Chapter 7 (1984 part two) - Summary and analysis.
Brief Summary and analysis of Chapter 7 (1984 Part Two)
In this chapter, Winston wakes up after having a nightmare. He remembers his mother and how they he had parted with her and his sister. He had grown up in a world marked by scarcities. After his father had died, his mother had become spiritless and weak. Winston had to scourge around dustbins for food.
He was quite a stubborn kid and his belly was never full. He always wanted his mother to serve him more food than there was in his plate.
Once he had finished his own food, he would steal from his sister's plate. They lived together in a small and stinky room. However, when the chocolate ration arrived, he wanted all the chocolate for himself and snatched his sister's share from her hand.
His sister was a two year old kid who had grown too thin due to disease and weakness. His mother would hold her close to her breast despite knowing that it was not going to save the child from death.
After snatching the chocolate from her, Winston ran for the door and kept roaming the streets for sometime, he was ashamed at his behavior but always found it difficult to resist hunger. When he returned, his mother and sister were gone. Winston never saw his mother again but he could never forget her or her purity and nobility.
Winston remembered it all after the nightmare and told it to Julia who was sleeping beside him in the room above Mr. Charrington's shop. They talk about it and Julia tries to convince Winston that all kids are just like that in their childhood.
In Oceania, the party had persuaded people to believe that emotions and impulses had no meaning. Once people were in the clutches of the party, it did not really matter what they felt or did not feel and what they said or thought.
It was for the first time that Winston remembered the proles with lots of respect. He thought that they led human lives. They were still human inside and had feelings for each other.
Apart from that, they were not hardened on the inside like the party members. Winston asked Julia if she did not think that it was safe for her to leave him and get away from him. However, Julia had decided to keep his company irrespective of the outcome.
Winston thought that they were together for another six months or so and after that once they had fallen in the hands of the thought police, they could never know if the other one was alive or not. He was thinking of the outcomes if they fell in the hands of the thought police.
They could make the two confess and if one confessed, they will shoot the other one. However, Winston was not concerned about confession. He was mainly concerned that they could stop him from loving Julia. She convinced him that it was not possible for the party since they could never get inside you or your heart.
Winston's love has been blooming over the previous few chapters and Julia understands his emotions and behaves like a good lover. She is inclined to protect herself and Winston from all trouble. She talks authoritatively with Winston not as a lover but as a good wife would. From their conversation in the room, it appears the love between the two is strong and it is growing stronger with time.
When she convinces Winston, he thinks less negatively and Julia provides perfect support, whenever Winston is about to fall in a pit of darkness. He has grown more hopeful and his health has improved overall. Psychologically speaking, his thoughts are now less self defeating.
However, he is constantly thinking of the party and the thought police. Despite being in love with his Julia, a lot of space in his mind and heart are occupied by the party and its thought police. He knows that in the future they will certainly find out about the affair they are having.
He just wants it to push the dates as far as possible. Winston knows they will not be able to save themselves once their affair has been discovered. His worst fear is that the party might force him to stop loving Julia. Orwell shows how the party has corrupted minds and is controlling using various mechanisms.
Detailed Summary and analysis of Chapter 7 (1984 Part Two)
Winston and Julia were again in the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop. They were sleeping and Winston suddenly woke up after having seen a nightmare. His eyes were full of tears. Julia also woke up and asked him softly what had happened. Winston could not describe it in words.
The nightmare itself was complex and a memory associated with it had crept into Winston’s mind after he woke up. Winston was still lying on the bed with his eyes shut and thinking of his life which had stretched before his eyes like a vast landscape.
The dream took place inside the glass paperweight. Its dome was the sky and inside there was so much light that one could see till far into infinity. In his dream Winston saw his mother make a gesture and then the same gesture was made by the Jewish woman he had seen in the film trying to shelter his kid from the bullets, before the mother and the kid were both blown to pieces by the helicopter.
Winston told Julia that until now he believed he had killed his mother. In his dream, Winston had remembered the last glimpse of his mother. Just as he woke up the other related events had flooded his mind. He must have pushed the event out of his mind over the past several years. However, he remembered that he must not have been less than ten or twelve years old when it had happened.
His father had disappeared a little earlier than his mother. However, instead of his parents, he remembered the poor and uneasy circumstances of those times. People were in a state of panic about the regular air raids. Winston remembered how people took shelter inside those tube stations and there were piles of rubble everywhere.
There were proclamations posted on the corners of the streets that Winston could not stand. Gangs of youth roamed around in the streets, all wearing the shirts of the same color. There were large queues of people before the bakeries and intermittent machine gun firing was always heard in the distance. Apart from these things, Winston remembered that there was never enough food to eat.
He remembered how he moved around with boys of his age seeking to find discarded food inside the dustbins. They waited for trucks carrying cattle feed, which would spill a few fragments of oil cake when they jolted.
While his mother did not demonstrate a violent grief or shock, when Winston’s father disappeared, she had suddenly changed. She had lost her spirit and appeared like waiting for something she clearly knew would happen. She also did all the household work but very slowly and with no energy, which made her appear like a manikin.
She had stopped moving around much and would lay motionless on the bed nursing Winston’s younger sister. His sister was two years old. Her face had started looking like that of a monkey due to thinness. Sometimes she picked Winston up and pressed him against herself for hours. Somehow Winston knew that this was all connected with what was deemed certain to happen that his mother was waiting for.
Winston remembered the small and stinky room they lived in. It was half filled by a bed and had a small kitchen and shelf in a corner. Outside the room on a landing there was a brown earthenware sink that was common to several rooms.
He remembered how his mother’s statuesque body remained bent over the gas ring and kept stirring something in the saucepan on the fire. He remembered how he was always fiercely hungry and the ugly battles that happened at the mealtime. He would always nag his mother for more food and ask her why there was no more food. Sometimes he would shout and storm at her.
Sometimes he would feebly cry to make the appeal of his voice grow. Winston’s mother was always willing to give him more than his share. However, the more she gave her, the more he asked for.
At every meal she begged him to not be so selfish and to consider his younger sister’s situation. She had grown so weak and also needed food. However, nothing had any effect on Winston and he would cry with rage when she stopped serving and would try to take away food from his sister’s plate.
He knew he was starving the other two members in his family but he felt like he had a right to do it. His insatiable hunger seemed to justify his actions. If mother was not carefully guarding it all the time, he would be ready to eat from the shelf between meals.
Then chocolate ration was issued one day. This had happened for the first time. It was two ounces of chocolates for three people. Winston knew it needed to be divided among three people. However, he demanded that all the chocolate be given to him. His mother asked him not to be greedy. A lot of nagging and arguments followed.
Winston’s sister was clinging to her mother and looking at Winston with her large mournful eyes. At last, Winston’s mother broke three quarters of the chocolate and gave it to Winston and the remaining to his sister.
While the little girl was watching the chocolate not knowing what to do with it, Winston snatched it from her hands and ran for the door. His mother screamed from behind him. He stopped but did not come back. Even now Winston’s mind was thinking of the thing that was about to happen.
His sister understood she had been robbed of something and started crying feebly. Winston’s mother hugged her tighter and pressed her face against her breast. By this gesture, Winston had understood that his sister was dying. The chocolate was growing sticky in his hands and so Winston turned and fled downstairs.
That was the last that Winston had seen his mother. After having consumed the entire chocolate ration, Winston felt ashamed of himself and roamed the streets for some hours till he was so hungry that he could not do anything but had to return home. When he returned his mother and sister were gone.
People’s disappearance had become normal at that time. Nothing had been taken from their room. His mother had not even taken her overcoat. Even today, Winston was not certain that his mother was dead. She might have been sent to a forced labor camp and his sister to some orphanage like him.
These orphanages were called reclamation centres and had cropped up since the civil war. The girl might have been sent to some labor camp with her mother or left somewhere to die.
Winston could only guess. The dream was still clear in his mind when Winston woke up. Its entire meaning was contained in the single gesture of his mother hugging the girl tight and close to her breast. Winston’s mind moved to the dream he had two months ago in which he saw the same scene in which his mother was sitting in a sinking boat and holding her child.
It looked just like how his mother sat with his sister on the bed. They were sinking deeper and deeper every second but she still kept looking at him from under the darkening water. Winston told Julia the story of his mother’s disappearance. She was also lying in bed.
Julia changed her posture on the bed and without opening her eyes shifted herself into a more comfortable position. She did not appear shocked to hear the story. She just told Winston that he must have been a real swine in his childhood but then all the children were like that.
Winston wanted to tell her more but she did not look interested. Julia was still feeling sleepy. Winston could never forget his mother. She did not appear a very intelligent lady but still she was noble and pure and that was because she followed her own standards.
Her feelings were her own and were not affected by the changes happening in the outside world. She only believed in giving and was not worried if her affection did not work on Winston. He remembered the last scene when his mother held the child close to her heart even when the chocolate was gone.
When she loved her child, she just loved it and even if there was nothing else left to give to her, she gave her the affection that protected the child. When Winston had taken away the chocolate from her sister, she still held the child in her arms. She knew it was not going to produce more chocolate or save the thin child from death but still she did it because it felt natural to do so.
He remembered that the refugee woman in the film sitting on the boat had also done the same. She two covered her child with her arms when she knew that it offered no more protection than a thin sheet of paper would against raining bullets.
What the party had done was to persuade people to believe that mere emotions or impulses held no meaning and thus robbed the people of all the control they had over the material world. Once people were in the clutches of the party it did not really matter what they felt or did not feel, what they did and what they refrained from doing.
It all was literally the same and yielded no value. At the end, you vanished and then your name and actions were never heard of again. There was no change in history because you were picked out clean and then you had no existence and therefore no history.
Nothing was affected by your existence or non-existence. Just two generations ago these things would not have appeared important for the people since they were not trying to alter history. They were driven by private loyalties that they did not question.
However, individual relationships mattered then and a helpless gesture or a tear and a word spoken by a dying man could hold significant value. It suddenly appeared to Winston that the proles led this kind of life. The proles were not loyal to a party, country or idea but only to each other.
It was for the first time in his life that Winston had remembered proles with respect. He was not despising them any more or thinking of them as an inert force that could one day become alive again and regenerate this world. Inside, the proles were still human and had not hardened into something like a rock. Their emotions had not changed.
They still held to those old emotions that had become irrelevant for modern society. He himself had to make conscious efforts to learn those emotions all over again. While thinking of proles, he felt reminded of the bombing incident that happened while he was walking in the prole area.
He remembered the severed hand that he saw lying on the pavement and how he had kicked it into the gutter like it was cabbage stalk. Winston suddenly said aloud that the proles were human beings, others were not. Julia woke up to hear this and asked him why.
He thought for a little while and asked Julia if it had ever occurred to her that the best thing for them was to simply walk out of there and never see each other again. She replied in the affirmative and told him that yes it had occurred to several times but that she was never going to do it.
However, Winston was worried. He said that they were just being lucky. Julia was young and innocent and if she kept away from people like Winston, she could stay alive for another fifty years. However, Julia had decided that she was going to do what Winston did and that Winston did not need to lose heart.
She was quite skilled at it and had managed to stay alive in worse situations. She was not losing heart and believed that together they had a future, but convincing Winston was next to impossible for her. He was still not convinced.
Winston thought they were together for another six months or so. At the end they were certainly going to be apart and that there was nothing they could do once they were apart. They were certainly going to be very alone when they had parted. Once the party and the thought police had got them, there was nothing Winston would be able to do.
If he confessed, they would shoot Julia and if he did not they would still shoot her. So, Winston would have no way of saving her. Whatever he does or says might just put off her death by some five minutes or so.
At last, the two would be rendered powerless and unable to know if the other one is living or dead. However, the important thing according to Winston was that they did not betray each other even if it did not make the slightest difference. Julia did not have any problem with confessing.
She said it was okay to confess since they were going to torture you just so much anyone would break. Winston did not mean that. Confessions did not really mean betrayal. Instead, if the party could make him stop loving her that would have meant betrayal. Julia thought over it and said that the party could not do it. Whatever they did, it was not possible for them to get inside you.
Winston grew a little hopeful. He felt that Julia was true; they could do everything but never get inside them. If one knows how to stay human, and that it is going to be worth it, he has beaten the party. He was thinking of the telescreen and how it could hear people day and night. The telescreen had eyes and ears and it kept its ears open all the time even in the dark.
Even if the party could spy on people day and night, those who were clever could outwit it. The party was cunning and there was no reason to doubt it. However, despite being clever, the party did not have the technology or art that could help it know what any other human being was thinking. Yet, it did not seem as true when one was in their hands since it will stop mattering then if you can think or not.
One never knew what happened inside the Ministry of Love but people could guess. It included things like 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. The thought people could track your thoughts down through enquiry and bring it out through torture.
However, if your objective instead of staying alive was to stay human, it did not even matter. They could not change your feelings and neither could anyone himself because feelings will remain feelings and you cannot acquire absolute control over them. They could know everything that you said or did and thought of, but then the heart whose inner workings were impossible even for the person himself to know, remained impregnable.