Summary and analysis of George Orwell's 1984 chapter 8 (Part 2)
A brief summary and analysis.
In this chapter, Winston and Julia have reached O'Brien's luxurious apartment.
He is afraid since he cannot explain Julia's presence there.
However, still he and Julia boldly confess before O'Brien that they wanted to join him and the secret brotherhood against the party. O'Brien treats them hospitably and serves wine.
After that he briefly interviews Winston to know about his commitment for the brotherhood. He does this in order to convince Winston and Julia.
Next, he introduces the two to the risks of working for the brotherhood and all challenges they should remain ready to face. They will never know more than three or four members of the Brotherhood. There was no complete list of the brotherhood members.
Winston gets to learn that the book written by Goldstein really existed and that destroying it was impossible. The brotherhood could always produce more copies whenever it wanted.
In this chapter, Winston has taken a major risks and if his calculations were wrong, he and Julia were going to be extinct soon. However, he was relieved after O'Brien convinced that they were at the right place and talking to the right person.
When O'Brien asked if the two were willing to part while working for the brotherhood, Julia's express response was no. They were willing to do anything even murder small children but could not stop loving each other.
O'Brien provided Winston with plans for near future and asked him to work with caution.
Before the two left, O'Brien warned them to not leave together and gave each one a tablet to wipe away the smell of wine.
O'Brien's words that they will meet in a place where there is no darkness were still ringing in Winston's mind.
He asked O'Brien if it was true and O'Brien confirmed.
Winston's assumptions about O'Brien have come true in this chapter.
He could have been wrong but after the meeting he was certain that O'Brien was unorthodox and a hater of the party.
The facts O'Brien had told him about Goldstein and the brotherhood appeared true to Winston.
O'Brien had instructed his servant to remember the faces of these two visitors since in the future O'Brien might not be able to meet them directly.
In that case, his servant would deliver his messages to the two.
Winston was hopeful after the meeting that his life was going to change and he will be free from the captive life he was leading under the party's rule.
Even if their efforts would not bear results for some time, the future generations might be thankful for what people like him would do to overthrow the party.
However, if his assumptions were wrong and if it was just another trap set by the party, all was over for him.
In that case, they were standing on the verge of their graves already.
The chapter leaves behind several questions open. What if O'Brien was lying to them.
What if he had not switched off the telescreen but only silenced it.
What if some party member was hearing every word of their conversation. Things would be fine if O'Brien was really a member of the brotherhood but was life going to be easier for them as members of the brotherhood or was their a bigger catastrophe waiting for Winston and Julia.
Winston might be able to find out in the next few days. However, what would happen to Julia if O'Brien betrayed them? Considering she had violated more rules compared to Winston in the past, will not the outcome be more dangerous for her?
A detailed summary of chapter 8 (Part Two) of Orwell's 1984.
At last, the two had managed to approach O’Brien.
Winston and Julia were standing in a long softly lit room.
There was a telescreen in the room running at very low volume. The dark blue carpet on the floor gave the impression of treading on velvet.
O’Brien was sitting at a table placed at the far end of the room. He was sitting under a green shaded lamp with a large bundle of papers on his either side.
Winston remained immersed in the papers and did not even cast a glance on Winston and Julia when the servant showed them in.
Like always, Winston was feeling afraid before O’Brien. His heart was beating very hard and he thought he would not be able to speak. All he was able to think was that they had at last somehow done it.
It was not just harsh of them to approach O’Brien directly but also foolish.
It was absolutely foolish for the two to arrive together at O’Brien’s house.
The two had taken two different routes and had met at O’Brien’s doorstep.
However, it was not easy or possible for just anyone to walk into O’Brien’s house but required nerves.
It was exceptionally rare for a party member to get into an inner party member’s house or even to penetrate into the areas where they lived. O'Brien's apartment had every luxury Winston could imagine, which made Winston more afraid.
There was the smell of good food and tobacco. Well dressed servants were moving around. The flats were huge and everything looked rich and spacious.
Even the lifts were sliding up and down rapidly.
Despite having a good pretext for coming there, Winston was feeling afraid. He was thinking that a guard would suddenly emerge from some corner and demand papers from him and send him out of there.
However, O’Brien’s servant had let them enter the flat without showing any reluctance. The servant was a small dark haired man in a white Jacket. His small diamond shaped face appeared Chinese and had no expression.
He led them down a carpeted passageway. The walls had cream colored wallpapers on them and white wainscoting. Everything looked so exquisitely clean. Winston was even afraid.
He had never seen a passageway whose walls had not grown grimy due to human contact.
O’Brien was studying a slip of paper in his hands. Bent over that piece of paper such that his nose line was visible, he looked formidable and intelligent.
He sat still for around 20 seconds and then pulled the speakwrite towards himself and started speaking in the hybrid jargon of the ministries.
’Items one comma five comma seven approved fullwise stop suggestion contained item six doubleplus ridiculous verging crimethink cancel stop unproceed constructionwise antegetting plusfull estimates machinery overheads stop end message.’
1984 Chapter 8. Part Two.
Having done this, he rose deliberately from his chair and walked towards them. The atmosphere did not appear highly official like before. However, his face looked grimmer than ever. The disappointment at being disturbed looked clear on his face.
Winston felt terrorized and embarrassed. He thought it was a stupid mistake to come there with Julia. Winston was contemplating his actions. He did not have any evidence that O’Brien was any sort of political conspirator.
Only a flash of eyes and a kind of unequivocal remark had suggested it to Winston.
After that, it was all his own mind, which had made up all sorts of things about O’Brien.
He could not say that he had come only to borrow the dictionary since it failed to explain why Julia was accompanying him.
As O’Brien crossed the telescreen in the room while walking towards Winston and Julia, he was thinking. There was a switch on the wall beside him. He turned to the switch and pressed it.
The voice from the telescreen stopped. Julia squeaked in surprise softly. Winston felt terrorized and surprised but for him it was still difficult to hold his tongue. He asked O’Brien if he could switch it off whenever he wanted. O’Brien replied he of course held some special privileges.
O’Brien was now standing opposite the two. His large and solid form towered over them but the expression on his face was impossible to understand. He stood waiting sternly for Winston to speak.
However, it was unclear what he wanted Winston to talk about. Even now, it was clear to Winston that he was just a busy man who was irritated at being interrupted and wanted them to carry out their business faster.
No one spoke and after the telescreen had been silenced, the room was deadly silent. Time passed with enormous difficulty. Winston could not keep his eyes fixed on O’Brien.
Suddenly O’Brien’s facial expression started relaxing. He was not fully smiling yet. He resettled the spectacles on his face with his characteristic gesture. Authoritatively, he asked Winston if he was going to say it or keep him waiting.
Winston said he was going to say it. However, he was still concerned if the telescreen was really turned off. O’Brien confirmed that everything was turned off.
While Winston had started to speak, he suddenly realized that his motive behind coming there was not clear to himself and so he paused.
He did not know what type of support he was expecting from O’Brien and therefore he paused. Winston didn’t even know how to put it into words. Despite knowing it would sound pretentious and feeble, he continued.
Winston told O'Brien that he and Julia believed some kind of secret organization was working against the party and that O’brien himself was involved in it. He and Julia wanted to join the organization and work for it.
They were the enemies of the party and disbelieved the principles of Ingsoc.
He confessed before O’Brien that they were thought criminals and adulterers.
Having said so, Winston further told O’Brien that they were at his mercy and he could incriminate them if he wished so.
Winston felt that somebody had opened the door behind them. He glanced over his shoulder. Just as he expected, somebody had stepped in without knocking at the door.
It was the little yellow faced servant. Winston saw him carrying a tray with a decanter and glasses. His name was Martin and O’Brien assured Winston that he was one of them and there was nothing to worry about.
Next, he asked Martin to arrange chairs for everyone including one for himself. He asked Martin to stop being a servant for the next ten minutes.
Winston saw that the little man was sitting at ease. However, he bore the air of a valet enjoying a special privilege. Winston watched the servant out of the corner of his eyes.
It struck Winston that for the servant his whole life was like playing a role, and he felt afraid of switching to another role even for a moment. O’Brien took the decanter the servant had brought and filled the glasses to the neck with a dark red liquid.
Winston was suddenly struck by the dim memory of something he had seen long ago on a hoarding or a poster. The hoarding had a large bottle made of large lights that seemed to move up and down and pour its contents into a glass.
Seen from the top, it appeared to be black, but in the decanter, it sparkled like a ruby. The liquid had a sour sweet smell. Julia was still more frank than Winston. She picked up the glass and smelled the content with curiosity.
O’Brien told her it was wine. He asked her if she had read about it in books because wine was not for the outer party members. He raised his glass solemnly.
His next lines struck. He said that they should begin their new partnership by drinking to the health of their leader Emmanuel Goldstein.
Winston eagerly took up his glass. He had only read and dreamed about Wine. It was just like that paper glass weight, a luxury of the forgotten olden times as Winston liked to call it secretly.
For some reason, Winston had believed Wine had a sweet taste and immediate intoxicating effect. However, its taste disappointed Winston and he could barely drink it after having tasted gin for years.
Winston set down his glass and asked O’Brien if there was really a person like Goldstein. He replied that there was indeed a person called Emmanuel Goldstein but he was unaware of his whereabouts.
Winston was still curious. He asked if the conspiracy and the brotherhood were real or just an invention of the thought police. O’Brien told him that the brotherhood really existed and that they would never know more about brotherhood than that it was real and they were its members now. He said he will soon provide them with more details.
O’Brien looked at his watch and told them that it was not safe even for the inner party members to switch off the telescreen for more than half an hour. He told them that they should not have come there together.
He bowed to Julia, and addressing her as comrade asked her to leave first. However, before leaving he wanted them to answer a few questions.
They still had twenty minutes before O’Brien would have to switch on the telescreen. He asked what they were willing to do for the brotherhood. Winston replied that they would do everything possible.
O’Brien shifted himself a bit in the chair and faced Winston. He almost ignored Julia, indicating Winston would be answering on her behalf.
For a moment, he shut his eyes and then in a low expressionless voice started asking questions that seemed like a routine procedure. He started by asking questions like if they were willing to give their lives, commit murders, acts of sabotage that might cost thousands of innocent lives, and betray their nation if needed.
Winston answered with a yes to all those questions. Next O’Brien asked Winston if he was ready to cheat, forge, blackmail, corrupt the minds of children, distribute habit-forming drugs, encourage prostitution, disseminate venereal diseases—to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of the Party.
Winston’s response was again yes. O’Brien continued to ask questions like if he was willing tot throw acid in a child’s face for the brotherhod and commit suicide or foresake his real identity forever. Winston affirmed to all of them.
However, his next question was perplexing. He asked if the two of them were willing to part and never see each other again for the sake of the brotherhood. It was when Julia broke in and said a no.
Winston had felt dumbstruck and for several seconds he remained unable to speak until at last he finally said no. O’Brien felt it was necessary to know everything beforehand and they had done well by frankly telling him what they could do and what they could not.
Now, O’Brien turned to Julia. His voice was less expressionless than before. He said that if Winston survived, he might be a changed man with a different face and voice.
The surgeons working for the group could alter someone beyond recognition and in some cases it was necessary. Julia did not speak clearly but her murmuring appeared to be a confirmation.
Winston cast a glance at the servant’s Mongolian looking face. He could not see a single scar on his face. Julia’s face had turned pale but she still boldly faced O’Brien. All was now settled between them.
A silver box of cigarettes was lying on the table and having taken one himself O’Brien pushed the box towards the others. He started walking to and fro as if it helped him think. Winston liked those cigarettes.
They were thick, well packed and were wrapped in a unique silky smooth paper. O’Brien looked at his wrist watch and asked his servant Martin to get back to the pantry. He was going to switch on the telescreen in fifteen minutes.
However, before leaving he wanted him to take a good look at the faces of both of them since in the future O’Brien might not be able to see them and he would have to.
Just like he had done at the time of entry, the servant scanned their faces. There was no friendliness in his manner. Without showing any interest, he continued to scan their faces to memorize them.
Winston thought that they might have altered his face and that’s why he was unable to change his expressions. Martin went out of the room, without speaking or giving any salutation and closed the door behind him.
Meanwhile, O’Brien continued to stroll in the room, holding his cigarette in one hand and another in his pocket of the overalls.
He told Winston that they will work in the dark. He shall receive orders and he will have to follow it without asking any questions. Later, he will send them a book, which will tell them what types of society they lived in and what strategy they must employ to destroy it.
Once they had read the book, they could become full members of the brotherhood. However, apart from the tasks assigned to them and the general aim of the brotherhood, they were not going to know anything.
He further added that while the brotherhood existed, he could never tell them if it had 100 or thousands or millions of members. Winston was going to know no more than a dozen of them.
Apart from that he was never going to have more than three or four contacts that would be renewed from time to time until they had disappeared. Once contact that will always be there was O’Brien, who was his first contact. Winston would receive orders from him directly.
If he wanted, he could communicate with them through Martin. One day Winston was going to be caught, which was inevitable and that day he was going to confess. However, there would be nothing for him apart from his actions to confess.
Since, Winston will know no more than a handful of people, he would not betray more than a few unimportant people. He will not be able to betray O’Brien as he would have changed his identity or died by then.
O’Brien continued to move to and fro on the carpet. Despite his enormous form, he walked with remarkable grace. The same grace was visible when he thrust his hands into his pockets or handled his cigarette.
His enormous form did not give any other impression but of a graceful and confident man with lots of understanding. Even if he was in an earnest he did not demonstrate the single mindedness of a fanatic.
When he spoke of things like murder and amputation, his face showed an expression of mockery. Winston could see a leader in him, who was promising a brighter future and all these struggles would be over when life had become worth living again. He felt deep admiration, almost a feeling of worship for O’Brien.
He felt such intense reverence for O’Brien that even Emmanuel Goldstein grew dwarfed for a moment. When one looked at O’Brien’s enormous figure and his blunt featured face, it appeared ugly and yet so civilized that one could not think that he could be anyhow defeated.
There was no strategy he could not match and no danger he could never foresee. Even Julia looked impressed. She was listening with deep intent and had let her cigarette go out.
O’Brien continued to talk. He told Winston that he must have heard rumors about the brotherhood and might have built his own picture of the hood which included conspirators meeting secretly in cellars and talking to each other in code words.
It was nothing of the kind. The members of the brotherhood do not recognize one another and any member hardly knows a few others. Even Goldstein himself could not provide the thought police a complete list of members if he ever got caught.
There is no complete list that includes all the names. This is what makes it difficult to wipe out the brotherhood. It is not an organization in the ordinary sense. All the members are bound together by an indestructible idea.
Except for the idea that kept the organization running and members working for it, the members did not ever have any other kind of comradeship or encouragement. When someone is finally caught, he receives no help from the brotherhood.
If there is an urgent need and somebody should be silenced immediately, the brotherhood might be able to smuggle a razor blade into the prisoner’s cell. Many times one does not get results for long and needs to keep working.
Hope is the only factor driving the members of the brotherhood. A member worked for sometime, got caught, confessed and died. That’s all. There was no guarantee that Winston might be able to see any significant change during his lifetime.
They were already dead and the only life for them lay in the distant future. However, by then all that would be left of them was dust and splinters of bone. It could take even a thousand years and by then nothing might be left of us, O’Brien continued speaking.
There was no other way but to extend the area of sanity slowly and gradually. This knowledge will be passed on through generations until victory is achieved.
Apart from that, until the thought police was gone there was no other way that led to the destination. Then he stopped and looked at his wrist watch for a third time.
He turned to Julia and told her it was time for her to go. However, the next moment he stopped her because the decanter was still half full.
He filled all the glasses and then raised his own by the stem. He raised a toast and asked Winston to propose what they must drink to. He put forth a few suggestions in an ironic voice.
Should they drink to the confusion of the thought police, the death of Big Brother, to the future or to humanity. Winston suggested that they drink to the past. O’Brien agreed that the past was important. His voice sounded alarming.
After they had emptied their glasses Julia stood up to go when O’Brien picked a box from the cabinet and gave her a flat white tablet that would get her mouth rid of the smell of wine.
It was important, he said, since the lift attendants were very observant. Soon as she left and shut the door behind her, O’Brien appeared to have forgotten her existence.
He walked a few steps to and fro and then told Winston that there were more details that he must know. Next, he asked Winston if there was a hiding place he and Julia used. Winston told him about the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop.
O’Brien said that it was sufficient for now but in the future they will provide him a new hiding place since he needed to change it frequently. Meanwhile, he wanted to send Winston a copy of the book.
Winston noticed O’Brien spoke everything like it was written in italics (as if reading notes given by somebody else). However, O'Brien did not have Goldstein’s book with him at the moment and it could take him some days to get hold of one.
Not many copies of the book were available as the thought police hunted them down and destroyed them as soon as possible. It didn't really make any difference since if the thought police managed to destroy even the last remaining copy, they could still reproduce it without any difficulty.
O’Brien asked Winston if he regularly carried a briefcase to work. Winston did. It was a black, very shabby briefcase with two straps.
It was perfectly fine. O’Brien added. He said that a day in the near future, without mentioning any precise date, one of Winston’s morning tasks will include a misprinted word and he will need to ask for a repeat.
On the next day, he must go to work without his briefcase. On the same day, a man will meet him in the streets and touch him on the arms. He will say that Winston had dropped his briefcase and will give him another one. That briefcase will contain the book, which Winston must return within fourteen days.
Both remained silent for a moment and then O’Brien said that there were just two minutes remaining for him. They would meet again in the future if they had to meet.
Hesitantly, Winston looked at O’Brien’s face and then added - in a place where there is no darkness?
O’Brien was not surprised. He nodded and added - in a place where there is no darkness - like he understood the meaning well. At last, he asked Winston if he wanted to ask any question or had any message for him before he left.
Winston thought for a moment, but there seemed to be no questions in his mind now. There was nothing in his mind right now related to either O’Brien or the brotherhood.
He was instead thinking of the room where his mother had spent her last days and the small room above Mr. Charrington’s shop and this small glass paper weight. He asked O’Brien if he knew a stanza that began with oranges and lemons.
’Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch.’
Winston was delighted to know that O’Brien knew the last lines. He gave Winston the same tablet he had given Julia. He also gave Winston a powerful handshake that nearly crushed his palms.
As Winston turned around before closing the door, he saw O’Brien’s hands were on the switch. Behind him was the table, the green shaded lamp, and the wire baskets full of papers.
Their meeting was over. Winston thought that within thirty seconds O’Brien would be back to his interrupted work and will do the important things he had been doing for the party.