.

Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors,

in the bath or in bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except

the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.

The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of

the Ministry of Truth, with the light no longer shining on

them, looked grim as the loopholes of a fortress. His heart

quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too

strong, it could not be stormed. A thousand rocket bombs

would not batter it down. He wondered again for whom he

was writing the diary. For the future, for the past—for an

age that might be imaginary. And in front of him there lay

not death but annihilation. The diary would be reduced

to ashes and himself to vapor. Only the Thought Police

would read what he had written, before they wiped it out of

existence and out of memory. How could you make appeal

to the future when not a trace of you, not even an anonymous

word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically


The telescreen struck fourteen. He must leave in ten minutes.

He had to be back at work by fourteen-thirty.

Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put

new heart into him. He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth

that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it,

in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was

not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you

carried on the human heritage. He went back to the table,

dipped his pen, and wrote:

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is

free, when men are different from one another and do not

live alone—to a time when truth exists and what is done

cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the

age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of


He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that

it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate

his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step. The consequences

of every act are included in the act itself. He wrote:

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.

Now he had recognized himself as a dead man it became

important to stay alive as long as possible. Two fingers of his

right hand were inkstained. It was exactly the kind of detail

that might betray you. Some nosing zealot in the Ministry

(a woman, probably: someone like the little sandy-haired

woman or the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department)

might start wondering why he had been writing

during the lunch interval, why he had used an old-fashioned

pen, WHAT he had been writing—and then drop a

hint in the appropriate quarter. He went to the bathroom

and carefully scrubbed the ink away with the gritty darkbrown

soap which rasped your skin like sandpaper and was

therefore well adapted for this purpose.

He put the diary away in the drawer. It was quite useless

to think of hiding it, but he could at least make sure whether

or not its existence had been discovered. A hair laid across

the page-ends was too obvious. With the tip of his finger he

picked up an identifiable grain of whitish dust and deposited

it on the corner of the cover, where it was bound to be

shaken off if the book was moved.


Chapter 3

Winston was dreaming of his mother.

He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven

years old when his mother had disappeared. She was

a tall, statuesque, rather silent woman with slow movements

and magnificent fair hair. His father he remembered

more vaguely as dark and thin, dressed always in neat dark

clothes (Winston remembered especially the very thin soles

of his father’s shoes) and wearing spectacles. The two of

them must evidently have been swallowed up in one of the

first great purges of the fifties.

At this moment his mother was sitting in some place

deep down beneath him, with his young sister in her arms.

He did not remember his sister at all, except as a tiny, feeble

baby, always silent, with large, watchful eyes. Both of them

were looking up at him. They were down in some subterranean

place—the bottom of a well, for instance, or a very

deep grave—but it was a place which, already far below him,

was itself moving downwards. They were in the saloon of

a sinking ship, looking up at him through the darkening

water. There was still air in the saloon, they could still see

him and he them, but all the while they were sinking down,

down into the green waters which in another moment must

hide them from sight for ever. He was out in the light and

air while they were being sucked down to death, and they

were down there because he was up here. He knew it and

they knew it, and he could see the knowledge in their faces.

There was no reproach either in their faces or in their hearts,

only the knowledge that they must die in order that he

might remain alive, and that this was part of the unavoidable

order of things.

He could not remember what had happened, but he knew

in his dream that in some way the lives of his mother and

his sister had been sacrificed to his own. It was one of those

dreams which, while retaining the characteristic dream

scenery, are a continuation of one’s intellectual life, and

in which one becomes aware of facts and ideas which still

seem new and valuable after one is awake. The thing that

now suddenly struck Winston was that his mother’s death,

nearly thirty years ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in a

way that was no longer possible. Tragedy, he perceived, belonged

to the ancient time, to a time when there was still

privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a

family stood by one another without needing to know the

reason. His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she

had died loving him, when he was too young and selfish

to love her in return, and because somehow, he did not remember

how, she had sacrificed herself to a conception of

loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such things, he

saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred,

and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex

sorrows. All this he seemed to see in the large eyes of his

mother and his sister, looking up at him through the green

water, hundreds of fathoms down and still sinking.

Suddenly he was standing on short springy turf, on a

summer evening when the slanting rays of the sun gilded

the ground. The landscape that he was looking at recurred

so often in his dreams that he was never fully certain

whether or not he had seen it in the real world. In his waking

thoughts he called it the Golden Country. It was an old,

rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot-track wandering across it

and a molehill here and there. In the ragged hedge on the

opposite side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were

swaying very faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring

in dense masses like women’s hair. Somewhere near at hand,

though out of sight, there was a clear, slow-moving stream

where dace were swimming in the pools under the willow


The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across

the field. With what seemed a single movement she tore off

her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside. Her body

was white and smooth, but it aroused no desire in him, indeed

he barely looked at it. What overwhelmed him in that

instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had

thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness

it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system

of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the

Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single

splendid movement of the arm. That too was a gesture

belonging to the ancient time. Winston woke up with the

word ‘Shakespeare’ on his lips.

The telescreen was giving forth an ear-splitting whistle

which continued on the same note for thirty seconds. It

was naught seven fifteen, getting-up time for office workers.

Winston wrenched his body out of bed—naked, for a member

of the Outer Party received only 3,000 clothing coupons

annually, and a suit of pajamas was 600—and seized a dingy

singlet and a pair of shorts that were lying across a chair.

The Physical Jerks would begin in three minutes. The next

moment he was doubled up by a violent coughing fit which

nearly always attacked him soon after waking up. It emptied

his lungs so completely that he could only begin breathing

again by lying on his back and taking a series of deep gasps.

His veins had swelled with the effort of the cough, and the

varicose ulcer had started itching.

‘Thirty to forty group!’ yapped a piercing female voice.

‘Thirty to forty group! Take your places, please. Thirties to


Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreen,

upon which the image of a youngish woman, scrawny but

muscular, dressed in tunic and gym-shoes, had already appeared.

‘Arms bending and stretching!’ she rapped out. ‘Take

your time by me. ONE, two, three, four! ONE, two, three,

four! Come on, comrades, put a bit of life into it! ONE, two,

three four! ONE two, three, four!…’

The pain of the coughing fit had not quite driven out of

Winston’s mind the impression made by his dream, and the

rhythmic movements of the exercise restored it somewhat.

As he mechanically shot his arms back and forth, wearing

on his face the look of grim enjoyment which was considered

proper during the Physical Jerks, he was struggling

to think his way backward into the dim period of his early

childhood. It was extraordinarily difficult. Beyond the late

fifties everything faded. When there were no external records

that you could refer to, even the outline of your own

life lost its sharpness. You remembered huge events which

had quite probably not happened, you remembered the

detail of incidents without being able to recapture their atmosphere,

and there were long blank periods to which you

could assign nothing. Everything had been different then.

Even the names of countries, and their shapes on the map,

had been different. Airstrip One, for instance, had not been

so called in those days: it had been called England or Britain,

though London, he felt fairly certain, had always been

called London.

Winston could not definitely remember a time when his

country had not been at war, but it was evident that there

had been a fairly long interval of peace during his childhood,

because one of his early memories was of an air raid

which appeared to take everyone by surprise. Perhaps it was

the time when the atomic bomb had fallen on Colchester.

He did not remember the raid itself, but he did remember

his father’s hand clutching his own as they hurried down,

down, down into some place deep in the earth, round and

round a spiral staircase which rang under his feet and which

finally so wearied his legs that he began whimpering and

they had to stop and rest. His mother, in her slow, dreamy

way, was following a long way behind them. She was carrying

his baby sister—or perhaps it was only a bundle of

blankets that she was carrying: he was not certain whether

his sister had been born then. Finally they had emerged into

a noisy, crowded place which he had realized to be a Tube


There were people sitting all over the stone-flagged floor,

and other people, packed tightly together, were sitting on

metal bunks, one above the other. Winston and his mother

and father found themselves a place on the floor, and near

them an old man and an old woman were sitting side by

side on a bunk. The old man had on a decent dark suit and

a black cloth cap pushed back from very white hair: his

face was scarlet and his eyes were blue and full of tears. He

reeked of gin. It seemed to breathe out of his skin in place

of sweat, and one could have fancied that the tears welling

from his eyes were pure gin. But though slightly drunk he

was also suffering under some grief that was genuine and

unbearable. In his childish way Winston grasped that some

terrible thing, something that was beyond forgiveness and

could never be remedied, had just happened. It also seemed

to him that he knew what it was. Someone whom the old

man loved—a little granddaughter, perhaps—had been

killed. Every few minutes the old man kept repeating:

We didn’t ought to ‘ave trusted ‘em. I said so, Ma, didn’t I?

That’s what comes of trusting ‘em. I said so all along. We

didn’t ought to ‘ave trusted the buggers.’

But which buggers they didn’t ought to have trusted

Winston could not now remember.

Since about that time, war had been literally continuous,

though strictly speaking it had not always been the

same war. For several months during his childhood there

had been confused street fighting in London itself, some of

which he remembered vividly. But to trace out the history

of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any

given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since

no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention

of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment,

for example, in 2017 (if it was 2017), Oceania was at

war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public

or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three

powers had at any time been grouped along different lines.

Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since

Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with

Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge

which he happened to possess because his memory was not

satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners

had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia:

therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The

enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and

it followed that any past or future agreement with him was


The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth

time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward

(with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from

the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the

back muscles)—the frightening thing was that it might all

be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and

say of this or that event, IT NEVER HAPPENED—that,

surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance

with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had

been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years

ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own

consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated.

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—

if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into

history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the

Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present

controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable,

never had been altered. Whatever was true now was

true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All

that was needed was an unending series of victories over

your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak,


‘Stand easy!’ barked the instructress, a little more genially.

Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled

his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine

world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to

be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully

constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions

which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory

and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic,

to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe

that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the

guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary

to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the

moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget

it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process

itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to

induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become

unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.

Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the

use of doublethink.

The instructress had called them to attention again. ‘And

now let’s see which of us can touch our toes!’ she said enthusiastically.

‘Right over from the hips, please, comrades.

ONE-two! ONE-two!…’

Winston loathed this exercise, which sent shooting pains

all the way from his heels to his buttocks and often ended by

bringing on another coughing fit. The half-pleasant quality

went out of his meditations. The past, he reflected, had

not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For

how could you establish even the most obvious fact when

there existed no record outside your own memory? He tried

to remember in what year he had first heard mention of

Big Brother. He thought it must have been at some time in

the sixties, but it was impossible to be certain. In the Party

histories, of course, Big Brother figured as the leader and

guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days. His

exploits had been gradually pushed backwards in time until

already they extended into the fabulous world of the forties

and the thirties, when the capitalists in their strange cylindrical

hats still rode through the streets of London in great

gleaming motor-cars or horse carriages with glass sides.

There was no knowing how much of this legend was true

and how much invented. Winston could not even remember

at what date the Party itself had come into existence. He

did not believe he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before

1993, but it was possible that in its Oldspeak form—’English

Socialism’, that is to say—it had been current earlier.

Everything melted into mist. Sometimes, indeed, you could

put your finger on a definite lie. It was not true, for example,

as was claimed in the Party history books, that the Party

had invented airplanes. He remembered airplanes since

his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing. There

was never any evidence. Just once in his whole life he had

held in his hands unmistakable documentary proof of the

falsification of an historical fact. And on that occasion——

‘Smith!’ screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen.

‘6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do

better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S

better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and

watch me.’

A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston’s

body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never

show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker

of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while

the instructress raised her arms above her head and—one

could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and

efficiency—bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers

under her toes.

‘THERE, comrades! THAT’S how I want to see you doing

it. Watch me again. I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four

children. Now look.’ She bent over again. ‘You see MY

knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to,’ she added

as she straightened herself up. ‘Anyone under forty-five

is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have

the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can

all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And

the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what THEY

have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade,

that’s MUCH better,’ she added encouragingly as Winston,

with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with

knees unbent, for the first time in several years.


Chapter 4

With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the

nearness of the telescreen could prevent him from

uttering when his day’s work started, Winston pulled the

speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece,

and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled and clipped

together four small cylinders of paper which had already

flopped out of the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side

of his desk.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To

the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written

messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in

the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large

oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the

disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or

tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every

room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some

reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one

knew that any document was due for destruction, or even

when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an

automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole

and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a

current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were

hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

Winston examined the four slips of paper which he had

unrolled. Each contained a message of only one or two lines,

in the abbreviated jargon—not actually Newspeak, but consisting

largely of Newspeak words—which was used in the

Ministry for internal purposes. They ran:

times 17.3.17 bb speech malreported africa rectify

times 19.12.16 forecasts 3 yp 4th quarter 83 misprints verify

current issue

times 14.2.17 miniplenty malquoted chocolate rectify

times 3.12.16 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs

unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

With a faint feeling of satisfaction Winston laid the

fourth message aside. It was an intricate and responsible job

and had better be dealt with last. The other three were routine

matters, though the second one would probably mean

some tedious wading through lists of figures.

Winston dialed ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and

called for the appropriate issues of ‘The Times’, which slid

out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes’ delay.

The messages he had received referred to articles or news

items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary

to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For

example, it appeared from ‘The Times’ of the seventeenth

of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous

day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain

quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be

launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian

Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India

and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary

to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a

way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened.

Or again, ‘The Times’ of the nineteenth of December

had published the official forecasts of the output of various

classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 2016,

which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year

Plan. Today’s issue contained a statement of the actual output,

from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every

instance grossly wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the

original figures by making them agree with the later ones.

As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error

which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a

time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a

promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that

there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during

2017. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration

was to be reduced from thirty grams to twenty at the end

of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute

for the original promise a warning that it would probably

be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages,

he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate

copy of ‘The Times’ and pushed them into the pneumatic

tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible

unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and

any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into

the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the

pneumatic tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did

know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which

happened to be necessary in any particular number of ‘The

Times’ had been assembled and collated, that number would

be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected

copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous

alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but

to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films,

sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs—to every kind of literature

or documentation which might conceivably hold

any political or ideological significance. Day by day and

almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date.

In this way every prediction made by the Party could be

shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor

was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which

conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to

remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped

clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In

no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done,

to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest

section of the Records Department, far larger than the one

on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons

whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of

books, newspapers, and other documents which had been

superseded and were due for destruction. A number of ‘The

Times’ which might, because of changes in political alignment,

or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have

been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing

its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it.

Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again,

and were invariably reissued without any admission that

any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions

which Winston received, and which he invariably got

rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or

implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always

the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations

which it was necessary to put right in the interests of


But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry

of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the

substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of

the material that you were dealing with had no connection

with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection

that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just

as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified

version. A great deal of the time you were expected to

make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry

of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots

for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was

given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting

the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions,

so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been

overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer

the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions.

Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still,

nobody knew how many had been produced, much less

cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical

numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps

half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was

with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything

faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the

date of the year had become uncertain.

Winston glanced across the hall. In the corresponding

cubicle on the other side a small, precise-looking, darkchinned

man named Tillotson was working steadily away,

with a folded newspaper on his knee and his mouth very

close to the mouthpiece of the speakwrite. He had the air of

trying to keep what he was saying a secret between himself

and the telescreen. He looked up, and his spectacles darted

a hostile flash in Winston’s direction.

Winston hardly knew Tillotson, and had no idea what

work he was employed on. People in the Records Department

did not readily talk about their jobs. In the long,

windowless hall, with its double row of cubicles and its endless

rustle of papers and hum of voices murmuring into

speakwrites, there were quite a dozen people whom Winston

did not even know by name, though he daily saw them

hurrying to and fro in the corridors or gesticulating in the

Two Minutes Hate. He knew that in the cubicle next to him

the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in day out, simply

at tracking down and deleting from the Press the names

of people who had been vaporized and were therefore considered

never to have existed. There was a certain fitness in

this, since her own husband had been vaporized a couple

of years earlier. And a few cubicles away a mild, ineffectual,

dreamy creature named Ampleforth, with very hairy

ears and a surprising talent for juggling with rhymes and

meters, was engaged in producing garbled versions—definitive

texts, they were called—of poems which had become

ideologically offensive, but which for one reason or another

were to be retained in the anthologies. And this hall, with

its fifty workers or thereabouts, was only one sub-section, a

single cell, as it were, in the huge complexity of the Records

Department. Beyond, above, below, were other swarms

of workers engaged in an unimaginable multitude of jobs.

There were the huge printing-shops with their sub-editors,

their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped

studios for the faking of photographs. There was the teleprograms

section with its engineers, its producers, and

its teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating

voices. There were the armies of reference clerks whose

job was simply to draw up lists of books and periodicals

which were due for recall. There were the vast repositories

where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden

furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And

somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing

brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid

down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this

fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified,

and the other rubbed out of existence.

And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a

single branch of the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job

was not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens

of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen

programs , plays, novels—with every conceivable kind of

information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to

a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from

a child’s spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary. And the

Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of

the party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower

level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole

chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature,

music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here

were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost

nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational

five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental

songs which were composed entirely by mechanical

means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator.

There was even a whole sub-section—Pornosec, it

was called in Newspeak—engaged in producing the lowest

kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets

and which no Party member, other than those who worked

on it, was permitted to look at.

Three messages had slid out of the pneumatic tube while

Winston was working, but they were simple matters, and

he had disposed of them before the Two Minutes Hate interrupted

him. When the Hate was over he returned to

his cubicle, took the Newspeak dictionary from the shelf,

pushed the speakwrite to one side, cleaned his spectacles,

and settled down to his main job of the morning.

Winston’s greatest pleasure in life was in his work. Most

of it was a tedious routine, but included in it there were also

jobs so difficult and intricate that you could lose yourself in

them as in the depths of a mathematical problem—delicate

pieces of forgery in which you had nothing to guide you

except your knowledge of the principles of Ingsoc and your

estimate of what the Party wanted you to say. Winston was

good at this kind of thing. On occasion he had even been

entrusted with the rectification of ‘The Times’ leading articles,

which were written entirely in Newspeak. He unrolled

the message that he had set aside earlier. It ran:

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs

unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

In Oldspeak (or standard English) this might be rendered:

The reporting of Big Brother’s Order for the Day in ‘The Times’

of December 3rd 2016 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes

references to non-existent persons. Rewrite it in full and

submit your draft to higher authority before filing.

Winston read through the offending article. Big Brother’s

Order for the Day, it seemed, had been chiefly devoted

to praising the work of an organization known as FFCC,

which supplied cigarettes and other comforts to the sailors

in the Floating Fortresses. A certain Comrade Withers, a

prominent member of the Inner Party, had been singled out

for special mention and awarded a decoration, the Order of

Conspicuous Merit, Second Class.

Three months later FFCC had suddenly been dissolved

with no reasons given. One could assume that Withers and

his associates were now in disgrace, but there had been no

report of the matter in the Press or on the telescreen. That

was to be expected, since it was unusual for political offenders

to be put on trial or even publicly denounced. The great

purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of

traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession

of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special

show-pieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of

years. More commonly, people who had incurred the displeasure

of the Party simply disappeared and were never

heard of again. One never had the smallest clue as to what

had happened to them. In some cases they might not even

be dead. Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston,

not counting his parents, had disappeared at one time

or another.

Winston stroked his nose gently with a paper-clip. In the

cubicle across the way Comrade Tillotson was still crouching

secretively over his speakwrite. He raised his head for

a moment: again the hostile spectacle-flash. Winston wondered

whether Comrade Tillotson was engaged on the same

job as himself. It was perfectly possible. So tricky a piece of

work would never be entrusted to a single person: on the

other hand, to turn it over to a committee would be to admit

openly that an act of fabrication was taking place. Very

likely as many as a dozen people were now working away

on rival versions of what Big Brother had actually said. And

presently some master brain in the Inner Party would select

this version or that, would re-edit it and set in motion

the complex processes of cross-referencing that would be

required, and then the chosen lie would pass into the permanent

records and become truth.

Winston did not know why Withers had been disgraced.

Perhaps it was for corruption or incompetence. Perhaps Big

Brother was merely getting rid of a too-popular subordinate.

Perhaps Withers or someone close to him had been

suspected of heretical tendencies. Or perhaps—what was

likeliest of all—the thing had simply happened because

purges and vaporizations were a necessary part of the mechanics

of government. The only real clue lay in the words

‘refs unpersons’, which indicated that Withers was already

dead. You could not invariably assume this to be the case

when people were arrested. Sometimes they were released

and allowed to remain at liberty for as much as a year or

two years before being executed. Very occasionally some

person whom you had believed dead long since would make

a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would

implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing,

this time for ever. Withers, however, was already an

UNPERSON. He did not exist: he had never existed. Winston

decided that it would not be enough simply to reverse

the tendency of Big Brother’s speech. It was better to make

it deal with something totally unconnected with its original


He might turn the speech into the usual denunciation of

traitors and thought-criminals, but that was a little too obvious,

while to invent a victory at the front, or some triumph

of over-production in the Ninth Three-Year Plan, might

complicate the records too much. What was needed was a

piece of pure fantasy. Suddenly there sprang into his mind,

ready made as it were, the image of a certain Comrade Ogilvy,

who had recently died in battle, in heroic circumstances.

There were occasions when Big Brother devoted his Order

for the Day to commemorating some humble, rank-and-file

Party member whose life and death he held up as an example

worthy to be followed. Today he should commemorate

Comrade Ogilvy. It was true that there was no such person

as Comrade Ogilvy, but a few lines of print and a couple of

faked photographs would soon bring him into existence.

Winston thought for a moment, then pulled the speakwrite

towards him and began dictating in Big Brother’s

familiar style: a style at once military and pedantic, and,

because of a trick of asking questions and then promptly

answering them (’What lessons do we learn from this fact,

comrades? The lesson—which is also one of the fundamental

principles of Ingsoc—that,’ etc., etc.), easy to imitate.

At the age of three Comrade Ogilvy had refused all toys

except a drum, a sub-machine gun, and a model helicopter.

At six—a year early, by a special relaxation of the rules—he

had joined the Spies, at nine he had been a troop leader. At

eleven he had denounced his uncle to the Thought Police

after overhearing a conversation which appeared to him to

have criminal tendencies. At seventeen he had been a district

organizer of the Junior Anti-Sex League. At nineteen

he had designed a hand-grenade which had been adopted

by the Ministry of Peace and which, at its first trial, had

killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst. At twenty-

three he had perished in action. Pursued by enemy jet

planes while flying over the Indian Ocean with important

dispatches, he had weighted his body with his machine gun

and leapt out of the helicopter into deep water, despatches

and all—an end, said Big Brother, which it was impossible

to contemplate without feelings of envy. Big Brother added a

few remarks on the purity and single-mindedness of Comrade

Ogilvy’s life. He was a total abstainer and a nonsmoker,

had no recreations except a daily hour in the gymnasium,

and had taken a vow of celibacy, believing marriage and the

care of a family to be incompatible with a twenty-four-houra-

day devotion to duty. He had no subjects of conversation

except the principles of Ingsoc, and no aim in life except

the defeat of the Eurasian enemy and the hunting-down of

spies, saboteurs, thoughtcriminals, and traitors generally.

Winston debated with himself whether to award Comrade

Ogilvy the Order of Conspicuous Merit: in the end he

decided against it because of the unnecessary cross-referencing

that it would entail.

Once again he glanced at his rival in the opposite cubicle.

Something seemed to tell him with certainty that Tillotson

was busy on the same job as himself. There was no way of

knowing whose job would finally be adopted, but he felt a

profound conviction that it would be his own. Comrade

Ogilvy, unimagined an hour ago, was now a fact. It struck

him as curious that you could create dead men but not living

ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the

present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of

forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically,

and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius


Chapter 5

In the low-ceilinged canteen, deep underground, the

lunch queue jerked slowly forward. The room was already

very full and deafeningly noisy. From the grille at the

counter the steam of stew came pouring forth, with a sour

metallic smell which did not quite overcome the fumes of

Victory Gin. On the far side of the room there was a small

bar, a mere hole in the wall, where gin could be bought at

ten cents the large nip.

‘Just the man I was looking for,’ said a voice at Winston’s


He turned round. It was his friend Syme, who worked in

the Research Department. Perhaps ‘friend’ was not exactly

the right word. You did not have friends nowadays, you

had comrades: but there were some comrades whose society

was pleasanter than that of others. Syme was a philologist, a

specialist in Newspeak. Indeed, he was one of the enormous

team of experts now engaged in compiling the Eleventh

Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. He was a tiny creature,

smaller than Winston, with dark hair and large, protuberant

eyes, at once mournful and derisive, which seemed to

search your face closely while he was speaking to you.

‘I wanted to ask you whether you’d got any razor blades,’

he said.

‘Not one!’ said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. ‘I’ve

tried all over the place. They don’t exist any longer.’

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he

had two unused ones which he was hoarding up. There

had been a famine of them for months past. At any given

moment there was some necessary article which the Party

shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons,

sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces;

at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of

them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the

‘free’ market.

‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks,’ he added


The queue gave another jerk forward. As they halted he

turned and faced Syme again. Each of them took a greasy

metal tray from a pile at the end of the counter.

‘Did you go and see the prisoners hanged yesterday?’ said


‘I was working,’ said Winston indifferently. ‘I shall see it

on the flicks, I suppose.’

‘A very inadequate substitute,’ said Syme.

His mocking eyes roved over Winston’s face. ‘I know

you,’ the eyes seemed to say, ‘I see through you. I know very

well why you didn’t go to see those prisoners hanged.’ In

an intellectual way, Syme was venomously orthodox. He

would talk with a disagreeable gloating satisfaction of helicopter

raids on enemy villages, and trials and confessions

of thought-criminals, the executions in the cellars of the

Ministry of Love. Talking to him was largely a matter of

getting him away from such subjects and entangling him,

if possible, in the technicalities of Newspeak, on which he

was authoritative and interesting. Winston turned his head

a little aside to avoid the scrutiny of the large dark eyes.

‘It was a good hanging,’ said Syme reminiscently. ‘I think

it spoils it when they tie their feet together. I like to see them

kicking. And above all, at the end, the tongue sticking right

out, and blue—a quite bright blue. That’s the detail that appeals

to me.’

‘Nex’, please!’ yelled the white-aproned prole with the ladle.

Winston and Syme pushed their trays beneath the grille.

On to each was dumped swiftly the regulation lunch—a

metal pannikin of pinkish-grey stew, a hunk of bread, a

cube of cheese, a mug of milkless Victory Coffee, and one

saccharine tablet.

‘There’s a table over there, under that telescreen,’ said

Syme. ‘Let’s pick up a gin on the way.’

The gin was served out to them in handleless china mugs.

They threaded their way across the crowded room and unpacked

their trays on to the metal-topped table, on one

corner of which someone had left a pool of stew, a filthy

liquid mess that had the appearance of vomit. Winston

took up his mug of gin, paused for an instant to collect his

nerve, and gulped the oily-tasting stuff down. When he

had winked the tears out of his eyes he suddenly discovered

that he was hungry. He began swallowing spoonfuls of

the stew, which, in among its general sloppiness, had cubes

of spongy pinkish stuff which was probably a preparation

of meat. Neither of them spoke again till they had emptied

their pannikins. From the table at Winston’s left, a little

behind his back, someone was talking rapidly and continuously,

a harsh gabble almost like the quacking of a duck,

which pierced the general uproar of the room.

‘How is the Dictionary getting on?’ said Winston, raising

his voice to overcome the noise.

‘Slowly,’ said Syme. ‘I’m on the adjectives. It’s fascinating.’

He had brightened up immediately at the mention of

Newspeak. He pushed his pannikin aside, took up his hunk

of bread in one delicate hand and his cheese in the other,

and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak without


‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said.

‘We’re getting the language into its final shape—the shape

it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When

we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it

all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is

inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying

words—scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re

cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition

won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete

before the year 2050.’

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple

of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant’s

passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his

eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost


‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course

the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there

are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t

only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all,

what justification is there for a word which is simply the

opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite

in itself. Take ‘good’, for instance. If you have a word like

‘good’, what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’

will do just as well—better, because it’s an exact opposite,

which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version

of ‘good’, what sense is there in having a whole string

of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all

the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning, or ‘doubleplusgood’

if you want something stronger still. Of course

we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak

there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion

of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words—

in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that,

Winston? It was B.B.’s idea originally, of course,’ he added

as an afterthought.

A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston’s face at

the mention of Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately

detected a certain lack of enthusiasm.

‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’

he said almost sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still

thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that

you write in ‘The Times’ occasionally. They’re good enough,

but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick

to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of

meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of

words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in

the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?’

Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically

he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit

off another fragment of the dark-colored bread, chewed it

briefly, and went on:

‘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. Already, in the Eleventh Edition,

we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be

continuing long after you and I are dead. 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. Newspeak is Ingsoc and

Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction.

‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the

year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will

be alive who could understand such a conversation as we

are having now?’

‘Except——’ began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped.

It had been on the tip of his tongue to say ‘Except the

proles,’ but he checked himself, not feeling fully certain that

this remark was not in some way unorthodox. Syme, however,

had divined what he was about to say.

‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘By

2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak

will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will

have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—

they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely

changed into something different, but actually changed

into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even

the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will

change. How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery’

when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The

whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will

be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means

not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep

conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He

sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not

like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in

his face.

Winston had finished his bread and cheese. He turned

a little sideways in his chair to drink his mug of coffee. At

the table on his left the man with the strident voice was

still talking remorselessly away. A young woman who was

perhaps his secretary, and who was sitting with her back

to Winston, was listening to him and seemed to be eagerly

agreeing with everything that he said. From time to time

Winston caught some such remark as ‘I think you’re so right,

I do so agree with you’, uttered in a youthful and rather silly

feminine voice. But the other voice never stopped for an instant,

even when the girl was speaking. Winston knew the

man by sight, though he knew no more about him than that

he held some important post in the Fiction Department. He

was a man of about thirty, with a muscular throat and a

large, mobile mouth. His head was thrown back a little, and

because of the angle at which he was sitting, his spectacles

caught the light and presented to Winston two blank discs

instead of eyes. What was slightly horrible, was that from

the stream of sound that poured out of his mouth it was

almost impossible to distinguish a single word. Just once

Winston caught a phrase—’complete and final elimination

of Goldsteinism’—jerked out very rapidly and, as it seemed,

all in one piece, like a line of type cast solid. For the rest it

was just a noise, a quack-quack-quacking. And yet, though

you could not actually hear what the man was saying, you

could not be in any doubt about its general nature. He might

be denouncing Goldstein and demanding sterner measures

against thought-criminals and saboteurs, he might be fulminating

against the atrocities of the Eurasian army, he

might be praising Big Brother or the heroes on the Malabar

front—it made no difference. Whatever it was, you could

be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure

Ingsoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving

rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that

this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It

was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was his larynx.

The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but

it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in

unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Syme had fallen silent for a moment, and with the handle

of his spoon was tracing patterns in the puddle of stew.

The voice from the other table quacked rapidly on, easily

audible in spite of the surrounding din.

‘There is a word in Newspeak,’ said Syme, ‘I don’t know

whether you know it: DUCKSPEAK, to quack like a duck. It

is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory

meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied

to someone you agree with, it is praise.’

Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston

thought again. He thought it with a kind of sadness, although

well knowing that Syme despised him and slightly

disliked him, and was fully capable of denouncing him as

a thought-criminal if he saw any reason for doing so. There

was something subtly wrong with Syme. There was something

that he lacked: discretion, aloofness, a sort of saving

stupidity. You could not say that he was unorthodox. He believed

in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big Brother,

he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics, not merely with

sincerity but with a sort of restless zeal, an up-to-dateness

of information, which the ordinary Party member did not

approach. Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to

him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he

had read too many books, he frequented the Chestnut Tree

Cafe, haunt of painters and musicians. There was no law,

not even an unwritten law, against frequenting the Chestnut

Tree Cafe, yet the place was somehow ill-omened. The

old, discredited leaders of the Party had been used to gather

there before they were finally purged. Goldstein himself, it

was said, had sometimes been seen there, years and decades

ago. Syme’s fate was not difficult to foresee. And yet it was

a fact that if Syme grasped, even for three seconds, the nature

of his, Winston’s, secret opinions, he would betray him

instantly to the Thought Police. So would anybody else, for

that matter: but Syme more than most. Zeal was not enough.

Orthodoxy was unconsciousness.

Syme looked up. ‘Here comes Parsons,’ he said.

Something in the tone of his voice seemed to add, ‘that

bloody fool’. Parsons, Winston’s fellow-tenant at Victory

Mansions, was in fact threading his way across the room—

a tubby, middle-sized man with fair hair and a froglike face.

At thirty-five he was already putting on rolls of fat at neck

and waistline, but his movements were brisk and boyish.

His whole appearance was that of a little boy grown large, so

much so that although he was wearing the regulation overalls,

it was almost impossible not to think of him as being

dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirt, and red neckerchief

of the Spies. In visualizing him one saw always a picture

of dimpled knees and sleeves rolled back from pudgy forearms.

Parsons did, indeed, invariably revert to shorts when

a community hike or any other physical activity gave him

an excuse for doing so. He greeted them both with a cheery

‘Hullo, hullo!’ and sat down at the table, giving off an intense

smell of sweat. Beads of moisture stood out all over

his pink face. His powers of sweating were extraordinary.

At the Community Centre you could always tell when he

had been playing table-tennis by the dampness of the bat

handle. Syme had produced a strip of paper on which there

was a long column of words, and was studying it with an

ink-pencil between his fingers.

‘Look at him working away in the lunch hour,’ said Parsons,

nudging Winston. ‘Keenness, eh? What’s that you’ve

got there, old boy? Something a bit too brainy for me, I expect.

Smith, old boy, I’ll tell you why I’m chasing you. It’s

that sub you forgot to give me.’

‘Which sub is that?’ said Winston, automatically feeling

for money. About a quarter of one’s salary had to be

earmarked for voluntary subscriptions, which were so numerous

that it was difficult to keep track of them.

‘For Hate Week. You know—the house-by-house fund.

I’m treasurer for our block. We’re making an all-out effort—

going to put on a tremendous show. I tell you, it won’t be my

fault if old Victory Mansions doesn’t have the biggest outfit

of flags in the whole street. Two dollars you promised me.’

Winston found and handed over two creased and filthy

notes, which Parsons entered in a small notebook, in the

neat handwriting of the illiterate.

‘By the way, old boy,’ he said. ‘I hear that little beggar of

mine let fly at you with his catapult yesterday. I gave him

a good dressing-down for it. In fact I told him I’d take the

catapult away if he does it again.’

‘I think he was a little upset at not going to the execution,’

said Winston.

‘Ah, well—what I mean to say, shows the right spirit,

doesn’t it? Mischievous little beggars they are, both of them,

but talk about keenness! All they think about is the Spies,

and the war, of course. D’you know what that little girl of

mine did last Saturday, when her troop was on a hike out

Berkhamsted way? She got two other girls to go with her,

slipped off from the hike, and spent the whole afternoon

following a strange man. They kept on his tail for two hours,

right through the woods, and then, when they got into Amersham,

handed him over to the patrols.’

‘What did they do that for?’ said Winston, somewhat taken

aback. Parsons went on triumphantly:

‘My kid made sure he was some kind of enemy agent—

might have been dropped by parachute, for instance. But

here’s the point, old boy. What do you think put her on to

him in the first place? She spotted he was wearing a funny

kind of shoes—said she’d never seen anyone wearing shoes

like that before. So the chances were he was a foreigner.

Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?’

‘What happened to the man?’ said Winston.

‘Ah, that I couldn’t say, of course. But I wouldn’t be altogether

surprised if——’ Parsons made the motion of aiming

a rifle, and clicked his tongue for the explosion.

‘Good,’ said Syme abstractedly, without looking up from

his strip of paper.

‘Of course we can’t afford to take chances,’ agreed Winston


‘What I mean to say, there is a war on,’ said Parsons.

As though in confirmation of this, a trumpet call floated

from the telescreen just above their heads. However, it

was not the proclamation of a military victory this time, but

merely an announcement from the Ministry of Plenty.

‘Comrades!’ cried an eager youthful voice. ‘Attention,

comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the

battle for production! Returns now completed of the output

of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard

of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past

year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible

spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of

factories and offices and paraded through the streets with

banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new,

happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us.

Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs——’

The phrase ‘our new, happy life’ recurred several times. It

had been a favourite of late with the Ministry of Plenty. Parsons,

his attention caught by the trumpet call, sat listening

with a sort of gaping solemnity, a sort of edified boredom.

He could not follow the figures, but he was aware that they

were in some way a cause for satisfaction. He had lugged out

a huge and filthy pipe which was already half full of charred

tobacco. With the tobacco ration at 100 grams a week it

was seldom possible to fill a pipe to the top. Winston was

smoking a Victory Cigarette which he held carefully horizontal.

The new ration did not start till tomorrow and he

had only four cigarettes left. For the moment he had shut his

ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that

streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had

even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising

the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. And only

yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration

was to be REDUCED to twenty grams a week. Was it

possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four

hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily,

with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature at the

other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious

desire to track down, denounce, and vaporize anyone

who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty

grams . Syme, too—in some more complex way, involving

doublethink, Syme swallowed it. Was he, then, ALONE

in the possession of a memory?

The fabulous statistics continued to pour out of the telescreen.

As compared with last year there was more food,

more clothes, more houses, more furniture, more cooking-

pots, more fuel, more ships, more helicopters, more

books, more babies—more of everything except disease,

crime, and insanity. Year by year and minute by minute,

everybody and everything was whizzing rapidly upwards.

As Syme had done earlier Winston had taken up his spoon

and was dabbling in the pale-colored gravy that dribbled

across the table, drawing a long streak of it out into a pattern.

He meditated resentfully on the physical texture of

life. Had it always been like this? Had food always tasted

like this? He looked round the canteen. A low-ceilinged,

crowded room, its walls grimy from the contact of innumerable

bodies; battered metal tables and chairs, placed

so close together that you sat with elbows touching; bent

spoons, dented trays, coarse white mugs; all surfaces greasy,

grime in every crack; and a sourish, composite smell of bad

gin and bad coffee and metallic stew and dirty clothes. Al76

ways in your stomach and in your skin there was a sort of

protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something

that you had a right to. It was true that he had no memories

of anything greatly different. In any time that he could accurately

remember, there had never been quite enough to

eat, one had never had socks or underclothes that were not

full of holes, furniture had always been battered and rickety,

rooms underheated, tube trains crowded, houses falling to

pieces, bread dark-colored, tea a rarity, coffee filthy-tasting,

cigarettes insufficient—nothing cheap and plentiful

except synthetic gin. And though, of course, it grew worse

as one’s body aged, was it not a sign that this was NOT the

natural order of things, if one’s heart sickened at the discomfort

and dirt and scarcity, the interminable winters, the

stickiness of one’s socks, the lifts that never worked, the

cold water, the gritty soap, the cigarettes that came to pieces,

the food with its strange evil tastes? Why should one feel

it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral

memory that things had once been different?

He looked round the canteen again. Nearly everyone was

ugly, and would still have been ugly even if dressed otherwise

than in the uniform blue overalls. On the far side of the

room, sitting at a table alone, a small, curiously beetle-like

man was drinking a cup of coffee, his little eyes darting suspicious

glances from side to side. How easy it was, thought

Winston, if you did not look about you, to believe that the

physical type set up by the Party as an ideal—tall muscular

youths and deep-bosomed maidens, blond-haired, vital,

sunburnt, carefree—existed and even predominated. Actually,

so far as he could judge, the majority of people in

Airstrip One were small, dark, and ill-favored. It was curious

how that beetle-like type proliferated in the Ministries:

little dumpy men, growing stout very early in life, with

short legs, swift scuttling movements, and fat inscrutable

faces with very small eyes. It was the type that seemed to

flourish best under the dominion of the Party.

The announcement from the Ministry of Plenty ended

on another trumpet call and gave way to tinny music. Parsons,

stirred to vague enthusiasm by the bombardment of

figures, took his pipe out of his mouth.

‘The Ministry of Plenty’s certainly done a good job this

year,’ he said with a knowing shake of his head. ‘By the way,

Smith old boy, I suppose you haven’t got any razor blades

you can let me have?’

‘Not one,’ said Winston. ‘I’ve been using the same blade

for six weeks myself.’

‘Ah, well—just thought I’d ask you, old boy.’

‘Sorry,’ said Winston.

The quacking voice from the next table, temporarily silenced

during the Ministry’s announcement, had started up

again, as loud as ever. For some reason Winston suddenly

found himself thinking of Mrs Parsons, with her wispy hair

and the dust in the creases of her face. Within two years

those children would be denouncing her to the Thought

Police. Mrs Parsons would be vaporized. Syme would be

vaporized. Winston would be vaporized. O’Brien would

be vaporized. Parsons, on the other hand, would never be

vaporized. The eyeless creature with the quacking voice

would never be vaporized. The little beetle-like men who

scuttle so nimbly through the labyrinthine corridors of

Ministries they, too, would never be vaporized. And the girl

with dark hair, the girl from the Fiction Department—she

would never be vaporized either. It seemed to him that he

knew instinctively who would survive and who would perish:

though just what it was that made for survival, it was

not easy to say.

At this moment he was dragged out of his reverie with

a violent jerk. The girl at the next table had turned partly

round and was looking at him. It was the girl with dark hair.

She was looking at him in a sidelong way, but with curious

intensity. The instant she caught his eye she looked away


The sweat started out on Winston’s backbone. A horrible

pang of terror went through him. It was gone almost at

once, but it left a sort of nagging uneasiness behind. Why

was she watching him? Why did she keep following him

about? Unfortunately he could not remember whether she

had already been at the table when he arrived, or had come

there afterwards. But yesterday, at any rate, during the Two

Minutes Hate, she had sat immediately behind him when

there was no apparent need to do so. Quite likely her real

object had been to listen to him and make sure whether he

was shouting loudly enough.

His earlier thought returned to him: probably she was

not actually a member of the Thought Police, but then it

was precisely the amateur spy who was the greatest danger

of all. He did not know how long she had been looking at

him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was

possible that his features had not been perfectly under control.

It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander

when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen.

The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous

tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to

yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of

abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to

wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous

when a victory was announced, for example) was itself

a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak:

FACECRIME, it was called.

The girl had turned her back on him again. Perhaps after

all she was not really following him about, perhaps it was

coincidence that she had sat so close to him two days running.

His cigarette had gone out, and he laid it carefully on

the edge of the table. He would finish smoking it after work,

if he could keep the tobacco in it. Quite likely the person

at the next table was a spy of the Thought Police, and quite

likely he would be in the cellars of the Ministry of Love

within three days, but a cigarette end must not be wasted.

Syme had folded up his strip of paper and stowed it away in

his pocket. Parsons had begun talking again.

‘Did I ever tell you, old boy,’ he said, chuckling round the

stem of his pipe, ‘about the time when those two nippers

of mine set fire to the old market-woman’s skirt because

they saw her wrapping up sausages in a poster of B.B.?

Sneaked up behind her and set fire to it with a box of matches.

Burned her quite badly, I believe. Little beggars, eh? But

keen as mustard! That’s a first-rate training they give them

in the Spies nowadays—better than in my day, even. What

d’you think’s the latest thing they’ve served them out with?

Ear trumpets for listening through keyholes! My little girl

brought one home the other night—tried it out on our sitting-

room door, and reckoned she could hear twice as much

as with her ear to the hole. Of course it’s only a toy, mind

you. Still, gives ‘em the right idea, eh?’

At this moment the telescreen let out a piercing whistle.

It was the signal to return to work. All three men sprang to

their feet to join in the struggle round the lifts, and the remaining

tobacco fell out of Winston’s cigarette.

Chapter 6

Winston was writing in his diary:

It was three years ago. It was on a dark evening, in a

narrow side-street near one of the big railway stations. She

was standing near a doorway in the wall, under a street lamp

that hardly gave any light. She had a young face, painted

very thick. It was really the paint that appealed to me, the

whiteness of it, like a mask, and the bright red lips. Party

women never paint their faces. There was nobody else in the

street, and no telescreens. She said two dollars. I——

For the moment it was too difficult to go on. He shut his

eyes and pressed his fingers against them, trying to squeeze

out the vision that kept recurring. He had an almost overwhelming

temptation to shout a string of filthy words at the

top of his voice. Or to bang his head against the wall, to kick

over the table, and hurl the inkpot through the window—to

do any violent or noisy or painful thing that might black

out the memory that was tormenting him.

Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous

system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to

translate itself into some visible symptom. He thought of

a man whom he had passed in the street a few weeks back;

a quite ordinary-looking man, a Party member, aged thirty-

five to forty, tallish and thin, carrying a brief-case. They

were a few meters apart when the left side of the man’s face

was suddenly contorted by a sort of spasm. It happened

again just as they were passing one another: it was only a

twitch, a quiver, rapid as the clicking of a camera shutter,

but obviously habitual. He remembered thinking at the

time: That poor devil is done for. And what was frightening

was that the action was quite possibly unconscious. The

most deadly danger of all was talking in your sleep. There

was no way of guarding against that, so far as he could see.

He drew his breath and went on writing:

I went with her through the doorway and across a backyard

into a basement kitchen. There was a bed against the wall,

and a lamp on the table, turned down very low. She——

His teeth were set on edge. He would have liked to spit.

Simultaneously with the woman in the basement kitchen

he thought of Katharine, his wife. Winston was married—

had been married, at any rate: probably he still was married,

so far as he knew his wife was not dead. He seemed to

breathe again the warm stuffy odor of the basement kitchen,

an odor compounded of bugs and dirty clothes and

villainous cheap scent, but nevertheless alluring, because

no woman of the Party ever used scent, or could be imagined

as doing so. Only the proles used scent. In his mind the

smell of it was inextricably mixed up with fornication.

When he had gone with that woman it had been his first

lapse in two years or thereabouts. Consorting with prostitutes

was forbidden, of course, but it was one of those rules

that you could occasionally nerve yourself to break. It was

dangerous, but it was not a life-and-death matter. To be

caught with a prostitute might mean five years in a forcedlabor

camp: not more, if you had committed no other

offence. And it was easy enough, provided that you could

avoid being caught in the act. The poorer quarters swarmed

with women who were ready to sell themselves. Some could

even be purchased for a bottle of gin, which the proles were

not supposed to drink. Tacitly the Party was even inclined

to encourage prostitution, as an outlet for instincts which

could not be altogether suppressed. Mere debauchery did

not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless

and only involved the women of a submerged and despised

class. The unforgivable crime was promiscuity between

Party members. But—though this was one of the crimes

that the accused in the great purges invariably confessed

to—it was difficult to imagine any such thing actually happening.

The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and

women from forming loyalties which it might not be able

to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all

pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much as eroticism

was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it.

All marriages between Party members had to be approved

by a committee appointed for the purpose, and—though

the principle was never clearly stated—permission was always

refused if the couple concerned gave the impression

of being physically attracted to one another. The only recognized

purpose of marriage was to beget children for the

service of the Party. Sexual intercourse was to be looked on

as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema.

This again was never put into plain words, but in an

indirect way it was rubbed into every Party member from

childhood onwards. There were even organizations such

as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete

celibacy for both sexes. All children were to be begotten

by artificial insemination (ARTSEM, it was called in Newspeak)

and brought up in public institutions. This, Winston

was aware, was not meant altogether seriously, but somehow

it fitted in with the general ideology of the Party. The

Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be

killed, then to distort it and dirty it. He did not know why

this was so, but it seemed natural that it should be so. And

as far as the women were concerned, the Party’s efforts were

largely successful.

He thought again of Katharine. It must be nine, ten—

nearly eleven years since they had parted. It was curious

how seldom he thought of her. For days at a time he was capable

of forgetting that he had ever been married. They had

only been together for about fifteen months. The Party did

not permit divorce, but it rather encouraged separation in

cases where there were no children.

Katharine was a tall, fair-haired girl, very straight, with

splendid movements. She had a bold, aquiline face, a face

that one might have called noble until one discovered that

there was as nearly as possible nothing behind it. Very early

in her married life he had decided—though perhaps it was

only that he knew her more intimately than he knew most

people—that she had without exception the most stupid,

vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered. She had

not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there

was no imbecility, absolutely none that she was not capable

of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her. ‘The human

sound-track’ he nicknamed her in his own mind. Yet

he could have endured living with her if it had not been for

just one thing—sex.

As soon as he touched her she seemed to wince and stiffen.

To embrace her was like embracing a jointed wooden

image. And what was strange was that even when she was

clasping him against her he had the feeling that she was simultaneously

pushing him away with all her strength. The

rigidity of her muscles managed to convey that impression.

She would lie there with shut eyes, neither resisting

nor co-operating but SUBMITTING. It was extraordinarily

embarrassing, and, after a while, horrible. But even then

he could have borne living with her if it had been agreed

that they should remain celibate. But curiously enough it

was Katharine who refused this. They must, she said, produce

a child if they could. So the performance continued to

happen, once a week quite regularly, whenever it was not

impossible. She even used to remind him of it in the morning,

as something which had to be done that evening and

which must not be forgotten. She had two names for it. One

was ‘making a baby’, and the other was ‘our duty to the Party’

(yes, she had actually used that phrase). Quite soon he

grew to have a feeling of positive dread when the appointed

day came round. But luckily no child appeared, and in the

end she agreed to give up trying, and soon afterwards they


Winston sighed inaudibly. He picked up his pen again

and wrote:

She threw herself down on the bed, and at once, without any

kind of preliminary in the most coarse, horrible way you can

imagine, pulled up her skirt. I——

He saw himself standing there in the dim lamplight,

with the smell of bugs and cheap scent in his nostrils, and

in his heart a feeling of defeat and resentment which even

at that moment was mixed up with the thought of Katharine’s

white body, frozen for ever by the hypnotic power

of the Party. Why did it always have to be like this? Why

could he not have a woman of his own instead of these filthy

scuffles at intervals of years? But a real love affair was an almost

unthinkable event. The women of the Party were all

alike. Chastity was as deep ingrained in them as Party loyalty.

By careful early conditioning, by games and cold water,

by the rubbish that was dinned into them at school and in

the Spies and the Youth League, by lectures, parades, songs,

slogans, and martial music, the natural feeling had been

driven out of them. His reason told him that there must be

exceptions, but his heart did not believe it. They were all impregnable,

as the Party intended that they should be. And

what he wanted, more even than to be loved, was to break

down that wall of virtue, even if it were only once in his

whole life. The sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion.

Desire was thoughtcrime. Even to have awakened

Katharine, if he could have achieved it, would have been

like a seduction, although she was his wife.

But the rest of the story had got to be written down. He


I turned up the lamp. When I saw her in the light——

After the darkness the feeble light of the paraffin lamp

had seemed very bright. For the first time he could see the

woman properly. He had taken a step towards her and then

halted, full of lust and terror. He was painfully conscious of

the risk he had taken in coming here. It was perfectly possible

that the patrols would catch him on the way out: for

that matter they might be waiting outside the door at this

moment. If he went away without even doing what he had

come here to do——!

It had got to be written down, it had got to be confessed.

What he had suddenly seen in the lamplight was that the

woman was OLD. The paint was plastered so thick on her

face that it looked as though it might crack like a cardboard

mask. There were streaks of white in her hair; but the truly

dreadful detail was that her mouth had fallen a little open,

revealing nothing except a cavernous blackness. She had no

teeth at all.

He wrote hurriedly, in scrabbling handwriting:

When I saw her in the light she was quite an old woman, fifty

years old at least. But I went ahead and did it just the same.

He pressed his fingers against his eyelids again. He had

written it down at last, but it made no difference. The therapy

had not worked. The urge to shout filthy words at the top

of his voice was as strong as ever.

Chapter 7

‘If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.’

If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because

only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per

cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy

the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be

overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies,

had no way of coming together or even of identifying one

another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just

possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members

could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes.

Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflexion of the voice,

at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles,

if only they could somehow become conscious of their own

strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only

to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies.

If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow

morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do

it? And yet——!

He remembered how once he had been walking down

a crowded street when a tremendous shout of hundreds of

voices women’s voices—had burst from a side-street a little

way ahead. It was a great formidable cry of anger and despair,

a deep, loud ‘Oh-o-o-o-oh!’ that went humming on

like the reverberation of a bell. His heart had leapt. It’s started!

he had thought. A riot! The proles are breaking loose

at last! When he had reached the spot it was to see a mob

of two or three hundred women crowding round the stalls

of a street market, with faces as tragic as though they had

been the doomed passengers on a sinking ship. But at this

moment the general despair broke down into a multitude

of individual quarrels. It appeared that one of the stalls

had been selling tin saucepans. They were wretched, flimsy

things, but cooking-pots of any kind were always difficult

to get. Now the supply had unexpectedly given out. The

successful women, bumped and jostled by the rest, were

trying to make off with their saucepans while dozens of

others clamored round the stall, accusing the stall-keeper

of favoritism and of having more saucepans somewhere

in reserve. There was a fresh outburst of yells. Two bloated

women, one of them with her hair coming down, had

got hold of the same saucepan and were trying to tear it

out of one another’s hands. For a moment they were both

tugging, and then the handle came off. Winston watched

them disgustedly. And yet, just for a moment, what almost

frightening power had sounded in that cry from only a few

hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout

like that about anything that mattered?

He wrote:

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until

after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

That, he reflected, might almost have been a transcription

from one of the Party textbooks. The Party claimed, of

course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. Before

the Revolution they had been hideously oppressed by the

capitalists, they had been starved and flogged, women had

been forced to work in the coal mines (women still did work

in the coal mines, as a matter of fact), children had been

sold into the factories at the age of six. But simultaneously,

true to the Principles of doublethink, the Party taught

that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in

subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple

rules. In reality very little was known about the proles. It

was not necessary to know much. So long as they continued

to work and breed, their other activities were without

importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose

upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of

life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral

pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they

went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming-

period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at

twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the

most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home

and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football,

beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon

of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.

A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among

them, spreading false rumors and marking down and

eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of

becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate

them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable

that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that

was required of them was a primitive patriotism which

could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make

them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And

even when they became discontented, as they sometimes

did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without

general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific

grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.

The great majority of proles did not even have telescreens in

their homes. Even the civil police interfered with them very

little. There was a vast amount of criminality in London, a

whole world-within-a-world of thieves, bandits, prostitutes,

drug-peddlers, and racketeers of every description; but

since it all happened among the proles themselves, it was

of no importance. In all questions of morals they were allowed

to follow their ancestral code. The sexual puritanism

of the Party was not imposed upon them. Promiscuity went

unpunished, divorce was permitted. For that matter, even

religious worship would have been permitted if the proles

had shown any sign of needing or wanting it. They were

beneath suspicion. As the Party slogan put it: ‘Proles and

animals are free.’

Winston reached down and cautiously scratched his

varicose ulcer. It had begun itching again. The thing you

invariably came back to was the impossibility of knowing

what life before the Revolution had really been like. He took

out of the drawer a copy of a children’s history textbook

which he had borrowed from Mrs Parsons, and began copying

a passage into the diary:

In the old days (it ran), before the glorious Revolution,

London was not the beautiful city that we know today. It

was a dark, dirty, miserable place where hardly anybody

had enough to eat and where hundreds and thousands of

poor people had no boots on their feet and not even a roof to

sleep under. Children no older than you had to work twelve

hours a day for cruel masters who flogged them with whips

if they worked too slowly and fed them on nothing but stale

breadcrusts and water. But in among all this terrible poverty

there were just a few great big beautiful houses that were

lived in by rich men who had as many as thirty servants to

look after them. These rich men were called capitalists. They

were fat, ugly men with wicked faces, like the one in the

picture on the opposite page. You can see that he is dressed in

a long black coat which was called a frock coat, and a queer,

shiny hat shaped like a stovepipe, which was called a top hat.

This was the uniform of the capitalists, and no one else was

allowed to wear it. The capitalists owned everything in the

world, and everyone else was their slave. They owned all the

land, all the houses, all the factories, and all the money. If

anyone disobeyed them they could throw them into prison, or

they could take his job away and starve him to death. When

any ordinary person spoke to a capitalist he had to cringe and

bow to him, and take off his cap and address him as ‘Sir’. The

chief of all the capitalists was called the King, and——

But he knew the rest of the catalogue. There would be

mention of the bishops in their lawn sleeves, the judges in

their ermine robes, the pillory, the stocks, the treadmill, the

cat-o’-nine tails, the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, and the practice

of kissing the Pope’s toe. There was also something

called the JUS PRIMAE NOCTIS, which would probably

not be mentioned in a textbook for children. It was the law

by which every capitalist had the right to sleep with any

woman working in one of his factories.

How could you tell how much of it was lies? It MIGHT

be true that the average human being was better off now

than he had been before the Revolution. The only evidence

to the contrary was the mute protest in your own bones, the

instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were intolerable

and that at some other time they must have been

different. It struck him that the truly characteristic thing

about modern life was not its cruelty and insecurity, but

simply its bareness, its dinginess, its listlessness. Life, if you

looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies

that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals

that the Party was trying to achieve. Great areas of it, even

for a Party member, were neutral and non-political, a matter

of slogging through dreary jobs, fighting for a place on

the Tube, darning a worn-out sock, cadging a saccharine

tablet, saving a cigarette end. The ideal set up by the Party

was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of

steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying

weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward

in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and

shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting,

triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all

with the same face. The reality was decaying, dingy cities

where underfed people shuffled to and fro in leaky shoes,

in patched-up nineteenth-century houses that smelt always

of cabbage and bad lavatories. He seemed to see a vision of

London, vast and ruinous, city of a million dustbins, and

mixed up with it was a picture of Mrs Parsons, a woman

with lined face and wispy hair, fiddling helplessly with a

blocked waste-pipe.

He reached down and scratched his ankle again. Day

and night the telescreens bruised your ears with statistics

proving that people today had more food, more clothes,

better houses, better recreations—that they lived longer,

worked shorter hours, were bigger, healthier, stronger, happier,

more intelligent, better educated, than the people of

fifty years ago. Not a word of it could ever be proved or disproved.

The Party claimed, for example, that today 40 per

cent of adult proles were literate: before the Revolution, it

was said, the number had only been 15 per cent. The Party

claimed that the infant mortality rate was now only 160 per

thousand, whereas before the Revolution it had been 300—

and so it went on. It was like a single equation with two

unknowns. It might very well be that literally every word in

the history books, even the things that one accepted without

question, was pure fantasy. For all he knew there might

never have been any such law as the JUS PRIMAE NOCTIS,

or any such creature as a capitalist, or any such garment as

a top hat.

Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure

was forgotten, the lie became truth. Just once in his

life he had possessed—AFTER the event: that was what

counted—concrete, unmistakable evidence of an act of falsification.

He had held it between his fingers for as long as

thirty seconds. In 2006, it must have been—at any rate, it

was at about the time when he and Katharine had parted.

But the really relevant date was seven or eight years earlier.

The story really began in the middle sixties, the period of

the great purges in which the original leaders of the Revolution

were wiped out once and for all. By 2003 none of them

was left, except Big Brother himself. All the rest had by that

time been exposed as traitors and counter-revolutionaries.

Goldstein had fled and was hiding no one knew where,

and of the others, a few had simply disappeared, while the

majority had been executed after spectacular public trials

at which they made confession of their crimes. Among the

last survivors were three men named Jones, Aaronson, and

Rutherford. It must have been in 1998 that these three had

been arrested. As often happened, they had vanished for a

year or more, so that one did not know whether they were

alive or dead, and then had suddenly been brought forth

to incriminate themselves in the usual way. They had confessed

to intelligence with the enemy (at that date, too, the

enemy was Eurasia), embezzlement of public funds, the

murder of various trusted Party members, intrigues against

the leadership of Big Brother which had started long before

the Revolution happened, and acts of sabotage causing the

death of hundreds of thousands of people. After confessing

to these things they had been pardoned, reinstated in

the Party, and given posts which were in fact sinecures but

which sounded important. All three had written long, abject

articles in ‘The Times’, analyzing the reasons for their

defection and promising to make amends.

Some time after their release Winston had actually seen

all three of them in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He remembered

the sort of terrified fascination with which he had watched

them out of the corner of his eye. They were men far older

than himself, relics of the ancient world, almost the last

great figures left over from the heroic days of the Party. The

glamour of the underground struggle and the civil war still

faintly clung to them. He had the feeling, though already at

that time facts and dates were growing blurry, that he had

known their names years earlier than he had known that of

Big Brother. But also they were outlaws, enemies, untouchables,

doomed with absolute certainty to extinction within

a year or two. No one who had once fallen into the hands

of the Thought Police ever escaped in the end. They were

corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave.

There was no one at any of the tables nearest to them. It

was not wise even to be seen in the neighborhood of such

people. They were sitting in silence before glasses of the gin

flavored with cloves which was the specialty of the cafe.

Of the three, it was Rutherford whose appearance had most

impressed Winston. Rutherford had once been a famous

caricaturist, whose brutal cartoons had helped to inflame

popular opinion before and during the Revolution. Even

now, at long intervals, his cartoons were appearing in The

Times. They were simply an imitation of his earlier manner,

and curiously lifeless and unconvincing. Always they were

a rehashing of the ancient themes—slum tenements, starving

children, street battles, capitalists in top hats—even on

the barricades the capitalists still seemed to cling to their

top hats an endless, hopeless effort to get back into the past.

He was a monstrous man, with a mane of greasy grey hair,

his face pouched and seamed, with thick negroid lips. At

one time he must have been immensely strong; now his

great body was sagging, sloping, bulging, falling away in

every direction. He seemed to be breaking up before one’s

eyes, like a mountain crumbling.

It was the lonely hour of fifteen. Winston could not

now remember how he had come to be in the cafe at such

a time. The place was almost empty. A tinny music was

trickling from the telescreens. The three men sat in their

corner almost motionless, never speaking. Uncommanded,

the waiter brought fresh glasses of gin. There was a chessboard

on the table beside them, with the pieces set out but

no game started. And then, for perhaps half a minute in all,

something happened to the telescreens. The tune that they

were playing changed, and the tone of the music changed

too. There came into it—but it was something hard to describe.

It was a peculiar, cracked, braying, jeering note: in

his mind Winston called it a yellow note. And then a voice

from the telescreen was singing:

Under the spreading chestnut tree

I sold you and you sold me:

There lie they, and here lie we

Under the spreading chestnut tree.

The three men never stirred. But when Winston glanced

again at Rutherford’s ruinous face, he saw that his eyes

were full of tears. And for the first time he noticed, with a

kind of inward shudder, and yet not knowing AT WHAT

he shuddered, that both Aaronson and Rutherford had broken


A little later all three were re-arrested. It appeared that

they had engaged in fresh conspiracies from the very moment

of their release. At their second trial they confessed to

all their old crimes over again, with a whole string of new

ones. They were executed, and their fate was recorded in

the Party histories, a warning to posterity. About five years

after this, in 2006, Winston was unrolling a wad of documents

which had just flopped out of the pneumatic tube on

to his desk when he came on a fragment of paper which

had evidently been slipped in among the others and then

forgotten. The instant he had flattened it out he saw its significance.

It was a half-page torn out of ‘The Times’ of about

ten years earlier—the top half of the page, so that it included

the date—and it contained a photograph of the delegates at

some Party function in New York. Prominent in the middle

of the group were Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. There

was no mistaking them, in any case their names were in the

caption at the bottom.

The point was that at both trials all three men had confessed

that on that date they had been on Eurasian soil. They

had flown from a secret airfield in Canada to a rendezvous

somewhere in Siberia, and had conferred with members of

the Eurasian General Staff, to whom they had betrayed important

military secrets. The date had stuck in Winston’s

memory because it chanced to be midsummer day; but the

whole story must be on record in countless other places as

well. There was only one possible conclusion: the confessions

were lies.

Of course, this was not in itself a discovery. Even at that

time Winston had not imagined that the people who were

wiped out in the purges had actually committed the crimes

that they were accused of. But this was concrete evidence;

it was a fragment of the abolished past, like a fossil bone

which turns up in the wrong stratum and destroys a geological

theory. It was enough to blow the Party to atoms, if

in some way it could have been published to the world and

its significance made known.

He had gone straight on working. As soon as he saw what

the photograph was, and what it meant, he had covered it

up with another sheet of paper. Luckily, when he unrolled

it, it had been upside-down from the point of view of the


He took his scribbling pad on his knee and pushed back

his chair so as to get as far away from the telescreen as possible.

To keep your face expressionless was not difficult, and

even your breathing could be controlled, with an effort:

but you could not control the beating of your heart, and

the telescreen was quite delicate enough to pick it up. He

let what he judged to be ten minutes go by, tormented all

the while by the fear that some accident—a sudden draught

blowing across his desk, for instance—would betray him.

Then, without uncovering it again, he dropped the photo

graph into the memory hole, along with some other waste

papers. Within another minute, perhaps, it would have

crumbled into ashes.

That was ten—eleven years ago. Today, probably, he

would have kept that photograph. It was curious that the

fact of having held it in his fingers seemed to him to make

a difference even now, when the photograph itself, as well

as the event it recorded, was only memory. Was the Party’s

hold upon the past less strong, he wondered, because a piece

of evidence which existed no longer HAD ONCE existed?

But today, supposing that it could be somehow resurrected

from its ashes, the photograph might not even be

evidence. Already, at the time when he made his discovery,

Oceania was no longer at war with Eurasia, and it must

have been to the agents of Eastasia that the three dead men

had betrayed their country. Since then there had been other

changes—two, three, he could not remember how many.

Very likely the confessions had been rewritten and rewritten

until the original facts and dates no longer had the smallest

significance. The past not only changed, but changed

continuously. What most afflicted him with the sense of

nightmare was that he had never clearly understood why

the huge imposture was undertaken. The immediate advantages

of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate

motive was mysterious. He took up his pen again and


I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.

He wondered, as he had many times wondered before,

whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was

simply a minority of one. At one time it had been a sign of

madness to believe that the earth goes round the sun; today,

to believe that the past is inalterable. He might be ALONE

in holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the

thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him: the

horror was that he might also be wrong.

He picked up the children’s history book and looked at

the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece.

The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though

some huge force were pressing down upon you—something

that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your

brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you,

almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the

Party would announce that two and two made five, and you

would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should

make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position

demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the

very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their

philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And

what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for

thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after

all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that

the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable?

If both the past and the external world exist only in

the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?

But no! His courage seemed suddenly to stiffen of its

own accord. The face of O’Brien, not called up by any obvious

association, had floated into his mind. He knew, with

more certainty than before, that O’Brien was on his side.

He was writing the diary for O’Brien—TO O’Brien: it was

like an interminable letter which no one would ever read,

but which was addressed to a particular person and took its

color from that fact.

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and

ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart

sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against

him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow

him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would

not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he

was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The

obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms

are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws

do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported

fall towards the earth’s centre. With the feeling that

he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting

forth an important axiom, he wrote:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If

that is granted, all else follows.


Chapter 8

From somewhere at the bottom of a passage the smell of

roasting coffee—real coffee, not Victory Coffee—came

floating out into the street. Winston paused involuntarily.

For perhaps two seconds he was back in the half-forgotten

world of his childhood. Then a door banged, seeming to cut

off the smell as abruptly as though it had been a sound.

He had walked several kilometers over pavements, and

his varicose ulcer was throbbing. This was the second time

in three weeks that he had missed an evening at the Community

Centre: a rash act, since you could be certain that

the number of your attendances at the Centre was carefully

checked. In principle a Party member had no spare

time, and was never alone except in bed. It was assumed

that when he was not working, eating, or sleeping he would

be taking part in some kind of communal recreation: to do

anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a

walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was

a word for it in Newspeak: OWNLIFE, it was called, meaning

individualism and eccentricity. But this evening as he

came out of the Ministry the balminess of the April air had

tempted him. The sky was a warmer blue than he had seen it

that year, and suddenly the long, noisy evening at the Centre,

the boring, exhausting games, the lectures, the creaking

camaraderie oiled by gin, had seemed intolerable. On impulse

he had turned away from the bus-stop and wandered

off into the labyrinth of London, first south, then east, then

north again, losing himself among unknown streets and

hardly bothering in which direction he was going.

‘If there is hope,’ he had written in the diary, ‘it lies in

the proles.’ The words kept coming back to him, statement

of a mystical truth and a palpable absurdity. He was somewhere

in the vague, brown-colored slums to the north and

east of what had once been Saint Pancras Station. He was

walking up a cobbled street of little two-storey houses with

battered doorways which gave straight on the pavement

and which were somehow curiously suggestive of ratholes.

There were puddles of filthy water here and there among the

cobbles. In and out of the dark doorways, and down narrow

alley-ways that branched off on either side, people swarmed

in astonishing numbers—girls in full bloom, with crudely

lipsticked mouths, and youths who chased the girls, and

swollen waddling women who showed you what the girls

would be like in ten years’ time, and old bent creatures shuffling

along on splayed feet, and ragged barefooted children

who played in the puddles and then scattered at angry yells

from their mothers. Perhaps a quarter of the windows in

the street were broken and boarded up. Most of the people

paid no attention to Winston; a few eyed him with a sort of

guarded curiosity. Two monstrous women with brick-red

forearms folded across their aprons were talking outside a

doorway. Winston caught scraps of conversation as he approached.

‘’Yes,’ I says to ‘er, ‘that’s all very well,’ I says. ‘But if you’d

of been in my place you’d of done the same as what I done.

It’s easy to criticize,’ I says, ‘but you ain’t got the same problems

as what I got.‘‘

‘Ah,’ said the other, ‘that’s jest it. That’s jest where it is.’

The strident voices stopped abruptly. The women studied

him in hostile silence as he went past. But it was not

hostility, exactly; merely a kind of wariness, a momentary

stiffening, as at the passing of some unfamiliar animal. The

blue overalls of the Party could not be a common sight in

a street like this. Indeed, it was unwise to be seen in such

places, unless you had definite business there. The patrols

might stop you if you happened to run into them. ‘May I see

your papers, comrade? What are you doing here? What time

did you leave work? Is this your usual way home?’—and so

on and so forth. Not that there was any rule against walking

home by an unusual route: but it was enough to draw attention

to you if the Thought Police heard about it.

Suddenly the whole street was in commotion. There

were yells of warning from all sides. People were shooting

into the doorways like rabbits. A young woman leapt out

of a doorway a little ahead of Winston, grabbed up a tiny

child playing in a puddle, whipped her apron round it, and

leapt back again, all in one movement. At the same instant a

man in a concertina-like black suit, who had emerged from

a side alley, ran towards Winston, pointing excitedly to the


‘Steamer!’ he yelled. ‘Look out, guv’nor! Bang over’ead!

Lay down quick!’

‘Steamer’ was a nickname which, for some reason, the

proles applied to rocket bombs. Winston promptly flung

himself on his face. The proles were nearly always right

when they gave you a warning of this kind. They seemed

to possess some kind of instinct which told them several

seconds in advance when a rocket was coming, although

the rockets supposedly traveled faster than sound. Winston

clasped his forearms above his head. There was a roar

that seemed to make the pavement heave; a shower of light

objects pattered on to his back. When he stood up he found

that he was covered with fragments of glass from the nearest


He walked on. The bomb had demolished a group of

houses 200 meters up the street. A black plume of smoke

hung in the sky, and below it a cloud of plaster dust in which

a crowd was already forming around the ruins. There was a

little pile of plaster lying on the pavement ahead of him, and

in the middle of it he could see a bright red streak. When he

got up to it he saw that it was a human hand severed at the

wrist. Apart from the bloody stump, the hand was so completely

whitened as to resemble a plaster cast.

He kicked the thing into the gutter, and then, to avoid

the crowd, turned down a side-street to the right. Within

three or four minutes he was out of the area which the

bomb had affected, and the sordid swarming life of the

streets was going on as though nothing had happened. It

was nearly twenty hours, and the drinking-shops which the

proles frequented (’pubs’, they called them) were choked

with customers. From their grimy swing doors, endlessly

opening and shutting, there came forth a smell of urine,

sawdust, and sour beer. In an angle formed by a projecting

house-front three men were standing very close together,

the middle one of them holding a folded-up newspaper

which the other two were studying over his shoulder. Even

before he was near enough to make out the expression on

their faces, Winston could see absorption in every line of

their bodies. It was obviously some serious piece of news

that they were reading. He was a few paces away from them

when suddenly the group broke up and two of the men were

in violent altercation. For a moment they seemed almost on

the point of blows.

‘Can’t you bleeding well listen to what I say? I tell you

no number ending in seven ain’t won for over fourteen


‘Yes, it ‘as, then!’

‘No, it ‘as not! Back ‘ome I got the ‘ole lot of ‘em for over

two years wrote down on a piece of paper. I takes ‘em down

reg’lar as the clock. An’ I tell you, no number ending in


‘Yes, a seven ‘AS won! I could pretty near tell you the

bleeding number. Four oh seven, it ended in. It were in February—

second week in February.’

‘February your grandmother! I got it all down in black

and white. An’ I tell you, no number——’

‘Oh, pack it in!’ said the third man.

They were talking about the Lottery. Winston looked

back when he had gone thirty meters. They were still arguing,

with vivid, passionate faces. The Lottery, with its

weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event

to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable

that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery

was the principal if not the only reason for remaining

alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their

intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned,

even people who could barely read and write seemed capable

of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory.

There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by

selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had

nothing to do with the running of the Lottery, which was

managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed

everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were

largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out,

the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons. In

the absence of any real intercommunication between one

part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange.

But if there was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling

on to that. When you put it in words it sounded reasonable:

it was when you looked at the human beings passing you on

the pavement that it became an act of faith. The street into

which he had turned ran downhill. He had a feeling that he

had been in this neighborhood before, and that there was

a main thoroughfare not far away. From somewhere ahead

there came a din of shouting voices. The street took a sharp

turn and then ended in a flight of steps which led down into

a sunken alley where a few stall-keepers were selling tiredlooking

vegetables. At this moment Winston remembered

where he was. The alley led out into the main street, and

down the next turning, not five minutes away, was the junkshop

where he had bought the blank book which was now

his diary. And in a small stationer’s shop not far away he

had bought his penholder and his bottle of ink.

He paused for a moment at the top of the steps. On the

opposite side of the alley there was a dingy little pub whose

windows appeared to be frosted over but in reality were

merely coated with dust. A very old man, bent but active,

with white moustaches that bristled forward like those of a

prawn, pushed open the swing door and went in. As Winston

stood watching, it occurred to him that the old man,

who must be eighty at the least, had already been middleaged

when the Revolution happened. He and a few others

like him were the last links that now existed with the vanished

world of capitalism. In the Party itself there were not

many people left whose ideas had been formed before the

Revolution. The older generation had mostly been wiped out

in the great purges of the fifties and sixties, and the few who

survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual

surrender. If there was any one still alive who could

give you a truthful account of conditions in the early part

of the century, it could only be a prole. Suddenly the passage

from the history book that he had copied into his diary

came back into Winston’s mind, and a lunatic impulse took

hold of him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance

with that old man and question him. He would

say to him: ‘Tell me about your life when you were a boy.

What was it like in those days? Were things better than they

are now, or were they worse?’

Hurriedly, lest he should have time to become frightened,

he descended the steps and crossed the narrow street. It

was madness of course. As usual, there was no definite rule

against talking to proles and frequenting their pubs, but it

was far too unusual an action to pass unnoticed. If the patrols

appeared he might plead an attack of faintness, but it

was not likely that they would believe him. He pushed open

the door, and a hideous cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in

the face. As he entered the din of voices dropped to about

half its volume. Behind his back he could feel everyone eyeing

his blue overalls. A game of darts which was going on at

the other end of the room interrupted itself for perhaps as

much as thirty seconds. The old man whom he had followed

was standing at the bar, having some kind of altercation

with the barman, a large, stout, hook-nosed young man

with enormous forearms. A knot of others, standing round

with glasses in their hands, were watching the scene.

‘I arst you civil enough, didn’t I?’ said the old man,

straightening his shoulders pugnaciously. ‘You telling me

you ain’t got a pint mug in the ‘ole bleeding boozer?’

‘And what in hell’s name IS a pint?’ said the barman, leaning

forward with the tips of his fingers on the counter.

‘’Ark at ‘im! Calls ‘isself a barman and don’t know what

a pint is! Why, a pint’s the ‘alf of a quart, and there’s four

quarts to the gallon. ‘Ave to teach you the A, B, C next.’

‘Never heard of ‘em,’ said the barman shortly. ‘Liter and

half liter—that’s all we serve. There’s the glasses on the shelf

in front of you.’

‘I likes a pint,’ persisted the old man. ‘You could ‘a drawed

me off a pint easy enough. We didn’t ‘ave these bleeding liters

when I was a young man.’

‘When you were a young man we were all living in the

treetops,’ said the barman, with a glance at the other customers.

There was a shout of laughter, and the uneasiness caused

by Winston’s entry seemed to disappear. The old man’s whitestubbled

face had flushed pink. He turned away, muttering

to himself, and bumped into Winston. Winston caught him

gently by the arm.

‘May I offer you a drink?’ he said.

‘You’re a gent,’ said the other, straightening his shoulders

again. He appeared not to have noticed Winston’s blue

overalls. ‘Pint!’ he added aggressively to the barman. ‘Pint

of wallop.’

The barman swished two half-liters of dark-brown beer

into thick glasses which he had rinsed in a bucket under

the counter. Beer was the only drink you could get in prole

pubs. The proles were supposed not to drink gin, though in

practice they could get hold of it easily enough. The game of

darts was in full swing again, and the knot of men at the bar

had begun talking about lottery tickets. Winston’s presence

was forgotten for a moment. There was a deal table under

the window where he and the old man could talk without

fear of being overheard. It was horribly dangerous, but at

any rate there was no telescreen in the room, a point he had

made sure of as soon as he came in.

‘’E could ‘a drawed me off a pint,’ grumbled the old man

as he settled down behind a glass. ‘A ‘alf liter ain’t enough. It

don’t satisfy. And a ‘ole liter’s too much. It starts my bladder

running. Let alone the price.’

‘You must have seen great changes since you were a young

man,’ said Winston tentatively.

The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board

to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents, as

though it were in the bar-room that he expected the changes

to have occurred.

‘The beer was better,’ he said finally. ‘And cheaper! When

I was a young man, mild beer—wallop we used to call it—

was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.’

‘Which war was that?’ said Winston.

‘It’s all wars,’ said the old man vaguely. He took up his

glass, and his shoulders straightened again. ‘’Ere’s wishing

you the very best of ‘ealth!’

In his lean throat the sharp-pointed Adam’s apple made

a surprisingly rapid up-and-down movement, and the beer

vanished. Winston went to the bar and came back with two

more half-liters. The old man appeared to have forgotten

his prejudice against drinking a full liter.

‘You are very much older than I am,’ said Winston. ‘You

must have been a grown man before I was born. You can

remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution.

People of my age don’t really know anything about

those times. We can only read about them in books, and

what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your

opinion on that. The history books say that life before the

Revolution was completely different from what it is now.

There was the most terrible oppression, injustice, poverty

worse than anything we can imagine. Here in London, the

great mass of the people never had enough to eat from birth

to death. Half of them hadn’t even boots on their feet. They

worked twelve hours a day, they left school at nine, they

slept ten in a room. And at the same time there were a very

few people, only a few thousands—the capitalists, they were

called—who were rich and powerful. They owned everything

that there was to own. They lived in great gorgeous

houses with thirty servants, they rode about in motor-cars

and four-horse carriages, they drank champagne, they wore

top hats——’

The old man brightened suddenly.

‘Top ‘ats!’ he said. ‘Funny you should mention ‘em. The

same thing come into my ‘ead only yesterday, I dono why. I

was jest thinking, I ain’t seen a top ‘at in years. Gorn right

out, they ‘ave. The last time I wore one was at my sister-inlaw’s

funeral. And that was—well, I couldn’t give you the

date, but it must’a been fifty years ago. Of course it was only

‘ired for the occasion, you understand.’

‘It isn’t very important about the top hats,’ said Winston

patiently. ‘The point is, these capitalists—they and a few

lawyers and priests and so forth who lived on them—were

the lords of the earth. Everything existed for their benefit.

You—the ordinary people, the workers—were their slaves.

They could do what they liked with you. They could ship

you off to Canada like cattle. They could sleep with your

daughters if they chose. They could order you to be flogged

with something called a cat-o’-nine tails. You had to take

your cap off when you passed them. Every capitalist went


about with a gang of lackeys who——’

The old man brightened again.

‘Lackeys!’ he said. ‘Now there’s a word I ain’t ‘eard since

ever so long. Lackeys! That reg’lar takes me back, that does.

I recollect oh, donkey’s years ago—I used to sometimes go

to ‘Yde Park of a Sunday afternoon to ‘ear the blokes making

speeches. Salvation Army, Roman Catholics, Jews, Indians—

all sorts there was. And there was one bloke—well, I

couldn’t give you ‘is name, but a real powerful speaker ‘e

was. ‘E didn’t ‘alf give it ‘em! ‘Lackeys!’ ‘e says, ‘lackeys of

the bourgeoisie! Flunkies of the ruling class!’ Parasites—

that was another of them. And ‘yenas—’e definitely called

‘em ‘yenas. Of course ‘e was referring to the Labor Party,

you understand.’

Winston had the feeling that they were talking at crosspurposes.

‘What I really wanted to know was this,’ he said. ‘Do you

feel that you have more freedom now than you had in those

days? Are you treated more like a human being? In the old

days, the rich people, the people at the top——’

‘The ‘Ouse of Lords,’ put in the old man reminiscently.

‘The House of Lords, if you like. What I am asking is,

were these people able to treat you as an inferior, simply

because they were rich and you were poor? Is it a fact, for

instance, that you had to call them ‘Sir’ and take off your

cap when you passed them?’

The old man appeared to think deeply. He drank off

about a quarter of his beer before answering.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘They liked you to touch your cap to ‘em.

It showed respect, like. I didn’t agree with it, myself, but I

done it often enough. Had to, as you might say.’

‘And was it usual—I’m only quoting what I’ve read in history

books—was it usual for these people and their servants

to push you off the pavement into the gutter?’

‘One of ‘em pushed me once,’ said the old man. ‘I recollect

it as if it was yesterday. It was Boat Race night—terribly

rowdy they used to get on Boat Race night—and I bumps

into a young bloke on Shaftesbury Avenue. Quite a gent,

‘e was—dress shirt, top ‘at, black overcoat. ‘E was kind of

zig-zagging across the pavement, and I bumps into ‘im accidental-

like. ‘E says, ‘Why can’t you look where you’re going?’

‘e says. I say, ‘Ju think you’ve bought the bleeding pavement?’

‘E says, ‘I’ll twist your bloody ‘ead off if you get fresh with

me.’ I says, ‘You’re drunk. I’ll give you in charge in ‘alf a

minute,’ I says. An’ if you’ll believe me, ‘e puts ‘is ‘and on my

chest and gives me a shove as pretty near sent me under the

wheels of a bus. Well, I was young in them days, and I was

going to ‘ave fetched ‘im one, only——’

A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old

man’s memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details.

One could question him all day without getting any real

information. The party histories might still be true, after a

fashion: they might even be completely true. He made a last


‘Perhaps I have not made myself clear,’ he said. ‘What I’m

trying to say is this. You have been alive a very long time;

you lived half your life before the Revolution. In 1958, for

instance, you were already grown up. Would you say from

what you can remember, that life in 1958 was better than it

is now, or worse? If you could choose, would you prefer to

live then or now?’

The old man looked meditatively at the darts board. He

finished up his beer, more slowly than before. When he

spoke it was with a tolerant philosophical air, as though the

beer had mellowed him.

‘I know what you expect me to say,’ he said. ‘You expect

me to say as I’d sooner be young again. Most people’d say

they’d sooner be young, if you arst’ ‘em. You got your ‘ealth

and strength when you’re young. When you get to my time

of life you ain’t never well. I suffer something wicked from

my feet, and my bladder’s jest terrible. Six and seven times

a night it ‘as me out of bed. On the other ‘and, there’s great

advantages in being a old man. You ain’t got the same worries.

No truck with women, and that’s a great thing. I ain’t

‘ad a woman for near on thirty year, if you’d credit it. Nor

wanted to, what’s more.’

Winston sat back against the window-sill. It was no use

going on. He was about to buy some more beer when the old

man suddenly got up and shuffled rapidly into the stinking

urinal at the side of the room. The extra half-liter was

already working on him. Winston sat for a minute or two

gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet

carried him out into the street again. Within twenty years

at the most, he reflected, the huge and simple question,

‘Was life better before the Revolution than it is now?’ would

have ceased once and for all to be answerable. But in effect

it was unanswerable even now, since the few scattered survivors

from the ancient world were incapable of comparing

one age with another. They remembered a million useless

things, a quarrel with a workmate, a hunt for a lost bicycle

pump, the expression on a long-dead sister’s face, the

swirls of dust on a windy morning seventy years ago: but

all the relevant facts were outside the range of their vision.

They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not

large ones. And when memory failed and written records

were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party

to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be

accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could

exist, any standard against which it could be tested.

At this moment his train of thought stopped abruptly.

He halted and looked up. He was in a narrow street, with a

few dark little shops, interspersed among dwelling-houses.

Immediately above his head there hung three discolored

metal balls which looked as if they had once been gilded.

He seemed to know the place. Of course! He was standing

outside the junk-shop where he had bought the diary.

A twinge of fear went through him. It had been a sufficiently

rash act to buy the book in the beginning, and he

had sworn never to come near the place again. And yet the

instant that he allowed his thoughts to wander, his feet had

brought him back here of their own accord. It was precisely

against suicidal impulses of this kind that he had hoped to

guard himself by opening the diary. At the same time he

noticed that although it was nearly twenty-one hours the

shop was still open. With the feeling that he would be less

conspicuous inside than hanging about on the pavement,

he stepped through the doorway. If questioned, he could

plausibly say that he was trying to buy razor blades.

The proprietor had just lighted a hanging oil lamp which

gave off an unclean but friendly smell. He was a man of perhaps

sixty, frail and bowed, with a long, benevolent nose,

and mild eyes distorted by thick spectacles. His hair was almost

white, but his eyebrows were bushy and still black. His

spectacles, his gentle, fussy movements, and the fact that he

was wearing an aged jacket of black velvet, gave him a vague

air of intellectuality, as though he had been some kind of

literary man, or perhaps a musician. His voice was soft, as

though faded, and his accent less debased than that of the

majority of proles.

‘I recognized you on the pavement,’ he said immediately.

‘You’re the gentleman that bought the young lady’s keepsake

album. That was a beautiful bit of paper, that was. Creamlaid,

it used to be called. There’s been no paper like that

made for—oh, I dare say fifty years.’ He peered at Winston

over the top of his spectacles. ‘Is there anything special I

can do for you? Or did you just want to look round?’

‘I was passing,’ said Winston vaguely. ‘I just looked in. I

don’t want anything in particular.’

‘It’s just as well,’ said the other, ‘because I don’t suppose

I could have satisfied you.’ He made an apologetic gesture

with his softpalmed hand. ‘You see how it is; an empty shop,

you might say. Between you and me, the antique trade’s just

about finished. No demand any longer, and no stock either.

Furniture, china, glass it’s all been broken up by degrees.

And of course the metal stuff’s mostly been melted down. I

haven’t seen a brass candlestick in years.’

The tiny interior of the shop was in fact uncomfortably

full, but there was almost nothing in it of the slightest value.

The floorspace was very restricted, because all round

the walls were stacked innumerable dusty picture-frames.

In the window there were trays of nuts and bolts, worn-out

chisels, penknives with broken blades, tarnished watches

that did not even pretend to be in going order, and other

miscellaneous rubbish. Only on a small table in the corner

was there a litter of odds and ends—lacquered snuffboxes,

agate brooches, and the like—which looked as though

they might include something interesting. As Winston

wandered towards the table his eye was caught by a round,

smooth thing that gleamed softly in the lamplight, and he

picked it up.

It was a heavy lump of glass, curved on one side, flat

on the other, making almost a hemisphere. There was a

peculiar softness, as of rainwater, in both the color and

the texture of the glass. At the heart of it, magnified by the

curved surface, there was a strange, pink, convoluted object

that recalled a rose or a sea anemone.

‘What is it?’ said Winston, fascinated.

‘That’s coral, that is,’ said the old man. ‘It must have come

from the Indian Ocean. They used to kind of embed it in

the glass. That wasn’t made less than a hundred years ago.

More, by the look of it.’

‘It’s a beautiful thing,’ said Winston.

‘It is a beautiful thing,’ said the other appreciatively. ‘But

there’s not many that’d say so nowadays.’ He coughed. ‘Now,

if it so happened that you wanted to buy it, that’d cost you

four dollars. I can remember when a thing like that would

have fetched eight pounds, and eight pounds was—well, I

can’t work it out, but it was a lot of money. But who cares

about genuine antiques nowadays—even the few that’s

left?’ Winston immediately paid over the four dollars and slid

the coveted thing into his pocket. What appealed to him

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. The old man had grown noticeably more cheerful

after receiving the four dollars. Winston realized that he

would have accepted three or even two.

‘There’s another room upstairs that you might care to

take a look at,’ he said. ‘There’s not much in it. Just a few

pieces. We’ll do with a light if we’re going upstairs.’

He lit another lamp, and, with bowed back, led the way

slowly up the steep and worn stairs and along a tiny passage,

into a room which did not give on the street but looked out

on a cobbled yard and a forest of chimney-pots. Winston

noticed that the furniture was still arranged as though the

room were meant to be lived in. There was a strip of carpet

on the floor, a picture or two on the walls, and a deep,

slatternly arm-chair drawn up to the fireplace. An old-fashioned

glass clock with a twelve-hour face was ticking away

on the mantelpiece. Under the window, and occupying

nearly a quarter of the room, was an enormous bed with

the mattress still on it.

‘We lived here till my wife died,’ said the old man half

apologetically. ‘I’m selling the furniture off by little and

little. Now that’s a beautiful mahogany bed, or at least it

would be if you could get the bugs out of it. But I dare say

you’d find it a little bit cumbersome.’

He was holding the lamp high up, so as to illuminate the

whole room, and in the warm dim light the place looked

curiously inviting. The thought flitted through Winston’s

mind that it would probably be quite easy to rent the room

for a few dollars a week, if he dared to take the risk. It was a

wild, impossible notion, to be abandoned as soon as thought

of; but the room had awakened in him a sort of nostalgia, a

sort of ancestral memory. It seemed to him that he knew

exactly what it felt like to sit in a room like this, in an armchair

beside an open fire with your feet in the fender and a

kettle on the hob; utterly alone, utterly secure, with nobody

watching you, no voice pursuing you, no sound except the

singing of the kettle and the friendly ticking of the clock.

‘There’s no telescreen!’ he could not help murmuring.

‘Ah,’ said the old man, ‘I never had one of those things.

Too expensive. And I never seemed to feel the need of it,

somehow. Now that’s a nice gateleg table in the corner there.

Though of course you’d have to put new hinges on it if you

wanted to use the flaps.’

There was a small bookcase in the other corner, and

Winston had already gravitated towards it. It contained

nothing but rubbish. The hunting-down and destruction of

books had been done with the same thoroughness in the

prole quarters as everywhere else. It was very unlikely that

there existed anywhere in Oceania a copy of a book printed

earlier than 1993. The old man, still carrying the lamp, was

standing in front of a picture in a rosewood frame which

hung on the other side of the fireplace, opposite the bed.

‘Now, if you happen to be interested in old prints at all—

—’ he began delicately.

Winston came across to examine the picture. It was a

steel engraving of an oval building with rectangular windows,

and a small tower in front. There was a railing

running round the building, and at the rear end there was

what appeared to be a statue. Winston gazed at it for some

moments. It seemed vaguely familiar, though he did not remember

the statue.

‘The frame’s fixed to the wall,’ said the old man, ‘but I

could unscrew it for you, I dare say.’

‘I know that building,’ said Winston finally. ‘It’s a ruin

now. It’s in the middle of the street outside the Palace of


‘That’s right. Outside the Law Courts. It was bombed in—

oh, many years ago. It was a church at one time, St Clement

Danes, its name was.’ He smiled apologetically, as though

conscious of saying something slightly ridiculous, and added:

‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s!’

‘What’s that?’ said Winston.

‘Oh—‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s.’

That was a rhyme we had when I was a little boy. How it goes

on I don’t remember, but I do know it ended up, ‘Here comes

a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a chopper to chop

off your head.’ It was a kind of a dance. They held out their

arms for you to pass under, and when they came to ‘Here

comes a chopper to chop off your head’ they brought their

arms down and caught you. It was just names of churches.

All the London churches were in it—all the principal ones,

that is.’

Winston wondered vaguely to what century the church

belonged. It was always difficult to determine the age of a

London building. Anything large and impressive, if it was

reasonably new in appearance, was automatically claimed

as having been built since the Revolution, while anything

that was obviously of earlier date was ascribed to some dim

period called the Middle Ages. The centuries of capitalism

were held to have produced nothing of any value. One could

not learn history from architecture any more than one

could learn it from books. Statues, inscriptions, memorial

stones, the names of streets—anything that might throw

light upon the past had been systematically altered.

‘I never knew it had been a church,’ he said.

‘There’s a lot of them left, really,’ said the old man, ‘though

they’ve been put to other uses. Now, how did that rhyme go?

Ah! I’ve got it!

‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s, You

owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s——‘

there, now, that’s as far as I can get. A farthing, that was

a small copper coin, looked something like a cent.’

‘Where was St Martin’s?’ said Winston.

‘St Martin’s? That’s still standing. It’s in Victory Square,

alongside the picture gallery. A building with a kind of a triangular

porch and pillars in front, and a big flight of steps.’

Winston knew the place well. It was a museum used

for propaganda displays of various kinds—scale models of

rocket bombs and Floating Fortresses, waxwork tableaux illustrating

enemy atrocities, and the like.

‘St Martin’s-in-the-Fields it used to be called,’ supplemented

the old man, ‘though I don’t recollect any fields

anywhere in those parts.’

Winston did not buy the picture. It would have been an

even more incongruous possession than the glass paperweight,

and impossible to carry home, unless it were taken

out of its frame. But he lingered for some minutes more,

talking to the old man, whose name, he discovered, was not

Weeks—as one might have gathered from the inscription

over the shop-front—but Charrington. Mr Charrington, it

seemed, was a widower aged sixty-three and had inhabited

this shop for thirty years. Throughout that time he had

been intending to alter the name over the window, but had

never quite got to the point of doing it. All the while that

they were talking the half-remembered rhyme kept running

through Winston’s head. Oranges and lemons say the

bells of St Clement’s, You owe me three farthings, say the

bells of St Martin’s! It was curious, but when you said it to

yourself you had the illusion of actually hearing bells, the

bells of a lost London that still existed somewhere or other,

disguised and forgotten. From one ghostly steeple after another

he seemed to hear them pealing forth. Yet so far as

he could remember he had never in real life heard church

bells ringing.

He got away from Mr Charrington and went down the

stairs alone, so as not to let the old man see him reconnoitering

the street before stepping out of the door. He had

already made up his mind that after a suitable interval—a

month, say—he would take the risk of visiting the shop

again. It was perhaps not more dangerous than shirking an

evening at the Centre. The serious piece of folly had been to

come back here in the first place, after buying the diary and

without knowing whether the proprietor of the shop could

be trusted. However——!

Yes, he thought again, he would come back. He would

buy further scraps of beautiful rubbish. He would buy the

engraving of St Clement Danes, take it out of its frame, and

carry it home concealed under the jacket of his overalls. He

would drag the rest of that poem out of Mr Charrington’s

memory. Even the lunatic project of renting the room upstairs

flashed momentarily through his mind again. For

perhaps five seconds exaltation made him careless, and he

stepped out on to the pavement without so much as a preliminary

glance through the window. He had even started

humming to an improvised tune

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s, You

owe me three farthings, say the——

Suddenly his heart seemed to turn to ice and his bowels

to water. A figure in blue overalls was coming down

the pavement, not ten meters away. It was the girl from the

Fiction Department, the girl with dark hair. The light was

failing, but there was no difficulty in recognizing her. She

looked him straight in the face, then walked quickly on as

though she had not seen him.

For a few seconds Winston was too paralyzed to move.

Then he turned to the right and walked heavily away, not

noticing for the moment that he was going in the wrong

direction. At any rate, one question was settled. There was

no doubting any longer that the girl was spying on him. She

must have followed him here, because it was not credible

that by pure chance she should have happened to be walking

on the same evening up the same obscure backstreet,

kilometers distant from any quarter where Party members

lived. It was too great a coincidence. Whether she was really

an agent of the Thought Police, or simply an amateur spy

actuated by officiousness, hardly mattered. It was enough

that she was watching him. Probably she had seen him go

into the pub as well.

It was an effort to walk. The lump of glass in his pocket

banged against his thigh at each step, and he was half minded

to take it out and throw it away. The worst thing was the

pain in his belly. For a couple of minutes he had the feeling

that he would die if he did not reach a lavatory soon. But

there would be no public lavatories in a quarter like this.

Then the spasm passed, leaving a dull ache behind.

The street was a blind alley. Winston halted, stood

for several seconds wondering vaguely what to do, then

turned round and began to retrace his steps. As he turned

it occurred to him that the girl had only passed him three

minutes ago and that by running he could probably catch

up with her. He could keep on her track till they were in

some quiet place, and then smash her skull in with a cobblestone.

The piece of glass in his pocket would be heavy

enough for the job. But he abandoned the idea immediately,

because even the thought of making any physical effort was

unbearable. He could not run, he could not strike a blow.

Besides, she was young and lusty and would defend herself.

He thought also of hurrying to the Community Centre and

staying there till the place closed, so as to establish a partial

alibi for the evening. But that too was impossible. A deadly

lassitude had taken hold of him. All he wanted was to get

home quickly and then sit down and be quiet.

It was after twenty-two hours when he got back to the

flat. The lights would be switched off at the main at twentythree

thirty. He went into the kitchen and swallowed nearly

a teacupful of Victory Gin. Then he went to the table in the

alcove, sat down, and took the diary out of the drawer. But

he did not open it at once. From the telescreen a brassy female

voice was squalling a patriotic song. He sat staring at

the marbled cover of the book, trying without success to

shut the voice out of his consciousness.

It was at night that they came for you, always at night. The

proper thing was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly

some people did so. Many of the disappearances

were actually suicides. But it needed desperate courage to

kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and

certain poison, were completely unprocurable. He thought

with a kind of astonishment of the biological uselessness

of pain and fear, the treachery of the human body which

always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment when a

special effort is needed. He might have silenced the darkhaired

girl if only he had acted quickly enough: but precisely

because of the extremity of his danger he had lost the power

to act. It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never

fighting against an external enemy, but always against

one’s own body. Even now, in spite of the gin, the dull ache

in his belly made consecutive thought impossible. And it

is the same, he perceived, in all seemingly heroic or tragic

situations. On the battlefield, in the torture chamber, on

a sinking ship, the issues that you are fighting for are always

forgotten, because the body swells up until it fills the

universe, and even when you are not paralyzed by fright or

screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle

against hunger or cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach

or an aching tooth.

He opened the diary. It was important to write something

down. The woman on the telescreen had started a new

song. Her voice seemed to stick into his brain like jagged

splinters of glass. He tried to think of O’Brien, for whom,

or to whom, the diary was written, but instead he began

thinking of the things that would happen to him after the

Thought Police took him away. It would not matter if they

killed you at once. To be killed was what you expected. But

before death (nobody spoke of such things, yet everybody

knew of them) there was the routine of confession that had

to be gone through: the groveling on the floor and screaming

for mercy, the crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth,

and bloody clots of hair.

Why did you have to endure it, since the end was always

the same? Why was it not possible to cut a few days

or weeks out of your life? Nobody ever escaped detection,

and nobody ever failed to confess. When once you had succumbed

to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date

you would be dead. Why then did that horror, which altered

nothing, have to lie embedded in future time?

He tried with a little more success than before to summon

up the image of O’Brien. ‘We shall meet in the place

where there is no darkness,’ O’Brien had said to him. He

knew what it meant, or thought he knew. The place where

there is no darkness was the imagined future, which one

would never see, but which, by foreknowledge, one could

mystically share in. But with the voice from the telescreen

nagging at his ears he could not follow the train of thought

further. He put a cigarette in his mouth. Half the tobacco

promptly fell out on to his tongue, a bitter dust which was

difficult to spit out again. The face of Big Brother swam into

his mind, displacing that of O’Brien. Just as he had done a

few days earlier, he slid a coin out of his pocket and looked

at it. The face gazed up at him, heavy, calm, protecting: but

what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache?

Like a leaden knell the words came back at him:




Part Two

Chapter 1

It was the middle of the morning, and Winston had left

the cubicle to go to the lavatory.

A solitary figure was coming towards him from the other

end of the long, brightly-lit corridor. It was the girl with

dark hair. Four days had gone past since the evening when

he had run into her outside the junk-shop. As she came

nearer he saw that her right arm was in a sling, not noticeable

at a distance because it was of the same color as her

overalls. Probably she had crushed her hand while swinging

round one of the big kaleidoscopes on which the plots

of novels were ‘roughed in’. It was a common accident in the

Fiction Department.

They were perhaps four meters apart when the girl stumbled

and fell almost flat on her face. A sharp cry of pain was

wrung out of her. She must have fallen right on the injured

arm. Winston stopped short. The girl had risen to her knees.

Her face had turned a milky yellow color against which

her mouth stood out redder than ever. Her eyes were fixed

on his, with an appealing expression that looked more like

fear than pain.

A curious emotion stirred in Winston’s heart. In front of

him was an enemy who was trying to kill him: in front of

him, also, was a human creature, in pain and perhaps with

a broken bone. Already he had instinctively started forward

to help her. In the moment when he had seen her fall on the

bandaged arm, it had been as though he felt the pain in his

own body.

‘You’re hurt?’ he said.

‘It’s nothing. My arm. It’ll be all right in a second.’

She spoke as though her heart were fluttering. She had

certainly turned very pale.

‘You haven’t broken anything?’

‘No, I’m all right. It hurt for a moment, that’s all.’

She held out her free hand to him, and he helped her up.

She had regained some of her color, and appeared very

much better.

‘It’s nothing,’ she repeated shortly. ‘I only gave my wrist a

bit of a bang. Thanks, comrade!’

And with that she walked on in the direction in which

she had been going, as briskly as though it had really been

nothing. The whole incident could not have taken as much

as half a minute. Not to let one’s feelings appear in one’s

face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct,

and in any case they had been standing straight in front of

a telescreen when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had

been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for

in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up

the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no

question that she had done it intentionally. It was something

small and flat. As he passed through the lavatory door

he transferred it to his pocket and felt it with the tips of his

fingers. It was a scrap of paper folded into a square.

While he stood at the urinal he managed, with a little

more fingering, to get it unfolded. Obviously there must be

a message of some kind written on it. For a moment he was

tempted to take it into one of the water-closets and read it

at once. But that would be shocking folly, as he well knew.

There was no place where you could be more certain that

the telescreens were watched continuously.

He went back to his cubicle, sat down, threw the fragment

of paper casually among the other papers on the desk,

put on his spectacles and hitched the speakwrite towards

him. ‘Five minutes,’ he told himself, ‘five minutes at the

very least!’ His heart bumped in his breast with frightening

loudness. Fortunately the piece of work he was engaged on

was mere routine, the rectification of a long list of figures,

not needing close attention.

Whatever was written on the paper, it must have some

kind of political meaning. So far as he could see there were

two possibilities. One, much the more likely, was that the

girl was an agent of the Thought Police, just as he had feared.

He did not know why the Thought Police should choose to

deliver their messages in such a fashion, but perhaps they

had their reasons. The thing that was written on the paper

might be a threat, a summons, an order to commit suicide,

a trap of some description. But there was another, wilder

possibility that kept raising its head, though he tried vainly

to suppress it. This was, that the message did not come

from the Thought Police at all, but from some kind of underground

organization. Perhaps the Brotherhood existed

after all! Perhaps the girl was part of it! No doubt the idea

was absurd, but it had sprung into his mind in the very instant

of feeling the scrap of paper in his hand. It was not till

a couple of minutes later that the other, more probable explanation

had occurred to him. And even now, though his

intellect told him that the message probably meant death—

still, that was not what he believed, and the unreasonable

hope persisted, and his heart banged, and it was with difficulty

that he kept his voice from trembling as he murmured

his figures into the speakwrite.

He rolled up the completed bundle of work and slid it

into the pneumatic tube. Eight minutes had gone by. He readjusted

his spectacles on his nose, sighed, and drew the

next batch of work towards him, with the scrap of paper on

top of it. He flattened it out. On it was written, in a large unformed



For several seconds he was too stunned even to throw

the incriminating thing into the memory hole. When he

did so, although he knew very well the danger of showing

too much interest, he could not resist reading it once again,

just to make sure that the words were really there.

For the rest of the morning it was very difficult to work.

What was even worse than having to focus his mind on a

series of niggling jobs was the need to conceal his agitation

from the telescreen. He felt as though a fire were burning

in his belly. Lunch in the hot, crowded, noise-filled canteen

was torment. He had hoped to be alone for a little while

during the lunch hour, but as bad luck would have it the

imbecile Parsons flopped down beside him, the tang of his

sweat almost defeating the tinny smell of stew, and kept up

a stream of talk about the preparations for Hate Week. He

was particularly enthusiastic about a papier-mache model of

Big Brother’s head, two meters wide, which was being made

for the occasion by his daughter’s troop of Spies. The irritating

thing was that in the racket of voices Winston could

hardly hear what Parsons was saying, and was constantly

having to ask for some fatuous remark to be repeated. Just

once he caught a glimpse of the girl, at a table with two other

girls at the far end of the room. She appeared not to have

seen him, and he did not look in that direction again.

The afternoon was more bearable. Immediately after lunch

there arrived a delicate, difficult piece of work which would

take several hours and necessitated putting everything else

aside. It consisted in falsifying a series of production reports

of two years ago, in such a way as to cast discredit on a

prominent member of the Inner Party, who was now under

a cloud. This was the kind of thing that Winston was good

at, and for more than two hours he succeeded in shutting

the girl out of his mind altogether. Then the memory of her

face came back, and with it a raging, intolerable desire to

be alone. Until he could be alone it was impossible to think

this new development out. Tonight was one of his nights at

the Community Centre. He wolfed another tasteless meal

in the canteen, hurried off to the Centre, took part in the

solemn foolery of a ‘discussion group’, played two games

of table tennis, swallowed several glasses of gin, and sat for

half an hour through a lecture entitled ‘Ingsoc in relation to

chess’. His soul writhed with boredom, but for once he had

had no impulse to shirk his evening at the Centre. At the

sight of the words I LOVE YOU the desire to stay alive had

welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly

seemed stupid. It was not till twenty-three hours, when he

was home and in bed—in the darkness, where you were safe

even from the telescreen so long as you kept silent—that he

was able to think continuously.

It was a physical problem that had to be solved: how to

get in touch with the girl and arrange a meeting. He did

not consider any longer the possibility that she might be

laying some kind of trap for him. He knew that it was not

so, because of her unmistakable agitation when she handed

him the note. Obviously she had been frightened out of her

wits, as well she might be. Nor did the idea of refusing her

advances even cross his mind. Only five nights ago he had

contemplated smashing her skull in with a cobblestone, but

that was of no importance. He thought of her naked, youthful

body, as he had seen it in his dream. He had imagined

her a fool like all the rest of them, her head stuffed with lies

and hatred, her belly full of ice. A kind of fever seized him at

the thought that he might lose her, the white youthful body

might slip away from him! What he feared more than anything

else was that she would simply change her mind if he

did not get in touch with her quickly. But the physical difficulty

of meeting was enormous. It was like trying to make

a move at chess when you were already mated. Whichever

way you turned, the telescreen faced you. Actually, all the

possible ways of communicating with her had occurred to

him within five minutes of reading the note; but now, with

time to think, he went over them one by one, as though laying

out a row of instruments on a table.

Obviously the kind of encounter that had happened this

morning could not be repeated. If she had worked in the Records

Department it might have been comparatively simple,

but he had only a very dim idea whereabouts in the building

the Fiction Department lay, and he had no pretext for going

there. If he had known where she lived, and at what time

she left work, he could have contrived to meet her somewhere

on her way home; but to try to follow her home was

not safe, because it would mean loitering about outside the

Ministry, which was bound to be noticed. As for sending

a letter through the mails, it was out of the question. By

a routine that was not even secret, all letters were opened

in transit. Actually, few people ever wrote letters. For the

messages that it was occasionally necessary to send, there

were printed postcards with long lists of phrases, and you

struck out the ones that were inapplicable. In any case he

did not know the girl’s name, let alone her address. Finally

he decided that the safest place was the canteen. If he

could get her at a table by herself, somewhere in the middle

of the room, not too near the telescreens, and with a sufficient

buzz of conversation all round—if these conditions

endured for, say, thirty seconds, it might be possible to exchange

a few words.

For a week after this, life was like a restless dream. On

the next day she did not appear in the canteen until he

was leaving it, the whistle having already blown. Presumably

she had been changed on to a later shift. They passed

each other without a glance. On the day after that she was

in the canteen at the usual time, but with three other girls

and immediately under a telescreen. Then for three dreadful

days she did not appear at all. His whole mind and body

seemed to be afflicted with an unbearable sensitivity, a sort

of transparency, which made every movement, every sound,

every contact, every word that he had to speak or listen

to, an agony. Even in sleep he could not altogether escape

from her image. He did not touch the diary during those

days. If there was any relief, it was in his work, in which he

could sometimes forget himself for ten minutes at a stretch.

He had absolutely no clue as to what had happened to her.

There was no enquiry he could make. She might have been

vaporized, she might have committed suicide, she might

have been transferred to the other end of Oceania: worst

and likeliest of all, she might simply have changed her mind

and decided to avoid him.

The next day she reappeared. Her arm was out of the sling

and she had a band of sticking-plaster round her wrist. The

relief of seeing her was so great that he could not resist staring

directly at her for several seconds. On the following day

he very nearly succeeded in speaking to her. When he came

into the canteen she was sitting at a table well out from the

wall, and was quite alone. It was early, and the place was

not very full. The queue edged forward till Winston was

almost at the counter, then was held up for two minutes

because someone in front was complaining that he had not

received his tablet of saccharine. But the girl was still alone

when Winston secured his tray and began to make for her

table. He walked casually towards her, his eyes searching

for a place at some table beyond her. She was perhaps three

meters away from him. Another two seconds would do it.

Then a voice behind him called, ‘Smith!’ He pretended not

to hear. ‘Smith!’ repeated the voice, more loudly. It was no

use. He turned round. A blond-headed, silly-faced young

man named Wilsher, whom he barely knew, was inviting

him with a smile to a vacant place at his table. It was not

safe to refuse. After having been recognized, he could not

go and sit at a table with an unattended girl. It was too noticeable.

He sat down with a friendly smile. The silly blond

face beamed into his. Winston had a hallucination of himself

smashing a pick-axe right into the middle of it. The

girl’s table filled up a few minutes later.

But she must have seen him coming towards her, and

perhaps she would take the hint. Next day he took care to

arrive early. Surely enough, she was at a table in about the

same place, and again alone. The person immediately ahead

of him in the queue was a small, swiftly-moving, beetle-like

man with a flat face and tiny, suspicious eyes. As Winston

turned away from the counter with his tray, he saw that the

little man was making straight for the girl’s table. His hopes

sank again. There was a vacant place at a table further away,

but something in the little man’s appearance suggested

that he would be sufficiently attentive to his own comfort

to choose the emptiest table. With ice at his heart Winston

followed. It was no use unless he could get the girl alone.

At this moment there was a tremendous crash. The little

man was sprawling on all fours, his tray had gone flying,

two streams of soup and coffee were flowing across the floor.

He started to his feet with a malignant glance at Winston,

whom he evidently suspected of having tripped him up. But

it was all right. Five seconds later, with a thundering heart,

Winston was sitting at the girl’s table.

He did not look at her. He unpacked his tray and promptly

began eating. It was all-important to speak at once,

before anyone else came, but now a terrible fear had taken

possession of him. A week had gone by since she had first

approached him. She would have changed her mind, she

must have changed her mind! It was impossible that this affair

should end successfully; such things did not happen in

real life. He might have flinched altogether from speaking if

at this moment he had not seen Ampleforth, the hairy-eared

poet, wandering limply round the room with a tray, looking

for a place to sit down. In his vague way Ampleforth

was attached to Winston, and would certainly sit down at

his table if he caught sight of him. There was perhaps a minute

in which to act. Both Winston and the girl were eating

steadily. The stuff they were eating was a thin stew, actually

a soup, of haricot beans. In a low murmur Winston began

speaking. Neither of them looked up; steadily they spooned

the watery stuff into their mouths, and between spoonfuls

exchanged the few necessary words in low expressionless


‘What time do you leave work?’


‘Where can we meet?’

‘Victory Square, near the monument.’

‘It’s full of telescreens.’

‘It doesn’t matter if there’s a crowd.’

‘Any signal?’

‘No. Don’t come up to me until you see me among a lot

of people. And don’t look at me. Just keep somewhere near


‘What time?’

‘Nineteen hours.’

‘All right.’

Ampleforth failed to see Winston and sat down at another

table. They did not speak again, and, so far as it was

possible for two people sitting on opposite sides of the same

table, they did not look at one another. The girl finished her

lunch quickly and made off, while Winston stayed to smoke

a cigarette.

Winston was in Victory Square before the appointed

time. He wandered round the base of the enormous fluted

column, at the top of which Big Brother’s statue gazed

southward towards the skies where he had vanquished the

Eurasian airplanes (the Eastasian airplanes, it had been,

a few years ago) in the Battle of Airstrip One. In the street

in front of it there was a statue of a man on horseback which

was supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell. At five minutes

past the hour the girl had still not appeared. Again the terrible

fear seized upon Winston. She was not coming, she

had changed her mind! He walked slowly up to the north

side of the square and got a sort of pale-colored pleasure

from identifying St Martin’s Church, whose bells, when it

had bells, had chimed ‘You owe me three farthings.’ Then

he saw the girl standing at the base of the monument, reading

or pretending to read a poster which ran spirally up the

column. It was not safe to go near her until some more people

had accumulated. There were telescreens all round the

pediment. But at this moment there was a din of shouting

and a zoom of heavy vehicles from somewhere to the left.

Suddenly everyone seemed to be running across the square.

The girl nipped nimbly round the lions at the base of the

monument and joined in the rush. Winston followed. As he

ran, he gathered from some shouted remarks that a convoy

of Eurasian prisoners was passing.

Already a dense mass of people was blocking the south

side of the square. Winston, at normal times the kind of

person who gravitates to the outer edge of any kind of

scrimmage, shoved, butted, squirmed his way forward into

the heart of the crowd. Soon he was within arm’s length of

the girl, but the way was blocked by an enormous prole and

an almost equally enormous woman, presumably his wife,

who seemed to form an impenetrable wall of flesh. Winston

wriggled himself sideways, and with a violent lunge managed

to drive his shoulder between them. For a moment it

felt as though his entrails were being ground to pulp between

the two muscular hips, then he had broken through,

sweating a little. He was next to the girl. They were shoulder

to shoulder, both staring fixedly in front of them.

A long line of trucks, with wooden-faced guards armed

with sub-machine guns standing upright in each corner, was

passing slowly down the street. In the trucks little yellow

men in shabby greenish uniforms were squatting, jammed

close together. Their sad, Mongolian faces gazed out over

the sides of the trucks utterly incurious. Occasionally when

a truck jolted there was a clank-clank of metal: all the prisoners

were wearing leg-irons. Truck-load after truck-load of

the sad faces passed. Winston knew they were there but he

saw them only intermittently. The girl’s shoulder, and her

arm right down to the elbow, were pressed against his. Her

cheek was almost near enough for him to feel its warmth.

She had immediately taken charge of the situation, just as

she had done in the canteen. She began speaking in the

same expressionless voice as before, with lips barely moving,

a mere murmur easily drowned by the din of voices and

the rumbling of the trucks.

‘Can you hear me?’


‘Can you get Sunday afternoon off?’


‘Then listen carefully. You’ll have to remember this. Go

to Paddington Station——’

With a sort of military precision that astonished him, she

outlined the route that he was to follow. A half-hour railway

journey; turn left outside the station; two kilometers along

the road; a gate with the top bar missing; a path across a

field; a grass-grown lane; a track between bushes; a dead

tree with moss on it. It was as though she had a map inside

her head. ‘Can you remember all that?’ she murmured finally.


‘You turn left, then right, then left again. And the gate’s

got no top bar.’

‘Yes. What time?’

‘About fifteen. You may have to wait. I’ll get there by another

way. Are you sure you remember everything?’


‘Then get away from me as quick as you can.’

She need not have told him that. But for the moment

they could not extricate themselves from the crowd. The

trucks were still filing past, the people still insatiably gaping.

At the start there had been a few boos and hisses, but

it came only from the Party members among the crowd,

and had soon stopped. The prevailing emotion was simply

curiosity. Foreigners, whether from Eurasia or from Eastasia,

were a kind of strange animal. One literally never saw

them except in the guise of prisoners, and even as prisoners

one never got more than a momentary glimpse of them.

Nor did one know what became of them, apart from the

few who were hanged as war-criminals: the others simply

vanished, presumably into forced-labor camps. The round

Mogol faces had given way to faces of a more European type,

dirty, bearded and exhausted. From over scrubby cheekbones

eyes looked into Winston’s, sometimes with strange

intensity, and flashed away again. The convoy was drawing

to an end. In the last truck he could see an aged man, his

face a mass of grizzled hair, standing upright with wrists

crossed in front of him, as though he were used to having

them bound together. It was almost time for Winston and

the girl to part. But at the last moment, while the crowd still

hemmed them in, her hand felt for his and gave it a fleeting


It could not have been ten seconds, and yet it seemed a

long time that their hands were clasped together. He had

time to learn every detail of her hand. He explored the long

fingers, the shapely nails, the work-hardened palm with its

row of callouses, the smooth flesh under the wrist. Merely

from feeling it he would have known it by sight. In the same

instant it occurred to him that he did not know what color

the girl’s eyes were. They were probably brown, but people

with dark hair sometimes had blue eyes. To turn his head

and look at her would have been inconceivable folly. With

hands locked together, invisible among the press of bodies,

they stared steadily in front of them, and instead of the eyes

of the girl, the eyes of the aged prisoner gazed mournfully

at Winston out of nests of hair.

Chapter 2

Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled

light and shade, stepping out into pools of gold wherever

the boughs parted. Under the trees to the left of him

the ground was misty with bluebells. The air seemed to kiss

one’s skin. It was the second of May. From somewhere deeper

in the heart of the wood came the droning of ring doves.

He was a bit early. There had been no difficulties about

the journey, and the girl was so evidently experienced that

he was less frightened than he would normally have been.

Presumably she could be trusted to find a safe place. In

general you could not assume that you were much safer in

the country than in London. There were no telescreens, of

course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones

by which your voice might be picked up and

recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey by

yourself without attracting attention. For distances of less

than 100 kilometers it was not necessary to get your passport

endorsed, but sometimes there were patrols hanging

about the railway stations, who examined the papers of any

Party member they found there and asked awkward questions.

However, no patrols had appeared, and on the walk

from the station he had made sure by cautious backward

glances that he was not being followed. The train was full

of proles, in holiday mood because of the summery weather.

The wooden-seated carriage in which he traveled was filled

to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from

a toothless great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going

out to spend an afternoon with ‘in-laws’ in the country, and,

as they freely explained to Winston, to get hold of a little

blackmarket butter.

The lane widened, and in a minute he came to the footpath

she had told him of, a mere cattle-track which plunged

between the bushes. He had no watch, but it could not be

fifteen yet. The bluebells were so thick underfoot that it was

impossible not to tread on them. He knelt down and began

picking some partly to pass the time away, but also from

a vague idea that he would like to have a bunch of flowers

to offer to the girl when they met. He had got together a

big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly scent when a

sound at his back froze him, the unmistakable crackle of a

foot on twigs. He went on picking bluebells. It was the best

thing to do. It might be the girl, or he might have been followed

after all. To look round was to show guilt. He picked

another and another. A hand fell lightly on his shoulder.

He looked up. It was the girl. She shook her head, evidently

as a warning that he must keep silent, then parted

the bushes and quickly led the way along the narrow track

into the wood. Obviously she had been that way before, for

she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed,

still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling

was relief, but as he watched the strong slender body moving

in front of him, with the scarlet sash that was just tight

enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the sense of his

own inferiority was heavy upon him. Even now it seemed

quite likely that when she turned round and looked at him

she would draw back after all. The sweetness of the air and

the greenness of the leaves daunted him. Already on the

walk from the station the May sunshine had made him feel

dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty

dust of London in the pores of his skin. It occurred to him

that till now she had probably never seen him in broad daylight

in the open. They came to the fallen tree that she had

spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart the bushes,

in which there did not seem to be an opening. When

Winston followed her, he found that they were in a natural

clearing, a tiny grassy knoll surrounded by tall saplings that

shut it in completely. The girl stopped and turned.

‘Here we are,’ she said.

He was facing her at several paces’ distance. As yet he did

not dare move nearer to her.

‘I didn’t want to say anything in the lane,’ she went on,

‘in case there’s a mike hidden there. I don’t suppose there is,

but there could be. There’s always the chance of one of those

swine recognizing your voice. We’re all right here.’

He still had not the courage to approach her. ‘We’re all

right here?’ he repeated stupidly.

‘Yes. Look at the trees.’ They were small ashes, which at

some time had been cut down and had sprouted up again

into a forest of poles, none of them thicker than one’s wrist.

‘There’s nothing big enough to hide a mike in. Besides, I’ve

been here before.’

They were only making conversation. He had managed

to move closer to her now. She stood before him very upright,

with a smile on her face that looked faintly ironical, as

though she were wondering why he was so slow to act. The

bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to

have fallen of their own accord. He took her hand.

‘Would you believe,’ he said, ‘that till this moment I

didn’t know what color your eyes were?’ They were brown,

he noted, a rather light shade of brown, with dark lashes.

‘Now that you’ve seen what I’m really like, can you still bear

to look at me?’

‘Yes, easily.’

‘I’m thirty-nine years old. I’ve got a wife that I can’t get

rid of. I’ve got varicose veins. I’ve got five false teeth.’

‘I couldn’t care less,’ said the girl.

The next moment, it was hard to say by whose act, she was

in his his arms. At the beginning he had no feeling except

sheer incredulity. The youthful body was strained against

his own, the mass of dark hair was against his face, and yes!

actually she had turned her face up and he was kissing the

wide red mouth. She had clasped her arms about his neck,

she was calling him darling, precious one, loved one. He

had pulled her down on to the ground, she was utterly unresisting,

he could do what he liked with her. But the truth

was that he had no physical sensation, except that of mere

contact. All he felt was incredulity and pride. He was glad

that this was happening, but he had no physical desire. It

was too soon, her youth and prettiness had frightened him,

he was too much used to living without women—he did

not know the reason. The girl picked herself up and pulled

a bluebell out of her hair. She sat against him, putting her

arm round his waist.

‘Never mind, dear. There’s no hurry. We’ve got the whole

afternoon. Isn’t this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I

got lost once on a community hike. If anyone was coming

you could hear them a hundred meters away.’

‘What is your name?’ said Winston.

‘Julia. I know yours. It’s Winston—Winston Smith.’

‘How did you find that out?’

‘I expect I’m better at finding things out than you are,

dear. Tell me, what did you think of me before that day I

gave you the note?’

He did not feel any temptation to tell lies to her. It was

even a sort of love-offering to start off by telling the worst.

‘I hated the sight of you,’ he said. ‘I wanted to rape you

and then murder you afterwards. Two weeks ago I thought

seriously of smashing your head in with a cobblestone. If

you really want to know, I imagined that you had something

to do with the Thought Police.’

The girl laughed delightedly, evidently taking this as a

tribute to the excellence of her disguise.

‘Not the Thought Police! You didn’t honestly think that?’

‘Well, perhaps not exactly that. But from your general

appearance—merely because you’re young and fresh and

healthy, you understand—I thought that probably——’

‘You thought I was a good Party member. Pure in word

and deed. Banners, processions, slogans, games, community

hikes all that stuff. And you thought that if I had a

quarter of a chance I’d denounce you as a thought-criminal

and get you killed off?’

‘Yes, something of that kind. A great many young girls

are like that, you know.’

‘It’s this bloody thing that does it,’ she said, ripping off

the scarlet sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging

it on to a bough. Then, as though touching her waist had

reminded her of something, she felt in the pocket of her

overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She broke

it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before

he had taken it he knew by the smell that it was very

unusual chocolate. It was dark and shiny, and was wrapped

in silver paper. Chocolate normally was dull-brown crumbly

stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like

the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he

had tasted chocolate like the piece she had given him. The

first whiff of its scent had stirred up some memory which

he could not pin down, but which was powerful and troubling.

‘Where did you get this stuff?’ he said.

‘Black market,’ she said indifferently. ‘Actually I am that

sort of girl, to look at. I’m good at games. I was a troop-leader

in the Spies. I do voluntary work three evenings a week

for the Junior Anti-Sex League. Hours and hours I’ve spent

pasting their bloody rot all over London. I always carry one

end of a banner in the processions. I always Iook cheerful

and I never shirk anything. Always yell with the crowd,

that’s what I say. It’s the only way to be safe.’

The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston’s

tongue. The taste was delightful. But there was still

that memory moving round the edges of his consciousness,

something strongly felt but not reducible to definite shape,

like an object seen out of the corner of one’s eye. He pushed

it away from him, aware only that it was the memory of

some action which he would have liked to undo but could


‘You are very young,’ he said. ‘You are ten or fifteen years

younger than I am. What could you see to attract you in a

man like me?’

‘It was something in your face. I thought I’d take a chance.

I’m good at spotting people who don’t belong. As soon as I

saw you I knew you were against THEM.’

THEM, it appeared, meant the Party, and above all the

Inner Party, about whom she talked with an open jeering

hatred which made Winston feel uneasy, although he knew

that they were safe here if they could be safe anywhere. A

thing that astonished him about her was the coarseness of

her language. Party members were supposed not to swear,

and Winston himself very seldom did swear, aloud, at any

rate. Julia, however, seemed unable to mention the Party,

and especially the Inner Party, without using the kind of

words that you saw chalked up in dripping alley-ways. He

did not dislike it. It was merely one symptom of her revolt

against the Party and all its ways, and somehow it seemed

natural and healthy, like the sneeze of a horse that smells

bad hay. They had left the clearing and were wandering

again through the chequered shade, with their arms round

each other’s waists whenever it was wide enough to walk

two abreast. He noticed how much softer her waist seemed

to feel now that the sash was gone. They did not speak above

a whisper. Outside the clearing, Julia said, it was better to

go quietly. Presently they had reached the edge of the little

wood. She stopped him.

‘Don’t go out into the open. There might be someone

watching. We’re all right if we keep behind the boughs.’

They were standing in the shade of hazel bushes. The

sunlight, filtering through innumerable leaves, was still hot

on their faces. Winston looked out into the field beyond,

and underwent a curious, slow shock of recognition. He

knew it by sight. An old, closebitten pasture, with a footpath

wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In

the ragged hedge on the opposite side the boughs of the elm

trees swayed just perceptibly in the breeze, and their leaves

stirred faintly in dense masses like women’s hair. Surely

somewhere nearby, but out of sight, there must be a stream

with green pools where dace were swimming?

‘Isn’t there a stream somewhere near here?’ he whispered.

‘That’s right, there is a stream. It’s at the edge of the next

field, actually. There are fish in it, great big ones. You can

watch them lying in the pools under the willow trees, waving

their tails.’

‘It’s the Golden Country—almost,’ he murmured.

‘The Golden Country?’

‘It’s nothing, really. A landscape I’ve seen sometimes in

a dream.’

‘Look!’ whispered Julia.

A thrush had alighted on a bough not five meters away,

almost at the level of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen

them. It was in the sun, they in the shade. It spread out its

wings, fitted them carefully into place again, ducked its

head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance to

the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song. In

the afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston

and Julia clung together, fascinated. The music went on

and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations,

never once repeating itself, almost as though the bird were

deliberately showing off its virtuosity. Sometimes it stopped

for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then

swelled its speckled breast and again burst into song. Winston

watched it with a sort of vague reverence. For whom, for

what, was that bird singing? No mate, no rival was watching

it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood and

pour its music into nothingness? He wondered whether after

all there was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He

and Julia had spoken only in low whispers, and it would not

pick up what they had said, but it would pick up the thrush.

Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small, beetle-

like man was listening intently—listening to that. But

by degrees the flood of music drove all speculations out of

his mind. It was as though it were a kind of liquid stuff that

poured all over him and got mixed up with the sunlight

that filtered through the leaves. He stopped thinking and

merely felt. The girl’s waist in the bend of his arm was soft

and warm. He pulled her round so that they were breast

to breast; her body seemed to melt into his. Wherever his

hands moved it was all as yielding as water. Their mouths

clung together; it was quite different from the hard kisses

they had exchanged earlier. When they moved their faces

apart again both of them sighed deeply. The bird took fright

and fled with a clatter of wings.

Winston put his lips against her ear. ‘NOW,’ he whispered.

‘Not here,’ she whispered back. ‘Come back to the hideout.

It’s safer.’

Quickly, with an occasional crackle of twigs, they

threaded their way back to the clearing. When they were

once inside the ring of saplings she turned and faced him.

They were both breathing fast, but the smile had reappeared

round the corners of her mouth. She stood looking at him

for an instant, then felt at the zipper of her overalls. And,

yes! it was almost as in his dream. Almost as swiftly as he

had imagined it, she had torn her clothes off, and when she

flung them aside it was with that same magnificent gesture

by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated. Her

body gleamed white in the sun. But for a moment he did

not look at her body; his eyes were anchored by the freckled

face with its faint, bold smile. He knelt down before her and

took her hands in his.

‘Have you done this before?’

‘Of course. Hundreds of times—well, scores of times,


‘With Party members?’

‘Yes, always with Party members.’

‘With members of the Inner Party?’

‘Not with those swine, no. But there’s plenty that WOULD

if they got half a chance. They’re not so holy as they make

out.’His heart leapt. Scores of times she had done it: he wished

it had been hundreds—thousands. Anything that hinted at

corruption always filled him with a wild hope. Who knew,

perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of

strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity.

If he could have infected the whole lot of them with

leprosy or syphilis, how gladly he would have done so! Anything

to rot, to weaken, to undermine! He pulled her down

so that they were kneeling face to face.

‘Listen. The more men you’ve had, the more I love you.

Do you understand that?’

‘Yes, perfectly.’

‘I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don’t want any virtue

to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the


‘Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I’m corrupt to the


‘You like doing this? I don’t mean simply me: I mean the

thing in itself?’

‘I adore it.’

That was above all what he wanted to hear. Not merely

the love of one person but the animal instinct, the simple

undifferentiated desire: that was the force that would tear

the Party to pieces. He pressed her down upon the grass,

among the fallen bluebells. This time there was no difficulty.

Presently the rising and falling of their breasts slowed

to normal speed, and in a sort of pleasant helplessness they

fell apart. The sun seemed to have grown hotter. They were

both sleepy. He reached out for the discarded overalls and

pulled them partly over her. Almost immediately they fell

asleep and slept for about half an hour.

Winston woke first. He sat up and watched the freckled

face, still peacefully asleep, pillowed on the palm of her

hand. Except for her mouth, you could not call her beautiful.

There was a line or two round the eyes, if you looked

closely. The short dark hair was extraordinarily thick and

soft. It occurred to him that he still did not know her surname

or where she lived.

The young, strong body, now helpless in sleep, awoke in

him a pitying, protecting feeling. But the mindless tenderness

that he had felt under the hazel tree, while the thrush

was singing, had not quite come back. He pulled the overalls

aside and studied her smooth white flank. 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


Chapter 3

‘We can come here once again,’ said Julia. ‘It’s generally safe

to use any hide-out twice. But not for another month or

two, of course.’

As soon as she woke up her demeanor had changed. She

became alert and business-like, put her clothes on, knotted

the scarlet sash about her waist, and began arranging

the details of the journey home. It seemed natural to leave

this to her. She obviously had a practical cunning which

Winston lacked, and she seemed also to have an exhaustive

knowledge of the countryside round London, stored

away from innumerable community hikes. The route she

gave him was quite different from the one by which he had

come, and brought him out at a different railway station.

‘Never go home the same way as you went out,’ she said, as

though enunciating an important general principle. She

would leave first, and Winston was to wait half an hour before

following her.

She had named a place where they could meet after work,

four evenings hence. It was a street in one of the poorer

quarters, where there was an open market which was generally

crowded and noisy. She would be hanging about among

the stalls, pretending to be in search of shoelaces or sewingthread.

If she judged that the coast was clear she would blow

her nose when he approached; otherwise he was to walk

past her without recognition. But with luck, in the middle

of the crowd, it would be safe to talk for a quarter of an hour

and arrange another meeting.

‘And now I must go,’ she said as soon as he had mastered

his instructions. ‘I’m due back at nineteen-thirty. I’ve got to

put in two hours for the Junior Anti-Sex League, handing

out leaflets, or something. Isn’t it bloody? Give me a brushdown,

would you? Have I got any twigs in my hair? Are you

sure? Then good-bye, my love, good-bye!’

She flung herself into his arms, kissed him almost violently,

and a moment later pushed her way through the

saplings and disappeared into the wood with very little

noise. Even now he had not found out her surname or her

address. However, it made no difference, for it was inconceivable

that they could ever meet indoors or exchange any

kind of written communication.

As it happened, they never went back to the clearing in

the wood. During the month of May there was only one

further occasion on which they actually succeeded in making

love. That was in another hidlng-place known to Julia,

the belfry of a ruinous church in an almost-deserted stretch

of country where an atomic bomb had fallen thirty years

earlier. It was a good hiding-place when once you got there,

but the getting there was very dangerous. For the rest they

could meet only in the streets, in a different place every evening

and never for more than half an hour at a time. In the

street it was usually possible to talk, after a fashion. As they

drifted down the crowded pavements, not quite abreast

and never looking at one another, they carried on a curious,

intermittent conversation which flicked on and off like

the beams of a lighthouse, suddenly nipped into silence by

the approach of a Party uniform or the proximity of a telescreen,

then taken up again minutes later in the middle of

a sentence, then abruptly cut short as they parted at the

agreed spot, then continued almost without introduction

on the following day. Julia appeared to be quite used to this

kind of conversation, which she called ‘talking by installments’.

She was also surprisingly adept at speaking without

moving her lips. Just once in almost a month of nightly

meetings they managed to exchange a kiss. They were passing

in silence down a side-street (Julia would never speak

when they were away from the main streets) when there was

a deafening roar, the earth heaved, and the air darkened,

and Winston found himself lying on his side, bruised and

terrified. A rocket bomb must have dropped quite near at

hand. Suddenly he became aware of Julia’s face a few centimeters

from his own, deathly white, as white as chalk. Even

her lips were white. She was dead! He clasped her against

him and found that he was kissing a live warm face. But

there was some powdery stuff that got in the way of his lips.

Both of their faces were thickly coated with plaster.

There were evenings when they reached their rendezvous

and then had to walk past one another without a sign, because

a patrol had just come round the corner or a helicopter

was hovering overhead. Even if it had been less dangerous,

it would still have been difficult to find time to meet. Winston’s

working week was sixty hours, Julia’s was even longer,

and their free days varied according to the pressure of work

and did not often coincide. Julia, in any case, seldom had an

evening completely free. She spent an astonishing amount

of time in attending lectures and demonstrations, distributing

literature for the junior Anti-Sex League, preparing

banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings

campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said, it was

camouflage. If you kept the small rules, you could break the

big ones. She even induced Winston to mortgage yet another

of his evenings by enrolling himself for the part-time

munition work which was done voluntarily by zealous Party

members. So, one evening every week, Winston spent

four hours of paralyzing boredom, screwing together small

bits of metal which were probably parts of bomb fuses, in a

draughty, ill-lit workshop where the knocking of hammers

mingled drearily with the music of the telescreens.

When they met in the church tower the gaps in their

fragmentary conversation were filled up. It was a blazing afternoon.

The air in the little square chamber above the bells

was hot and stagnant, and smelt overpoweringly of pigeon

dung. They sat talking for hours on the dusty, twig-littered

floor, one or other of them getting up from time to time to

cast a glance through the arrowslits and make sure that no

one was coming.

Julia was twenty-six years old. She lived in a hostel with

thirty other girls (’Always in the stink of women! How I

hate women!’ she said parenthetically), and she worked, as

he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction

Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted

chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric

motor. She was ‘not clever’, but was fond of using her

hands and felt at home with machinery. She could describe

the whole process of composing a novel, from the general

directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the

final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested

in the finished product. She ‘didn’t much care for

reading,’ she said. Books were just a commodity that had to

be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

She had no memories of anything before the early sixties

and the only person she had ever known who talked

frequently of the days before the Revolution was a grandfather

who had disappeared when she was eight. At school

she had been captain of the hockey team and had won the

gymnastics trophy two years running. She had been a troopleader

in the Spies and a branch secretary in the Youth

League before joining the Junior Anti-Sex League. She had

always borne an excellent character. She had even (an infallible

mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in

Pornosec, the sub-section of the Fiction Department which

turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the

proles. It was nicknamed Muck House by the people who

worked in it, she remarked. There she had remained for a

year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles

like ‘Spanking Stories’ or ‘One Night in a Girls’ School’,

to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under

the impression that they were buying something illegal.

‘What are these books like?’ said Winston curiously.

‘Oh, ghastly rubbish. They’re boring, really. They only

have six plots, but they swap them round a bit. Of course

I was only on the kaleidoscopes. I was never in the Rewrite

Squad. I’m not literary, dear—not even enough for that.’

He learned with astonishment that all the workers in

Pornosec, except the heads of the departments, were girls.

The theory was that men, whose sex instincts were less controllable

than those of women, were in greater danger of

being corrupted by the filth they handled.

‘They don’t even like having married women there,’ she

added. Girls are always supposed to be so pure. Here’s one

who isn’t, anyway.

She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen,

with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide

to avoid arrest. ‘And a good job too,’ said Julia, ‘otherwise

they’d have had my name out of him when he confessed.’

Since then there had been various others. Life as she saw it

was quite simple. You wanted a good time; ‘they’, meaning

the Party, wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules

as best you could. She seemed to think it just as natural that

‘they’ should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you

should want to avoid being caught. She hated the Party, and

said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism

of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she

had no interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never

used Newspeak words except the ones that had passed into

everyday use. She had never heard of the Brotherhood, and

refused to believe in its existence. Any kind of organized

revolt against the Party, which was bound to be a failure,

struck her as stupid. The clever thing was to break the rules

and stay alive all the same. He wondered vaguely how many

others like her there might be in the younger generation

people who had grown up in the world of the Revolution,

knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something

unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority

but simply evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog.

They did not discuss the possibility of getting married.

It was too remote to be worth thinking about. No imaginable

committee would ever sanction such a marriage even

if Katharine, Winston’s wife, could somehow have been got

rid of. It was hopeless even as a daydream.

‘What was she like, your wife?’ said Julia.

‘She was—do you know the Newspeak word GOODTHINKFUL?

Meaning naturally orthodox, incapable of

thinking a bad thought?’

‘No, I didn’t know the word, but I know the kind of person,

right enough.’

He began telling her the story of his married life, but curiously

enough she appeared to know the essential parts of

it already. She described to him, almost as though she had

seen or felt it, the stiffening of Katharine’s body as soon

as he touched her, the way in which she still seemed to be

pushing him from her with all her strength, even when her

arms were clasped tightly round him. With Julia he felt no

difficulty in talking about such things: Katharine, in any

case, had long ceased to be a painful memory and became

merely a distasteful one.

‘I could have stood it if it hadn’t been for one thing,’ he

said. He told her about the frigid little ceremony that Katharine

had forced him to go through on the same night every

week. ‘She hated it, but nothing would make her stop doing

it. She used to call it—but you’ll never guess.’

‘Our duty to the Party,’ said Julia promptly.

‘How did you know that?’

‘I’ve been at school too, dear. Sex talks once a month for

the over-sixteens. And in the Youth Movement. They rub it

into you for years. I dare say it works in a lot of cases. But of

course you can never tell; people are such hypocrites.’

She began to enlarge upon the subject. With Julia, everything

came back to her own sexuality. As soon as this was

touched upon in any way she was capable of great acuteness.

Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the

Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex

instinct created a world of its own which was outside the

Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if

possible. What was more important was that sexual privation

induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could

be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship. The way

she put it was:

‘When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards

you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything.

They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be

bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and

down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour.

If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited

about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two

Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?’

That was very true, he thought. 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. They had

played a similar trick with the instinct of parenthood. The

family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people

were encouraged to be fond of their children, in almost the

old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand, were

systematically turned against their parents and taught to

spy on them and report their deviations. The family had

become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was

a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded

night and day by informers who knew him intimately.

Abruptly his mind went back to Katharine. Katharine

would unquestionably have denounced him to the Thought

Police if she had not happened to be too stupid to detect the

unorthodoxy of his opinions. But what really recalled her

to him at this moment was the stifling heat of the afternoon,

which had brought the sweat out on his forehead. He began

telling Julia of something that had happened, or rather had

failed to happen, on another sweltering summer afternoon,

eleven years ago.

It was three or four months after they were married. They

had lost their way on a community hike somewhere in Kent.

They had only lagged behind the others for a couple of minutes,

but they took a wrong turning, and presently found

themselves pulled up short by the edge of an old chalk

quarry. It was a sheer drop of ten or twenty meters, with

boulders at the bottom. There was nobody of whom they

could ask the way. As soon as she realized that they were

lost Katharine became very uneasy. To be away from the

noisy mob of hikers even for a moment gave her a feeling of

wrong-doing. She wanted to hurry back by the way they had

come and start searching in the other direction. But at this

moment Winston noticed some tufts of loosestrife growing

in the cracks of the cliff beneath them. One tuft was of two

colors, magenta and brick-red, apparently growing on the

same root. He had never seen anything of the kind before,

and he called to Katharine to come and look at it.

‘Look, Katharine! Look at those flowers. That clump

down near the bottom. Do you see they’re two different colors?’

She had already turned to go, but she did rather fretfully

come back for a moment. She even leaned out over the cliff

face to see where he was pointing. He was standing a little

behind her, and he put his hand on her waist to steady her.

At this moment it suddenly occurred to him how completely

alone they were. There was not a human creature anywhere,

not a leaf stirring, not even a bird awake. In a place like

this the danger that there would be a hidden microphone

was very small, and even if there was a microphone it would

only pick up sounds. It was the hottest sleepiest hour of the

afternoon. The sun blazed down upon them, the sweat tickled

his face. And the thought struck him…

‘Why didn’t you give her a good shove?’ said Julia. ‘I

would have.’

‘Yes, dear, you would have. I would, if I’d been the same

person then as I am now. Or perhaps I would—I’m not certain.’

‘Are you sorry you didn’t?’

‘Yes. On the whole I’m sorry I didn’t.’

They were sitting side by side on the dusty floor. He

pulled her closer against him. Her head rested on his shoulder,

the pleasant smell of her hair conquering the pigeon

dung. She was very young, he thought, she still expected

something from life, she did not understand that to push an

inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.

‘Actually it would have made no difference,’ he said.

‘Then why are you sorry you didn’t do it?’

‘Only because I prefer a positive to a negative. In this

game that we’re playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure

are better than other kinds, that’s all.’

He felt her shoulders give a wriggle of dissent. She always

contradicted him when he said anything of this kind.

She would not accept it as a law of nature that the individual

is always defeated. In a way she realized that she herself

was doomed, that sooner or later the Thought Police would

catch her and kill her, but with another part of her mind

she believed that it was somehow possible to construct a secret

world in which you could live as you chose. All you

needed was luck and cunning and boldness. She did not understand

that there was no such thing as happiness, that the

only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead,

that from the moment of declaring war on the Party it was

better to think of yourself as a corpse.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We’re not dead yet,’ said Julia prosaically.

‘Not physically. Six months, a year—five years, conceivably.

I am afraid of death. You are young, so presumably

you’re more afraid of it than I am. Obviously we shall put it

off as long as we can. But it makes very little difference. So

long as human beings stay human, death and life are the

same thing.’

‘Oh, rubbish! Which would you sooner sleep with, me or

a skeleton? Don’t you enjoy being alive? Don’t you like feeling:

This is me, this is my hand, this is my leg, I’m real, I’m

solid, I’m alive! Don’t you like THIS?’

She twisted herself round and pressed her bosom against

him. He could feel her breasts, ripe yet firm, through her

overalls. Her body seemed to be pouring some of its youth

and vigour into his.

‘Yes, I like that,’ he said.

‘Then stop talking about dying. And now listen, dear,

we’ve got to fix up about the next time we meet. We may as

well go back to the place in the wood. We’ve given it a good

long rest. But you must get there by a different way this time.

I’ve got it all planned out. You take the train—but look, I’ll

draw it out for you.’

And in her practical way she scraped together a small

square of dust, and with a twig from a pigeon’s nest began

drawing a map on the floor.

Chapter 4

Winston looked round the shabby little room above Mr

Charrington’s shop. Beside the window the enormous

bed was made up, with ragged blankets and a coverless bolster.

The old-fashioned clock with the twelve-hour face was

ticking away on the mantelpiece. In the corner, on the gateleg

table, the glass paperweight which he had bought on his

last visit gleamed softly out of the half-darkness.

In the fender was a battered tin oilstove, a saucepan, and

two cups, provided by Mr Charrington. Winston lit the

burner and set a pan of water to boil. He had brought an

envelope full of Victory Coffee and some saccharine tablets.

The clock’s hands said seventeen-twenty: it was nineteentwenty

really. She was coming at nineteen-thirty.

Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous,

suicidal folly. Of all the crimes that a Party member could

commit, this one was the least possible to conceal. Actually

the idea had first floated into his head in the form of a

vision, of the glass paperweight mirrored by the surface of

the gateleg table. As he had foreseen, Mr Charrington had

made no difficulty about letting the room. He was obviously

glad of the few dollars that it would bring him. Nor did he

seem shocked or become offensively knowing when it was

made clear that Winston wanted the room for the purpose

of a love-affair. Instead he looked into the middle distance

and spoke in generalities, with so delicate an air as to give

the impression that he had become partly invisible. Privacy,

he said, was a very valuable thing. Everyone wanted a place

where they could be alone occasionally. And when they had

such a place, it was only common courtesy in anyone else

who knew of it to keep his knowledge to himself. He even,

seeming almost to fade out of existence as he did so, added

that there were two entries to the house, one of them

through the back yard, which gave on an alley.

Under the window somebody was singing. Winston

peeped out, secure in the protection of the muslin curtain.

The June sun was still high in the sky, and in the sun-filled

court below, a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman pillar,

with brawny red forearms and a sacking apron strapped

about her middle, was stumping to and fro between a washtub

and a clothes line, pegging out a series of square white

things which Winston recognized as babies’ diapers. Whenever

her mouth was not corked with clothes pegs she was

singing in a powerful contralto:

It was only an ‘opeless fancy.

It passed like an Ipril dye,

But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred!

They ‘ave

stolen my ‘eart awye!

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It

was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit

of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department.

The words of these songs were composed without any human

intervention whatever on an instrument known as a

versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the

dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound. He could

hear the woman singing and the scrape of her shoes on the

flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street, and

somewhere in the far distance a faint roar of traffic, and yet

the room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of

a telescreen.

Folly, folly, folly! he thought again. It was inconceivable

that they could frequent this place for more than a few

weeks without being caught. But the temptation of having a

hiding-place that was truly their own, indoors and near at

hand, had been too much for both of them. For some time

after their visit to the church belfry it had been impossible

to arrange meetings. Working hours had been drastically

increased in anticipation of Hate Week. It was more than

a month distant, but the enormous, complex preparations

that it entailed were throwing extra work on to everybody.

Finally both of them managed to secure a free afternoon on

the same day. They had agreed to go back to the clearing

in the wood. On the evening beforehand they met briefly

in the street. As usual, Winston hardly looked at Julia as

they drifted towards one another in the crowd, but from

the short glance he gave her it seemed to him that she was

paler than usual.

‘It’s all off,’ she murmured as soon as she judged it safe to

speak. ‘Tomorrow, I mean.’


‘Tomorrow afternoon. I can’t come.’

‘Why not?’

‘Oh, the usual reason. It’s started early this time.’

For a moment he was violently angry. During the month

that he had known her the nature of his desire for her had

changed. At the beginning there had been little true sensuality

in it. Their first love-making had been simply an act

of the will. But after the second time it was different. The

smell of her hair, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of her

skin seemed to have got inside him, or into the air all round

him. She had become a physical necessity, something that

he not only wanted but felt that he had a right to. When she

said that she could not come, he had the feeling that she was

cheating him. But just at this moment the crowd pressed

them together and their hands accidentally met. She gave

the tips of his fingers a quick squeeze that seemed to invite

not desire but affection. It struck him that when one

lived with a woman this particular disappointment must be

a normal, recurring event; and a deep tenderness, such as

he had not felt for her before, suddenly took hold of him. He

wished that they were a married couple of ten years’ standing.

He wished that he were walking through the streets

with her just as they were doing now but openly and without

fear, talking of trivialities and buying odds and ends

for the household. He wished above all that they had some

place where they could be alone together without feeling

the obligation to make love every time they met. It was not

actually at that moment, but at some time on the following

day, that the idea of renting Mr Charrington’s room had occurred

to him. When he suggested it to Julia she had agreed

with unexpected readiness. Both of them knew that it was

lunacy. It was as though they were intentionally stepping

nearer to their graves. As he sat waiting on the edge of the

bed he thought again of the cellars of the Ministry of Love.

It was curious how that predestined horror moved in and

out of one’s consciousness. There it lay, fixed in future times,

preceding death as surely as 99 precedes 100. One could not

avoid it, but one could perhaps postpone it: and yet instead,

every now and again, by a conscious, willful act, one chose

to shorten the interval before it happened.

At this moment there was a quick step on the stairs. Julia

burst into the room. She was carrying a tool-bag of coarse

brown canvas, such as he had sometimes seen her carrying

to and fro at the Ministry. He started forward to take her in

his arms, but she disengaged herself rather hurriedly, partly

because she was still holding the tool-bag.

‘Half a second,’ she said. ‘Just let me show you what I’ve

brought. Did you bring some of that filthy Victory Coffee?

I thought you would. You can chuck it away again, because

we shan’t be needing it. Look here.’

She fell on her knees, threw open the bag, and tumbled

out some spanners and a screwdriver that filled the top part

of it. Underneath were a number of neat paper packets. The

first packet that she passed to Winston had a strange and

yet vaguely familiar feeling. It was filled with some kind of

heavy, sand-like stuff which yielded wherever you touched


‘It isn’t sugar?’ he said.

‘Real sugar. Not saccharine, sugar. And here’s a loaf of

bread—proper white bread, not our bloody stuff—and a little

pot of jam. And here’s a tin of milk—but look! This is the

one I’m really proud of. I had to wrap a bit of sacking round

it, because——’

But she did not need to tell him why she had wrapped it

up. The smell was already filling the room, a rich hot smell

which seemed like an emanation from his early childhood,

but which one did occasionally meet with even now, blowing

down a passage-way before a door slammed, or diffusing

itself mysteriously in a crowded street, sniffed for an instant

and then lost again.

‘It’s coffee,’ he murmured, ‘real coffee.’

‘It’s Inner Party coffee. There’s a whole kilo here,’ she


‘How did you manage to get hold of all these things?’

‘It’s all Inner Party stuff. There’s nothing those swine

don’t have, nothing. But of course waiters and servants and

people pinch things, and—look, I got a little packet of tea

as well.’

Winston had squatted down beside her. He tore open a

corner of the packet.

‘It’s real tea. Not blackberry leaves.’

‘There’s been a lot of tea about lately. They’ve captured India,

or something,’ she said vaguely. ‘But listen, dear. I want

you to turn your back on me for three minutes. Go and sit

on the other side of the bed. Don’t go too near the window.

And don’t turn round till I tell you.’

Winston gazed abstractedly through the muslin curtain.

Down in the yard the red-armed woman was still marching

to and fro between the washtub and the line. She took two

more pegs out of her mouth and sang with deep feeling:

They sye that time ‘eals all things,

They sye you can always forget;

But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years

They twist my

eart-strings yet!

She knew the whole driveling song by heart, it seemed.

Her voice floated upward with the sweet summer air, very

tuneful, charged with a sort of happy melancholy. One had

the feeling that she would have been perfectly content, if the

June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes inexhaustible,

to remain there for a thousand years, pegging

out diapers and singing rubbish. It struck him as a curious

fact that he had never heard a member of the Party singing

alone and spontaneously. It would even have seemed slightly

unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to oneself.

Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near

the starvation level that they had anything to sing about.

‘You can turn round now,’ said Julia.

He turned round, and for a second almost failed to recognize

her. What he had actually expected was to see her

naked. But she was not naked. The transformation that had

happened was much more surprising than that. She had

painted her face.

She must have slipped into some shop in the proletarian

quarters and bought herself a complete set of make-up materials.

Her lips were deeply reddened, her cheeks rouged,

her nose powdered; there was even a touch of something

under the eyes to make them brighter. It was not very skillfully

done, but Winston’s standards in such matters were

not high. He had never before seen or imagined a woman of

the Party with cosmetics on her face. The improvement in

her appearance was startling. With just a few dabs of color

in the right places she had become not only very much prettier,

but, above all, far more feminine. Her short hair and

boyish overalls merely added to the effect. As he took her in

his arms a wave of synthetic violets flooded his nostrils. He

remembered the half-darkness of a basement kitchen, and a

woman’s cavernous mouth. It was the very same scent that

she had used; but at the moment it did not seem to matter.

‘Scent too!’ he said.

‘Yes, dear, scent too. And do you know what I’m going to

do next? I’m going to get hold of a real woman’s frock from

somewhere and wear it instead of these bloody trousers. I’ll

wear silk stockings and high-heeled shoes! In this room I’m

going to be a woman, not a Party comrade.’

They flung their clothes off and climbed into the huge

mahogany bed. It was the first time that he had stripped

himself naked in her presence. Until now he had been too

much ashamed of his pale and meager body, with the varicose

veins standing out on his calves and the discolored

patch over his ankle. There were no sheets, but the blanket

they lay on was threadbare and smooth, and the size and

springiness of the bed astonished both of them. ‘It’s sure

to be full of bugs, but who cares?’ said Julia. One never saw

a double bed nowadays, except in the homes of the proles.

Winston had occasionally slept in one in his boyhood: Julia

had never been in one before, so far as she could remember.

Presently they fell asleep for a little while. When Winston

woke up the hands of the clock had crept round to

nearly nine. He did not stir, because Julia was sleeping with

her head in the crook of his arm. Most of her make-up had

transferred itself to his own face or the bolster, but a light

stain of rouge still brought out the beauty of her cheekbone.

A yellow ray from the sinking sun fell across the foot of the

bed and lighted up the fireplace, where the water in the pan

was boiling fast. Down in the yard the woman had stopped

singing, but the faint shouts of children floated in from the

street. He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past

it had been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in

the cool of a summer evening, a man and a woman with no

clothes on, making love when they chose, talking of what

they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply lying

there and listening to peaceful sounds outside. Surely

there could never have been a time when that seemed ordinary?

Julia woke up, rubbed her eyes, and raised herself on

her elbow to look at the oilstove.

‘Half that water’s boiled away,’ she said. ‘I’ll get up and

make some coffee in another moment. We’ve got an hour.

What time do they cut the lights off at your flats?’

‘Twenty-three thirty.’

‘It’s twenty-three at the hostel. But you have to get in earlier

than that, because—Hi! Get out, you filthy brute!’

She suddenly twisted herself over in the bed, seized a

shoe from the floor, and sent it hurtling into the corner with

a boyish jerk of her arm, exactly as he had seen her fling the

dictionary at Goldstein, that morning during the Two Minutes


‘What was it?’ he said in surprise.

‘A rat. I saw him stick his beastly nose out of the wainscoting.

There’s a hole down there. I gave him a good fright,


‘Rats!’ murmured Winston. ‘In this room!’

‘They’re all over the place,’ said Julia indifferently as she

lay down again. ‘We’ve even got them in the kitchen at the

hostel. Some parts of London are swarming with them. Did

you know they attack children? Yes, they do. In some of

these streets a woman daren’t leave a baby alone for two

minutes. It’s the great huge brown ones that do it. And the

nasty thing is that the brutes always——’

‘DON’T GO ON!’ said Winston, with his eyes tightly


‘Dearest! You’ve gone quite pale. What’s the matter? Do

they make you feel sick?’

‘Of all horrors in the world—a rat!’

She pressed herself against him and wound her limbs

round him, as though to reassure him with the warmth

of her body. He did not reopen his eyes immediately. For

several moments he had had the feeling of being back in a

nightmare which had recurred from time to time throughout

his life. It was always very much the same. He was

standing in front of a wall of darkness, and on the other

side of it there was something unendurable, something too

dreadful to be faced. In the dream his deepest feeling was

always one of self-deception, because he did in fact know

what was behind the wall of darkness. With a deadly effort,

like wrenching a piece out of his own brain, he could even

have dragged the thing into the open. He always woke up

without discovering what it was: but somehow it was connected

with what Julia had been saying when he cut her


‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘it’s nothing. I don’t like rats, that’s


‘Don’t worry, dear, we’re not going to have the filthy

brutes in here. I’ll stuff the hole with a bit of sacking before

we go. And next time we come here I’ll bring some plaster

and bung it up properly.’

Already the black instant of panic was half-forgotten.

Feeling slightly ashamed of himself, he sat up against the

bedhead. Julia got out of bed, pulled on her overalls, and

made the coffee. The smell that rose from the saucepan was

so powerful and exciting that they shut the window lest

anybody outside should notice it and become inquisitive.

What was even better than the taste of the coffee was the

silky texture given to it by the sugar, a thing Winston had

almost forgotten after years of saccharine. With one hand

in her pocket and a piece of bread and jam in the other, Julia

wandered about the room, glancing indifferently at the

bookcase, pointing out the best way of repairing the gateleg

table, plumping herself down in the ragged arm-chair to

see if it was comfortable, and examining the absurd twelve

hour clock with a sort of tolerant amusement. She brought

the glass paperweight over to the bed to have a look at it in a

better light. He took it out of her hand, fascinated, as always,

by the soft, rainwatery appearance of the glass.

‘What is it, do you think?’ said Julia.

‘I don’t think it’s anything—I mean, I don’t think it was

ever put to any use. That’s what I like about it. It’s a little

chunk of history that they’ve forgotten to alter. It’s a message

from a hundred years ago, if one knew how to read it.’

‘And that picture over there’—she nodded at the engraving

on the opposite wall—’would that be a hundred years


‘More. Two hundred, I dare say. One can’t tell. It’s impossible

to discover the age of anything nowadays.’

She went over to look at it. ‘Here’s where that brute stuck

his nose out,’ she said, kicking the wainscoting immediately

below the picture. ‘What is this place? I’ve seen it before


‘It’s a church, or at least it used to be. St Clement Danes

its name was.’ The fragment of rhyme that Mr Charrington

had taught him came back into his head, and he added

half-nostalgically: ‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St


To his astonishment she capped the line:

You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,

When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey——’

‘I can’t remember how it goes on after that. But anyway

I remember it ends up, ‘Here comes a candle to light you to

bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!‘‘

It was like the two halves of a countersign. But there

must be another line after ‘the bells of Old Bailey’. Perhaps

it could be dug out of Mr Charrington’s memory, if he were

suitably prompted.

‘Who taught you that?’ he said.

‘My grandfather. He used to say it to me when I was a little

girl. He was vaporized when I was eight—at any rate, he

disappeared. I wonder what a lemon was,’ she added inconsequently.

‘I’ve seen oranges. They’re a kind of round yellow

fruit with a thick skin.’

‘I can remember lemons,’ said Winston. ‘They were quite

common in the fifties. They were so sour that it set your

teeth on edge even to smell them.’

‘I bet that picture’s got bugs behind it,’ said Julia. ‘I’ll

take it down and give it a good clean some day. I suppose

it’s almost time we were leaving. I must start washing this

paint off. What a bore! I’ll get the lipstick off your face afterwards.’

Winston did not get up for a few minutes more. The

room was darkening. 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.

Chapter 5

Syme had vanished. A morning came, and he was missing

from work: a few thoughtless people commented on

his absence. On the next day nobody mentioned him. On

the third day Winston went into the vestibule of the Records

Department to look at the notice-board. One of the

notices carried a printed list of the members of the Chess

Committee, of whom Syme had been one. It looked almost

exactly as it had looked before—nothing had been crossed

out—but it was one name shorter. It was enough. Syme had

ceased to exist: he had never existed.

The weather was baking hot. In the labyrinthine Ministry

the windowless, air-conditioned rooms kept their normal

temperature, but outside the pavements scorched one’s feet

and the stench of the Tubes at the rush hours was a horror.

The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and

the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions,

meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks,

displays, film shows, telescreen programs all had to be

organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans

coined, songs written, rumors circulated, photographs

faked. Julia’s unit in the Fiction Department had been taken

off the production of novels and was rushing out a series

of atrocity pamphlets. Winston, in addition to his regular

work, spent long periods every day in going through back

files of ‘The Times’ and altering and embellishing news

items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night,

when crowds of rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town

had a curiously febrile air. The rocket bombs crashed oftener

than ever, and sometimes in the far distance there

were enormous explosions which no one could explain and

about which there were wild rumors.

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate

Week (the Hate Song, it was called) had already been composed

and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens.

It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be

called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared

out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it

was terrifying. The proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the

midnight streets it competed with the still-popular ‘It was

only a hopeless fancy’. The Parsons children played it at all

hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a

piece of toilet paper. Winston’s evenings were fuller than

ever. Squads of volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing

the street for Hate Week, stitching banners, painting

posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and perilously slinging

wires across the street for the reception of streamers.

Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display

four hundred meters of bunting. He was in his native element

and as happy as a lark. The heat and the manual work

had even given him a pretext for reverting to shorts and

an open shirt in the evenings. He was everywhere at once,

pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying

everyone along with comradely exhortations and giving

out from every fold of his body what seemed an inexhaustible

supply of acrid-smelling sweat.

A new poster had suddenly appeared all over London. It

had no caption, and represented simply the monstrous figure

of a Eurasian soldier, three or four meters high, striding

forward with expressionless Mongolian face and enormous

boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip. From

whatever angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the

gun, magnified by the foreshortening, seemed to be pointed

straight at you. The thing had been plastered on every

blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the portraits

of Big Brother. The proles, normally apathetic about

the war, were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies

of patriotism. As though to harmonize with the general

mood, the rocket bombs had been killing larger numbers

of people than usual. One fell on a crowded film theatre in

Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins.

The whole population of the neighborhood turned out for

a long, trailing funeral which went on for hours and was in

effect an indignation meeting. Another bomb fell on a piece

of waste ground which was used as a playground and several

dozen children were blown to pieces. There were further

angry demonstrations, Goldstein was burned in effigy, hundreds

of copies of the poster of the Eurasian soldier were

torn down and added to the flames, and a number of shops

were looted in the turmoil; then a rumour flew round that

spies were directing the rocket bombs by means of wireless

waves, and an old couple who were suspected of being of

foreign extraction had their house set on fire and perished

of suffocation.

In the room over Mr Charrington’s shop, when they could

get there, Julia and Winston lay side by side on a stripped

bed under the open window, naked for the sake of coolness.

The rat had never come back, but the bugs had multiplied

hideously in the heat. It did not seem to matter. Dirty or

clean, the room was paradise. As soon as they arrived they

would sprinkle everything with pepper bought on the black

market, tear off their clothes, and make love with sweating

bodies, then fall asleep and wake to find that the bugs had

rallied and were massing for the counter-attack.

Four, five, six—seven times they met during the month

of June. Winston had dropped his habit of drinking gin at

all hours. He seemed to have lost the need for it. He had

grown fatter, his varicose ulcer had subsided, leaving only

a brown stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of coughing

in the early morning had stopped. The process of life

had ceased to be intolerable, he had no longer any impulse

to make faces at the telescreen or shout curses at the top of

his voice. Now that they 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. He usually stopped to talk

with Mr Charrington for a few minutes on his way upstairs.

The old man seemed seldom or never to go out of doors,

and on the other hand to have almost no customers. He

led a ghostlike existence between the tiny, dark shop, and

an even tinier back kitchen where he prepared his meals

and which contained, among other things, an unbelievably

ancient gramophone with an enormous horn. He seemed

glad of the opportunity to talk. Wandering about among

his worthless stock, with his long nose and thick spectacles

and his bowed shoulders in the velvet jacket, he had always

vaguely the air of being a collector rather than a tradesman.

With a sort of faded enthusiasm he would finger this scrap

of rubbish or that—a china bottle-stopper, the painted lid of

a broken snuffbox, a pinchbeck locket containing a strand

of some long-dead baby’s hair—never asking that Winston

should buy it, merely that he should admire it. To talk to

him was like listening to the tinkling of a worn-out musicalbox.

He had dragged out from the corners of his memory

some more fragments of forgotten rhymes. There was one

about four and twenty blackbirds, and another about a cow

with a crumpled horn, and another about the death of poor

Cock Robin. ‘It just occurred to me you might be interested,’

he would say with a deprecating little laugh whenever he

produced a new fragment. But he could never recall more

than a few lines of any one rhyme.

Both of them knew—in a way, it was never out of their

minds that what was now happening could not last long.

There were times when the fact of impending death seemed

as palpable as the bed they lay on, and they would cling together

with a sort of despairing sensuality, like a damned

soul grasping at his last morsel of pleasure when the clock

is within five minutes of striking. But there were also times

when they had the illusion not only of safety but of permanence.

So long as they were actually in this room, they

both felt, no harm could come to them. Getting there was

difficult and dangerous, but the room itself was sanctuary.

It was as when Winston had gazed into the heart of the paperweight,

with the feeling that it would be possible to get

inside that glassy world, and that once inside it time could

be arrested. Often they gave themselves up to daydreams of

escape. Their luck would hold indefinitely, and they would

carry on their intrigue, just like this, for the remainder of

their natural lives. Or Katharine would die, and by subtle

manoeuvrings Winston and Julia would succeed in getting

married. Or they would commit suicide together. Or

they would disappear, alter themselves out of recognition,

learn to speak with proletarian accents, get jobs in a factory

and live out their lives undetected in a back-street. It was

all nonsense, as they both knew. In reality there was no escape.

Even the one plan that was practicable, suicide, they

had no intention of carrying out. To hang on from day to

day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had

no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s

lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is

air available.

Sometimes, too, they talked of engaging in active rebellion

against the Party, but with no notion of how to take

the first step. Even if the fabulous Brotherhood was a reality,

there still remained the difficulty of finding one’s way

into it. He told her of the strange intimacy that existed, or

seemed to exist, between himself and O’Brien, and of the

impulse he sometimes felt, simply to walk into O’Brien’s

presence, announce that he was the enemy of the Party, and

demand his help. Curiously enough, this did not strike her

as an impossibly rash thing to do. She was used to judging

people by their faces, and it seemed natural to her that

Winston should believe O’Brien to be trustworthy on the

strength of a single flash of the eyes. Moreover she took it

for granted that everyone, or nearly everyone, secretly hated

the Party and would break the rules if he thought it safe to

do so. But she refused to believe that widespread, organized

opposition existed or could exist. The tales about Goldstein

and his underground army, she said, were simply a lot of

rubbish which the Party had invented for its own purposes

and which you had to pretend to believe in. Times beyond

number, at Party rallies and spontaneous demonstrations,

she had shouted at the top of her voice for the execution of

people whose names she had never heard and in whose supposed

crimes she had not the faintest belief. When public

trials were happening she had taken her place in the detachments

from the Youth League who surrounded the courts

from morning to night, chanting at intervals ‘Death to the

traitors!’ During the Two Minutes Hate she always excelled

all others in shouting insults at Goldstein. Yet she had only

the dimmest idea of who Goldstein was and what doctrines

he was supposed to represent. She had grown up since the

Revolution and was too young to remember the ideological

battles of the fifties and sixties. Such a thing as an independent

political movement was outside her imagination: and

in any case the Party was invincible. It would always exist,

and it would always be the same. You could only rebel

against it by secret disobedience or, at most, by isolated acts

of violence such as killing somebody or blowing something


In some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and

far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he

happened in some connection to mention the war against

Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion

the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell

daily on London were probably fired by the Government

of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep people frightened’. This was

an idea that had literally never occurred to him. She also

stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the

Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting

out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the

Party when they in some way touched upon her own life.

Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply

because the difference between truth and falsehood did not

seem important to her. She believed, for instance, having

learnt it at school, that the Party had invented airplanes.

(In his own schooldays, Winston remembered, in the late

fifties, it was only the helicopter that the Party claimed to

have invented; a dozen years later, when Julia was at school,

it was already claiming the aeroplane; one generation more,

and it would be claiming the steam engine.) And when he

told her that airplanes had been in existence before he was

born and long before the Revolution, the fact struck her as

totally uninteresting. After all, what did it matter who had

invented airplanes? It was rather more of a shock to him

when he discovered from some chance remark that she did

not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war

with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia. It was true that she

regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently she had

not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed.

‘I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,’ she said

vaguely. It frightened him a little. The invention of airplanes

dated from long before her birth, but the switchover

in the war had happened only four years ago, well after she

was grown up. He argued with her about it for perhaps a

quarter of an hour. In the end he succeeded in forcing her

memory back until she did dimly recall that at one time

Eastasia and not Eurasia had been the enemy. But the issue

still struck her as unimportant. ‘Who cares?’ she said impatiently.

‘It’s always one bloody war after another, and one

knows the news is all lies anyway.’

Sometimes he talked to her of the Records Department

and the impudent forgeries that he committed there. Such

things did not appear to horrify her. She did not feel the

abyss opening beneath her feet at the thought of lies becoming

truths. He told her the story of Jones, Aaronson, and

Rutherford and the momentous slip of paper which he had

once held between his fingers. It did not make much impression

on her. At first, indeed, she failed to grasp the point

of the story.

‘Were they friends of yours?’ she said.

‘No, I never knew them. They were Inner Party members.

Besides, they were far older men than I was. They belonged

to the old days, before the Revolution. I barely knew them

by sight.’

‘Then what was there to worry about? People are being

killed off all the time, aren’t they?’

He tried to make her understand. ‘This was an exceptional

case. It wasn’t just a question of somebody being

killed. Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday,

has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere,

it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them,

like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally

nothing about the Revolution and the years before

the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified,

every book has been rewritten, every picture has been

repainted, every statue and street and building has been

renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is

continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has

stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which

the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is

falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it,

even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is

done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside

my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any

other human being shares my memories. Just in that one

instance, in my whole life, I did possess actual concrete evidence

after the event—years after it.’

‘And what good was that?’

‘It was no good, because I threw it away a few minutes later.

But if the same thing happened today, I should keep it.’

‘Well, I wouldn’t!’ said Julia. ‘I’m quite ready to take

risks, but only for something worth while, not for bits of

old newspaper. What could you have done with it even if

you had kept it?’

‘Not much, perhaps. But it was evidence. It might have

planted a few doubts here and there, supposing that I’d

dared to show it to anybody. I don’t imagine that we can

alter anything in our own lifetime. But one can imagine little

knots of resistance springing up here and there—small

groups of people banding themselves together, and gradually

growing, and even leaving a few records behind, so that

the next generations can carry on where we leave off.’

‘I’m not interested in the next generation, dear. I’m interested

in US.’

‘You’re only a rebel from the waist downwards,’ he told

her.She thought this brilliantly witty and flung her arms

round him in delight.

In the ramifications of party doctrine she had not the

faintest interest. Whenever he began to talk of the principles

of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability of the past, and

the denial of objective reality, and to use Newspeak words,

she became bored and confused and said that she never paid

any attention to that kind of thing. One knew that it was all

rubbish, so why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when

to cheer and when to boo, and that was all one needed. If he

persisted in talking of such subjects, she had a disconcerting

habit of falling asleep. She was one of those people who can

go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her,

he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of or

thodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy

meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself

most successfully on people incapable of understanding it.

They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations

of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity

of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently

interested in public events to notice what was happening.

By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply

swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them

no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of

corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.


Chapter 6

It had happened at last. The expected message had come.

All his life, it seemed to him, he had been waiting for this

to happen.

He was walking down the long corridor at the Ministry

and he was almost at the spot where Julia had slipped

the note into his hand when he became aware that someone

larger than himself was walking just behind him. The

person, whoever it was, gave a small cough, evidently as a

prelude to speaking. Winston stopped abruptly and turned.

It was O’Brien.

At last they were face to face, and it seemed that his only

impulse was to run away. His heart bounded violently. He

would have been incapable of speaking. O’Brien, however,

had continued forward in the same movement, laying a

friendly hand for a moment on Winston’s arm, so that the

two of them were walking side by side. He began speaking

with the peculiar grave courtesy that differentiated him

from the majority of Inner Party members.

‘I had been hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,’

he said. ‘I was reading one of your Newspeak articles in

‘The Times’ the other day. You take a scholarly interest in

Newspeak, I believe?’

Winston had recovered part of his self-possession.

‘Hardly scholarly,’ he said. ‘I’m only an amateur. It’s not my

subject. I have never had anything to do with the actual

construction of the language.’

‘But you write it very elegantly,’ said O’Brien. ‘That is not

only my own opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of

yours who is certainly an expert. His name has slipped my

memory for the moment.’

Again Winston’s heart stirred painfully. It was inconceivable

that this was anything other than a reference to

Syme. But Syme was not only dead, he was abolished, an

unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have

been mortally dangerous. O’Brien’s remark must obviously

have been intended as a signal, a codeword. By sharing a

small act of thoughtcrime he had turned the two of them

into accomplices. They had continued to stroll slowly down

the corridor, but now O’Brien halted. With the curious, disarming

friendliness that he always managed to put in to the

gesture he resettled his spectacles on his nose. Then he went


‘What I had really intended to say was that in your article

I noticed you had used two words which have become obsolete.

But they have only become so very recently. Have you

seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak Dictionary?’

‘No,’ said Winston. ‘I didn’t think it had been issued yet.

We are still using the ninth in the Records Department.’

‘The tenth edition is not due to appear for some months,

I believe. But a few advance copies have been circulated.

I have one myself. It might interest you to look at it, perhaps?’

‘Very much so,’ said Winston, immediately seeing where

this tended.

‘Some of the new developments are most ingenious. The

reduction in the number of verbs—that is the point that will

appeal to you, I think. Let me see, shall I send a messenger

to you with the dictionary? But I am afraid I invariably forget

anything of that kind. Perhaps you could pick it up at

my flat at some time that suited you? Wait. Let me give you

my address.’

They were standing in front of a telescreen. Somewhat

absentmindedly O’Brien felt two of his pockets and then

produced a small leather-covered notebook and a gold

ink-pencil. Immediately beneath the telescreen, in such a

position that anyone who was watching at the other end of

the instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled

an address, tore out the page and handed it to Winston.

‘I am usually at home in the evenings,’ he said. ‘If not, my

servant will give you the dictionary.’

He was gone, leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper,

which this time there was no need to conceal. Nevertheless

he carefully memorized what was written on it, and some

hours later dropped it into the memory hole along with a

mass of other papers.

They had been talking to one another for a couple of

minutes at the most. There was only one meaning that the

episode could possibly have. It had been contrived as a way

of letting Winston know O’Brien’s address. This was necessary,

because except by direct enquiry it was never possible

to discover where anyone lived. There were no directories

of any kind. ‘If you ever want to see me, this is where I can

be found,’ was what O’Brien had been saying to him. Perhaps

there would even be a message concealed somewhere

in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain. The

conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had

reached the outer edges of it.

He knew that sooner or later he would obey O’Brien’s

summons. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps after a long delay—

he was not certain. What was happening was only the

working-out of a process that had started years ago. The

first step had been a secret, involuntary thought, the second

had been the opening of the diary. He had moved from

thoughts to words, and now from words to actions. The last

step was something that would happen in the Ministry of

Love. He had accepted it. The end was contained in the beginning.

But it was frightening: or, more exactly, it was like

a foretaste of death, like being a little less alive. Even while

he was speaking to O’Brien, when the meaning of the words

had sunk in, a chilly shuddering feeling had taken possession

of his body. He had the sensation of stepping into the

dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because

he had always known that the grave was there and waiting

for him.

Chapter 7

Winston had woken up with his eyes full of tears. Julia

rolled sleepily against him, murmuring something

that might have been ‘What’s the matter?’

‘I dreamt—’ he began, and stopped short. It was too complex

to be put into words. There was the dream itself, and

there was a memory connected with it that had swum into

his mind in the few seconds after waking.

He lay back with his eyes shut, still sodden in the atmosphere

of the dream. It was a vast, luminous dream in which

his whole life seemed to stretch out before him like a landscape

on a summer evening after rain. It had all occurred

inside the glass paperweight, but the surface of the glass

was the dome of the sky, and inside the dome everything

was flooded with clear soft light in which one could see into

interminable distances. The dream had also been comprehended

by—indeed, in some sense it had consisted in—a

gesture of the arm made by his mother, and made again

thirty years later by the Jewish woman he had seen on the

news film, trying to shelter the small boy from the bullets,

before the helicopter blew them both to pieces.

‘Do you know,’ he said, ‘that until this moment I believed

I had murdered my mother?’

‘Why did you murder her?’ said Julia, almost asleep.

‘I didn’t murder her. Not physically.’

In the dream he had remembered his last glimpse of his

mother, and within a few moments of waking the cluster

of small events surrounding it had all come back. It was a

memory that he must have deliberately pushed out of his

consciousness over many years. He was not certain of the

date, but he could not have been less than ten years old, possibly

twelve, when it had happened.

His father had disappeared some time earlier, how much

earlier he could not remember. He remembered better the

rackety, uneasy circumstances of the time: the periodical

panics about air-raids and the sheltering in Tube stations,

the piles of rubble everywhere, the unintelligible proclamations

posted at street corners, the gangs of youths in

shirts all the same color, the enormous queues outside

the bakeries, the intermittent machine-gun fire in the distance—

above all, the fact that there was never enough to

eat. He remembered long afternoons spent with other boys

in scrounging round dustbins and rubbish heaps, picking

out the ribs of cabbage leaves, potato peelings, sometimes

even scraps of stale breadcrust from which they carefully

scraped away the cinders; and also in waiting for the passing

of trucks which traveled over a certain route and were

known to carry cattle feed, and which, when they jolted

over the bad patches in the road, sometimes spilt a few fragments

of oil-cake.

When his father disappeared, his mother did not show

any surprise or any violent grief, but a sudden change came

over her. She seemed to have become completely spiritless.

It was evident even to Winston that she was waiting for

something that she knew must happen. She did everything

that was needed—cooked, washed, mended, made the bed,

swept the floor, dusted the mantelpiece—always very slowly

and with a curious lack of superfluous motion, like an artist’s

lay-figure moving of its own accord. Her large shapely

body seemed to relapse naturally into stillness. For hours

at a time she would sit almost immobile on the bed, nursing

his young sister, a tiny, ailing, very silent child of two

or three, with a face made simian by thinness. Very occasionally

she would take Winston in her arms and press him

against her for a long time without saying anything. He was

aware, in spite of his youthfulness and selfishness, that this

was somehow connected with the never-mentioned thing

that was about to happen.

He remembered the room where they lived, a dark, closesmelling

room that seemed half filled by a bed with a white

counterpane. There was a gas ring in the fender, and a shelf

where food was kept, and on the landing outside there was

a brown earthenware sink, common to several rooms. He

remembered his mother’s statuesque body bending over the

gas ring to stir at something in a saucepan. Above all he

remembered his continuous hunger, and the fierce sordid

battles at mealtimes. He would ask his mother naggingly,

over and over again, why there was not more food, he would

shout and storm at her (he even remembered the tones of

his voice, which was beginning to break prematurely and

sometimes boomed in a peculiar way), or he would attempt

a sniveling note of pathos in his efforts to get more than his

share. His mother was quite ready to give him more than

his share. She took it for granted that he, ‘the boy’, should

have the biggest portion; but however much she gave him

he invariably demanded more. At every meal she would beseech

him not to be selfish and to remember that his little

sister was sick and also needed food, but it was no use. He

would cry out with rage when she stopped ladling, he would

try to wrench the saucepan and spoon out of her hands, he

would grab bits from his sister’s plate. He knew that he was

starving the other two, but he could not help it; he even felt

that he had a right to do it. The clamorous hunger in his belly

seemed to justify him. Between meals, if his mother did

not stand guard, he was constantly pilfering at the wretched

store of food on the shelf.

One day a chocolate-ration was issued. There had been

no such issue for weeks or months past. He remembered

quite clearly that precious little morsel of chocolate. It was a

two-ounce slab (they still talked about ounces in those days)

between the three of them. It was obvious that it ought to

be divided into three equal parts. Suddenly, as though he

were listening to somebody else, Winston heard himself

demanding in a loud booming voice that he should be given

the whole piece. His mother told him not to be greedy.

There was a long, nagging argument that went round and

round, with shouts, whines, tears, remonstrances, bargainings.

His tiny sister, clinging to her mother with both hands,

exactly like a baby monkey, sat looking over her shoulder at

him with large, mournful eyes. In the end his mother broke

off three-quarters of the chocolate and gave it to Winston,

giving the other quarter to his sister. The little girl took hold

of it and looked at it dully, perhaps not knowing what it was.

Winston stood watching her for a moment. Then with a

sudden swift spring he had snatched the piece of chocolate

out of his sister’s hand and was fleeing for the door.

‘Winston, Winston!’ his mother called after him. ‘Come

back! Give your sister back her chocolate!’

He stopped, but did not come back. His mother’s anxious

eyes were fixed on his face. Even now he was thinking

about the thing, he did not know what it was that was on

the point of happening. His sister, conscious of having been

robbed of something, had set up a feeble wail. His mother

drew her arm round the child and pressed its face against

her breast. Something in the gesture told him that his sister

was dying. He turned and fled down the stairs, with the

chocolate growing sticky in his hand.

He never saw his mother again. After he had devoured

the chocolate he felt somewhat ashamed of himself and

hung about in the streets for several hours, until hunger

drove him home. When he came back his mother had disappeared.

This was already becoming normal at that time.

Nothing was gone from the room except his mother and his

sister. They had not taken any clothes, not even his mother’s

overcoat. To this day he did not know with any certainty

that his mother was dead. It was perfectly possible that she

had merely been sent to a forced-labor camp. As for his

sister, she might have been removed, like Winston himself,

to one of the colonies for homeless children (Reclamation

Centres, they were called) which had grown up as a result

of the civil war, or she might have been sent to the labor

camp along with his mother, or simply left somewhere or

other to die.

The dream was still vivid in his mind, especially the enveloping

protecting gesture of the arm in which its whole

meaning seemed to be contained. His mind went back to

another dream of two months ago. Exactly as his mother

had sat on the dingy whitequilted bed, with the child clinging

to her, so she had sat in the sunken ship, far underneath

him, and drowning deeper every minute, but still looking

up at him through the darkening water.

He told Julia the story of his mother’s disappearance.

Without opening her eyes she rolled over and settled herself

into a more comfortable position.

‘I expect you were a beastly little swine in those days,’ she

said indistinctly. ‘All children are swine.’

‘Yes. But the real point of the story——’

From her breathing it was evident that she was going

off to sleep again. He would have liked to continue talking

about his mother. He did not suppose, from what he could

remember of her, that she had been an unusual woman, still

less an intelligent one; and yet she had possessed a kind of

nobility, a kind of purity, simply because the standards that

she obeyed were private ones. Her feelings were her own,

and could not be altered from outside. It would not have

occurred to her that an action which is ineffectual thereby

becomes meaningless. If you loved someone, you loved him,

and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him

love. When the last of the chocolate was gone, his mother

had clasped the child in her arms. It was no use, it changed

nothing, it did not produce more chocolate, it did not avert

the child’s death or her own; but it seemed natural to her to

do it. The refugee woman in the boat had also covered the

little boy with her arm, which was no more use against the

bullets than a sheet of paper. 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. You were lifted

clean out of the stream of history. And yet to the people

of only two generations ago this would not have seemed

all-important, because they were not attempting to alter

history. They were governed by private loyalties which they

did not question. What mattered were individual relationships,

and a completely helpless gesture, an embrace, a tear,

a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in itself.

The proles, it suddenly occurred to him, had remained in

this condition. They were not loyal to a party or a country or

an idea, they were loyal to one another. For the first time in

his life he did not despise the proles or think of them merely

as an inert force which would one day spring to life and regenerate

the world. The proles had stayed human. They had

not become hardened inside. They had held on to the primitive

emotions which he himself had to re-learn by conscious

effort. And in thinking this he remembered, without apparent

relevance, how a few weeks ago he had seen a severed

hand lying on the pavement and had kicked it into the gutter

as though it had been a cabbage-stalk.

‘The proles are human beings,’ he said aloud. ‘We are not


‘Why not?’ said Julia, who had woken up again.

He thought for a little while. ‘Has it ever occurred to you,’

he said, ‘that the best thing for us to do would be simply to

walk out of here before it’s too late, and never see each other


‘Yes, dear, it has occurred to me, several times. But I’m

not going to do it, all the same.’

‘We’ve been lucky,’ he said ‘but it can’t last much longer.

You’re young. You look normal and innocent. If you keep

clear of people like me, you might stay alive for another fifty


‘No. I’ve thought it all out. What you do, I’m going to do.

And don’t be too downhearted. I’m rather good at staying


‘We may be together for another six months—a year—

there’s no knowing. At the end we’re certain to be apart. Do

you realize how utterly alone we shall be? When once they

get hold of us there will be nothing, literally nothing, that

either of us can do for the other. If I confess, they’ll shoot

you, and if I refuse to confess, they’ll shoot you just the same.

Nothing that I can do or say, or stop myself from saying, will

put off your death for as much as five minutes. Neither of us

will even know whether the other is alive or dead. We shall

be utterly without power of any kind. The one thing that

matters is that we shouldn’t betray one another, although

even that can’t make the slightest difference.’

‘If you mean confessing,’ she said, ‘we shall do that, right

enough. Everybody always confesses. You can’t help it. They

torture you.’

‘I don’t mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal.

What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If

they could make me stop loving you—that would be the

real betrayal.’

She thought it over. ‘They can’t do that,’ she said finally.

‘It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say

anything—ANYTHING—but they can’t make you believe

it. They can’t get inside you.’

‘No,’ he said a little more hopefully, ‘no; that’s quite true.

They can’t get inside you. If you can FEEL that staying human

is worth while, even when it can’t have any result

whatever, you’ve beaten them.’

He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear.

They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your

head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness

they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another

human being was thinking. Perhaps that was less true

when you were actually in their hands. One did not know

what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible

to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that

registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down

by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning.

Facts, at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be

tracked down by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you

by torture. But if the object was not to stay alive but to stay

human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could

not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter

them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in

the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or

thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious

even to yourself, remained impregnable.

Chapter 8

They had done it, they had done it at last!

The room they were standing in was long-shaped and

softly lit. The telescreen was dimmed to a low murmur; the

richness of the dark-blue carpet gave one the impression of

treading on velvet. At the far end of the room O’Brien was

sitting at a table under a green-shaded lamp, with a mass of

papers on either side of him. He had not bothered to look up

when the servant showed Julia and Winston in.

Winston’s heart was thumping so hard that he doubted

whether he would be able to speak. They had done it, they

had done it at last, was all he could think. It had been a rash

act to come here at all, and sheer folly to arrive together;

though it was true that they had come by different routes

and only met on O’Brien’s doorstep. But merely to walk into

such a place needed an effort of the nerve. It was only on

very rare occasions that one saw inside the dwelling-places

of the Inner Party, or even penetrated into the quarter

of the town where they lived. The whole atmosphere of the

huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of everything,

the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco,

the silent and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the

white-jacketed servants hurrying to and fro—everything

was intimidating. Although he had a good pretext for coming

here, he was haunted at every step by the fear that a

black-uniformed guard would suddenly appear from round

the corner, demand his papers, and order him to get out.

O’Brien’s servant, however, had admitted the two of them

without demur. He was a small, dark-haired man in a white

jacket, with a diamond-shaped, completely expressionless

face which might have been that of a Chinese. The passage

down which he led them was softly carpeted, with creampapered

walls and white wainscoting, all exquisitely clean.

That too was intimidating. Winston could not remember

ever to have seen a passageway whose walls were not grimy

from the contact of human bodies.

O’Brien had a slip of paper between his fingers and

seemed to be studying it intently. His heavy face, bent down

so that one could see the line of the nose, looked both formidable

and intelligent. For perhaps twenty seconds he sat

without stirring. Then he pulled the speakwrite towards

him and rapped out a message in the hybrid jargon of the


Items one comma five comma seven approved fullwise

stop suggestion contained item six doubleplus ridiculous

verging crimethink cancel stop unproceed constructionwise

antegetting plusfull estimates machinery overheads stop end


He rose deliberately from his chair and came towards

them across the soundless carpet. A little of the official atmosphere

seemed to have fallen away from him with the

Newspeak words, but his expression was grimmer than

usual, as though he were not pleased at being disturbed. The

terror that Winston already felt was suddenly shot through

by a streak of ordinary embarrassment. It seemed to him

quite possible that he had simply made a stupid mistake.

For what evidence had he in reality that O’Brien was any

kind of political conspirator? Nothing but a flash of the eyes

and a single equivocal remark: beyond that, only his own

secret imaginings, founded on a dream. He could not even

fall back on the pretence that he had come to borrow the

dictionary, because in that case Julia’s presence was impossible

to explain. As O’Brien passed the telescreen a thought

seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed

a switch on the wall. There was a sharp snap. The voice had


Julia uttered a tiny sound, a sort of squeak of surprise.

Even in the midst of his panic, Winston was too much taken

aback to be able to hold his tongue.

‘You can turn it off!’ he said.

‘Yes,’ said O’Brien, ‘we can turn it off. We have that privilege.’

He was opposite them now. His solid form towered

over the pair of them, and the expression on his face was

still indecipherable. He was waiting, somewhat sternly, for

Winston to speak, but about what? Even now it was quite

conceivable that he was simply a busy man wondering irritably

why he had been interrupted. Nobody spoke. After

the stopping of the telescreen the room seemed deadly silent.

The seconds marched past, enormous. With difficulty

Winston continued to keep his eyes fixed on O’Brien’s. Then

suddenly the grim face broke down into what might have

been the beginnings of a smile. With his characteristic gesture

O’Brien resettled his spectacles on his nose.

‘Shall I say it, or will you?’ he said.

‘I will say it,’ said Winston promptly. ‘That thing is really

turned off?’

‘Yes, everything is turned off. We are alone.’

‘We have come here because——’

He paused, realizing for the first time the vagueness of

his own motives. Since he did not in fact know what kind

of help he expected from O’Brien, it was not easy to say why

he had come here. He went on, conscious that what he was

saying must sound both feeble and pretentious:

‘We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some

kind of secret organization working against the Party, and

that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it.

We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles

of Ingsoc. We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers.

I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your

mercy. If you want us to incriminate ourselves in any other

way, we are ready.’

He stopped and glanced over his shoulder, with the

feeling that the door had opened. Sure enough, the little yellow-

faced servant had come in without knocking. Winston

saw that he was carrying a tray with a decanter and glasses.

‘Martin is one of us,’ said O’Brien impassively. ‘Bring

the drinks over here, Martin. Put them on the round table.

Have we enough chairs? Then we may as well sit down and

talk in comfort. Bring a chair for yourself, Martin. This is

business. You can stop being a servant for the next ten minutes.’

The little man sat down, quite at his ease, and yet still

with a servant-like air, the air of a valet enjoying a privilege.

Winston regarded him out of the corner of his eye.

It struck him that the man’s whole life was playing a part,

and that he felt it to be dangerous to drop his assumed personality

even for a moment. O’Brien took the decanter by

the neck and filled up the glasses with a dark-red liquid. It

aroused in Winston dim memories of something seen long

ago on a wall or a hoarding—a vast bottle composed of electric

lights which seemed to move up and down and pour its

contents into a glass. Seen from the top the stuff looked almost

black, but in the decanter it gleamed like a ruby. It had

a sour-sweet smell. He saw Julia pick up her glass and sniff

at it with frank curiosity.

‘It is called wine,’ said O’Brien with a faint smile. ‘You

will have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it

gets to the Outer Party, I am afraid.’ His face grew solemn

again, and he raised his glass: ‘I think it is fitting that we

should begin by drinking a health. To our Leader: To Emmanuel


Winston took up his glass with a certain eagerness. Wine

was a thing he had read and dreamed about. Like the glass

paperweight or Mr Charrington’s half-remembered rhymes,

it belonged to the vanished, romantic past, the olden time

as he liked to call it in his secret thoughts. For some reason

he had always thought of wine as having an intensely sweet

taste, like that of blackberry jam and an immediate intoxicating

effect. Actually, when he came to swallow it, the stuff

was distinctly disappointing. The truth was that after years

of gin-drinking he could barely taste it. He set down the

empty glass.

‘Then there is such a person as Goldstein?’ he said.

‘Yes, there is such a person, and he is alive. Where, I do

not know.’

‘And the conspiracy—the organization? Is it real? It is not

simply an invention of the Thought Police?’

‘No, it is real. The Brotherhood, we call it. You will never

learn much more about the Brotherhood than that it exists

and that you belong to it. I will come back to that presently.’

He looked at his wrist-watch. ‘It is unwise even for

members of the Inner Party to turn off the telescreen for

more than half an hour. You ought not to have come here

together, and you will have to leave separately. You, comrade’—

he bowed his head to Julia—’will leave first. We have

about twenty minutes at our disposal. You will understand

that I must start by asking you certain questions. In general

terms, what are you prepared to do?’

‘Anything that we are capable of,’ said Winston.

O’Brien had turned himself a little in his chair so that he

was facing Winston. He almost ignored Julia, seeming to

take it for granted that Winston could speak for her. For a

moment the lids flitted down over his eyes. He began asking

his questions in a low, expressionless voice, as though this

were a routine, a sort of catechism, most of whose answers

were known to him already.

‘You are prepared to give your lives?’


‘You are prepared to commit murder?’


‘To commit acts of sabotage which may cause the death

of hundreds of innocent people?’


‘To betray your country to foreign powers?’


‘You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt

the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming

drugs, to encourage prostitution, to disseminate venereal

diseases—to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization

and weaken the power of the Party?’


‘If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to

throw sulphuric acid in a child’s face—are you prepared to

do that?’


‘You are prepared to lose your identity and live out the

rest of your life as a waiter or a dock-worker?’


‘You are prepared to commit suicide, if and when we order

you to do so?’


‘You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never

see one another again?’

‘No!’ broke in Julia.

It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before

he answered. For a moment he seemed even to have been

deprived of the power of speech. His tongue worked soundlessly,

forming the opening syllables first of one word, then

of the other, over and over again. Until he had said it, he

did not know which word he was going to say. ‘No,’ he said


‘You did well to tell me,’ said O’Brien. ‘It is necessary for

us to know everything.’

He turned himself toward Julia and added in a voice

with somewhat more expression in it:

‘Do you understand that even if he survives, it may be

as a different person? We may be obliged to give him a new

identity. His face, his movements, the shape of his hands,

the color of his hair—even his voice would be different.

And you yourself might have become a different person.

Our surgeons can alter people beyond recognition. Sometimes

it is necessary. Sometimes we even amputate a limb.’

Winston could not help snatching another sidelong

glance at Martin’s Mongolian face. There were no scars

that he could see. Julia had turned a shade paler, so that

her freckles were showing, but she faced O’Brien boldly. She

murmured something that seemed to be assent.

‘Good. Then that is settled.’

There was a silver box of cigarettes on the table. With a

rather absent-minded air O’Brien pushed them towards the

others, took one himself, then stood up and began to pace

slowly to and fro, as though he could think better standing.

They were very good cigarettes, very thick and well-packed,

with an unfamiliar silkiness in the paper. O’Brien looked at

his wrist-watch again.

‘You had better go back to your Pantry, Martin,’ he said.

‘I shall switch on in a quarter of an hour. Take a good look

at these comrades’ faces before you go. You will be seeing

them again. I may not.’

Exactly as they had done at the front door, the little man’s

dark eyes flickered over their faces. There was not a trace

of friendliness in his manner. He was memorizing their

appearance, but he felt no interest in them, or appeared

to feel none. It occurred to Winston that a synthetic face

was perhaps incapable of changing its expression. Without

speaking or giving any kind of salutation, Martin went out,

closing the door silently behind him. O’Brien was strolling

up and down, one hand in the pocket of his black overalls,

the other holding his cigarette.

‘You understand,’ he said, ‘that you will be fighting in

the dark. You will always be in the dark. You will receive

orders and you will obey them, without knowing why. Later

I shall send you a book from which you will learn the true

nature of the society we live in, and the strategy by which

we shall destroy it. When you have read the book, you will

be full members of the Brotherhood. But between the general

aims that we are fighting for and the immedi ate tasks

of the moment, you will never know anything. I tell you

that the Brotherhood exists, but I cannot tell you whether

it numbers a hundred members, or ten million. From

your personal knowledge you will never be able to say that

it numbers even as many as a dozen. You will have three

or four contacts, who will be renewed from time to time

as they disappear. As this was your first contact, it will be

preserved. When you receive orders, they will come from

me. If we find it necessary to communicate with you, it will

be through Martin. When you are finally caught, you will

confess. That is unavoidable. But you will have very little

to confess, other than your own actions. You will not be

able to betray more than a handful of unimportant people.

Probably you will not even betray me. By that time I may be

dead, or I shall have become a different person, with a different


He continued to move to and fro over the soft carpet. In

spite of the bulkiness of his body there was a remarkable

grace in his movements. It came out even in the gesture

with which he thrust a hand into his pocket, or manipulated

a cigarette. More even than of strength, he gave an

impression of confidence and of an understanding tinged

by irony. However much in earnest he might be, he had

nothing of the single-mindedness that belongs to a fanatic.

When he spoke of murder, suicide, venereal disease, amputated

limbs, and altered faces, it was with a faint air of

persiflage. ‘This is unavoidable,’ his voice seemed to say;

‘this is what we have got to do, unflinchingly. But this is

not what we shall be doing when life is worth living again.’

A wave of admiration, almost of worship, flowed out from

Winston towards O’Brien. For the moment he had forgotten

the shadowy figure of Goldstein. When you looked at

O’Brien’s powerful shoulders and his blunt-featured face, so

ugly and yet so civilized, it was impossible to believe that

he could be defeated. There was no stratagem that he was

not equal to, no danger that he could not foresee. Even Julia

seemed to be impressed. She had let her cigarette go out and

was listening intently. O’Brien went on:

‘You will have heard rumors of the existence of the

Brotherhood. No doubt you have formed your own picture

of it. You have imagined, probably, a huge underworld of

conspirators, meeting secretly in cellars, scribbling messages

on walls, recognizing one another by codewords or by

special movements of the hand. Nothing of the kind exists.

The members of the Brotherhood have no way of recognizing

one another, and it is impossible for any one member to

be aware of the identity of more than a few others. Goldstein

himself, if he fell into the hands of the Thought Police,

could not give them a complete list of members, or any information

that would lead them to a complete list. No such

list exists. The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it

is not an organization in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds

it together except an idea which is indestructible. You will

never have anything to sustain you, except the idea. You

will get no comradeship and no encouragement. When finally

you are caught, you will get no help. We never help

our members. At most, when it is absolutely necessary that

someone should be silenced, we are occasionally able to

smuggle a razor blade into a prisoner’s cell. You will have

to get used to living without results and without hope. You

will work for a while, you will be caught, you will confess,

and then you will die. Those are the only results that you

will ever see. There is no possibility that any perceptible

change will happen within our own lifetime. We are the

dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part

in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far

away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might be

a thousand years. At present nothing is possible except to

extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively.

We can only spread our knowledge outwards from

individual to individual, generation after generation. In the

face of the Thought Police there is no other way.’

He halted and looked for the third time at his wristwatch.

‘It is almost time for you to leave, comrade,’ he said to Julia.

‘Wait. The decanter is still half full.’

He filled the glasses and raised his own glass by the


‘What shall it be this time?’ he said, still with the same

faint suggestion of irony. ‘To the confusion of the Thought

Police? To the death of Big Brother? To humanity? To the


‘To the past,’ said Winston.

‘The past is more important,’ agreed O’Brien gravely.

They emptied their glasses, and a moment later Julia

stood up to go. O’Brien took a small box from the top of a

cabinet and handed her a flat white tablet which he told her

to place on her tongue. It was important, he said, not to go

out smelling of wine: the lift attendants were very observant.

As soon as the door had shut behind her he appeared

to forget her existence. He took another pace or two up and

down, then stopped.

‘There are details to be settled,’ he said. ‘I assume that

you have a hiding-place of some kind?’

Winston explained about the room over Mr Charrington’s


‘That will do for the moment. Later we will arrange

something else for you. It is important to change one’s hiding-

place frequently. Meanwhile I shall send you a copy of

THE BOOK’—even O’Brien, Winston noticed, seemed to

pronounce the words as though they were in italics—’Goldstein’s

book, you understand, as soon as possible. It may

be some days before I can get hold of one. There are not

many in existence, as you can imagine. The Thought Police

hunt them down and destroy them almost as fast as we can

produce them. It makes very little difference. The book is

indestructible. If the last copy were gone, we could reproduce

it almost word for word. Do you carry a brief-case to

work with you?’ he added.

‘As a rule, yes.’

‘What is it like?’

‘Black, very shabby. With two straps.’

‘Black, two straps, very shabby—good. One day in the

fairly near future—I cannot give a date—one of the messages

among your morning’s work will contain a misprinted

word, and you will have to ask for a repeat. On the following

day you will go to work without your brief-case. At some

time during the day, in the street, a man will touch you on

the arm and say ‘I think you have dropped your brief-case.’

The one he gives you will contain a copy of Goldstein’s book.

You will return it within fourteen days.’

They were silent for a moment.

‘There are a couple of minutes before you need go,’ said

O’Brien. ‘We shall meet again—if we do meet again——’

Winston looked up at him. ‘In the place where there is no

darkness?’ he said hesitantly.

O’Brien nodded without appearance of surprise. ‘In the

place where there is no darkness,’ he said, as though he had

recognized the allusion. ‘And in the meantime, is there anything

that you wish to say before you leave? Any message?

Any question?.’

Winston thought. There did not seem to be any further

question that he wanted to ask: still less did he feel any

impulse to utter high-sounding generalities. Instead of anything

directly connected with O’Brien or the Brotherhood,

there came into his mind a sort of composite picture of the

dark bedroom where his mother had spent her last days,

and the little room over Mr Charrington’s shop, and the

glass paperweight, and the steel engraving in its rosewood

frame. Almost at random he said:

‘Did you ever happen to hear an old rhyme that begins

‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s’?’

Again O’Brien nodded. With a sort of grave courtesy he

completed the stanza:

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,

You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,

When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey,

When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch.’

‘You knew the last line!’ said Winston.

‘Yes, I knew the last line. And now, I am afraid, it is time

for you to go. But wait. You had better let me give you one

of these tablets.’

As Winston stood up O’Brien held out a hand. His powerful

grip crushed the bones of Winston’s palm. At the

door Winston looked back, but O’Brien seemed already to

be in process of putting him out of mind. He was waiting

with his hand on the switch that controlled the telescreen.

Beyond him Winston could see the writing-table with its

green-shaded lamp and the speakwrite and the wire baskets

deep-laden with papers. The incident was closed. Within

thirty seconds, it occurred to him, O’Brien would be back at

his interrupted and important work on behalf of the Party.

Chapter 9

Winston was gelatinous with fatigue. Gelatinous was

the right word. It had come into his head spontaneously.

His body seemed to have not only the weakness of a

jelly, but its translucency. He felt that if he held up his hand

he would be able to see the light through it. All the blood

and lymph had been drained out of him by an enormous

debauch of work, leaving only a frail structure of nerves,

bones, and skin. All sensations seemed to be magnified. His

overalls fretted his shoulders, the pavement tickled his feet,

even the opening and closing of a hand was an effort that

made his joints creak.

He had worked more than ninety hours in five days. So

had everyone else in the Ministry. Now it was all over, and

he had literally nothing to do, no Party work of any description,

until tomorrow morning. He could spend six hours in

the hiding-place and another nine in his own bed. Slowly, in

mild afternoon sunshine, he walked up a dingy street in the

direction of Mr Charrington’s shop, keeping one eye open

for the patrols, but irrationally convinced that this afternoon

there was no danger of anyone interfering with him.

The heavy brief-case that he was carrying bumped against

his knee at each step, sending a tingling sensation up and

down the skin of his leg. Inside it was the book, which he

had now had in his possession for six days and had not yet

opened, nor even looked at.

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the

speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters,

the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing

of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding

of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the

booming of guns—after six days of this, when the great orgasm

was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of

Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd

could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals

who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the

proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them

to pieces—at just this moment it had been announced that

Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was

at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had

taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness

and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not

Eurasia was the enemy. Winston was taking part in a demonstration

in one of the central London squares at the

moment when it happened. It was night, and the white faces

and the scarlet banners were luridly floodlit. The square

was packed with several thousand people, including a block

of about a thousand schoolchildren in the uniform of the

Spies. On a scarlet-draped platform an orator of the Inner

Party, a small lean man with disproportionately long arms

and a large bald skull over which a few lank locks straggled,

was haranguing the crowd. A little Rumpelstiltskin

figure, contorted with hatred, he gripped the neck of the

microphone with one hand while the other, enormous at

the end of a bony arm, clawed the air menacingly above his

head. His voice, made metallic by the amplifiers, boomed

forth an endless catalogue of atrocities, massacres, deportations,

lootings, rapings, torture of prisoners, bombing

of civilians, lying propaganda, unjust aggressions, broken

treaties. It was almost impossible to listen to him without

being first convinced and then maddened. At every few moments

the fury of the crowd boiled over and the voice of the

speaker was drowned by a wild beast-like roaring that rose

uncontrollably from thousands of throats. The most savage

yells of all came from the schoolchildren. The speech

had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a

messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper

was slipped into the speaker’s hand. He unrolled and read it

without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice

or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly

the names were different. Without words said, a wave

of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was

at war with Eastasia! The next moment there was a tremendous

commotion. The banners and posters with which the

square was decorated were all wrong! Quite half of them

had the wrong faces on them. It was sabotage! The agents of

Goldstein had been at work! There was a riotous interlude

while posters were ripped from the walls, banners torn to

shreds and trampled underfoot. The Spies performed prodigies

of activity in clambering over the rooftops and cutting

the streamers that fluttered from the chimneys. But within

two or three minutes it was all over. The orator, still gripping

the neck of the microphone, his shoulders hunched forward,

his free hand clawing at the air, had gone straight on with

his speech. One minute more, and the feral roars of rage

were again bursting from the crowd. The Hate continued

exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.

The thing that impressed Winston in looking back was

that the speaker had switched from one line to the other actually

in midsentence, not only without a pause, but without

even breaking the syntax. But at the moment he had other

things to preoccupy him. It was during the moment of disorder

while the posters were being torn down that a man

whose face he did not see had tapped him on the shoulder

and said, ‘Excuse me, I think you’ve dropped your briefcase.’

He took the brief-case abstractedly, without speaking.

He knew that it would be days before he had an opportunity

to look inside it. The instant that the demonstration was

over he went straight to the Ministry of Truth, though the

time was now nearly twenty-three hours. The entire staff

of the Ministry had done likewise. The orders already issuing

from the telescreen, recalling them to their posts, were

hardly necessary.

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always

been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature

of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports

and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets,

films, sound-tracks, photographs—all had to be rectified

at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued,

it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended

that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia,

or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence

anywhere. The work was overwhelming, all the more so

because the processes that it involved could not be called

by their true names. Everyone in the Records Department

worked eighteen hours in the twenty-four, with two threehour

snatches of sleep. Mattresses were brought up from

the cellars and pitched all over the corridors: meals consisted

of sandwiches and Victory Coffee wheeled round

on trolleys by attendants from the canteen. Each time that

Winston broke off for one of his spells of sleep he tried to

leave his desk clear of work, and each time that he crawled

back sticky-eyed and aching, it was to find that another

shower of paper cylinders had covered the desk like a snowdrift,

halfburying the speakwrite and overflowing on to the

floor, so that the first job was always to stack them into a

neat enough pile to give him room to work. What was worst

of all was that the work was by no means purely mechanical.

Often it was enough merely to substitute one name for another,

but any detailed report of events demanded care and

imagination. Even the geographical knowledge that one

needed in transferring the war from one part of the world

to another was considerable.

By the third day his eyes ached unbearably and his

spectacles needed wiping every few minutes. It was like

struggling with some crushing physical task, something

which one had the right to refuse and which one was nevertheless

neurotically anxious to accomplish. In so far as he

had time to remember it, he was not troubled by the fact that

every word he murmured into the speakwrite, every stroke

of his ink-pencil, was a deliberate lie. He was as anxious as

anyone else in the Department that the forgery should be

perfect. On the morning of the sixth day the dribble of cylinders

slowed down. For as much as half an hour nothing

came out of the tube; then one more cylinder, then nothing.

Everywhere at about the same time the work was easing off.

A deep and as it were secret sigh went through the Department.

A mighty deed, which could never be mentioned, had

been achieved. It was now impossible for any human being

to prove by documentary evidence that the war with Eurasia

had ever happened. At twelve hundred it was unexpectedly

announced that all workers in the Ministry were free till

tomorrow morning. Winston, still carrying the brief-case

containing the book, which had remained between his feet

while he worked and under his body while he slept, went

home, shaved himself, and almost fell asleep in his bath, although

the water was barely more than tepid.

With a sort of voluptuous creaking in his joints he

climbed the stair above Mr Charrington’s shop. He was

tired, but not sleepy any longer. He opened the window, lit

the dirty little oilstove and put on a pan of water for coffee.

Julia would arrive presently: meanwhile there was the book.

He sat down in the sluttish armchair and undid the straps

of the brief-case.

A heavy black volume, amateurishly bound, with no

name or title on the cover. The print also looked slightly

irregular. The pages were worn at the edges, and fell apart,

easily, as though the book had passed through many hands.

The inscription on the title-page ran:




Emmanuel Goldstein

Winston began reading:

Chapter I

Ignorance is Strength

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end

of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people

in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have

been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless

different names, and their relative numbers, as well as

their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to

age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.

Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable

changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just

as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however

far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable…

Winston stopped reading, chiefly in order to appreciate

the fact that he was reading, in comfort and safety. He was

alone: no telescreen, no ear at the keyhole, no nervous impulse

to glance over his shoulder or cover the page with his

hand. The sweet summer air played against his cheek. From

somewhere far away there floated the faint shouts of children:

in the room itself there was no sound except the insect

voice of the clock. He settled deeper into the arm-chair and

put his feet up on the fender. It was bliss, it was etemity.

Suddenly, as one sometimes does with a book of which one

knows that one will ultimately read and re-read every word,

he opened it at a different place and found himself at Chapter

III. He went on reading:

Chapter III

War is Peace

The splitting up of the world into three great super-states

was an event which could be and indeed was foreseen

before the middle of the twentieth century. With the absorption

of Europe by Russia and of the British Empire by

the United States, two of the three existing powers, Eurasia

and Oceania, were already effectively in being. The third,

Eastasia, only emerged as a distinct unit after another decade

of confused fighting. The frontiers between the three

super-states are in some places arbitrary, and in others they

fluctuate according to the fortunes of war, but in general

they follow geographical lines. Eurasia comprises the whole

of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass,

from Portugal to the Bering Strait. Oceania comprises the

Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles,

Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa. Eastasia,

smaller than the others and with a less definite western

frontier, comprises China and the countries to the south of

it, the Japanese islands and a large but fluctuating portion

of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet.

In one combination or another, these three super-states

are permanently at war, and have been so for the past twenty-

five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate,

annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the

twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between

combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no

material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine

ideological difference This is not to say that either the

conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude towards it, has become

less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous. On the contrary,

war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries,

and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children,

the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals

against prisoners which extend even to boiling and burying

alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when they are committed

by one’s own side and not by the enemy, meritorious.

But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of

people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively

few casualties. The fighting, when there is any,

takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the

average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses

which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes. In the

centres of civilization war means no more than a continuous

shortage of consumption goods, and the occasional

crash of a rocket bomb which may cause a few scores of

deaths. War has in fact changed its character. More exactly,

the reasons for which war is waged have changed in their

order of importance. Motives which were already present

to some small extent in the great wars of the early twentieth

centuury have now become dominant and are consciously

recognized and acted upon.

To understand the nature of the present war—for in spite

of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always

the same war—one must realize in the first place that

it is impossible for it to be decisive. None of the three super-

states could be definitively conquered even by the other

two in combination. They are too evenly matched, and their

natural defences are too formidable. Eurasia is protected by

its vast land spaces, Oceania by the width of the Atlantic

and the Pacific, Eastasia by the fecundity and indus triousness

of its inhabitants. Secondly, there is no longer, in

a material sense, anything to fight about. With the establishment

of self-contained economies, in which production

and consumption are geared to one another, the scramble

for markets which was a main cause of previous wars has

come to an end, while the competition for raw materials is

no longer a matter of life and death. In any case each of the

three super-states is so vast that it can obtain almost all the

materials that it needs within its own boundaries. In so far

as the war has a direct economic purpose, it is a war for labor

power. Between the frontiers of the super-states, and

not permanently in the possession of any of them, there lies

a rough quadrilateral with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville,

Darwin, and Hong Kong, containing within it about

a fifth of the population of the earth. It is for the possession

of these thickly-populated regions, and of the northern

ice-cap, that the three powers are constantly struggling. In

practice no one power ever controls the whole of the disputed

area. Portions of it are constantly changing hands, and

it is the chance of seizing this or that fragment by a sudden

stroke of treachery that dictates the endless changes of


All of the disputed territories contain valuable minerals,

and some of them yield important vegetable products such

as rubber which in colder climates it is necessary to synthesize

by comparatively expensive methods. But above all

they contain a bottomless reserve of cheap labor. Whichever

power controls equatorial Africa, or the countries

of the Middle East, or Southern India, or the Indonesian

Archipelago, disposes also of the bodies of scores or hundreds

of millions of ill-paid and hard-working coolies. The

inhabitants of these areas, reduced more or less openly to

the status of slaves, pass continually from conqueror to conqueror,

and are expended like so much coal or oil in the

race to turn out more armaments, to capture more territory,

to control more labor power, to turn out more armaments,

to capture more territory, and so on indefinitely. It should

be noted that the fighting never really moves beyond the

edges of the disputed areas. The frontiers of Eurasia flow

back and forth between the basin of the Congo and the

northern shore of the Mediterranean; the islands of the Indian

Ocean and the Pacific are constantly being captured

and recaptured by Oceania or by Eastasia; in Mongolia the

dividing line between Eurasia and Eastasia is never stable;

round the Pole all three powers lay claim to enormous territories

which in fact are largely unihabited and unexplored:

but the balance of power always remains roughly even, and

the territory which forms the heartland of each super-state

always remains inviolate. Moreover, the labor of the exploited

peoples round the Equator is not really necessary to

the world’s economy. They add nothing to the wealth of the

world, since whatever they produce is used for purposes of

war, and the object of waging a war is always to be in a better

position in which to wage another war. By their labor

the slave populations allow the tempo of continuous warfare

to be speeded up. But if they did not exist, the structure

of world society, and the process by which it maintains itself,

would not be essentially different.

The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance

with the principles of DOUBLETHINK, this aim is simultaneously

recognized and not recognized by the directing

brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the

machine without raising the general standard of living.

Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of

what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been

latent in industrial society. At present, when few human beings

even have enough to eat, this problem is obviously not

urgent, and it might not have become so, even if no artificial

processes of destruction had been at work. The world

of today is a bare, hungry, dilapidated place compared with

the world that existed before 1947, and still more so if compared

with the imaginary future to which the people of that

period looked forward. In the early twentieth century, the

vision of a future society unbelievably rich, leisured, orderly,

and efficient—a glittering antiseptic world of glass and steel

and snow-white concrete—was part of the consciousness of

nearly every literate person. Science and technology were

developing at a prodigious speed, and it seemed natural to

assume that they would go on developing. This failed to

happen, partly because of the impoverishment caused by a

long series of wars and revolutions, partly because scientific

and technical progress depended on the empirical habit of

thought, which could not survive in a strictly regimented

society. As a whole the world is more primitive today than it

was fifty years ago. Certain backward areas have advanced,

and various devices, always in some way connected with

warfare and police espionage, have been developed, but

experiment and invention have largely stopped, and the

ravages of the atomic war of the nineteen-fifties have never

been fully repaired. Nevertheless the dangers inherent

in the machine are still there. From the moment when the

machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking

people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore

to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If

the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger,

overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated

within a few generations. And in fact, without being used

for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process—

by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not

to distribute—the machine did raise the living standards

of the average humand being very greatly over a period of

about fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning

of the twentieth centuries.

But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth

threatened the destruction—indeed, in some sense was the

destruction—of a hierarchical society. In a world in which

everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a

house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a

motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps

the most important form of inequality would already

have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would

confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine

a society in which WEALTH, in the sense of personal possessions

and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while

POWER remained in the hands of a small privileged caste.

But in practice such a society could not long remain stable.

For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the

great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by

poverty would become literate and would learn to think for

themselves; and when once they had done this, they would

sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no

function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run,

a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty

and ignorance. To return to the agricultural past, as

some thinkers about the beginning of the twentieth century

dreamed of doing, was not a practicable solution. It

conflicted with the tendency towards mechanization which

had become quasi-instinctive throughout almost the whole

world, and moreover, any country which remained industrially

backward was helpless in a military sense and was

bound to be dominated, directly or indirectly, by its more

advanced rivals.

Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in

poverty by restricting the output of goods. This happened

to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly

between 1953 and 1973. The economy of many countries

was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital

equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population

were prevented from working and kept half alive by

State charity. But this, too, entailed military weakness, and

since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary,

it made opposition inevitable. The problem was how

to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing

the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but

they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way

of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of

human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a

way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere,

or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might

otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and

hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons

of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still

a convenient way of expending labor power without producing

anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress,

for example, has locked up in it the labor that would build

several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as

obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody,

and with further enormous labors another Floating

Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so

planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting

the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs

of the population are always underestimated, with the result

that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities

of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate

policy to keep even the favored groups somewhere near

the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity

increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies

the distinction between one group and another. By

the standards of the early twentieth century, even a member

of the Inner Party lives an austere, laborious kind of life.

Nevertheless, the few luxuries that he does enjoy his large,

well-appointed flat, the better texture of his clothes, the better

quality of his food and drink and tobacco, his two or

three servants, his private motor-car or helicopter—set him

in a different world from a member of the Outer Party, and

the members of the Outer Party have a similar advantage

in comparison with the submerged masses whom we call

‘the proles’. The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city,

where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference

between wealth and poverty. And at the same time

the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger,

makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem

the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.

War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction,

but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way.

In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus

labor of the world by building temples and pyramids, by

digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing

vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them.

But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional

basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned

here is not the morale of masses, whose attitude is unimportant

so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the

morale of the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member

is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent

within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he

should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing

moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In

other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality

appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether

the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory

is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well

or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.

The splitting of the intelligence which the Party requires

of its members, and which is more easily achieved in an atmosphere

of war, is now almost universal, but the higher

up the ranks one goes, the more marked it becomes. It is

precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of

the enemy are strongest. In his capacity as an administrator,

it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to

know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and

he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is

either not happening or is being waged for purposes quite

other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily

neutralized by the technique of DOUBLETHINK. Meanwhile

no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his

mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to

end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of

the entire world.

All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming

conquest as an article of faith. It is to be achieved either by

gradually acquiring more and more territory and so building

up an overwhelming preponderance of power, or by

the discovery of some new and unanswerable weapon. The

search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one

of the very few remaining activities in which the inventive

or speculative type of mind can find any outlet. In Oceania

at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost

ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for ‘Science’.

The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific

achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to

the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc. And even technological

progress only happens when its products can in

some way be used for the diminution of human liberty. In

all the useful arts the world is either standing still or going

backwards. The fields are cultivated with horse-ploughs

while books are written by machinery. But in matters of

vital importance—meaning, in effect, war and police espionage—

the empirical approach is still encouraged, or at least

tolerated. 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.

In so far as scientific research still continues, this

is its subject matter. The scientist of today is either a mixture

of psychologist and inquisitor, studying with real ordinary

minuteness the meaning of facial expressions, gestures, and

tones of voice, and testing the truth-producing effects of

drugs, shock therapy, hypnosis, and physical torture; or he

is chemist, physicist, or biologist concerned only with such

branches of his special subject as are relevant to the taking

of life. In the vast laboratories of the Ministry of Peace, and

in the experimental stations hidden in the Brazilian forests,

or in the Australian desert, or on lost islands of the Antarctic,

the teams of experts are indefatigably at work. Some

are concerned simply with planning the logistics of future

wars; others devise larger and larger rocket bombs, more

and more powerful explosives, and more and more impenetrable

armour-plating; others search for new and deadlier

gases, or for soluble poisons capable of being produced in

such quantities as to destroy the vegetation of whole continents,

or for breeds of disease germs immunized against

all possible antibodies; others strive to produce a vehicle

that shall bore its way under the soil like a submarine under

the water, or an aeroplane as independent of its base

as a sailing-ship; others explore even remoter possibilities

such as focusing the sun’s rays through lenses suspended

thousands of kilometers away in space, or producing artificial

earthquakes and tidal waves by tapping the heat at the

earth’s centre.

But none of these projects ever comes anywhere near realization,

and none of the three super-states ever gains a

significant lead on the others. What is more remarkable is

that all three powers already possess, in the atomic bomb,

a weapon far more powerful than any that their present

researches are likely to discover. Although the Party, according

to its habit, claims the invention for itself, atomic

bombs first appeared as early as the nineteen-forties, and

were first used on a large scale about ten years later. At that

time some hundreds of bombs were dropped on industrial

centres, chiefly in European Russia, Western Europe,

and North America. The effect was to convince the ruling

groups of all countries that a few more atomic bombs would

mean the end of organized society, and hence of their own

power. Thereafter, although no formal agreement was ever

made or hinted at, no more bombs were dropped. All three

powers merely continue to produce atomic bombs and store

them up against the decisive opportunity which they all

believe will come sooner or later. And meanwhile the art

of war has remained almost stationary for thirty or forty

years. Helicopters are more used than they were formerly,

bombing planes have been largely superseded by self-propelled

projectiles, and the fragile movable battleship has

given way to the almost unsinkable Floating Fortress; but

otherwise there has been little development. The tank, the

submarine, the torpedo, the machine gun, even the rifle and

the hand grenade are still in use. And in spite of the endless

slaughters reported in the Press and on the telescreens,

the desperate battles of earlier wars, in which hundreds of

thousands or even millions of men were often killed in a

few weeks, have never been repeated.

None of the three super-states ever attempts any manoeuvre

which involves the risk of serious defeat. When

any large operation is undertaken, it is usually a surprise

attack against an ally. The strategy that all three powers are

following, or pretend to themselves that they are following,

is the same. The plan is, by a combination of fighting, bargaining,

and well-timed strokes of treachery, to acquire a

ring of bases completely encircling one or other of the rival

states, and then to sign a pact of friendship with that

rival and remain on peaceful terms for so many years as to

lull suspicion to sleep. During this time rockets loaded with

atomic bombs can be assembled at all the strategic spots;

finally they will all be fired simultaneously, with effects so

devastating as to make retaliation impossible. It will then be

time to sign a pact of friendship with the remaining worldpower,

in preparation for another attack. This scheme, it is

hardly necessary to say, is a mere daydream, impossible of

realization. Moreover, no fighting ever occurs except in the

disputed areas round the Equator and the Pole: no invasion

of enemy territory is ever undertaken. This explains the fact

that in some places the frontiers between the superstates

are arbitrary. Eurasia, for example, could easily conquer the

British Isles, which are geographically part of Europe, or on

the other hand it would be possible for Oceania to push its

frontiers to the Rhine or even to the Vistula. But this would

violate the principle, followed on all sides though never

formulated, of cultural integrity. If Oceania were to conquer

the areas that used once to be known as France and

Germany, it would be necessary either to exterminate the

inhabitants, a task of great physical difficulty, or to assimi248

late a population of about a hundred million people, who,

so far as technical development goes, are roughly on the

Oceanic level. The problem is the same for all three superstates.

It is absolutely necessary to their structure that there

should be no contact with foreigners, except, to a limited

extent, with war prisoners and colored slaves. Even the official

ally of the moment is always regarded with the darkest

suspicion. War prisoners apart, the average citizen of Oceania

never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia,

and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If

he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover

that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of

what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world

in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred,

and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might

evaporate. It is therefore realized on all sides that however

often Persia, or Egypt, or Java, or Ceylon may change hands,

the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except


Under this lies a fact never mentioned aloud, but tacitly

understood and acted upon: namely, that the conditions of

life in all three super-states are very much the same. In Oceania

the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia

it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by

a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but

perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The citizen

of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets

of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate

them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common

sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable,

and the social systems which they support are

not distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal

structure, the same worship of semi-divine leader,

the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare.

It follows that the three super-states not only cannot conquer

one another, but would gain no advantage by doing

so. On the contrary, so long as they remain in conflict they

prop one another up, like three sheaves of corn. And, as

usual, the ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously

aware and unaware of what they are doing. Their lives

are dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it

is necessary that the war should continue everlastingly and

without victory. Meanwhile the fact that there IS no danger

of conquest makes possible the denial of reality which is the

special feature of Ingsoc and its rival systems of thought.

Here it is necessary to repeat what has been said earlier, that

by becoming continuous war has fundamentally changed

its character.

In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something

that sooner or later came to an end, usually in unmistakable

victory or defeat. In the past, also, war was one of the

main instruments by which human societies were kept in

touch with physical reality. All rulers in all ages have tried

to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but

they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended

to impair military efficiency. So long as defeat meant the

loss of independence, or some other result generally held

to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat had to be

serious. Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy,

or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make

five, but when one was designing a gun or an aeroplane they

had to make four. Inefficient nations were always conquered

sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical

to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to

be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly

accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers

and history books were, of course, always colored and

biased, but falsification of the kind that is practised today

would have been impossible. War was a sure safeguard of

sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was

probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars

could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.

But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases

to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is no such

thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease

and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded.

As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific

are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially

a kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show

results is not important. Efficiency, even military efficiency,

is no longer needed. Nothing is efficient in Oceania except

the Thought Police. Since each of the three super-states is

unconquerable, each is in effect a separate universe within

which almost any perversion of thought can be safely practised.

Reality only exerts its pressure through the needs of

everyday life—the need to eat and drink, to get shelter and

clothing, to avoid swallowing poison or stepping out of topstorey

windows, and the like. Between life and death, and

between physical pleasure and physical pain, there is still

a distinction, but that is all. Cut off from contact with the

outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is

like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing

which direction is up and which is down. The rulers of

such a state are absolute, as the Pharaohs or the Caesars

could not be. They are obliged to prevent their followers

from starving to death in numbers large enough to be inconvenient,

and they are obliged to remain at the same

low level of military technique as their rivals; but once that

minimum is achieved, they can twist reality into whatever

shape they choose.

The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous

wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles

between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at

such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another.

But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up

the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve

the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society

needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair.

In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although

they might recognize their common interest and therefore

limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another,

and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In

our own day they are not fighting against one another at

all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own

subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent

conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society

intact. The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading.

It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming

continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure

that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age

and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been

replaced by something quite different. The effect would be

much the same if the three super-states, instead of fighting

one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each

inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each

would still be a self-contained universe, freed for ever from

the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was

truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war.

This—although the vast majority of Party members understand

it only in a shallower sense—is the inner meaning of

the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.

Winston stopped reading for a moment. Somewhere in

remote distance a rocket bomb thundered. The blissful feeling

of being alone with the forbidden book, in a room with

no telescreen, had not worn off. Solitude and safety were

physical sensations, mixed up somehow with the tiredness

of his body, the softness of the chair, the touch of the faint

breeze from the window that played upon his cheek. The

book fascinated him, 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. He had just turned back to Chapter

I when he heard Julia’s footstep on the stair and started out

of his chair to meet her. She dumped her brown tool-bag on

the floor and flung herself into his arms. It was more than a

week since they had seen one another.

‘I’ve got THE BOOK,’ he said as they disentangled themselves.

‘Oh, you’ve got it? Good,’ she said without much interest,

and almost immediately knelt down beside the oil stove to

make the coffee.

They did not return to the subject until they had been

in bed for half an hour. The evening was just cool enough

to make it worth while to pull up the counterpane. From

below came the familiar sound of singing and the scrape

of boots on the flagstones. The brawny red-armed woman

whom Winston had seen there on his first visit was almost a

fixture in the yard. There seemed to be no hour of daylight

when she was not marching to and fro between the washtub

and the line, alternately gagging herself with clothes pegs

and breaking forth into lusty song. Julia had settled down

on her side and seemed to be already on the point of falling

asleep. He reached out for the book, which was lying on the

floor, and sat up against the bedhead.

‘We must read it,’ he said. ‘You too. All members of the

Brotherhood have to read it.’

‘You read it,’ she said with her eyes shut. ‘Read it aloud.

That’s the best way. Then you can explain it to me as you


The clock’s hands said six, meaning eighteen. They had

three or four hours ahead of them. He propped the book

against his knees and began reading:

Chapter I Ignorance is Strength

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end

of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people

in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have

been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless

different names, and their relative numbers, as well as

their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to

age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.

Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable

changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just

as a gyroscope will always return to equilibnum, however

far it is pushed one way or the other

‘Julia, are you awake?’ said Winston.

‘Yes, my love, I’m listening. Go on. It’s marvellous.’

He continued reading:

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable.

The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The

aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The

aim of the Low, when they have an aim—for it is an abiding

characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed

by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of

anything outside their daily lives—is to abolish all distinctions

and create a society in which all men shall be equal.

Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its

main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods

the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later

there always comes a moment when they lose either their

belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently,

or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist

the Low on their side by pretending to them that they

are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have

reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back

into their old position of servitude, and themselves become

the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one

of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle

begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are

never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims.

It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history

there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today,

in a period of decline, the average human being is physically

better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance

in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution

has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer.

From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has

ever meant much more than a change in the name of their


By the late nineteenth century the recurrence of this pattern

had become obvious to many observers. There then

rose schools of thinkers who interpreted history as a cyclical

process and claimed to show that inequality was the

unalterable law of human life. This doctrine, of course, had

always had its adherents, but in the manner in which it was

now put forward there was a significant change. In the past

the need for a hierarchical form of society had been the doctrine

specifically of the High. It had been preached by kings

and aristocrats and by the priests, lawyers, and the like who

were parasitical upon them, and it had generally been softened

by promises of compensation in an imaginary world

beyond the grave. The Middle, so long as it was struggling

for power, had always made use of such terms as freedom,

justice, and fraternity. Now, however, the concept of human

brotherhood began to be assailed by people who were

not yet in positions of command, but merely hoped to be so

before long. In the past the Middle had made revolutions

under the banner of equality, and then had established a

fresh tyranny as soon as the old one was overthrown. The

new Middle groups in effect proclaimed their tyranny beforehand.

Socialism, a theory which appeared in the early

nineteenth century and was the last link in a chain of

thought stretching back to the slave rebellions of antiquity,

was still deeply infected by the Utopianism of past ages. But

in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1933

onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was

more and more openly abandoned. The new movements

which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc

in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship, as

it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim

of perpetuating UNfreedom and INequality. These new

movements, of course, grew out of the old ones and tended

to keep their names and pay lip-service to their ideology.

But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and

freeze history at a chosen moment. The familiar pendulum

swing was to happen once more, and then stop. As usual,

the High were to be turned out by the Middle, who would

then become the High; but this time, by conscious strategy,

the High would be able to maintain their position permanently.

The new doctrines arose partly because of the accumulation

of historical knowledge, and the growth of the

historical sense, which had hardly existed before the nineteenth

century. The cyclical movement of history was now

intelligible, or appeared to be so; and if it was intelligible,

then it was alterable. But the principal, underlying cause

was that, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century,

human equality had become technically possible. It was still

true that men were not equal in their native talents and that

functions had to be specialized in ways that favored some

individuals against others; but there was no longer any real

need for class distinctions or for large differences of wealth.

In earlier ages, class distinctions had been not only inevitable

but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization.

With the development of machine production, however, the

case was altered. Even if it was still necessary for human

beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary

for them to live at different social or economic levels.

Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who

were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no

longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.

In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society

was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it.

The idea of an earthly paradise in which men should live

together in a state of brotherhood, without laws and without

brute labor, had haunted the human imagination for

thousands of years. And this vision had had a certain hold

even on the groups who actually profited by each historical

change. 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

1963, 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.

It was only after a decade of national wars, civil wars,

revolutions, and counter-revolutions in all parts of the

world that Ingsoc and its rivals emerged as fully workedout

political theories. But they had been foreshadowed by

the various systems, generally called totalitarian, which

had appeared earlier in the century, and the main outlines

of the world which would emerge from the prevailing chaos

had long been obvious. What kind of people would control

this world had been equally obvious. The new aristocracy

was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists,

technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists,

teachers, journalists, and professional politicians.

These people, whose origins lay in the salaried middle class

and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped

and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry

and centralized government. As compared with

their opposite numbers in past ages, they were less avaricious,

less tempted by luxury, hungrier for pure power, and,

above all, more conscious of what they were doing and

more intent on crushing opposition. This last difference was

cardinal. By comparison with that existing today, all the

tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. The

ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal

ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere,

to regard only the overt act and to be uninterested in what

their subjects were thinking. Even the Catholic Church of

the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of

the reason for this was that in the past no government had

the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.

The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate

public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the

process further. With the development of television, and

the technical advance which made it possible to receive and

transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private

life came to an end. Every citizen, or at least every citizen

important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for

twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in

the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels

of communication closed. The possibility of enforcing not

only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete

uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for

the first time.

After the revolutionary period of the fifties and sixties,

society regrouped itself, as always, into High, Middle, and

Low. But the new High group, unlike all its forerunners, did

not act upon instinct but knew what was needed to safeguard

its position. It had long been realized that the only secure

basis for oligarchy is collectivism. Wealth and privilege are

most easily defended when they are possessed jointly. The

so-called ‘abolition of private property’ which took place in

the middle years of the century meant, in effect, the concentration

of property in far fewer hands than before: but

with this difference, that the new owners were a group instead

of a mass of individuals. Individually, no member of

the Party owns anything, except petty personal belongings.

Collectively, the Party owns everything in Oceania, because

it controls everything, and disposes of the products

as it thinks fit. In the years following the Revolution it was

able to step into this commanding position almost unopposed,

because the whole process was represented as an act

of collectivization. It had always been assumed that if the

capitalist class were expropriated, Socialism must follow:

and unquestionably the capitalists had been expropriated.

Factories, mines, land, houses, transport—everything had

been taken away from them: and since these things were

no longer private property, it followed that they must be

public property. Ingsoc, which grew out of the earlier Socialist

movement and inherited its phraseology, has in fact

carried out the main item in the Socialist programme; with

the result, foreseen and intended beforehand, that economic

inequality has been made permanent.

But the problems of perpetuating a hierarchical society

go deeper than this. There are only four ways in which

a ruling group can fall from power. Either it is conquered

from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses

are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented

Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own selfconfidence

and willingness to govern. These causes do not

operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in

some degree. A ruling class which could guard against all

of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately

the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling

class itself.

After the middle of the present century, the first danger

had in reality disappeared. Each of the three powers

which now divide the world is in fact unconquerable, and

could only become conquerable through slow demographic

changes which a government with wide powers can easily

avert. The second danger, also, is only a theoretical one.

The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never

revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long

as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison,

they never even become aware that they are oppressed. The

recurrent economic crises of past times were totally unnecessary

and are not now permitted to happen, but other

and equally large dislocations can and do happen without

having political results, because there is no way in which

discontent can become articulate. As for the problem of

over-production, which has been latent in our society since

the development of machine technique, it is solved by the

device of continuous warfare (see Chapter III), which is

also useful in keying up public morale to the necessary

pitch. From the point of view of our present rulers, therefore,

the only genuine dangers are the splitting-off of a new

group of able, under-employed, power-hungry people, and

the growth of liberalism and scepticism in their own ranks.

The problem, that is to say, is educational. It is a problem

of continuously moulding the consciousness both of the

directing group and of the larger executive group that lies

immediately below it. The consciousness of the masses

needs only to be influenced in a negative way.

Given this background, one could infer, if one did not

know it already, the general structure of Oceanic society. At

the apex of the pyramid comes Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible

and all-powerful. Every success, every achievement,

every victory, every scientific discovery, all knowledge, all

wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly

from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen

Big Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the

telescreen. We may be reasonably sure that he will never die,

and there is already considerable uncertainty as to when he

was born. Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses

to exhibit itself to the world. His function is to act as a

focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which

are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an

organization. Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party. Its

numbers limited to six millions, or something less than

2 per cent of the population of Oceania. Below the Inner

Party comes the Outer Party, which, if the Inner Party is described

as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the

hands. Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually

refer to as ‘the proles’, numbering perhaps 85 per cent of

the population. In the terms of our earlier classification, the

proles are the Low: for the slave population of the equatorial

lands who pass constantly from conqueror to conqueror,

are not a permanent or necessary part of the structure.

In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary.

The child of Inner Party parents is in theory not

born into the Inner Party. Admission to either branch of the

Party is by examination, taken at the age of sixteen. Nor is

there any racial discrimination, or any marked domination

of one province by another. Jews, Negroes, South Americans

of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest

ranks of the Party, and the administrators of any area are

always drawn from the inhabitants of that area. In no part

of Oceania do the inhabitants have the feeling that they are

a colonial population ruled from a distant capital. Oceania

has no capital, and its titular head is a person whose

whereabouts nobody knows. Except that English is its chief

LINGUA FRANCA and Newspeak its official language, it is

not centralized in any way. Its rulers are not held together

by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine. It

is true that our society is stratified, and very rigidly stratified,

on what at first sight appear to be hereditary lines.

There is far less to-and-fro movement between the different

groups than happened under capitalism or even in the

pre-industrial age. Between the two branches of the Party

there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much

as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner

Party and that ambitious members of the Outer Party are

made harmless by allowing them to rise. Proletarians, in

practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party. The

most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei

of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought

Police and eliminated. But this state of affairs is not necessarily

permanent, nor is it a matter of principle. The Party

is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does not aim

at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if

there were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the

top, it would be perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new

generation from the ranks of the proletariat. In the crucial

years, the fact that the Party was not a hereditary body did

a great deal to neutralize opposition. The older kind of Socialist,

who had been trained to fight against something

called ‘class privilege’ assumed that what is not hereditary

cannot be permanent. He did not see that the continuity

of an oligarchy need not be physical, nor did he pause to

reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been shortlived,

whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic

Church have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands

of years. The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son

inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and

a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A

ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its

successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating

its blood but with perpetuating itself. WHO wields power

is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure

remains always the same.

All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes

that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the

mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-

day society from being perceived. Physical rebellion, or

any preliminary move towards rebellion, is at present not

possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. Left

to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation

and from century to century, working, breeding, and

dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without

the power of grasping that the world could be other than it

is. They could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial

technique made it necessary to educate them more

highly; but, since military and commercial rivalry are no

longer important, the level of popular education is actually

declining. What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold,

is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted

intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party

member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation

of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.

A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye

of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be

sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake,

working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected

without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected.

Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships,

his relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children,

the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he

mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his

body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanor,

but any eccentricity, however small, any change

of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be

the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected.

He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever. On

the other hand his actions are not regulated by law or by any

clearly formulated code of behaviour. In Oceania there is

no law. Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean

certain death are not formally forbidden, and the endless

purges, arrests, tortures, imprisonments, and vaporizations

are not inflicted as punishment for crimes which have actually

been committed, but are merely the wiping-out of

persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in

the future. A Party member is required to have not only the

right opinions, but the right instincts. Many of the beliefs

and attitudes demanded of him are never plainly stated, and

could not be stated without laying bare the contradictions

inherent in Ingsoc. If he is a person naturally orthodox (in

Newspeak a GOODTHINKER), he will in all circumstances

know, without taking thought, what is the true belief or

the desirable emotion. But in any case an elaborate mental

training, undergone in childhood and grouping itself

round the Newspeak words CRIMESTOP, BLACKWHITE,

and DOUBLETHINK, makes him unwilling and unable to

think too deeply on any subject whatever.

A Party member is expected to have no private emotions

and no respites from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a

continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal

traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before

the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced

by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned

outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes

Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a

sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his

early acquired inner discipline. The first and simplest stage

in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children,

is called, in Newspeak, CRIMESTOP. 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. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary,

orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s

own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist

over his body. Oceanic society rests ultimately on the

belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is

infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent

and the party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying,

moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of

facts. The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. Like so many

Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory

meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of

impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of

the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal

willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline

demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that

black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and

to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands

a continuous alteration of the past, made possible

by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest,

and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK.

The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons,

one of which is subsidiary and, so to speak, precautionary.

The subsidiary reason is that the Party member, like

the proletarian, tolerates present-day conditions partly because

he has no standards of comparison. He must be cut

off from the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign

countries, because it is necessary for him to believe that

he is better off than his ancestors and that the average level

of material comfort is constantly rising. But by far the

more important reason for the readjustment of the past is

the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party. It is not

merely that speeches, statistics, and records of every kind

must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that

the predictions of the Party were in all cases right. It is also

that no change in doctrine or in political alignment can

ever be admitted. For to change one’s mind, or even one’s

policy, is a confession of weakness. If, for example, Eurasia

or Eastasia (whichever it may be) is the enemy today, then

that country must always have been the enemy. And if the

facts say otherwise then the facts must be altered. Thus history

is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day falsification

of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary

to the stability of the regime as the work of repression

and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.

The mutability of the past is the central tenet of Ingsoc.

Past events, it is argued, have no objective existence, but

survive only in written records and in human memories.

The past is whatever the records and the memories agree

upon. And since the Party is in full control of all records

and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it

follows that the past is whatever the Party chooses to make

it. It also follows that though the past is alterable, it never

has been altered in any specific instance. For when it has

been recreated in whatever shape is needed at the moment,

then this new version IS the past, and no different past can

ever have existed. This holds good even when, as often happens,

the same event has to be altered out of recognition

several times in the course of a year. At all times the Party

is in possession of absolute truth, and clearly the absolute

can never have been different from what it is now. It will

be seen that the control of the past depends above all on

the training of memory. To make sure that all written records

agree with the orthodoxy of the moment is merely

a mechanical act. But it is also necessary to REMEMBER

that events happened in the desired manner. And if it is

necessary to rearrange one’s memories or to tamper with

written records, then it is necessary to FORGET that one

has done so. The trick of doing this can be learned like any

other mental technique. It is learned by the majority of Party

members, and certainly by all who are intelligent as well

as orthodox. In Oldspeak it is called, quite frankly, ‘reality

control’. In Newspeak it is called DOUBLETHINK, though

DOUBLETHINK comprises much else as well.

DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two

contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting

both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which

direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows

that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of

DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not

violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not

be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be

unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and

hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc,

since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious

deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes

with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely

believing in them, to forget any fact that has become

inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again,

to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed,

to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while

to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is

indispensably necessary. Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK

it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK. For

by using the word one admits that one is tampering with

reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this

knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one

leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of DOUBLETHINK

that the Party has been able—and may, for all

we know, continue to be able for thousands of years—to arrest

the course of history.

All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because

they ossified or because they grew soft. Either they became

stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing

circumstances, and were overthrown; or they became

liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should

have used force, and once again were overthrown. They fell,

that is to say, either through consciousness or through unconsciousness.

It is the achievement of the Party to have

produced a system of thought in which both conditions can

exist simultaneously. And upon no other intellectual basis

could the dominion of the Party be made permanent. If one

is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate

the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to

combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to

learn from past mistakes.

It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of

DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK

and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In

our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is

happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the

world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the

greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane. One

clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases

in intensity as one rises in the social scale. Those whose

attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are the subject

peoples of the disputed territories. To these people the

war is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and

fro over their bodies like a tidal wave. Which side is winning

is a matter of complete indifference to them. They are

aware that a change of overlordship means simply that they

will be doing the same work as before for new masters who

treat them in the same manner as the old ones. The slightly

more favored workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only

intermittently conscious of the war. When it is necessary

they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and hatred, but

when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for

long periods that the war is happening. It is in the ranks of

the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, that the true war

enthusiasm is found. World-conquest is believed in most

firmly by those who know it to be impossible. This peculiar

linking-together of opposites—knowledge with ignorance,

cynicism with fanaticism—is one of the chief distinguishing

marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds

with contradictions even when there is no practical reason

for them. Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle

for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it

chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a

contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries

past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at

one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for

that reason. It systematically undermines the solidarity of

the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct

appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of

the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort

of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The

Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of

Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the

Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions

are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy;

they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For

it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be

retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle

be broken. If human equality is to be for ever averted—if

the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places

permanently—then the prevailing mental condition must

be controlled insanity.

But there is one question which until this moment we

have almost ignored. It is; WHY should human equality be

averted? Supposing that the mechanics of the process have

been rightly described, what is the motive for this huge,

accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular

moment of time?

Here we reach the central secret. As we have seen. the

mystique of the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, depends

upon DOUBLETHINK But deeper than this lies the

original motive, the never-questioned instinct that first led

to the seizure of power and brought DOUBLETHINK, the

Thought Police, continuous warfare, and all the other necessary

paraphernalia into existence afterwards. This motive

really consists…

Winston became aware of silence, as one becomes aware

of a new sound. It seemed to him that Julia had been very

still for some time past. She was lying on her side, na27

ked from the waist upwards, with her cheek pillowed on

her hand and one dark lock tumbling across her eyes. Her

breast rose and fell slowly and regularly.


No answer.

‘Julia, are you awake?’

No answer. She was asleep. He shut the book, put it carefully

on the floor, lay down, and pulled the coverlet over

both of them.

He had still, he reflected, not learned the ultimate secret.

He understood HOW; he did not understand WHY. Chapter

I, like Chapter III, had not actually told him anything

that he did not know, it had merely systematized the knowledge

that he possessed already. But after reading it he knew

better than before that he was not mad. Being in a minority,

even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was

truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth

even against the whole world, you were not mad. A yellow

beam from the sinking sun slanted in through the window

and fell across the pillow. He shut his eyes. The sun on his

face and the girl’s smooth body touching his own gave him

a strong, sleepy, confident feeling. He was safe, everything

was all right. He fell asleep murmuring ‘Sanity is not statistical,’

with the feeling that this remark contained in it a

profound wisdom.


When he woke it was with the sensation of having slept

for a long time, but a glance at the old-fashioned clock told

him that it was only twenty-thirty. He lay dozing for a while;

then the usual deep-lunged singing struck up from the yard


It was only an ‘opeless fancy,

It passed like an Ipril dye,

But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred

They ‘ave stolen my ‘eart awye!’

The driveling song seemed to have kept its popularity.

You still heard it all over the place. It had outlived the Hate

Song. Julia woke at the sound, stretched herself luxuriously,

and got out of bed.

‘I’m hungry,’ she said. ‘Let’s make some more coffee.

Damn! The stove’s gone out and the water’s cold.’ She picked

the stove up and shook it. ‘There’s no oil in it.’

‘We can get some from old Charrington, I expect.’

‘The funny thing is I made sure it was full. I’m going to

put my clothes on,’ she added. ‘It seems to have got colder.’

Winston also got up and dressed himself. The indefatigable

voice sang on:

They sye that time ‘eals all things,

They sye you can always forget;

But the smiles an’ the tears acrorss the years

They twist my ‘eart-strings yet!’

As he fastened the belt of his overalls he strolled across

to the window. The sun must have gone down behind the

houses; it was not shining into the yard any longer. The flag276

stones were wet as though they had just been washed, and

he had the feeling that the sky had been washed too, so fresh

and pale was the blue between the chimney-pots. Tirelessly

the woman marched to and fro, corking and uncorking

herself, singing and falling silent, and pegging out more diapers,

and more and yet more. He wondered whether she

took in washing for a living or was merely the slave of twenty

or thirty grandchildren. Julia had come across to his side;

together they gazed down with a sort of fascination at the

sturdy figure below. As he looked at the woman in her characteristic

attitude, her thick arms reaching up for the line,

her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded, it struck him

for the first time that she was beautiful. It had never before

occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up

to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, then hardened,

roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an

over-ripe turnip, could be beautiful. But it was so, and after

all, he thought, why not? The solid, contourless body, like a

block of granite, and the rasping red skin, bore the same relation

to the body of a girl as the rose-hip to the rose. Why

should the fruit be held inferior to the flower?

‘She’s beautiful,’ he murmured.

‘She’s a meter across the hips, easily,’ said Julia.

‘That is her style of beauty,’ said Winston.

He held Julia’s supple waist easily encircled by his arm.

From the hip to the knee her flank was against his. Out of

their bodies no child would ever come. That was the one

thing they could never do. Only by word of mouth, from

mind to mind, could they pass on the secret. The woman

down there had no mind, she had only strong arms, a warm

heart, and a fertile belly. He wondered how many children

she had given birth to. It might easily be fifteen. She had

had her momentary flowering, a year, perhaps, of wild-rose

beauty and then she had suddenly swollen like a fertilized

fruit and grown hard and red and coarse, and then her life

had been laundering, scrubbing, darning, cooking, sweeping,

polishing, mending, scrubbing, laundering, first for

children, then for grandchildren, over thirty unbroken

years. At the end of it she was still singing. The mystical

reverence that he felt for her was somehow mixed up with

the aspect of the pale, cloudless sky, stretching away behind

the chimney-pots into interminable distance. It was curious

to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in

Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under

the sky were also very much the same—everywhere, all over

the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just

like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held

apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the

same—people who had never learned to think but who were

storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power

that would one day overturn the world. If there was hope,

it lay in the proles! Without having read to the end of THE

BOOK, he knew that that must be Goldstein’s final message.

The future belonged to the proles. And could he be sure that

when their time came the world they constructed would not

be just as alien to him, Winston Smith, as the world of the

Party? Yes, because at the least it would be a world of sanity.

Where there is equality there can be sanity. Sooner or later

it would happen, strength would change into consciousness.

The proles were immortal, you could not doubt it when you

looked at that valiant figure in the yard. In the end their

awakening would come. And until that happened, though it

might be a thousand years, they would stay alive against all

the odds, like birds, passing on from body to body the vitality

which the Party did not share and could not kill.

‘Do you remember,’ he said, ‘the thrush that sang to us,

that first day, at the edge of the wood?’

‘He wasn’t singing to us,’ said Julia. ‘He was singing to

please himself. Not even that. He was just singing.’

The birds sang, the proles sang. the Party did not sing.

All round the world, in London and New York, in Africa

and Brazil, and in the mysterious, forbidden lands beyond

the frontiers, in the streets of Paris and Berlin, in the villages

of the endless Russian plain, in the bazaars of China and

Japan—everywhere stood the same solid unconquerable

figure, made monstrous by work and childbearing, toiling

from birth to death and still singing. Out of those mighty

loins a race of conscious beings must one day come. You

were the dead, theirs was the future. But you could share in

that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the

body, and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two

make four.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.

They sprang apart. Winston’s entrails seemed to have

turned into ice. He could see the white all round the irises of

Julia’s eyes. Her face had turned a milky yellow. The smear

of rouge that was still on each cheekbone stood out sharply,

almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.

‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.

‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.

‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly

where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing

except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for

life, to get out of the house before it was too late—no such

thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron

voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had

been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture

had fallen to the floor uncovering the telescreen behind it.

‘Now they can see us,’ said Julia.

‘Now we can see you,’ said the voice. ‘Stand out in the

middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands

behind your heads. Do not touch one another.’

They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he

could feel Julia’s body shaking. Or perhaps it was merely

the shaking of his own. He could just stop his teeth from

chattering, but his knees were beyond his control. There

was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and

outside. The yard seemed to be full of men. Something was

being dragged across the stones. The woman’s singing had

stopped abruptly. There was a long, rolling clang, as though

the washtub had been flung across the yard, and then a confusion

of angry shouts which ended in a yell of pain.

‘The house is surrounded,’ said Winston.

‘The house is surrounded,’ said the voice.

He heard Julia snap her teeth together. ‘I suppose we may

as well say good-bye,’ she said.

‘You may as well say good-bye,’ said the voice. And then

another quite different voice, a thin, cultivated voice which

Winston had the impression of having heard before, struck

in; ‘And by the way, while we are on the subject, ‘Here comes

a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop

off your head’!’

Something crashed on to the bed behind Winston’s back.

The head of a ladder had been thrust through the window

and had burst in the frame. Someone was climbing through

the window. There was a stampede of boots up the stairs.

The room was full of solid men in black uniforms, with ironshod

boots on their feet and truncheons in their hands.

Winston was not trembling any longer. Even his eyes he

barely moved. One thing alone mattered; to keep still, to

keep still and not give them an excuse to hit you! A man

with a smooth prize-fighter’s jowl in which the mouth was

only a slit paused opposite him balancing his truncheon

meditatively between thumb and forefinger. Winston met

his eyes. The feeling of nakedness, with one’s hands behind

one’s head and one’s face and body all exposed, was almost

unbearable. The man protruded the tip of a white tongue,

licked the place where his lips should have been, and then

passed on. There was another crash. Someone had picked

up the glass paperweight from the table and smashed it to

pieces on the hearth-stone.

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! There was a gasp

and a thump behind him, and he received a violent kick on

the ankle which nearly flung him off his balance. One of the

men had smashed his fist into Julia’s solar plexus, doubling

her up like a pocket ruler. She was thrashing about on the

floor, fighting for breath. Winston dared not turn his head

even by a millimeter, but sometimes her livid, gasping face

came within the angle of his vision. Even in his terror it was

as though he could feel the pain in his own body, the deadly

pain which nevertheless was less urgent than the struggle to

get back her breath. He knew what it was like; the terrible,

agonizing pain which was there all the while but could not

be suffered yet, because before all else it was necessary to

be able to breathe. Then two of the men hoisted her up by

knees and shoulders, and carried her out of the room like a

sack. Winston had a glimpse of her face, upside down, yellow

and contorted, with the eyes shut, and still with a smear

of rouge on either cheek; and that was the last he saw of

her.He stood dead still. No one had hit him yet. Thoughts

which came of their own accord but seemed totally uninteresting

began to flit through his mind. He wondered whether

they had got Mr Charrington. He wondered what they had

done to the woman in the yard. He noticed that he badly

wanted to urinate, and felt a faint surprise, because he

had done so only two or three hours ago. He noticed that

the clock on the mantelpiece said nine, meaning twentyone.

But the light seemed too strong. Would not the light

be fading at twenty-one hours on an August evening? He

wondered whether after all he and Julia had mistaken the

time—had slept the clock round and thought it was twenty-

thirty when really it was naught eight-thirty on the

following morning. But he did not pursue the thought further.

It was not interesting.

There ws another, lighter step in the passage. Mr

Charrington came into the room. The demeanor of

the black-uniformed men suddenly became more subdued.

Something had also changed in Mr Charrington’s

appearance. His eye fell on the fragments of the glass paperweight.

‘Pick up those pieces,’ he said sharply.

A man stooped to obey. The cockney accent had disappeared;

Winston suddenly realized whose voice it was that

he had heard a few moments ago on the telescreen. Mr Charrington

was still wearing his old velvet jacket, but his hair,

which had been almost white, had turned black. Also he was

not wearing his spectacles. He gave Winston a single sharp

glance, as though verifying his identity, and then paid no

more attention to him. He was still recognizable, but he was

not the same person any longer. His body had straightened,

and seemed to have grown bigger. His face had undergone

only tiny changes that had nevertheless worked a complete

transformation. The black eyebrows were less bushy, the

wrinkles were gone, the whole lines of the face seemed to

have altered; even the nose seemed shorter. It was the alert,

cold face of a man of about five-and-thirty. It occurred to

Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking,

with knowledge, at a member of the Thought Police.

Part Three


Chapter 1

He did not know where he was. Presumably he was in

the Ministry of Love, but there was no way of making

certain. He was in a high-ceilinged windowless cell with

walls of glittering white porcelain. Concealed lamps flooded

it with cold light, and there was a low, steady humming

sound which he supposed had something to do with the

air supply. A bench, or shelf, just wide enough to sit on ran

round the wall, broken only by the door and, at the end opposite

the door, a lavatory pan with no wooden seat. There

were four telescreens, one in each wall.

There was a dull aching in his belly. It had been there

ever since they had bundled him into the closed van and

driven him away. But he was also hungry, with a gnawing,

unwholesome kind of hunger. It might be twenty-four

hours since he had eaten, it might be thirty-six. He still did

not know, probably never would know, whether it had been

morning or evening when they arrested him. Since he was

arrested he had not been fed.

He sat as still as he could on the narrow bench, with his

hands crossed on his knee. He had already learned to sit

still. If you made unexpected movements they yelled at you

from the telescreen. But the craving for food was growing

upon him. What he longed for above all was a piece of bread.

He had an idea that there were a few breadcrumbs in the

pocket of his overalls. It was even possible—he thought this

because from time to time something seemed to tickle his

leg—that there might be a sizeable bit of crust there. In the

end the temptation to find out overcame his fear; he slipped

a hand into his pocket.

‘Smith!’ yelled a voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith

W.! Hands out of pockets in the cells!’

He sat still again, his hands crossed on his knee. Before

being brought here he had been taken to another place

which must have been an ordinary prison or a temporary

lock-up used by the patrols. He did not know how long he

had been there; some hours at any rate; with no clocks and

no daylight it was hard to gauge the time. It was a noisy, evilsmelling

place. They had put him into a cell similar to the

one he was now in, but filthily dirty and at all times crowded

by ten or fifteen people. The majority of them were common

criminals, but there were a few political prisoners among

them. He had sat silent against the wall, jostled by dirty

bodies, too preoccupied by fear and the pain in his belly to

take much interest in his surroundings, but still noticing

the astonishing difference in demeanor between the Party

prisoners and the others. The Party prisoners were always

silent and terrified, but the ordinary criminals seemed to

care nothing for anybody. They yelled insults at the guards,

fought back fiercely when their belongings were impounded,

wrote obscene words on the floor, ate smuggled food

which they produced from mysterious hiding-places in their

clothes, and even shouted down the telescreen when it tried

to restore order. On the other hand some of them seemed

to be on good terms with the guards, called them by nicknames,

and tried to wheedle cigarettes through the spyhole

in the door. The guards, too, treated the common criminals

with a certain forbearance, even when they had to handle

them roughly. There was much talk about the forced-labor

camps to which most of the prisoners expected to be sent.

It was ‘all right’ in the camps, he gathered, so long as you

had good contacts and knew the ropes. There was bribery,

favoritism, and racketeering of every kind, there was homosexuality

and prostitution, there was even illicit alcohol

distilled from potatoes. The positions of trust were given

only to the common criminals, especially the gangsters and

the murderers, who formed a sort of aristocracy. All the

dirty jobs were done by the politicals.

There was a constant come-and-go of prisoners of every

description: drug-peddlers, thieves, bandits, black-marketeers,

drunks, prostitutes. Some of the drunks were so

violent that the other prisoners had to combine to suppress

them. An enormous wreck of a woman, aged about

sixty, with great tumbling breasts and thick coils of white

hair which had come down in her struggles, was carried in,

kicking and shouting, by four guards, who had hold of her

one at each corner. They wrenched off the boots with which

she had been trying to kick them, and dumped her down

across Winston’s lap, almost breaking his thigh-bones. The

woman hoisted herself upright and followed them out with

a yell of ‘F—— bastards!’ Then, noticing that she was sitting

on something uneven, she slid off Winston’s knees on

to the bench.

‘Beg pardon, dearie,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t ‘a sat on you,

only the buggers put me there. They dono ‘ow to treat a lady,

do they?’ She paused, patted her breast, and belched. ‘Pardon,’

she said, ‘I ain’t meself, quite.’

She leant forward and vomited copiously on the floor.

‘Thass better,’ she said, leaning back with closed eyes.

‘Never keep it down, thass what I say. Get it up while it’s

fresh on your stomach, like.’

She revived, turned to have another look at Winston and

seemed immediately to take a fancy to him. She put a vast

arm round his shoulder and drew him towards her, breathing

beer and vomit into his face.

‘Wass your name, dearie?’ she said.

‘Smith,’ said Winston.

‘Smith?’ said the woman. ‘Thass funny. My name’s Smith

too. Why,’ she added sentimentally, ‘I might be your mother!’

She might, thought Winston, be his mother. She was

about the right age and physique, and it was probable that

people changed somewhat after twenty years in a forced-labor


No one else had spoken to him. To a surprising extent

the ordinary criminals ignored the Party prisoners. ‘The

polITS,’ they called them, with a sort of uninterested contempt.

The Party prisoners seemed terrified of speaking to

anybody, and above all of speaking to one another. Only

once, when two Party members, both women, were pressed

close together on the bench, he overheard amid the din of

voices a few hurriedly-whispered words; and in particular a

reference to something called ‘room one-oh-one’, which he

did not understand.

It might be two or three hours ago that they had brought

him here. The dull pain in his belly never went away, but

sometimes it grew better and sometimes worse, and his

thoughts expanded or contracted accordingly. When it

grew worse he thought only of the pain itself, and of his desire

for food. When it grew better, panic took hold of him.

There were moments when he foresaw the things that would

happen to him with such actuality that his heart galloped

and his breath stopped. He felt the smash of truncheons on

his elbows and iron-shod boots on his shins; he saw himself

groveling on the floor, screaming for mercy through broken

teeth. He hardly thought of Julia. He could not fix his

mind on her. He loved her and would not betray her; but

that was only a fact, known as he knew the rules of arithmetic.

He felt no love for her, and he hardly even wondered

what was happening to her. He thought oftener of O’Brien,

with a flickering hope. O’Brien might know that he had

been arrested. The Brotherhood, he had said, never tried to

save its members. But there was the razor blade; they would

send the razor blade if they could. There would be perhaps

five seconds before the guard could rush into the cell. The

blade would bite into him with a sort of burning coldness,

and even the fingers that held it would be cut to the bone.

Everything came back to his sick body, which shrank trembling

from the smallest pain. He was not certain that he

would use the razor blade even if he got the chance. It was

more natural to exist from moment to moment, accepting

another ten minutes’ life even with the certainty that there

was torture at the end of it.

Sometimes he tried to calculate the number of porcelain

bricks in the walls of the cell. It should have been easy, but

he always lost count at some point or another. More often he

wondered where he was, and what time of day it was. At one

moment he felt certain that it was broad daylight outside,

and at the next equally certain that it was pitch darkness. In

this place, he knew instinctively, the lights would never be

turned out. It was the place with no darkness: he saw now

why O’Brien had seemed to recognize the allusion. In the

Ministry of Love there were no windows. His cell might be

at the heart of the building or against its outer wall; it might

be ten floors below ground, or thirty above it. He moved

himself mentally from place to place, and tried to determine

by the feeling of his body whether he was perched

high in the air or buried deep underground.

There was a sound of marching boots outside. The steel

door opened with a clang. A young officer, a trim black-uniformed

figure who seemed to glitter all over with polished

leather, and whose pale, straight-featured face was like a

wax mask, stepped smartly through the doorway. He motioned

to the guards outside to bring in the prisoner they

were leading. The poet Ampleforth shambled into the cell.

The door clanged shut again.

Ampleforth made one or two uncertain movements from

side to side, as though having some idea that there was another

door to go out of, and then began to wander up and

down the cell. He had not yet noticed Winston’s presence.

His troubled eyes were gazing at the wall about a meter

above the level of Winston’s head. He was shoeless; large,

dirty toes were sticking out of the holes in his socks. He

was also several days away from a shave. A scrubby beard

covered his face to the cheekbones, giving him an air of

ruffianism that went oddly with his large weak frame and

nervous movements.

Winston roused hirnself a little from his lethargy. He

must speak to Ampleforth, and risk the yell from the telescreen.

It was even conceivable that Ampleforth was the

bearer of the razor blade.

‘Ampleforth,’ he said.

There was no yell from the telescreen. Ampleforth

paused, mildly startled. His eyes focused themselves slowly

on Winston.

‘Ah, Smith!’ he said. ‘You too!’

‘What are you in for?’

‘To tell you the truth—’ He sat down awkwardly on the

bench opposite Winston. ‘There is only one offence, is there

not?’ he said.

‘And have you committed it?’

‘Apparently I have.’

He put a hand to his forehead and pressed his temples for

a moment, as though trying to remember something.

‘These things happen,’ he began vaguely. ‘I have been

able to recall one instance—a possible instance. It was an

indiscretion, undoubtedly. We were producing a definitive

edition of the poems of Kipling. I allowed the word ‘God’ to

remain at the end of a line. I could not help it!’ he added almost

indignantly, raising his face to look at Winston. ‘It was

impossible to change the line. The rhyme was ‘rod”. Do you

realize that there are only twelve rhymes to ‘rod’ in the entire

language? For days I had racked my brains. There WAS

no other rhyme.’

The expression on his face changed. The annoyance

passed out of it and for a moment he looked almost pleased.

A sort of intellectual warmth, the joy of the pedant who has

found out some useless fact, shone through the dirt and

scrubby hair.

‘Has it ever occurred to you,’ he said, ‘that the whole history

of English poetry has been determined by the fact that

the English language lacks rhymes?’

No, that particular thought had never occurred to Winston.

Nor, in the circumstances, did it strike him as very

important or interesting.

‘Do you know what time of day it is?’ he said.

Ampleforth looked startled again. ‘I had hardly thought

about it. They arrested me—it could be two days ago—perhaps

three.’ His eyes flitted round the walls, as though he

half expected to find a window somewhere. ‘There is no difference

between night and day in this place. I do not see

how one can calculate the time.’

They talked desultorily for some minutes, then, without

apparent reason, a yell from the telescreen bade them be

silent. Winston sat quietly, his hands crossed. Ampleforth,

too large to sit in comfort on the narrow bench, fidgeted

from side to side, clasping his lank hands first round one

knee, then round the other. The telescreen barked at him to

keep still. Time passed. Twenty minutes, an hour—it was

difficult to judge. Once more there was a sound of boots

outside. Winston’s entrails contracted. Soon, very soon,

perhaps in five minutes, perhaps now, the tramp of boots

would mean that his own turn had come.

The door opened. The cold-faced young officer stepped

into the cell. With a brief movement of the hand he indicated


‘Room 101,’ he said.

Ampleforth marched clumsily out between the guards,

his face vaguely perturbed, but uncomprehending.

What seemed like a long time passed. The pain in Winston’s

belly had revived. His mind sagged round and round

on the same trick, like a ball falling again and again into

the same series of slots. He had only six thoughts. The pain

in his belly; a piece of bread; the blood and the screaming;

O’Brien; Julia; the razor blade. There was another spasm in

his entrails, the heavy boots were approaching. As the door

opened, the wave of air that it created brought in a powerful

smell of cold sweat. Parsons walked into the cell. He was

wearing khaki shorts and a sports-shirt.

This time Winston was startled into self-forgetfulness.

‘YOU here!’ he said.

Parsons gave Winston a glance in which there was

neither interest nor surprise, but only misery. He began

walking jerkily up and down, evidently unable to keep still.

Each time he straightened his pudgy knees it was apparent

that they were trembling. His eyes had a wide-open, staring

look, as though he could not prevent himself from gazing at

something in the middle distance.

‘What are you in for?’ said Winston.

‘Thoughtcrime!’ said Parsons, almost blubbering. The

tone of his voice implied at once a complete admission of

his guilt and a sort of incredulous horror that such a word

could be applied to himself. He paused opposite Winston

and began eagerly appealing to him: ‘You don’t think they’ll

shoot me, do you, old chap? They don’t shoot you if you

haven’t actually done anything—only thoughts, which you

can’t help? I know they give you a fair hearing. Oh, I trust

them for that! They’ll know my record, won’t they? YOU

know what kind of chap I was. Not a bad chap in my way.

Not brainy, of course, but keen. I tried to do my best for the

Party, didn’t I? I’ll get off with five years, don’t you think? Or

even ten years? A chap like me could make himself pretty

useful in a labor-camp. They wouldn’t shoot me for going

off the rails just once?’

‘Are you guilty?’ said Winston.

‘Of course I’m guilty!’ cried Parsons with a servile glance

at the telescreen. ‘You don’t think the Party would arrest

an innocent man, do you?’ His frog-like face grew calmer,

and even took on a slightly sanctimonious expression.

‘Thoughtcrime is a dreadful thing, old man,’ he said sententiously.

‘It’s insidious. It can get hold of you without your

even knowing it. Do you know how it got hold of me? In my

sleep! Yes, that’s a fact. There I was, working away, trying to

do my bit—never knew I had any bad stuff in my mind at all.

And then I started talking in my sleep. Do you know what

they heard me saying?’

He sank his voice, like someone who is obliged for medical

reasons to utter an obscenity.

‘’Down with Big Brother!’ Yes, I said that! Said it over

and over again, it seems. Between you and me, old man, I’m

glad they got me before it went any further. Do you know

what I’m going to say to them when I go up before the tribunal?

‘Thank you,’ I’m going to say, ‘thank you for saving me

before it was too late.‘‘

‘Who denounced you?’ said Winston.

‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of

doleful pride. ‘She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I

was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day.

Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any

grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her

up in the right spirit, anyway.’

He made a few more jerky movements up and down,

several times, casting a longing glance at the lavatory pan.

Then he suddenly ripped down his shorts.

‘Excuse me, old man,’ he said. ‘I can’t help it. It’s the waiting.’

He plumped his large posterior into the lavatory pan.

Winston covered his face with his hands.

‘Smith!’ yelled the voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith

W! Uncover your face. No faces covered in the cells.’

Winston uncovered his face. Parsons used the lavatory,

loudly and abundantly. It then turned out that the plug was

defective and the cell stank abominably for hours afterwards.

Parsons was removed. More prisoners came and went,

mysteriously. One, a woman, was consigned to ‘Room 101’,

and, Winston noticed, seemed to shrivel and turn a different

color when she heard the words. A time came when, if

it had been morning when he was brought here, it would be

afternoon; or if it had been afternoon, then it would be midnight.

There were six prisoners in the cell, men and women.

All sat very still. Opposite Winston there sat a man with a

chinless, toothy face exactly like that of some large, harmless

rodent. His fat, mottled cheeks were so pouched at the

bottom that it was difficult not to believe that he had little

stores of food tucked away there. His pale-grey eyes flitted

timorously from face to face and turned quickly away again

when he caught anyone’s eye.

The door opened, and another prisoner was brought in

whose appearance sent a momentary chill through Winston.

He was a commonplace, mean-looking man who

might have been an engineer or technician of some kind.

But what was startling was the emaciation of his face. It

was like a skull. Because of its thinness the mouth and eyes

looked disproportionately large, and the eyes seemed filled

with a murderous, unappeasable hatred of somebody or


The man sat down on the bench at a little distance from

Winston. Winston did not look at him again, but the tormented,

skull-like face was as vivid in his mind as though

it had been straight in front of his eyes. Suddenly he realized

what was the matter. The man was dying of starvation.

The same thought seemed to occur almost simultaneously

to everyone in the cell. There was a very faint stirring all

the way round the bench. The eyes of the chinless man kept

flitting towards the skull-faced man, then turning guiltily

away, then being dragged back by an irresistible attraction.

Presently he began to fidget on his seat. At last he stood up,

waddled clumsily across the cell, dug down into the pocket

of his overalls, and, with an abashed air, held out a grimy

piece of bread to the skull-faced man.

There was a furious, deafening roar from the telescreen.

The chinless man jumped in his tracks. The skull-faced man

had quickly thrust his hands behind his back, as though

demonstrating to all the world that he refused the gift.

‘Bumstead!’ roared the voice. ‘2713 Bumstead J.! Let fall

that piece of bread!’

The chinless man dropped the piece of bread on the


‘Remain standing where you are,’ said the voice. ‘Face the

door. Make no movement.’

The chinless man obeyed. His large pouchy cheeks were

quivering uncontrollably. The door clanged open. As the

young officer entered and stepped aside, there emerged

from behind him a short stumpy guard with enormous

arms and shoulders. He took his stand opposite the chinless

man, and then, at a signal from the officer, let free a

frightful blow, with all the weight of his body behind it, full

in the chinless man’s mouth. The force of it seemed almost

to knock him clear of the floor. His body was flung across

the cell and fetched up against the base of the lavatory seat.

For a moment he lay as though stunned, with dark blood

oozing from his mouth and nose. A very faint whimpering

or squeaking, which seemed unconscious, came out of

him. Then he rolled over and raised himself unsteadily on

hands and knees. Amid a stream of blood and saliva, the

two halves of a dental plate fell out of his mouth.

The prisoners sat very still, their hands crossed on their

knees. The chinless man climbed back into his place. Down

one side of his face the flesh was darkening. His mouth had

swollen into a shapeless cherry-colored mass with a black

hole in the middle of it.

From time to time a little blood dripped on to the breast

of his overalls. His grey eyes still flitted from face to face,

more guiltily than ever, as though he were trying to discover

how much the others despised him for his humiliation.

The door opened. With a small gesture the officer indicated

the skull-faced man.

‘Room 101,’ he said.

There was a gasp and a flurry at Winston’s side. The man

had actually flung himself on his knees on the floor, with

his hand clasped together.

‘Comrade! Officer!’ he cried. ‘You don’t have to take me to

that place! Haven’t I told you everything already? What else

is it you want to know? There’s nothing I wouldn’t confess,

nothing! Just tell me what it is and I’ll confess straight off.

Write it down and I’ll sign it—anything! Not room 101!’

‘Room 101,’ said the officer.

The man’s face, already very pale, turned a color Winston

would not have believed possible. It was definitely,

unmistakably, a shade of green.

‘Do anything to me!’ he yelled. ‘You’ve been starving me

for weeks. Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me.

Sentence me to twenty-five years. Is there somebody else

you want me to give away? Just say who it is and I’ll tell you

anything you want. I don’t care who it is or what you do to

them. I’ve got a wife and three children. The biggest of them

isn’t six years old. You can take the whole lot of them and

cut their throats in front of my eyes, and I’ll stand by and

watch it. But not Room 101!’

‘Room 101,’ said the officer.

The man looked frantically round at the other prisoners,

as though with some idea that he could put another victim

in his own place. His eyes settled on the smashed face of the

chinless man. He flung out a lean arm.

‘That’s the one you ought to be taking, not me!’ he shouted.

‘You didn’t hear what he was saying after they bashed

his face. Give me a chance and I’ll tell you every word of it.

HE’S the one that’s against the Party, not me.’ The guards

stepped forward. The man’s voice rose to a shriek. ‘You

didn’t hear him!’ he repeated. ‘Something went wrong with

the telescreen. HE’S the one you want. Take him, not me!’

The two sturdy guards had stooped to take him by the

arms. But just at this moment he flung himself across the

floor of the cell and grabbed one of the iron legs that supported

the bench. He had set up a wordless howling, like an

animal. The guards took hold of him to wrench him loose,

but he clung on with astonishing strength. For perhaps

twenty seconds they were hauling at him. The prisoners sat

quiet, their hands crossed on their knees, looking straight

in front of them. The howling stopped; the man had no

breath left for anything except hanging on. Then there was

a different kind of cry. A kick from a guard’s boot had broken

the fingers of one of his hands. They dragged him to

his feet.

‘Room 101,’ said the officer.

The man was led out, walking unsteadily, with head

sunken, nursing his crushed hand, all the fight had gone

out of him.

A long time passed. If it had been midnight when the

skull-faced man was taken away, it was morning: if morning,

it was afternoon. Winston was alone, and had been

alone for hours. The pain of sitting on the narrow bench

was such that often he got up and walked about, unreproved

by the telescreen. The piece of bread still lay where the chinless

man had dropped it. At the beginning it needed a hard

effort not to look at it, but presently hunger gave way to

thirst. His mouth was sticky and evil-tasting. The humming

sound and the unvarying white light induced a sort

of faintness, an empty feeling inside his head. He would get

up because the ache in his bones was no longer bearable,

and then would sit down again almost at once because he

was too dizzy to make sure of staying on his feet. Whenever

his physical sensations were a little under control the terror

returned. Sometimes with a fading hope he thought of

O’Brien and the razor blade. It was thinkable that the razor

blade might arrive concealed in his food, if he were ever

fed. More dimly he thought of Julia. Somewhere or other

she was suffering perhaps far worse than he. She might be

screaming with pain at this moment. He thought: ‘If I could

save Julia by doubling my own pain, would I do it? Yes, I

would.’ But that was merely an intellectual decision, taken

because he knew that he ought to take it. He did not feel it.

In this place you could not feel anything, except pain and

foreknowledge of pain. Besides, was it possible, when you

were actually suffering it, to wish for any reason that your

own pain should increase? But that question was not answerable


The boots were approaching again. The door opened.

O’Brien came in.

Winston started to his feet. The shock of the sight had

driven all caution out of him. For the first time in many

years he forgot the presence of the telescreen.

‘They’ve got you too!’ he cried.

‘They got me a long time ago,’ said O’Brien with a mild,

almost regretful irony. He stepped aside. From behind him

there emerged a broad-chested guard with a long black

truncheon in his hand.

‘You know this, Winston,’ said O’Brien. ‘Don’t deceive

yourself. You did know it—you have always known it.’

Yes, he saw now, he had always known it. But there was no

time to think of that. All he had eyes for was the truncheon

in the guard’s hand. It might fall anywhere; on the crown,

on the tip of the ear, on the upper arm, on the elbow——

The elbow! He had slumped to his knees, almost paralyzed,

clasping the stricken elbow with his other hand.

Everything had exploded into yellow light. Inconceivable,

inconceivable that one blow could cause such pain! The

light cleared and he could see the other two looking down

at him. The guard was laughing at his contortions. One

question at any rate was answered. Never, for any reason

on earth, could you wish for an increase of pain. Of pain

you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing

in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain

there are no heroes, no heroes, he thought over and over as

he writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled

left arm.

Chapter 2

He was lying on something that felt like a camp bed, except

that it was higher off the ground and that he was

fixed down in some way so that he could not move. Light

that seemed stronger than usual was falling on his face.

O’Brien was standing at his side, looking down at him intently.

At the other side of him stood a man in a white coat,

holding a hypodermic syringe.

Even after his eyes were open he took in his surroundings

only gradually. He had the impression of swimming up

into this room from some quite different world, a sort of underwater

world far beneath it. How long he had been down

there he did not know. Since the moment when they arrested

him he had not seen darkness or daylight. Besides, his

memories were not continuous. There had been times when

consciousness, even the sort of consciousness that one has

in sleep, had stopped dead and started again after a blank

interval. But whether the intervals were of days or weeks or

only seconds, there was no way of knowing.

With that first blow on the elbow the nightmare had

started. Later he was to realize that all that then happened

was merely a preliminary, a routine interrogation to which

nearly all prisoners were subjected. There was a long range

of crimes—espionage, sabotage, and the like—to which everyone

had to confess as a matter of course. The confession

was a formality, though the torture was real. How many

times he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued,

he could not remember. Always there were five or

six men in black uniforms at him simultaneously. Sometimes

it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes

it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times

when he rolled about the floor, as shameless as an animal,

writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless

effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and yet

more kicks, in his ribs, in his belly, on his elbows, on his

shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on the bone at the base

of his spine. There were times when it went on and on until

the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not

that the guards continued to beat him but that he could not

force hirnself into losing consciousness. There were times

when his nerve so forsook him that he began shouting for

mercy even before the beating began, when the mere sight

of a fist drawn back for a blow was enough to make him

pour forth a confession of real and imaginary crimes. There

were other times when he started out with the resolve of

confessing nothing, when every word had to be forced out

of him between gasps of pain, and there were times when he

feebly tried to compromise, when he said to himself: ‘I will

confess, but not yet. I must hold out till the pain becomes

unbearable. Three more kicks, two more kicks, and then I

will tell them what they want.’ Sometimes he was beaten till

he could hardly stand, then flung like a sack of potatoes on

to the stone floor of a cell, left to recuperate for a few hours,

and then taken out and beaten again. There were also longer

periods of recovery. He remembered them dimly, because

they were spent chiefly in sleep or stupor. He remembered

a cell with a plank bed, a sort of shelf sticking out from the

wall, and a tin wash-basin, and meals of hot soup and bread

and sometimes coffee. He remembered a surly barber arriving

to scrape his chin and crop his hair, and businesslike,

unsympathetic men in white coats feeling his pulse, tapping

his reflexes, turning up his eyelids, running harsh fingers

over him in search for broken bones, and shooting needles

into his arm to make him sleep.

The beatings grew less frequent, and became mainly a

threat, a horror to which he could be sent back at any moment

when his answers were unsatisfactory. His questioners

now were not ruffians in black uniforms but Party intellectuals,

little rotund men with quick movements and flashing

spectacles, who worked on him in relays over periods which

lasted—he thought, he could not be sure—ten or twelve

hours at a stretch. These other questioners saw to it that he

was in constant slight pain, but it was not chiefly pain that

they relied on. They slapped his face, wrung his ears, pulled

his hair, made him stand on one leg, refused him leave to

urinate, shone glaring lights in his face until his eyes ran

with water; but the aim of this was simply to humiliate him

and destroy his power of arguing and reasoning. Their real

weapon was the merciless questioning that went on and on,

hour after hour, tripping him up, laying traps for him, twisting

everything that he said, convicting him at every step of

lies and self-contradiction until he began weeping as much

from shame as from nervous fatigue. Sometimes he would

weep half a dozen times in a single session. Most of the time

they screamed abuse at him and threatened at every hesitation

to deliver him over to the guards again; but sometimes

they would suddenly change their tune, call him comrade,

appeal to him in the name of Ingsoc and Big Brother, and

ask him sorrowfully whether even now he had not enough

loyalty to the Party left to make him wish to undo the evil

he had done. When his nerves were in rags after hours of

questioning, even this appeal could reduce him to snivelling

tears. In the end the nagging voices broke him down

more completely than the boots and fists of the guards. He

became simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed,

whatever was demanded of him. His sole concern was to

find out what they wanted him to confess, and then confess

it quickly, before the bullying started anew. He confessed

to the assassination of eminent Party members, the distribution

of seditious pamphlets, embezzlement of public

funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage of every kind. He

confessed that he had been a spy in the pay of the Eastasian

government as far back as 2001. He confessed that he

was a religious believer, an admirer of capitalism, and a sexual

pervert. He confessed that he had murdered his wife,

although he knew, and his questioners must have known,

that his wife was still alive. He confessed that for years he

had been in personal touch with Goldstein and had been

a member of an underground organization which had included

almost every human being he had ever known. It

was easier to confess everything and implicate everybody.

Besides, in a sense it was all true. It was true that he had

been the enemy of the Party, and in the eyes of the Party

there was no distinction between the thought and the deed.

There were also memories of another kind. They stood

out in his mind disconnectedly, like pictures with blackness

all round them.

He was in a cell which might have been either dark or

light, because he could see nothing except a pair of eyes.

Near at hand some kind of instrument was ticking slowly

and regularly. The eyes grew larger and more luminous.

Suddenly he floated out of his seat, dived into the eyes, and

was swallowed up.

He was strapped into a chair surrounded by dials, under

dazzling lights. A man in a white coat was reading the dials.

There was a tramp of heavy boots outside. The door clanged

open. The waxed-faced officer marched in, followed by two


‘Room 101,’ said the officer.

The man in the white coat did not turn round. He did not

look at Winston either; he was looking only at the dials.

He was rolling down a mighty corridor, a kilometer

wide, full of glorious, golden light, roaring with laughter

and shouting out confessions at the top of his voice. He was

confessing everything, even the things he had succeeded

in holding back under the torture. He was relating the entire

history of his life to an audience who knew it already.

With him were the guards, the other questioners, the men

in white coats, O’Brien, Julia, Mr Charrington, all rolling

down the corridor together and shouting with laughter.

Some dreadful thing which had lain embedded in the future

had somehow been skipped over and had not happened.

Everything was all right, there was no more pain, the last

detail of his life was laid bare, understood, forgiven.

He was starting up from the plank bed in the half-certainty

that he had heard O’Brien’s voice. All through his

interrogation, although he had never seen him, he had had

the feeling that O’Brien was at his elbow, just out of sight. It

was O’Brien who was directing everything. It was he who

set the guards on to Winston and who prevented them from

killing him. It was he who decided when Winston should

scream with pain, when he should have a respite, when he

should be fed, when he should sleep, when the drugs should

be pumped into his arm. It was he who asked the questions

and suggested the answers. He was the tormentor, he

was the protector, he was the inquisitor, he was the friend.

And once—Winston could not remember whether it was

in drugged sleep, or in normal sleep, or even in a moment

of wakefulness—a voice murmured in his ear: ‘Don’t worry,

Winston; you are in my keeping. For seven years I have

watched over you. Now the turning-point has come. I shall

save you, I shall make you perfect.’ He was not sure whether

it was O’Brien’s voice; but it was the same voice that had

said to him, ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no

darkness,’ in that other dream, seven years ago.

He did not remember any ending to his interrogation.

There was a period of blackness and then the cell, or room,

in which he now was had gradually materialized round him.

He was almost flat on his back, and unable to move. His

body was held down at every essential point. Even the back

of his head was gripped in some manner. O’Brien was looking

down at him gravely and rather sadly. His face, seen

from below, looked coarse and worn, with pouches under

the eyes and tired lines from nose to chin. He was older

than Winston had thought him; he was perhaps forty-eight

or fifty. Under his hand there was a dial with a lever on top

and figures running round the face.

‘I told you,’ said O’Brien, ‘that if we met again it would

be here.’

‘Yes,’ said Winston.

Without any warning except a slight movement of

O’Brien’s hand, a wave of pain flooded his body. It was a

frightening pain, because he could not see what was happening,

and he had the feeling that some mortal injury was

being done to him. He did not know whether the thing was

really happening, or whether the effect was electrically produced;

but his body was being wrenched out of shape, the

joints were being slowly torn apart. Although the pain had

brought the sweat out on his forehead, the worst of all was

the fear that his backbone was about to snap. He set his

teeth and breathed hard through his nose, trying to keep

silent as long as possible.

‘You are afraid,’ said O’Brien, watching his face, ‘that in

another moment something is going to break. Your especial

fear is that it will be your backbone. You have a vivid mental

picture of the vertebrae snapping apart and the spinal fluid

dripping out of them. That is what you are thinking, is it

not, Winston?’

Winston did not answer. O’Brien drew back the lever on

310 2017

the dial. The wave of pain receded almost as quickly as it

had come.

‘That was forty,’ said O’Brien. ‘You can see that the numbers

on this dial run up to a hundred. Will you please

remember, throughout our conversation, that I have it in

my power to inflict pain on you at any moment and to whatever

degree I choose? If you tell me any lies, or attempt to

prevaricate in any way, or even fall below your usual level

of intelligence, you will cry out with pain, instantly. Do you

understand that?’

‘Yes,’ said Winston.

O’Brien’s manner became less severe. He resettled his

spectacles thoughtfully, and took a pace or two up and

down. When he spoke his voice was gentle and patient. He

had the air of a doctor, a teacher, even a priest, anxious to

explain and persuade rather than to punish.

‘I am taking trouble with you, Winston,’ he said, ‘because

you are worth trouble. You know perfectly well what is the

matter with you. You have known it for years, though you

have fought against the knowledge. You are mentally deranged.

You suffer from a defective memory. You are unable

to remember real events and you persuade yourself that you

remember other events which never happened. Fortunately

it is curable. You have never cured yourself of it, because

you did not choose to. There was a small effort of the will

that you were not ready to make. Even now, I am well aware,

you are clinging to your disease under the impression that

it is a virtue. Now we will take an example. At this moment,

which power is Oceania at war with?’

‘When I was arrested, Oceania was at war with Eastasia.’

‘With Eastasia. Good. And Oceania has always been at

war with Eastasia, has it not?’

Winston drew in his breath. He opened his mouth to

speak and then did not speak. He could not take his eyes

away from the dial.

‘The truth, please, Winston. YOUR truth. Tell me what

you think you remember.’

‘I remember that until only a week before I was arrested,

we were not at war with Eastasia at all. We were in alliance

with them. The war was against Eurasia. That had lasted for

four years. Before that——’

O’Brien stopped him with a movement of the hand.

‘Another example,’ he said. ‘Some years ago you had a

very serious delusion indeed. You believed that three men,

three one-time Party members named Jones, Aaronson,

and Rutherford—men who were executed for treachery

and sabotage after making the fullest possible confession—

were not guilty of the crimes they were charged with. You

believed that you had seen unmistakable documentary evidence

proving that their confessions were false. There was

a certain photograph about which you had a hallucination.

You believed that you had actually held it in your hands. It

was a photograph something like this.’

An oblong slip of newspaper had appeared between

O’Brien’s fingers. For perhaps five seconds it was within the

angle of Winston’s vision. It was a photograph, and there

was no question of its identity. It was THE photograph. It

was another copy of the photograph of Jones, Aaronson,

and Rutherford at the party function in New York, which

he had chanced upon eleven years ago and promptly destroyed.

For only an instant it was before his eyes, then it

was out of sight again. But he had seen it, unquestionably he

had seen it! He made a desperate, agonizing effort to wrench

the top half of his body free. It was impossible to move so

much as a centimeter in any direction. For the moment he

had even forgotten the dial. All he wanted was to hold the

photograph in his fingers again, or at least to see it.

‘It exists!’ he cried.

‘No,’ said O’Brien.

He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole

in the opposite wall. O’Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the

frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm

air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O’Brien turned away

from the wall.

‘Ashes,’ he said. ‘Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does

not exist. It never existed.’

‘But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember

it. You remember it.’

‘I do not remember it,’ said O’Brien.

Winston’s heart sank. That was doublethink. He had a

feeling of deadly helplessness. If he could have been certain

that O’Brien was lying, it would not have seemed to matter.

But it was perfectly possible that O’Brien had really forgotten

the photograph. And if so, then already he would have

forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the

act of forgetting. How could one be sure that it was simple

trickery? Perhaps that lunatic dislocation in the mind could

really happen: that was the thought that defeated him.

O’Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More

than ever he had the air of a teacher taking pains with a

wayward but promising child.

‘There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the

past,’ he said. ‘Repeat it, if you please.’

‘’Who controls the past controls the future: who controls

the present controls the past,‘‘ repeated Winston obediently.

‘’Who controls the present controls the past,‘‘ said

O’Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. ‘Is it your

opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?’

Again the feeling of helplessness descended upon Winston.

His eyes flitted towards the dial. He not only did not

know whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ was the answer that would save

him from pain; he did not even know which answer he believed

to be the true one.

O’Brien smiled faintly. ‘You are no metaphysician, Winston,’

he said. ‘Until this moment you had never considered

what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does

the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or

other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still



‘Then where does the past exist, if at all?’

‘In records. It is written down.’

‘In records. And——?’

‘In the mind. In human memories.’

‘In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all

records, and we control all memories. Then we control the

past, do we not?’

‘But how can you stop people remembering things?’ cried

Winston again momentarily forgetting the dial. ‘It is involuntary.

It is outside oneself. How can you control memory?

You have not controlled mine!’

O’Brien’s manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on

the dial.

‘On the contrary,’ he said, ‘YOU have not controlled it.

That is what has brought you here. You are here because

you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would

not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity.

You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only

the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe

that reality is something objective, external, existing in its

own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is selfevident.

When you delude yourself into thinking that you

see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same

thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external.

Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.

Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and

in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party,

which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds

to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except

by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact

that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of selfdestruction,

an effort of the will. You must humble yourself

before you can become sane.’

He paused for a few moments, as though to allow what

he had been saying to sink in.

‘Do you remember,’ he went on, ‘writing in your diary,

‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make


‘Yes,’ said Winston.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston,

with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’


‘And if the party says that it is not four but five—then

how many?’


The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial

had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over

Winston’s body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again

in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could

not stop. O’Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended.

He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only

slightly eased.

‘How many fingers, Winston?’


The needle went up to sixty.

‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Four! Four! What else can I say? Four!’

The needle must have risen again, but he did not look at

it. The heavy, stern face and the four fingers filled his vision.

The fingers stood up before his eyes like pillars, enormous,

blurry, and seeming to vibrate, but unmistakably four.

‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Four! Stop it, stop it! How can you go on? Four! Four!’

‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Five! Five! Five!’

‘No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think

there are four. How many fingers, please?’

‘Four! five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop

the pain!’

Abruptly he was sitting up with O’Brien’s arm round his

shoulders. He had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds.

The bonds that had held his body down were loosened.

He felt very cold, he was shaking uncontrollably, his teeth

were chattering, the tears were rolling down his cheeks. For

a moment he clung to O’Brien like a baby, curiously comforted

by the heavy arm round his shoulders. He had the

feeling that O’Brien was his protector, that the pain was

something that came from outside, from some other source,

and that it was O’Brien who would save him from it.

‘You are a slow learner, Winston,’ said O’Brien gently.

‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing

what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes

they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once.

You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

He laid Winston down on the bed. The grip of his limbs

tightened again, but the pain had ebbed away and the

trembling had stopped, leaving him merely weak and cold.

O’Brien motioned with his head to the man in the white

coat, who had stood immobile throughout the proceedings.

The man in the white coat bent down and looked closely

into Winston’s eyes, felt his pulse, laid an ear against his

chest, tapped here and there, then he nodded to O’Brien.

‘Again,’ said O’Brien.

The pain flowed into Winston’s body. The needle must be

at seventy, seventy-five. He had shut his eyes this time. He

knew that the fingers were still there, and still four. All that

mattered was somehow to stay alive until the spasm was

over. He had ceased to notice whether he was crying out or

not. The pain lessened again. He opened his eyes. O’Brien

had drawn back the lever.

‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could.

I am trying to see five.’

‘Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or

really to see them?’

‘Really to see them.’

‘Again,’ said O’Brien.

Perhaps the needle was eighty—ninety. Winston could

not intermittently remember why the pain was happening.

Behind his screwed-up eyelids a forest of fingers seemed to

be moving in a sort of dance, weaving in and out, disappearing

behind one another and reappearing again. He was

trying to count them, he could not remember why. He knew

only that it was impossible to count them, and that this was

somehow due to the mysterious identity between five and

four. The pain died down again. When he opened his eyes

it was to find that he was still seeing the same thing. Innumerable

fingers, like moving trees, were still streaming

past in either direction, crossing and recrossing. He shut

his eyes again.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t know. You will kill me if you do that

again. Four, five, six—in all honesty I don’t know.’

‘Better,’ said O’Brien.

A needle slid into Winston’s arm. Almost in the same instant

a blissful, healing warmth spread all through his body.

The pain was already half-forgotten. He opened his eyes

and looked up gratefully at O’Brien. At sight of the heavy,

lined face, so ugly and so intelligent, his heart seemed to

turn over. If he could have moved he would have stretched

out a hand and laid it on O’Brien’s arm. He had never loved

him so deeply as at this moment, and not merely because

he had stopped the pain. The old feeling, that at bottom it

did not matter whether O’Brien was a friend or an enemy,

had come back. O’Brien was a person who could be talked

to. Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be

understood. O’Brien had tortured him to the edge of lunacy,

and in a little while, it was certain, he would send him

to his death. It made no difference. In some sense that went

deeper than friendship, they were intimates: somewhere or

other, although the actual words might never be spoken,

there was a place where they could meet and talk. O’Brien

was looking down at him with an expression which suggested

that the same thought might be in his own mind. When

he spoke it was in an easy, conversational tone.

‘Do you know where you are, Winston?’ he said.

‘I don’t know. I can guess. In the Ministry of Love.’

‘Do you know how long you have been here?’

‘I don’t know. Days, weeks, months—I think it is


‘And why do you imagine that we bring people to this


‘To make them confess.’

‘No, that is not the reason. Try again.’

‘To punish them.’

‘No!’ exclaimed O’Brien. His voice had changed extraordinarily,

and his face had suddenly become both stern and

animated. ‘No! Not merely to extract your confession, not to

punish you. Shall I tell you why we have brought you here?

To cure you! To make you sane! Will you understand, Winston,

that no one whom we bring to this place ever leaves

our hands uncured? We are not interested in those stupid

crimes that you have committed. The Party is not interested

in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not

merely destroy our enemies, we change them. Do you understand

what I mean by that?’

He was bending over Winston. His face looked enormous

because of its nearness, and hideously ugly because it was

seen from below. Moreover it was filled with a sort of exaltation,

a lunatic intensity. Again Winston’s heart shrank. If

it had been possible he would have cowered deeper into the

bed. He felt certain that O’Brien was about to twist the dial

out of sheer wantonness. At this moment, however, O’Brien

turned away. He took a pace or two up and down. Then he

continued less vehemently:

‘The first thing for you to understand is that in this place

there are no martyrdoms. You have read of the religious

persecutions of the past. In the Middle Ages there was the

Inquisitlon. It was a failure. It set out to eradicate heresy, and

ended by perpetuating it. For every heretic it burned at the

stake, thousands of others rose up. Why was that? Because

the Inquisition killed its enemies in the open, and killed

them while they were still unrepentant: in fact, it killed

them because they were unrepentant. Men were dying because

they would not abandon their true beliefs. Naturally

all the glory belonged to the victim and all the shame to the

Inquisitor who burned him. Later, in the twentieth century,

there were the totalitarians, as they were called. There were

the German Nazis and the Russian Communists. The Russians

persecuted heresy more cruelly than the Inquisition

had done. And they imagined that they had learned from

the mistakes of the past; they knew, at any rate, that one

must not make martyrs. Before they exposed their victims

to public trial, they deliberately set themselves to destroy

their dignity. They wore them down by torture and solitude

until they were despicable, cringing wretches, confessing

whatever was put into their mouths, covering themselves

with abuse, accusing and sheltering behind one another,

whimpering for mercy. And yet after only a few years the

same thing had happened over again. The dead men had

become martyrs and their degradation was forgotten. Once

again, why was it? In the first place, because the confessions

that they had made were obviously extorted and untrue. We

do not make mistakes of that kind. All the confessions that

are uttered here are true. We make them true. And above

all we do not allow the dead to rise up against us. You must

stop imagining that posterity will vindicate you, Winston.

Posterity will never hear of you. You will be lifted clean out

from the stream of history. We shall turn you into gas and

pour you into the stratosphere. Nothing will remain of you,

not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain. You

will be annihilated in the past as well as in the future. You

will never have existed.’

Then why bother to torture me? thought Winston, with a

momentary bitterness. O’Brien checked his step as though

Winston had uttered the thought aloud. His large ugly face

came nearer, with the eyes a little narrowed.

‘You are thinking,’ he said, ‘that since we intend to destroy

you utterly, so that nothing that you say or do can

make the smallest difference—in that case, why do we go to

the trouble of interrogating you first? That is what you were

thinking, was it not?’

‘Yes,’ said Winston.

O’Brien smiled slightly. ‘You are a flaw in the pattern,

Winston. You are a stain that must be wiped out. Did I not

tell you just now that we are different from the persecutors

of the past? We are not content with negative obedience, nor

even with the most abject submission. When finally you

surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not

destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists

us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture

his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all

illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance,

but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one

of ourselves before we kill him. It is intolerable to us that

an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world,

however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant

of death we cannot permit any deviation. In the old days the

heretic walked to the stake still a heretic, proclaiming his

heresy, exulting in it. Even the victim of the Russian purges

could carry rebellion locked up in his skull as he walked

down the passage waiting for the bullet. But we make the

brain perfect before we blow it out. The command of the old

despotisms was ‘Thou shalt not”. The command of the totalitarians

was ‘Thou shalt”. Our command is ‘THOU ART”.

No one whom we bring to this place ever stands out against

us. Everyone is washed clean. Even those three miserable

traitors in whose innocence you once believed—Jones, Aaronson,

and Rutherford—in the end we broke them down. I

took part in their interrogation myself. I saw them gradually

worn down, whimpering, groveling, weeping—and in

the end it was not with pain or fear, only with penitence.

By the time we had finished with them they were only the

shells of men. There was nothing left in them except sorrow

for what they had done, and love of Big Brother. It was

touching to see how they loved him. They begged to be shot

quickly, so that they could die while their minds were still


His voice had grown almost dreamy. The exaltation, the

lunatic enthusiasm, was still in his face. He is not pretending,

thought Winston, he is not a hypocrite, he believes

every word he says. What most oppressed him was the consciousness

of his own intellectual inferiority. He watched

the heavy yet graceful form strolling to and fro, in and out

of the range of his vision. O’Brien was a being in all ways

larger than himself. There was no idea that he had ever had,

or could have, that O’Brien had not long ago known, examined,

and rejected. His mind CONTAINED Winston’s

mind. But in that case how could it be true that O’Brien was

mad? It must be he, Winston, who was mad. O’Brien halted

and looked down at him. His voice had grown stern again.

‘Do not imagine that you will save yourself, Winston,

however completely you surrender to us. No one who has

once gone astray is ever spared. And even if we chose to let

you live out the natural term of your life, still you would

never escape from us. What happens to you here is for ever.

Understand that in advance. 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.’

He paused and signed to the man in the white coat.

Winston was aware of some heavy piece of apparatus being

pushed into place behind his head. O’Brien had sat down

beside the bed, so that his face was almost on a level with


‘Three thousand,’ he said, speaking over Winston’s head

to the man in the white coat.

Two soft pads, which felt slightly moist, clamped them32

selves against Winston’s temples. He quailed. There was

pain coming, a new kind of pain. O’Brien laid a hand reassuringly,

almost kindly, on his.

‘This time it will not hurt,’ he said. ‘Keep your eyes fixed

on mine.’

At this moment there was a devastating explosion, or what

seemed like an explosion, though it was not certain whether

there was any noise. There was undoubtedly a blinding flash

of light. Winston was not hurt, only prostrated. Although

he had already been lying on his back when the thing happened,

he had a curious feeling that he had been knocked

into that position. A terrific painless blow had flattened him

out. Also something had happened inside his head. As his

eyes regained their focus he remembered who he was, and

where he was, and recognized the face that was gazing into

his own; but somewhere or other there was a large patch

of emptiness, as though a piece had been taken out of his


‘It will not last,’ said O’Brien. ‘Look me in the eyes. What

country is Oceania at war with?’

Winston thought. He knew what was meant by Oceania

and that he himself was a citizen of Oceania. He also remembered

Eurasia and Eastasia; but who was at war with

whom he did not know. In fact he had not been aware that

there was any war.

‘I don’t remember.’

‘Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Do you remember that



‘Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Since the

beginning of your life, since the beginning of the Party,

since the beginning of history, the war has continued without

a break, always the same war. Do you remember that?’


‘Eleven years ago you created a legend about three men

who had been condemned to death for treachery. You pretended

that you had seen a piece of paper which proved

them innocent. No such piece of paper ever existed. You invented

it, and later you grew to believe in it. You remember

now the very moment at which you first invented it. Do you

remember that?’


‘Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw

five fingers. Do you remember that?’


O’Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the

thumb concealed.

‘There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?’


And he did see them, for a fleeting instant, before the

scenery of his mind changed. He saw five fingers, and there

was no deformity. Then everything was normal again, and

the old fear, the hatred, and the bewilderment came crowding

back again. But there had been a moment—he did not

know how long, thirty seconds, perhaps—of luminous certainty,

when each new suggestion of O’Brien’s had filled up

a patch of emptiness and become absolute truth, and when

two and two could have been three as easily as five, if that

were what was needed. It had faded but before O’Brien had

dropped his hand; but though he could not recapture it, he

could remember it, as one remembers a vivid experience at

some period of one’s life when one was in effect a different


‘You see now,’ said O’Brien, ‘that it is at any rate possible.’

‘Yes,’ said Winston.

O’Brien stood up with a satisfied air. Over to his left

Winston saw the man in the white coat break an ampoule

and draw back the plunger of a syringe. O’Brien turned to

Winston with a smile. In almost the old manner he resettled

his spectacles on his nose.

‘Do you remember writing in your diary,’ he said, ‘that

it did not matter whether I was a friend or an enemy, since

I was at least a person who understood you and could be

talked to? You were right. I enjoy talking to you. Your mind

appeals to me. It resembles my own mind except that you

happen to be insane. Before we bring the session to an end

you can ask me a few questions, if you choose.’

‘Any question I like?’

‘Anything.’ He saw that Winston’s eyes were upon the

dial. ‘It is switched off. What is your first question?’

‘What have you done with Julia?’ said Winston.

O’Brien smiled again. ‘She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately—

unreservedly. I have seldom seen anyone come

over to us so promptly. You would hardly recognize her if

you saw her. All her rebelliousness, her deceit, her folly, her

dirty-mindedness—everything has been burned out of her.

It was a perfect conversion, a textbook case.’

‘You tortured her?’

O’Brien left this unanswered. ‘Next question,’ he said.

‘Does Big Brother exist?’

‘Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the

embodiment of the Party.’

‘Does he exist in the same way as I exist?’

‘You do not exist,’ said O’Brien.

Once again the sense of helplessness assailed him. He

knew, or he could imagine, the arguments which proved

his own nonexistence; but they were nonsense, they were

only a play on words. Did not the statement, ‘You do not exist’,

contain a logical absurdity? But what use was it to say

so? His mind shrivelled as he thought of the unanswerable,

mad arguments with which O’Brien would demolish him.

‘I think I exist,’ he said wearily. ‘I am conscious of my

own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and

legs. I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid

object can occupy the same point simultaneously. In that

sense, does Big Brother exist?’

‘It is of no importance. He exists.’

‘Will Big Brother ever die?’

‘Of course not. How could he die? Next question.’

‘Does the Brotherhood exist?’

‘That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set

you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to

be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the

answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it

will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.’

Winston lay silent. His breast rose and fell a little faster.

He still had not asked the question that had come into his

mind the first. He had got to ask it, and yet it was as though

his tongue would not utter it. There was a trace of amusement

in O’Brien’s face. Even his spectacles seemed to wear

an ironical gleam. He knows, thought Winston suddenly,

he knows what I am going to ask! At the thought the words

burst out of him:

‘What is in Room 101?’

The expression on O’Brien’s face did not change. He answered


‘You know what is in Room 101, Winston. Everyone

knows what is in Room 101.’

He raised a finger to the man in the white coat. Evidently

the session was at an end. A needle jerked into Winston’s

arm. He sank almost instantly into deep sleep.

Chapter 3

‘There are three stages in your reintegration,’ said O’Brien.

‘There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance.

It is time for you to enter upon the second stage.’

As always, Winston was lying flat on his back. But of late

his bonds were looser. They still held him to the bed, but

he could move his knees a little and could turn his head

from side to side and raise his arms from the elbow. The

dial, also, had grown to be less of a terror. He could evade its

pangs if he was quick-witted enough: it was chiefly when he

showed stupidity that O’Brien pulled the lever. Sometimes

they got through a whole session without use of the dial.

He could not remember how many sessions there had been.

The whole process seemed to stretch out over a long, indefinite

time—weeks, possibly—and the intervals between the

sessions might sometimes have been days, sometimes only

an hour or two.

‘As you lie there,’ said O’Brien, ‘you have often wondered—

you have even asked me—why the Ministry of Love

should expend so much time and trouble on you. And when

you were free you were puzzled by what was essentially the

same question. You could grasp the mechanics of the Society

you lived in, but not its underlying motives. Do you

remember writing in your diary, ‘I understand HOW: I do

not understand WHY’? It was when you thought about

‘why’ that you doubted your own sanity. You have read THE

BOOK, Goldstein’s book, or parts of it, at least. Did it tell

you anything that you did not know already?’

‘You have read it?’ said Winston.

‘I wrote it. That is to say, I collaborated in writing it. No

book is produced individually, as you know.’

‘Is it true, what it says?’

‘As description, yes. The programme it sets forth is nonsense.

The secret accumulation of knowledge—a gradual

spread of enlightenment—ultimately a proletarian rebellion—

the overthrow of the Party. You foresaw yourself that

that was what it would say. It is all nonsense. The proletarians

will never revolt, not in a thousand years or a million.

They cannot. I do not have to tell you the reason: you know

it already. If you have ever cherished any dreams of violent

insurrection, you must abandon them. There is no way in

which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is

for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.’

He came closer to the bed. ‘For ever!’ he repeated. ‘And

now let us get back to the question of ‘how’ and ‘why”. You

understand well enough HOW the Party maintains itself

in power. Now tell me WHY we cling to power. What is

our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,’ he

added as Winston remained silent.

Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment

or two. A feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him.

The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into

O’Brien’s face. He 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.

The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing

was that when O’Brien said this he would believe it. You

could see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand

times better than Winston he knew what the world

was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings

lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept

them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it

made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose.

What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who

is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments

a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly.

‘You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves,

and therefore——’

He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot

through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial

up to thirty-five.

‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should

know better than to say a thing like that.’

He pulled the lever back and continued:

‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not

interested in the good of others; we are interested solely

in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness:

only power, pure power. What pure power means you will

understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies

of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All

the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards

and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian

Communists came very close to us in their methods, but

they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.

They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had

seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that

just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings

would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know

that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing

it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not

establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution;

one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

The object of persecution is persecution. The object of

torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you

begin to understand me?’

Winston was struck, as he had been struck before, by the

tiredness of O’Brien’s face. It was strong and fleshy and brutal,

it was full of intelligence and a sort of controlled passion

before which he felt himself helpless; but it was tired. There

were pouches under the eyes, the skin sagged from the

cheekbones. O’Brien leaned over him, deliberately bringing

the worn face nearer.

‘You are thinking,’ he said, ‘that my face is old and tired.

You are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even

able to prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand,

Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The

weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism. Do you

die when you cut your fingernails?’

He turned away from the bed and began strolling up and

down again, one hand in his pocket.

‘We are the priests of power,’ he said. ‘God is power. But

at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned.

It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means.

The first thing you must realize is that power is collective.

The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an

individual. You know the Party slogan: ‘Freedom is Slavery”.

Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is

freedom. Alone—free—the human being is always defeated.

It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die,

which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete,

utter submission, if he can escape from his identity,

if he can merge himself in the Party so that he IS the Party,

then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for

you to realize is that power is power over human beings.

Over the body—but, above all, over the mind. Power over

matter—external reality, as you would call it—is not important.

Already our control over matter is absolute.’

For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent

effort to raise himself into a sitting position, and merely

succeeded in wrenching his body painfully.

‘But how can you control matter?’ he burst out. ‘You don’t

even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are

disease, pain, death——’

O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘We

control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside

the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is

nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation—anything.

I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish

to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You

must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the

laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.’

‘But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet.

What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered

them yet.’

‘Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us.

And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can

shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.’

‘But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is

tiny—helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions

of years the earth was uninhabited.’

‘Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How

could it be older? Nothing exists except through human


‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals—

mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which

lived here long before man was ever heard of.’

‘Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not.

Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man

there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end,

there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.’

‘But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars!

Some of them are a million light-years away. They are out of

our reach for ever.’

‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are

bits of fire a few kilometers away. We could reach them if we

wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre

of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’

Winston made another convulsive movement. This time

he did not say anything. O’Brien continued as though answering

a spoken objection:

‘For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When

we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often

find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round

the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometers

away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond

us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be

near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose

our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten


Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said,

the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he

knew, he KNEW, that he was in the right. The belief that

nothing exists outside your own mind—surely there must

be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not

been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name

for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the

corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.

‘I told you, Winston,’ he said, ‘that metaphysics is not

your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is

solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective

solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in

fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression,’ he added

in a different tone. ‘The real power, the power we have to

fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over

men.’ He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air

of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: ‘How does

one man assert his power over another, Winston?’

Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.

‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough.

Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying

your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain

and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces

and putting them together again in new shapes of your own

choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we

are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic

Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear

and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being

trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but MORE

merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be

progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed

that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded

upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except

fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything

else we shall destroy—everything. Already we are breaking

down the habits of thought which have survived from

before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child

and parent, and between man and man, and between man

and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend

any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and

no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at

birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be

eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the

renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our

neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty,

except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love,

except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except

the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will

be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent

we shall have no more need of science. There will be no

distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no

curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing

pleasures will be destroyed. 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—for ever.’

He paused as though he expected Winston to speak.

Winston had tried to shrink back into the surface of the bed

again. He could not say anything. His heart seemed to be

frozen. O’Brien went on:

‘And remember that it is for ever. The face will always

be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society,

will always be there, so that he can be defeated and

humiliated over again. Everything that you have undergone

since you have been in our hands—all that will continue,

and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests, the tortures,

the executions, the disappearances will never cease.

It will be a world of terror as much as a world of triumph.

The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant:

the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism. Goldstein

and his heresies will live for ever. Every day, at every

moment, they will be defeated, discredited, ridiculed, spat

upon and yet they will always survive. This drama that I

have played out with you during seven years will be played

out over and over again generation after generation, always

in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our

mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible—and

in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to

our feet of his own accord. That is the world that we are preparing,

Winston. A world of victory after victory, triumph

after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing,

pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can

see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end

you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome

it, become part of it.’

Winston had recovered himself sufficiently to speak.

‘You can’t!’ he said weakly.

‘What do you mean by that remark, Winston?’

‘You could not create such a world as you have just described.

It is a dream. It is impossible.’


‘It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred

and cruelty. It would never endure.’

‘Why not?’

‘It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would

commit suicide.’

‘Nonsense. You are under the impression that hatred is

more exhausting than love. Why should it be? And if it were,

what difference would that make? Suppose that we choose

to wear ourselves out faster. Suppose that we quicken the

tempo of human life till men are senile at thirty. Still what

difference would it make? Can you not understand that the

death of the individual is not death? The party is immortal.’

As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness.

Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his

disagreement O’Brien would twist the dial again. And yet

he could not keep silent. Feebly, without arguments, with

nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of

what O’Brien had said, he returned to the attack.

‘I don’t know—I don’t care. Somehow you will fail. Something

will defeat you. Life will defeat you.’

‘We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining

that there is something called human nature which

will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But

we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. Or

perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians

or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out

of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity

is the Party. The others are outside—irrelevant.’

‘I don’t care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later

they will see you for what you are, and then they will tear

you to pieces.’

‘Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any

reason why it should?’

‘No. I believe it. I KNOW that you will fail. There is

something in the universe—I don’t know, some spirit, some

principle—that you will never overcome.’

‘Do you believe in God, Winston?’


‘Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?’

‘I don’t know. The spirit of Man.’

‘And do you consider yourself a man?’


‘If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your

kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand

that you are ALONE? You are outside history, you are nonexistent.’

His manner changed and he said more harshly:

‘And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our

lies and our cruelty?’

‘Yes, I consider myself superior.’

O’Brien did not speak. Two other voices were speaking.

After a moment Winston recognized one of them as his

own. It was a sound-track of the conversation he had had

with O’Brien, on the night when he had enrolled himself in

the Brotherhood. He heard himself promising to lie, to steal,

to forge, to murder, to encourage drug-taking and prostitution,

to disseminate venereal diseases, to throw vitriol

in a child’s face. O’Brien made a small impatient gesture,

as though to say that the demonstration was hardly worth

making. Then he turned a switch and the voices stopped.

‘Get up from that bed,’ he said.

The bonds had loosened themselves. Winston lowered

himself to the floor and stood up unsteadily.

‘You are the last man,’ said O’Brien. ‘You are the guardian

of the human spirit. You shall see yourself as you are.

Take off your clothes.’

Winston undid the bit of string that held his overalls together.

The zip fastener had long since been wrenched out of

them. He could not remember whether at any time since his

arrest he had taken off all his clothes at one time. Beneath

the overalls his body was looped with filthy yellowish rags,

just recognizable as the remnants of underclothes. As he

slid them to the ground he saw that there was a three-sided

mirror at the far end of the room. He approached it, then

stopped short. An involuntary cry had broken out of him.

‘Go on,’ said O’Brien. ‘Stand between the wings of the

mirror. You shall see the side view as well.’

He had stopped because he was frightened. A bowed,

grey-colored, skeleton-like thing was coming towards

him. Its actual appearance was frightening, and not merely

the fact that he knew it to be himself. He moved closer to

the glass. The creature’s face seemed to be protruded, because

of its bent carriage. A forlorn, jailbird’s face with a

nobby forehead running back into a bald scalp, a crooked

nose, and battered-looking cheekbones above which his

eyes were fierce and watchful. The cheeks were seamed, the

mouth had a drawn-in look. Certainly it was his own face,

but it seemed to him that it had changed more than he had

changed inside. The emotions it registered would be different

from the ones he felt. He had gone partially bald. For the

first moment he had thought that he had gone grey as well,

but it was only the scalp that was grey. Except for his hands

and a circle of his face, his body was grey all over with ancient,

ingrained dirt. Here and there under the dirt there

were the red scars of wounds, and near the ankle the varicose

ulcer was an inflamed mass with flakes of skin peeling

off it. But the truly frightening thing was the emaciation of

his body. The barrel of the ribs was as narrow as that of a

skeleton: the legs had shrunk so that the knees were thicker

than the thighs. He saw now what O’Brien had meant about

seeing the side view. The curvature of the spine was astonishing.

The thin shoulders were hunched forward so as to

make a cavity of the chest, the scraggy neck seemed to be

bending double under the weight of the skull. At a guess he

would have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering

from some malignant disease.

‘You have thought sometimes,’ said O’Brien, ‘that my

face—the face of a member of the Inner Party—looks old

and worn. What do you think of your own face?’

He seized Winston’s shoulder and spun him round so

that he was facing him.

‘Look at the condition you are in!’ he said. ‘Look at this

filthy grime all over your body. Look at the dirt between

your toes. Look at that disgusting running sore on your leg.

Do you know that you stink like a goat? Probably you have

ceased to notice it. Look at your emaciation. Do you see? I

can make my thumb and forefinger meet round your bicep.

I could snap your neck like a carrot. Do you know that you

have lost twenty-five kilograms since you have been in our

hands? Even your hair is coming out in handfuls. Look!’ He

plucked at Winston’s head and brought away a tuft of hair.

‘Open your mouth. Nine, ten, eleven teeth left. How many

had you when you came to us? And the few you have left are

dropping out of your head. Look here!’

He seized one of Winston’s remaining front teeth between

his powerful thumb and forefinger. A twinge of pain

shot through Winston’s jaw. O’Brien had wrenched the

loose tooth out by the roots. He tossed it across the cell.

‘You are rotting away,’ he said; ‘you are falling to pieces.

What are you? A bag of filth. Now turn around and look

into that mirror again. Do you see that thing facing you?

That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity.

Now put your clothes on again.’

Winston began to dress himself with slow stiff movements.

Until now he had not seemed to notice how thin and

weak he was. Only one thought stirred in his mind: that he

must have been in this place longer than he had imagined.

Then suddenly as he fixed the miserable rags round himself

a feeling of pity for his ruined body overcame him. Before

he knew what he was doing he had collapsed on to a small

stool that stood beside the bed and burst into tears. He was

aware of his ugliness, his gracelessness, a bundle of bones in

filthy underclothes sitting weeping in the harsh white light:

but he could not stop himself. O’Brien laid a hand on his

shoulder, almost kindly.

‘It will not last for ever,’ he said. ‘You can escape from it

whenever you choose. Everything depends on yourself.’

‘You did it!’ sobbed Winston. ‘You reduced me to this


‘No, Winston, you reduced yourself to it. This is what you

accepted when you set yourself up against the Party. It was

all contained in that first act. Nothing has happened that

you did not foresee.’

He paused, and then went on:

‘We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you up.

You have seen what your body is like. Your mind is in the

same state. I do not think there can be much pride left in

you. You have been kicked and flogged and insulted, you

have screamed with pain, you have rolled on the floor in

your own blood and vomit. You have whimpered for mercy,

you have betrayed everybody and everything. Can you think

of a single degradation that has not happened to you?’

Winston had stopped weeping, though the tears were

still oozing out of his eyes. He looked up at O’Brien.

‘I have not betrayed Julia,’ he said.

O’Brien looked down at him thoughtfully. ‘No,’ he said;

‘no; that is perfectly true. You have not betrayed Julia.’

The peculiar reverence for O’Brien, which nothing

seemed able to destroy, flooded Winston’s heart again. How

intelligent, he thought, how intelligent! Never did O’Brien

fail to understand what was said to him. Anyone else on

earth would have answered promptly that he HAD betrayed

Julia. For what was there that they had not screwed

out of him under the torture? He had told them everything

he knew about her, her habits, her character, her past life;

he had confessed in the most trivial detail everything that

had happened at their meetings, all that he had said to her

and she to him, their black-market meals, their adulteries,

their vague plottings against the Party—everything. And

yet, in the sense in which he intended the word, he had not

betrayed her. He had not stopped loving her; his feelings towards

her had remained the same. O’Brien had seen what

he meant without the need for explanation.

‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘how soon will they shoot me?’

‘It might be a long time,’ said O’Brien. ‘You are a difficult

case. But don’t give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or

later. In the end we shall shoot you.’

Chapter 4

He was much better. He was growing fatter and stronger

every day, if it was proper to speak of days.

The white light and the humming sound were the same

as ever, but the cell was a little more comfortable than the

others he had been in. There was a pillow and a mattress on

the plank bed, and a stool to sit on. They had given him a

bath, and they allowed him to wash himself fairly frequently

in a tin basin. They even gave him warm water to wash

with. They had given him new underclothes and a clean suit

of overalls. They had dressed his varicose ulcer with soothing

ointment. They had pulled out the remnants of his teeth

and given him a new set of dentures.

Weeks or months must have passed. It would have been

possible now to keep count of the passage of time, if he had

felt any interest in doing so, since he was being fed at what

appeared to be regular intervals. He was getting, he judged,

three meals in the twenty-four hours; sometimes he wondered

dimly whether he was getting them by night or by day.

The food was surprisingly good, with meat at every third

meal. Once there was even a packet of cigarettes. He had

no matches, but the never-speaking guard who brought his

food would give him a light. The first time he tried to smoke

it made him sick, but he persevered, and spun the packet out

for a long time, smoking half a cigarette after each meal.

They had given him a white slate with a stump of pencil

tied to the corner. At first he made no use of it. Even when

he was awake he was completely torpid. Often he would lie

from one meal to the next almost without stirring, sometimes

asleep, sometimes waking into vague reveries in which

it was too much trouble to open his eyes. He had long grown

used to sleeping with a strong light on his face. It seemed

to make no difference, except that one’s dreams were more

coherent. He dreamed a great deal all through this time,

and they were always happy dreams. He was in the Golden

Country, or he was sitting among enormous glorious, sunlit

ruins, with his mother, with Julia, with O’Brien—not doing

anything, merely sitting in the sun, talking of peaceful

things. Such thoughts as he had when he was awake were

mostly about his dreams. He seemed to have lost the power

of intellectual effort, now that the stimulus of pain had been

removed. He was not bored, he had no desire for conversation

or distraction. Merely to be alone, not to be beaten or

questioned, to have enough to eat, and to be clean all over,

was completely satisfying.

By degrees he came to spend less time in sleep, but he still

felt no impulse to get off the bed. All he cared for was to lie

quiet and feel the strength gathering in his body. He would

finger himself here and there, trying to make sure that it

was not an illusion that his muscles were growing rounder

and his skin tauter. Finally it was established beyond a

doubt that he was growing fatter; his thighs were now definitely

thicker than his knees. After that, reluctantly at first,

he began exercising himself regularly. In a little while he

could walk three kilometers, measured by pacing the cell,

and his bowed shoulders were growing straighter. He attempted

more elaborate exercises, and was astonished and

humiliated to find what things he could not do. He could

not move out of a walk, he could not hold his stool out at

arm’s length, he could not stand on one leg without falling

over. He squatted down on his heels, and found that with

agonizing pains in thigh and calf he could just lift himself

to a standing position. He lay flat on his belly and tried to

lift his weight by his hands. It was hopeless, he could not

raise himself a centimeter. But after a few more days—a few

more mealtimes—even that feat was accomplished. A time

came when he could do it six times running. He began to

grow actually proud of his body, and to cherish an intermittent

belief that his face also was growing back to normal.

Only when he chanced to put his hand on his bald scalp did

he remember the seamed, ruined face that had looked back

at him out of the mirror.

His mind grew more active. He sat down on the plank

bed, his back against the wall and the slate on his knees,

and set to work deliberately at the task of re-educating himself.

He had capitulated, that was agreed. In reality, as he saw

now, he had been ready to capitulate long before he had

taken the decision. From the moment when he was inside

the Ministry of Love—and yes, even during those minutes

when he and Julia had stood helpless while the iron voice

from the telescreen told them what to do—he had grasped

the frivolity, the shallowness of his attempt to set himself

up against the power of the Party. He knew now that for

seven years the Thought Police had watched him like a beetle

under a magnifying glass. There was no physical act, no

word spoken aloud, that they had not noticed, no train of

thought that they had not been able to infer. Even the speck

of whitish dust on the cover of his diary they had carefully

replaced. They had played sound-tracks to him, shown

him photographs. Some of them were photographs of Julia

and himself. Yes, even… He could not fight against the Party

any longer. Besides, the Party was in the right. It must be

so; how could the immortal, collective brain be mistaken?

By what external standard could you check its judgements?

Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning

to think as they thought. Only——!

The pencil felt thick and awkward in his fingers. He began

to write down the thoughts that came into his head. He

wrote first in large clumsy capitals:


Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it:


But then there came a sort of check. His mind, as though

shying away from something, seemed unable to concentrate.

He knew that he knew what came next, but for the

moment he could not recall it. When he did recall it, it was

only by consciously reasoning out what it must be: it did not

come of its own accord. He wrote:


He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past

never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia.

Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. Jones, Aaronson,

and Rutherford were guilty of the crimes they were

charged with. He had never seen the photograph that disproved

their guilt. It had never existed, he had invented it.

He remembered remembering contrary things, but those

were false memories, products of self-deception. How easy it

all was! Only surrender, and everything else followed. It was

like swimming against a current that swept you backwards

however hard you struggled, and then suddenly deciding to

turn round and go with the current instead of opposing it.

Nothing had changed except your own attitude: the predestined

thing happened in any case. He hardly knew why he

had ever rebelled. Everything was easy, except——!

Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature

were nonsense. The law of gravity was nonsense. ‘If I

wished,’ O’Brien had said, ‘I could float off this floor like

a soap bubble.’ Winston worked it out. ‘If he THINKS he

floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously THINK I see

him do it, then the thing happens.’ Suddenly, like a lump

of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the

thought burst into his mind: ‘It doesn’t really happen. We

imagine it. It is hallucination.’ He pushed the thought under

instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that

somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world

where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a

world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through

our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever

happens in all minds, truly happens.

He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he

was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless,

that it ought never to have occurred to him. The

mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous

thought presented itself. The process should be automatic,

instinctive. CRIMESTOP, they called it in Newspeak.

He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented

himself with propositions—’the Party says the earth

is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’—and

trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments

that contradicted them. It was not easy. It needed

great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical

problems raised, for instance, by such a statement

as ‘two and two make five’ were beyond his intellectual

grasp. It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability

at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and

at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors.

Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult

to attain.

All the while, with one part of his mind, he wondered

how soon they would shoot him. ‘Everything depends on

yourself,’ O’Brien had said; but he knew that there was no

conscious act by which he could bring it nearer. It might

be ten minutes hence, or ten years. They might keep him

for years in solitary confinement, they might send him to

a labor-camp, they might release him for a while, as they

sometimes did. It was perfectly possible that before he was

shot the whole drama of his arrest and interrogation would

be enacted all over again. The one certain thing was that

death never came at an expected moment. The tradition—

the unspoken tradition: somehow you knew it, though you

never heard it said—was that they shot you from behind;

always in the back of the head, without warning, as you

walked down a corridor from cell to cell.

One day—but ‘one day’ was not the right expression; just

as probably it was in the middle of the night: once—he fell

into a strange, blissful reverie. He was walking down the

corridor, waiting for the bullet. He knew that it was coming

in another moment. Everything was settled, smoothed

out, reconciled. There were no more doubts, no more arguments,

no more pain, no more fear. His body was healthy

and strong. He walked easily, with a joy of movement and

with a feeling of walking in sunlight. He was not any longer

in the narrow white corridors in the Ministry of Love, he

was in the enormous sunlit passage, a kilometer wide, down

which he had seemed to walk in the delirium induced by

drugs. He was in the Golden Country, following the foottrack

across the old rabbit-cropped pasture. He could feel

the short springy turf under his feet and the gentle sunshine

on his face. At the edge of the field were the elm trees,

faintly stirring, and somewhere beyond that was the stream

where the dace lay in the green pools under the willows.

Suddenly he started up with a shock of horror. The

sweat broke out on his backbone. He had heard himself cry


‘Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!’

For a moment he had had an overwhelming hallucination

of her presence. She had seemed to be not merely with

him, but inside him. It was as though she had got into the

texture of his skin. In that moment he had loved her far

more than he had ever done when they were together and

free. Also he knew that somewhere or other she was still

alive and needed his help.

He lay back on the bed and tried to compose himself.

What had he done? How many years had he added to his

servitude by that moment of weakness?

In another moment he would hear the tramp of boots

outside. They could not let such an outburst go unpunished.

They would know now, if they had not known before, that

he was breaking the agreement he had made with them. He

obeyed the Party, but he still hated the Party. In the old

days he had hidden a heretical mind beneath an appearance

of conformity. Now he had retreated a step further:

in the mind he had surrendered, but he had hoped to keep

the inner heart inviolate. He knew that he was in the wrong,

but he preferred to be in the wrong. They would understand

that—O’Brien would understand it. It was all confessed in

that single foolish cry.

He would have to start all over again. It might take years.

He ran a hand over his face, trying to familiarize himself

with the new shape. There were deep furrows in the cheeks,

the cheekbones felt sharp, the nose flattened. Besides, since

last seeing himself in the glass he had been given a complete

new set of teeth. It was not easy to preserve inscrutability

when you did not know what your face looked like. In

any case, mere control of the features was not enough. For

the first time he perceived that if you want to keep a secret

you must also hide it from yourself. You must know all the

while that it is there, but until it is needed you must never let

it emerge into your consciousness in any shape that could

be given a name. From now onwards he must not only think

right; he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he

must keep his hatred locked up inside him like a ball of

matter which was part of himself and yet unconnected with

the rest of him, a kind of cyst.

One day they would decide to shoot him. You could not

tell when it would happen, but a few seconds beforehand

it should be possible to guess. It was always from behind,

walking down a corridor. Ten seconds would be enough. In

that time the world inside him could turn over. And then

suddenly, without a word uttered, without a check in his

step, without the changing of a line in his face—suddenly

the camouflage would be down and bang! would go the batteries

of his hatred. Hatred would fill him like an enormous

roaring flame. And almost in the same instant bang! would

go the bullet, too late, or too early. They would have blown

his brain to pieces before they could reclaim it. The heretical

thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their

reach for ever. They would have blown a hole in their own

perfection. To die hating them, that was freedom.

He shut his eyes. It was more difficult than accepting

an intellectual discipline. It was a question of degrading

himself, mutilating himself. He had got to plunge into the

filthiest of filth. What was the most horrible, sickening thing

of all? He thought of Big Brother. The enormous face (because

of constantly seeing it on posters he always thought

of it as being a meter wide), with its heavy black moustache

and the eyes that followed you to and fro, seemed to float

into his mind of its own accord. What were his true feelings

towards Big Brother?

There was a heavy tramp of boots in the passage. The

steel door swung open with a clang. O’Brien walked into

the cell. Behind him were the waxen-faced officer and the

black-uniformed guards.

‘Get up,’ said O’Brien. ‘Come here.’

Winston stood opposite him. O’Brien took Winston’s

shoulders between his strong hands and looked at him


‘You have had thoughts of deceiving me,’ he said. ‘That

was stupid. Stand up straighter. Look me in the face.’

He paused, and went on in a gentler tone:

‘You are improving. Intellectually there is very little

wrong with you. It is only emotionally that you have failed

to make progress. Tell me, Winston—and remember, no

lies: you know that I am always able to detect a lie—tell me,

what are your true feelings towards Big Brother?’

‘I hate him.’

‘You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you

to take the last step. You must love Big Brother. It is not

enough to obey him: you must love him.’

He released Winston with a little push towards the


‘Room 101,’ he said.

Chapter 5

At each stage of his imprisonment he had known, or

seemed to know, whereabouts he was in the windowless

building. Possibly there were slight differences in the air

pressure. The cells where the guards had beaten him were

below ground level. The room where he had been interrogated

by O’Brien was high up near the roof. This place was

many meters underground, as deep down as it was possible

to go.

It was bigger than most of the cells he had been in. But

he hardly noticed his surroundings. All he noticed was that

there were two small tables straight in front of him, each

covered with green baize. One was only a meter or two

from him, the other was further away, near the door. He

was strapped upright in a chair, so tightly that he could

move nothing, not even his head. A sort of pad gripped his

head from behind, forcing him to look straight in front of


For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and

O’Brien came in.

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room

101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone

knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing

in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying some35

thing made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set

it down on the further table. Because of the position in

which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what

the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from

individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by

fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths.

There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even


He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a

better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire

cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the

front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask,

with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or

four meters away from him, he could see that the cage was

divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there

was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world

happens to be rats.’

A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain

what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his

first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of

the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into

him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.

‘You can’t do that!’ he cried out in a high cracked voice.

‘You couldn’t, you couldn’t! It’s impossible.’

‘Do you remember,’ said O’Brien, ‘the moment of panic

that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of

blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears.

There was something terrible on the other side of the wall.

You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag

it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side

of the wall.’

‘O’Brien!’ said Winston, making an effort to control his

voice. ‘You know this is not necessary. What is it that you

want me to do?’

O’Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was

in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected.

He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were

addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston’s back.

‘By itself,’ he said, ‘pain is not always enough. There

are occasions when a human being will stand out against

pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is

something unendurable—something that cannot be contemplated.

Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you

are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a

rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly

to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which

cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you,

they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you

cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what

is required of you.’

‘But what is it, what is it? How can I do it if I don’t know

what it is?’

O’Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the

nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth.

Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the

feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle

of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight,

across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances.

Yet the cage with the rats was not two meters away

from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age

when a rat’s muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown

instead of grey.

‘The rat,’ said O’Brien, still addressing his invisible audience,

‘although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of

that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the

poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare

not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes.

The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time

they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying

people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing

when a human being is helpless.’

There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed

to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting; they

were trying to get at each other through the partition. He

heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to

come from outside himself.

O’Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed

something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made

a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was

hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably.

O’Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a

meter from Winston’s face.

‘I have pressed the first lever,’ said O’Brien. ‘You understand

the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over

your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever,

the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will

shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap

through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore

straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes

they burrow through the cheeks and devour the


The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a

succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in

the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his

panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left—to

think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odor of

the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion

of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness.

Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a

screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching

an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself.

He must interpose another human being, the BODY of another

human being, between himself and the rats.

The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out

the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of

hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming

now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an

old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink

hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston

could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black

panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

‘It was a common punishment in Imperial China,’ said

O’Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his

cheek. And then—no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny

fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had

suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just

ONE person to whom he could transfer his punishment—

ONE body that he could thrust between himself and the

rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care

what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones.

Not me! Julia! Not me!’

He was falling backwards, into enormous depths, away

from the rats. He was still strapped in the chair, but he had

fallen through the floor, through the walls of the building,

through the earth, through the oceans, through the

atmosphere, into outer space, into the gulfs between the

stars—always away, away, away from the rats. He was light

years distant, but O’Brien was still standing at his side.

There was still the cold touch of wire against his cheek. But

through the darkness that enveloped him he heard another

metallic click, and knew that the cage door had clicked shut

and not open.

Chapter 6

The Chestnut Tree was almost empty. A ray of sunlight

slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It

was the lonely hour of fifteen. A tinny music trickled from

the telescreens.

Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty

glass. Now and again he glanced up at a vast face which eyed

him from the opposite wall. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

YOU, the caption said. Unbidden, a waiter came and

filled his glass up with Victory Gin, shaking into it a few

drops from another bottle with a quill through the cork. It

was saccharine flavored with cloves, the speciality of the

cafe.Winston was listening to the telescreen. At present only

music was coming out of it, but there was a possibility that

at any moment there might be a special bulletin from the

Ministry of Peace. The news from the African front was disquieting

in the extreme. On and off he had been worrying

about it all day. A Eurasian army (Oceania was at war with

Eurasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia) was

moving southward at terrifying speed. The mid-day bulletin

had not mentioned any definite area, but it was probable

that already the mouth of the Congo was a battlefield. Brazzaville

and Leopoldville were in danger. One did not have

to look at the map to see what it meant. It was not merely

a question of losing Central Africa: for the first time in the

whole war, the territory of Oceania itself was menaced.

A violent emotion, not fear exactly but a sort of undifferentiated

excitement, flared up in him, then faded again.

He stopped thinking about the war. In these days he could

never fix his mind on any one subject for more than a few

moments at a time. He picked up his glass and drained it

at a gulp. As always, the gin made him shudder and even

retch slightly. The stuff was horrible. The cloves and saccharine,

themselves disgusting enough in their sickly way,

could not disguise the flat oily smell; and what was worst

of all was that the smell of gin, which dwelt with him night

and day, was inextricably mixed up in his mind with the

smell of those——

He never named them, even in his thoughts, and so

far as it was possible he never visualized them. They were

something that he was half-aware of, hovering close to his

face, a smell that clung to his nostrils. As the gin rose in

him he belched through purple lips. He had grown fatter

since they released him, and had regained his old color—

indeed, more than regained it. His features had thickened,

the skin on nose and cheekbones was coarsely red, even

the bald scalp was too deep a pink. A waiter, again unbidden,

brought the chessboard and the current issue of ‘The

Times’, with the page turned down at the chess problem.

Then, seeing that Winston’s glass was empty, he brought the

gin bottle and filled it. There was no need to give orders.

They knew his habits. The chessboard was always waiting

for him, his corner table was always reserved; even when

the place was full he had it to himself, since nobody cared

to be seen sitting too close to him. He never even bothered

to count his drinks. At irregular intervals they presented

him with a dirty slip of paper which they said was the bill,

but he had the impression that they always undercharged

him. It would have made no difference if it had been the

other way about. He had always plenty of money nowadays.

He even had a job, a sinecure, more highly-paid than his old

job had been.

The music from the telescreen stopped and a voice took

over. Winston raised his head to listen. No bulletins from

the front, however. It was merely a brief announcement

from the Ministry of Plenty. In the preceding quarter, it appeared,

the Tenth Three-Year Plan’s quota for bootlaces had

been overfulfilled by 98 per cent.

He examined the chess problem and set out the pieces. It

was a tricky ending, involving a couple of knights. ‘White to

play and mate in two moves.’ Winston looked up at the portrait

of Big Brother. White always mates, he thought with a

sort of cloudy mysticism. Always, without exception, it is so

arranged. In no chess problem since the beginning of the

world has black ever won. Did it not symbolize the eternal,

unvarying triumph of Good over Evil? The huge face gazed

back at him, full of calm power. White always mates.

The voice from the telescreen paused and added in a different

and much graver tone: ‘You are warned to stand by

for an important announcement at fifteen-thirty. Fifteenthirty!

This is news of the highest importance. Take care

not to miss it. Fifteen-thirty!’ The tinkling music struck up


Winston’s heart stirred. That was the bulletin from the

front; instinct told him that it was bad news that was coming.

All day, with little spurts of excitement, the thought

of a smashing defeat in Africa had been in and out of his

mind. He seemed actually to see the Eurasian army swarming

across the never-broken frontier and pouring down

into the tip of Africa like a column of ants. Why had it not

been possible to outflank them in some way? The outline of

the West African coast stood out vividly in his mind. He

picked up the white knight and moved it across the board.

THERE was the proper spot. Even while he saw the black

horde racing southward he saw another force, mysteriously

assembled, suddenly planted in their rear, cutting their comunications

by land and sea. He felt that by willing it he

was bringing that other force into existence. But it was necessary

to act quickly. If they could get control of the whole

of Africa, if they had airfields and submarine bases at the

Cape, it would cut Oceania in two. It might mean anything:

defeat, breakdown, the redivision of the world, the destruction

of the Party! He drew a deep breath. An extraordinary

medley of feeling—but it was not a medley, exactly; rather it

was successive layers of feeling, in which one could not say

which layer was undermost—struggled inside him.

The spasm passed. He put the white knight back in its

place, but for the moment he could not settle down to serious

study of the chess problem. His thoughts wandered

again. Almost unconsciously he traced with his finger in

the dust on the table:


‘They can’t get inside you,’ she had said. But they could

get inside you. ‘What happens to you here is FOR EVER,’

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.

He had seen her; he had even spoken to her. There was

no danger in it. He knew as though instinctively that they

now took almost no interest in his doings. He could have

arranged to meet her a second time if either of them had

wanted to. Actually it was by chance that they had met. It

was in the Park, on a vile, biting day in March, when the

earth was like iron and all the grass seemed dead and there

was not a bud anywhere except a few crocuses which had

pushed themselves up to be dismembered by the wind. He

was hurrying along with frozen hands and watering eyes

when he saw her not ten meters away from him. It struck

him at once that she had changed in some ill-defined way.

They almost passed one another without a sign, then he

turned and followed her, not very eagerly. He knew that

there was no danger, nobody would take any interest in him.

She did not speak. She walked obliquely away across the

grass as though trying to get rid of him, then seemed to resign

herself to having him at her side. Presently they were in

among a clump of ragged leafless shrubs, useless either for

concealment or as protection from the wind. They halted.

It was vilely cold. The wind whistled through the twigs and

fretted the occasional, dirty-looking crocuses. He put his

arm round her waist.

There was no telescreen, but there must be hidden

microphones: besides, they could be seen. It did not matter,

nothing mattered. They could have lain down on the

ground and done THAT if they had wanted to. His flesh

froze with horror at the thought of it. She made no response

whatever to the clasp of his arm; she did not even try to disengage

herself. He knew now what had changed in her. Her

face was sallower, and there was a long scar, partly hidden

by the hair, across her forehead and temple; but that was not

the change. It was that her waist had grown thicker, and, in

a surprising way, had stiffened. He remembered how once,

after the explosion of a rocket bomb, he had helped to drag

a corpse out of some ruins, and had been astonished not

only by the incredible weight of the thing, but by its rigidity

and awkwardness to handle, which made it seem more like

stone than flesh. Her body felt like that. It occurred to him

that the texture of her skin would be quite different from

what it had once been.

He did not attempt to kiss her, nor did they speak. As they

walked back across the grass, she looked directly at him for

the first time. It was only a momentary glance, full of contempt

and dislike. He wondered whether it was a dislike that

came purely out of the past or whether it was inspired also

by his bloated face and the water that the wind kept squeezing

from his eyes. They sat down on two iron chairs, side by

side but not too close together. He saw that she was about

to speak. She moved her clumsy shoe a few centimeters and

deliberately crushed a twig. Her feet seemed to have grown

broader, he noticed.

‘I betrayed you,’ she said baldly.

‘I betrayed you,’ he said.

She gave him another quick look of dislike.

‘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