1984: Part 1, Chapters 3 – 5

Chapter 3 of 1984 begins by Winston dreaming of how his mother and sister had perished. The details are not clear, although Winston does have a notion that they died as a sacrifice, so that he would not have. He then dreams of what he calls the “Golden Valley,” a place very different to his surroundings. It has lush green grass, rolling hills, and trees. While in this Golden Valley, he encounters a dark haired girl who, as they walk nearer to each other, casts off her clothing. Winston is not interested in what is newly exposed to him, however interested in the motion itself. He imagines this as the casting off of the oppression of Big Brother and the Party with one swift motion.

He wakes upon the production of a high pitched noise from his telescreen. After suffering through the mandatory Physical Jerks (an exercise program), he heads off to work, where he finds 4 memos on his desk. They all instruct him to rewrite either past editions of  the Times, the official newspaper, statements of the other Ministries, or even of Big Brother himself. In one such revision, Winston is told to rewrite an entire front page article, Big Brother’s Order of the Day, from a year earlier, as it makes mention of some unpersons, or people who have gone missing under suspicious circumstances, and so are deemed to never have existed. He then invents a story of a Comrade Ogilvy, a dedicated soldier and follower of Ingsoc (the ideology of the Party).

Winston finds it scary and disturbing that he can simply rewrite history this easily. He can create a person out of thin air, as if they had actually existed and served under Big Brother in the war against Eurasia. Four years earlier, Oceania had been at war with Eastasia, but allied with Eurasia. However, as the opposite is now the truth, it is considered to be that for all of history, Oceania and Eurasia have been at war.

Figures can be “corrected,” so that production targets can be exceeded; Big Brother’s predictions can be made true by rectifying the “misquote” of his original prediction.

In chapter 5, Winston goes to lunch in the canteen, and meets a co-worker who is working on Newspeak.

Newspeak, the government’s new language for its people, is English, except curated, compacted, and flattened. They remove so many words that abstract thought becomes impossible if your only language is Newspeak. It would, if fully implemented, remove the very idea of thoughtcrime, as nobody would even know how to think about defying Big Brother.

I think that it’s a good thing we have insight into the Ministry of Truth, as it certainly seems like the most interesting of the four (followed closely by Love). I hope that at some point during the story, we will get some perspective into Miniluv as well.

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