“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.” (1-2)
Wow, it’s only page 2 and the novel has already baffled my mind. Who is “Big Brother”? I noticed that Orwell uses a lot of words like “cold” and “vile,” words that have a “dark” connotation to them. Why is everything so dark and barren and gloomy? The only thing that seems remotely comforting is the “Big Brother” poster. That feeling of unity and closeness from the word “Brother” is somewhat of a contrast from the rest of the scenery. Yet the poster reads “WATCHING” … At first thought I took it as “intruding your privacy” but could it possibly mean that Big Brother is looking out for you? After all, that is usually what an older sibling does, right?
“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 survive?” (27)
The passage definitely one of the more disturbing parts in the book thus far. Here, Orwell continues to portray his picture of an absolute, totalitarian government that controlled every single aspect of one’s life, with the utmost efficiency and accuracy. Being able to control everything, even history itself, is truly power. And just who ARE the Thought Police? Are they human? Are they watched themselves? One thing that I came to think about was the word “thought” in their title. Such enforcers regulated one’s thought. Thinking is supposed to be private, one’s “safe” place where they can think whatever they so pleased, and not have to worry about anyone looking over their shoulder. As Orwell had put it, “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” (27), but is that the case with the Thought Police? Could this police really invade on something so personal?
“‘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.’” (52)
Here, this passage truly is interesting to me cause it showed how much the language could define a nation. Yet, I find this a little unrealistic since thought is not dependent on the language. Words don’t make one’s “thoughts”; but thoughts make one’s words. For example, sometimes I would say “oooh, what’s the word…” whenever I couldn’t get the word out. This shows that the idea is existent, whether or not the word is in memory. When Syme says thoughtcrime would be impossible, I think he’s wrong since even though people can’t find the words, they still can have the idea. Yet, I came to realize the Thought Police would crush them, tracking them down individually. Just who are the Thought Police anyway? Are they even human? How does one become a Thought Police without eventually committing thinkcrime themselves?
“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.” (59)
This passage made me wonder what had happened to all the other people besides Winston. What does Big Brother do to change them? Is it his iron-fisted hand of absolute control that scared the people into submission? Yet how could anyone so willingly accept complete lies and contradictions? What has Big Brother done to give himself such power? His power seems a little unrealistic. It reminds me of how Stalin had done a similar thing where he would demand impossible production feats from his factories. The company leaders ended up having to lie about their production rates, and as a result, Stalin’s regime came crumbling down as the gap between idealism and reality grew. Would Big Brother ever fall in a similar fashion because of this?
“This again was never put into plain words, but in an indirect way it was rubbed into ever Party member from childhood onwards. There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes.” (66)
The first thing that came to mind was why would the Party want to kill the sex instinct? Several possibilities came to mind, first was possibility to prove the Party’s hold over people, even their most natural instinct, the want to reproduce. Another possibility is that Big Brother wanted the people of Oceania to have nothing to love or think about except the Party. Yet how could they stomp out something that is so instinctive? Could one repress instinct so easily? This passage also shows how easily children could be manipulated and how masterfully the Party does so. They realized that the best way to mold the people was to mold the children, thus shaping them into dutiful followers of Big Brother.
“To be killed was what you expected. But before death (nobody spoke of such things, yet everybody knew of them) there was a routine of confession that had to 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?” (102)
Here, I noticed that Orwell uses a lot of imagery to intensify the picture that the reader gets, using loaded words such as “crack of broken bones” or “smashed teeth.” I also really did wish that the book would explain why the Party would torture their prisoners? A few possibilities came to mind. Is it because they wanted to show the rest of the Oceania what could happen to them if they had stepped out of line? Yet at the same time, I noticed that the people didn’t really seem to mind watching the torturing and confessions, in fact they seemed to ENJOY it. Even the children (for example, the Parsons) would whine if they had to miss the punishment of a prisoner. So, that leads me back to the same question, why would one have to endure this? This passage also made me wonder about who WOULDN’T get caught by the Thought Police. While the masses use self-discipline for “reality control,” they couldn’t possibly continue on without faltering in some way. After all, they’re still human and humans have this inborn instinct to be curious and explore. If that were the case, wouldn’t the Party fall from within itself?