Collaborative Letter Essay #9: 1984


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Recently, we finished 1984, a 326 page dystopian and science fiction novel. It is written by George Orwell. But George Orwell is a pen name. His real name is Eric Arthur Blair. He was a British author and journalist. He was born in 1903 in Motihari, India (but he is not Indian). He died in 1950 in London due to Tuberculosis. He was only 47 years old. He wrote 14+ books in his lifetime, plus many more essays and articles. We chose to read this book per a book club chosen by Mr. Jockers. It was a very complex story.


1984 follows a 39 year old man named Winston Smith. He lives in Oceania, one of the three global superpowers that exist at the time (Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia). Oceania is run by a corrupt government called the Party, with their philosophies of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. There are no laws, but there are still ways you can be arrested. This is by thoughtcrime, or treason against the Party in the mind. The only way you don’t get arrested is to forget everything you have learned: Absolutely no self-advocacy. If the Party says two plus two is five, it is correct and there is no other option. Winston is secretly a thoughtcriminal and wants the Party to dissolve. He keeps a diary that contains very rebellious thoughts against the Party that he is writing to someone named O’Brien who he believes to be a fellow thoughtcriminal. The only thing Winston really wants is to find someone who shares his beliefs of disloyalty. He looks around secretly for these people and later on he meets Julia, a 26 year old woman who is apparently in love with Winston. Coincidentally, she hates the party and wants it destroyed. For the rest of the novel, it is pretty much them against the world. They have to keep their meetings secret or else they will be caught by the Thought Police. They find some allies as they go on, but some may not be what they seem.


We couldn’t understand how in 1984 the author, George Orwell, stretched the description of the setting out as long as he could, as opposed to making the book centered around character development. Typically in a book, the author formats the book were small parts of the setting are intertwined with the main storyline in the beginning and sometimes the setting gets briefly touched upon as the reader continues the story. George Orwell, however, formatted the novel 1984 differently.


We noticed that Winston contradicted himself a lot in this story. We get the impression that he was going to do something early in the book to get at the Party, but he really didn’t. He talked so much about rebellion against the Party and dissolving it. He also talked about how he hated young women, yet he had an affair with Julia. At one point in the novel he wanted to murder her by hitting her over the head with a cobblestone but at another he loved her. These thoughts may have something to do with the semi-dangerous principles of doublethink. Doublethink is the ability to think something in one’s mind while believing it is not true at the same time. You could think that war is peace, even though you should know very well that it is not. Winston may have subconsciously used this to live his life, even though he


We were surprised by the concept of warfare in the story. The 3 global superstates, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, were constantly at war. Their warfare was “no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century.” They had been fighting constantly for 25 years, and they hadn’t gained any ground. They couldn’t invade any of the other superstates. We believe this is because war has become “the norm” for so long now, that they kept the war a constant, hence the phrase, War is Peace. Nowadays, peace is the constant, making war the outlier, but in the book, war was the constant, making it “peace” the constant.


While we were reading 1984 we recognized a paragraph that really stood out to us, and captured the essence of the story. This passage appeared when Winston takes a twenty-five-cent piece from his pocket, and the following is stated:


”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 of 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 wrapping of a cigarette packet-everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or outdoors, in bah or in bed-no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.”(1984 By George Orwell, Page 27) We feel like this scene really captured the essence of this dystopian book, because it shows the controlling power of Big Brother, which is a common theme throughout the book.


In conclusion, we thought this was a very complex, but interesting book. The mystery about society and the world Orwell provides throughout the story is very entertaining and makes you think. Overall, we rate this book a 7 out of 10.



Max Baer, Matt Johnston, Theo Albano, and Trevor Wilkes

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