1984 - Chapter 9 - (Part Two) Summary and analysis
Chapter 9 brief Summary and analysis
Oceania is a world full of lies and half of its machinery is busy changing lies into facts all the time. Again in this chapter, Orwell shows how the government keeps jumping from one boat to another in Oceania.
While the Hate week celebrations were continuing, the enemy had changed. No public announcement was made but everyone had learnt that it had happened.
Eurasia was now an ally and Eastasia was the enemy. It led to a tremendous commotion and people started tearing off the posters and banners since they contained the wrong information.
It is not just the government machinery in Oceania that is a joke. Even the society is ridiculously savage and blind. All the staff at the records department got to work to make necessary rectifications and change history.
Winston’s body felt like jelly. Not just the same weakness, it also felt translucent like jelly. Winston felt as if he could see through his skin.
He felt so fatigued as if all the blood had been drained out of him. due to the heavy workload.
The overall structure of his body was weakened and even the slightest movement required a lot of painful effort.
Over the last five days, Winston and the other party workers had worked for more than ninety hours.
Now that all the work was over, Winston had until tomorrow morning to rest. He planned to be in his hiding place for the next six hours and after that spend nine hours in his apartment.
Winston started walking towards Mr Charrington’s shop. He kept an eye open for the patrols but he was also sure that none of them would interfere with him today.
He was carrying a suitcase that knocked against his knees at each step making the skin of his legs tingle.
Winston had Goldstein’s book inside the briefcase. He had kept it for the last six days but not even touched or looked at it.
Six days of the hate week had passed. Over the last six days, there had been processions, speeches, marches, movement of tanks, roar of plains and much more. Now, the climax was approaching.
After those six days, the hatred of the crowd had taken the form of a restless illusion or rather complete madness.
If they could have laid their hands on all those two thousand Eurasian prisoners, who were to be hanged, they would have torn them to pieces.
It was at this moment that the party announced that Eurasia was an ally of Oceania and that its enemy was Eastasia.
Noone admitted to the lie or that there had been any change. The announcement came all of a sudden and became known everywhere.
Wisnton was taking part in a demonstration when the sudden announcement came.
He was standing in one of the floodlit central London squares. Several thousand people stood in the square including around a thousand school children dressed as spies.
A small and lean man with a large and bald skull stood on a platform giving a critical and aggressive speech.
Looking like Rumpelstiltskin, he held the microphone in one hand and clawed on the air above his head with the other.
The amplifiers made his voice appear metallic. He was speaking of the atrocities of the enemies and the massacres, lootings, rapes and of every other crime perpetrated by them.
His every word convinced the crowd and drove it madder. He had been speaking for at least twenty minutes when a messenger rushed to the platform and handed him a scrap of paper. He read the paper without stopping his speech.
Without changing the content of his speech or his manner of speaking, the speaker changed the names in the speech. The crowd soon understood the message. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Everyone in the crowd understood it well.
A tremendous commotion began. People rushed to the posters and banners since their content was wrong and tore them off. Half of the posters carried the wrong faces on them. It was all the work of the agents of Goldstein or how else could it have happened. In just two or three minutes, the crowd’s work was over and all the posters, banners and streamers had been removed.
The speech continued like before and the crowd was again roaring like animals. The Hate had continued but now it had a new target.
Winston felt impressed at how skillfully the speaker had changed his target without fluttering. There was no irregularity in his voice, at least no noticeable break or pause.
However, his mind was preoccupied with several other things. Amidst that commotion a man tapped on his shoulder. Winston did not see his face, The man asked him if he had dropped his briefcase and handed him one.
Winston took it without speaking a word. (In the last chapter, O’Brien had instructed Winston that he will receive Goldstein’s book in a briefcase.)
At that instant, Winston knew he would not be able to check out the book for several days.
Once the demonstration was over, Winston and the other staff returned to the Ministry of Truth. They had all the necessary instructions and there was hardly any need for the notifications through the telescreen.
With the sudden change of the enemy, many things had changed. The entire history of the last five years had become obsolete and required changing. Once Oceania was at war with Eastasia, it was always at war with Eastasia.
The staff will need to work at lightning speed to rectify all those reports, literature, photographs and everything.
They had a deadline of only one week. While the staff were given no such directions, they knew that the Chiefs of the Departments wanted every reference to the war with Eurasia or alliance with East Asia removed from all literature.
The workload was enormous and had become complex because people could not call the involved processes by their names.
The staff of the records department worked round the clock except for taking breaks to sleep for two to three hours.
They had spread mattresses all over the corridors and food was being distributed by attendants from the canteen.
Every time that Winston left his desk, he tried to clear all his work and files and when he came back to his desk, he would find it overflowing with paper cylinders. He would neatly stack them before he started working.
The work was not purely mechanical and that’s what made it difficult for Winston to keep working. Most of the work involved merely replacing the existing names. However, for detailed reports, Winston needed to exercise his imagination and care.
Winston was not merely changing names. If the enemy had changed, the geographical descriptions had also changed. One could not just transfer a war from one part of the world to another. He needed to have considerable geographical knowledge.
The workload was so enormous that by the third day his eyes had started aching unbearably he had to wipe his specs every few minutes.
It was like struggling with a crushing physical task and while he wanted to refuse it with all his heart and yet he was trying to accomplish nervously.
Winston was not troubled by the fact that it was all just a lie. The forgery had to be perfect and there must not be any trace remaining that all this information had been forged. Winston was just as anxious as anybody else that it all needed to be perfect.
On the morning of the sixth day, the number of incoming cylinders reduced. For almost half an hour nothing came out of the tube and then came a cylinder at last.
The work pressure was easing off throughout the department and everyone secretly took a sigh of relief.
They had scaled a mountain and no one could possibly tell that the war with Eurasia had ever happened since no more documentary evidence existed.
It was unexpectedly announced at noon that the staff was free till tomorrow morning. Winston was still carrying the briefcase and the book inside it. He kept it between his legs while he worked and under his body while he slept.
Winston went home and shaved himself. He almost fell asleep while bathing in lukewarm water.
He went to the room above Mr Charrington’s shop. Winton was still feeling tired but he was not sleepy anymore.
After opening the window, Winston lit the stove and put water on it to boil.
Julia was going to arrive and meanwhile Winston decided to take a look at the book he had in his briefcase. He unstrapped the briefcase sitting in the armchair.
It was a heavy black book with no title. Its print was also irregular. The pages were worn at the edge and fell off easily as if the book had been used by many.
On the title page, there was written:
THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM by Emmanuel Goldstein.
Winston began reading: Chapter I Ignorance is Strength
The content of the first chapter began with the classification of people in three categories. These categories have been there since the beginning of the time: The High, the middle and The Low. They have been subdivided in many ways and have born countless different names. Their attitudes towards each other have also varied from time to time.
However, the essential structure of the society could not be changed. Society always returns to the same structure even after enormous changes just like a gyroscope does. The aims of these groups are incompatible.
Wisnton stopped reading there mainly to appreciate the fact that he was reading in comfort and safety. He was completely alone in the room and there was no telescreen or no keyhole through which anyone could peep.
He could feel the sweet summer air on his cheek. The faint sounds of children could be heard in the room coming from a distance. In the room, there was only the faint buzz of the clock. As Winston settled deeper into the armchair, he felt an eternal bliss.
Winston turned the pages of the book and opened chapter three. He continued reading. It was titled 'War is Peace'. The chapter described how the three superpowers Eurasia, East Asia and Oceania were formed.
Russia had absorbed Europe and the US had absorbed the British empire. This is how Eurasia and Oceania were formed. Their formation could have been foreseen as early as the middle of the twentieth century.
Eastasia was formed after another decade of confused fighting. Eurasia included North Europe and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering Strait. Oceania included the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa.
Eastasia was smaller than the other two and had a less definite Western frontier. It included China and the states to its South, the Japanese islands, Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet.
The three superstates had always been at war in one or the other combination for the past twenty five years.
However, it was no more as devastating as during the early twentieth century.
The war takes place between powers that do not have any real cause to fight and are not divided by any genuine ideological differences. It still does not mean that war had taken the form of a pleasant and less aggressive exercise.
On the contrary, several inhuman practices were still common across the world. Raping, looting, slaughter of children, slavery of population, boiling and burying prisoners alive were looked upon as common practices. When one’s own side commits it, these practices are seen as meritorious.
However, in a physical sense, war now included comparatively fewer soldiers and mostly highly trained specialists. War mostly takes place at the vague frontiers or around the floating fortresses which guard strategic spots in the seas.
In the populated areas, war does not mean anything else but a few rocket bmbs, a few deaths and a continuous shortage of consumption goods.
The face and form of war had changed. The reasons for which war was waged had not changed but their order of importance had changed.
The dominant motives behind the wars that took place during the early twentieth century had again become dominant.
The nature of the war could not be understood easily. It was important to understand that the war was always indecisive.
None of the three superstates could ever win the others completely. Even if two of them grouped together, they could not win the third one. It was because of their formidable natural defenses and their matching military and other capabilities.
The vast land spaces of Eurasia are its leading strength. The width of the Atlantic and Pacific protect Oceania. Eastasians are industrious people and the country’s strong population is also a major defense against enemies.
There is no material cause for the three superstates to fight about. In these self contained economies, production and consumption are geared to one another and therefore, the race for winning markets is over.
It was a leading cause of war among the superstates previously.
The competition for raw materials is not any longer a question of life and death either. The three superstates are just so large that they can obtain almost all the raw materials they ended within their own boundaries.
Now, the leading cause of war was the conquest for labor power.
There was a rough quadrilateral between the three superpowers that was never under permanent control of any of them.
Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong represented its four corners that included around twenty percent of the global population.
The three powers were constantly struggling to win this population and the northern icecap. However, not one power alone can ever control the disputed area.
Some parts of it are constantly changing hands and why the alignment between the three superstates keeps changing constantly is because they always try to obtain the others’ share in this quadrilateral by treachery.
The disputed territories yield valuable minerals and some agricultural products like rubber, which are expensive to synthesize industrially.
However, the biggest advantage that they offer is their endless reserve of labor. There was a vast population of slaves that could be used as cheap labor for producing more arms and capturing more territory.
The notable thing was that the war moved beyond the edges of the quadrilateral. The area was a complete mess. The area between the basin of Congo and the Northern shore of the Mediterranean belonged to Eurasia.
Oceania and Eastasia were constantly fighting for the islands of the Indian Ocean and Pacific.
Eurasia and Eastasia were fighting over Mongolia.
The three superstates lay claim to vast swathes of land round the pole. These areas were mostly uninhabited and unexplored.
The balance of power among the superstates still remained equal and their core territories safe.
The exploited labor in the area around the equator was always unnecessary for the world economy. They do not really add any kind of value since whatever they produce is used only for war.
The slave population is just like coal in the blast furnace of war. It still did not matter since even if these slaves did not exist, the world society would not have changed.
The primary aim of modern warfare was to consume excess production. The industrial society had been dealing with the problem of how to dispense the surplus production right since the end of the nineteenth century.
Right now, there was not enough to feed everyone, the problem of how to dispense surplus production was not urgent. It would not have been urgent even if war was not destroying society.
The world of today was a devastated hell compared to the world of the pre-1914 era. People thought of an imaginative future that was rich beyond expectations and where people’ lived lavish lives.
Science and technology were developing at an enormous speed. There was no obstruction to scientific development in the foreseeable future either.
Science and technology were developing at an enormous speed. There was no obstruction to scientific development in the foreseeable future either. However, it turned out to be the wrong assumption since prolonged wars caused impoverishment which led to destruction of scientific thought.
As a whole the world had become more primitive than it was some fifty years ago. Progress happened in some areas which included military, police, and espionage, but in the other areas, it remained restricted.
The destruction and economic loss caused by the economic war of the nineteen fifties had never been fully repaired.