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at the bottom of a passage the smell of roasting
coffee--real coffee, not Victory Coffee--came floating out into the street.
Winston paused involuntarily. For perhaps two seconds he was back in the
half-forgotten world of his childhood. Then a door banged, seeming to cut
off the smell as abruptly as though it had been a sound.
He had walked
several kilometres over pavements, and his varicose ulcer
was throbbing. This was the second time in three weeks that he had missed
an evening at the Community Centre: a rash act, since you could be certain
that the number of your attendances at the Centre was carefully checked.
In principle a Party member had no spare time, and was never alone except
in bed. It was assumed that when he was not working, eating, or sleeping
he would be taking part in some kind of communal recreation: to do anything
that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself,
was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak:
OWNLIFE, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity. But this
evening as he came out of the Ministry the balminess of the April air had
tempted him. The sky was a warmer blue than he had seen it that year, and
suddenly the long, noisy evening at the Centre, the boring, exhausting
games, the lectures, the creaking camaraderie oiled by gin, had seemed
intolerable. On impulse he had turned away from the bus-stop and wandered
off into the labyrinth of London, first south, then east, then north again,
losing himself among unknown streets and hardly bothering in which
direction he was going.
'If there is
hope,' he had written in the diary, 'it lies in the proles.'
The words kept coming back to him, statement of a mystical truth and a
palpable absurdity. He was somewhere in the vague, brown-coloured slums
to the north and east of what had once been Saint Pancras Station. He was
walking up a cobbled street of little two-storey houses with battered
doorways which gave straight on the pavement and which were somehow
curiously suggestive of ratholes. There were puddles of filthy water here
and there among the cobbles. In and out of the dark doorways, and down
narrow alley-ways that branched off on either side, people swarmed in
astonishing numbers--girls in full bloom, with crudely lipsticked mouths,
and youths who chased the girls, and swollen waddling women who showed you
what the girls would be like in ten years' time, and old bent creatures
shuffling along on splayed feet, and ragged barefooted children who played
in the puddles and then scattered at angry yells from their mothers.
Perhaps a quarter of the windows in the street were broken and boarded up.
Most of the people paid no attention to Winston; a few eyed him with a
sort of guarded curiosity. Two monstrous women with brick-red forearms
folded across their aprons were talking outside a doorway. Winston caught
scraps of conversation as he approached.
I says to 'er, "that's all very well," I says. "But if you'd
been in my place you'd of done the same as what I done. It's easy to
criticize," I says, "but you ain't got the same problems as what I got."'
'Ah,' said the other, 'that's jest it. That's jest where it is.'
voices stopped abruptly. The women studied him in hostile
silence as he went past. But it was not hostility, exactly; merely a kind
of wariness, a momentary stiffening, as at the passing of some unfamiliar
animal. The blue overalls of the Party could not be a common sight in a
street like this. Indeed, it was unwise to be seen in such places, unless
you had definite business there. The patrols might stop you if you happened
to run into them. 'May I see your papers, comrade? What are you doing here?
What time did you leave work? Is this your usual way home?'--and so on and
so forth. Not that there was any rule against walking home by an unusual
route: but it was enough to draw attention to you if the Thought Police
heard about it.
whole street was in commotion. There were yells of warning
from all sides. People were shooting into the doorways like rabbits. A
young woman leapt out of a doorway a little ahead of Winston, grabbed up a
tiny child playing in a puddle, whipped her apron round it, and leapt back
again, all in one movement. At the same instant a man in a concertina-like
black suit, who had emerged from a side alley, ran towards Winston,
pointing excitedly to the sky.
'Steamer!' he yelled. 'Look out, guv'nor! Bang over'ead! Lay down quick!'
a nickname which, for some reason, the proles applied to
rocket bombs. Winston promptly flung himself on his face. The proles were
nearly always right when they gave you a warning of this kind. They seemed
to possess some kind of instinct which told them several seconds in advance
when a rocket was coming, although the rockets supposedly travelled faster
than sound. Winston clasped his forearms above his head. There was a roar
that seemed to make the pavement heave; a shower of light objects pattered
on to his back. When he stood up he found that he was covered with
fragments of glass from the nearest window.
He walked on.
The bomb had demolished a group of houses 200 metres up the
street. A black plume of smoke hung in the sky, and below it a cloud of
plaster dust in which a crowd was already forming around the ruins. There
was a little pile of plaster lying on the pavement ahead of him, and in
the middle of it he could see a bright red streak. When he got up to it he
saw that it was a human hand severed at the wrist. Apart from the bloody
stump, the hand was so completely whitened as to resemble a plaster cast.
He kicked the
thing into the gutter, and then, to avoid the crowd, turned
down a side-street to the right. Within three or four minutes he was out
of the area which the bomb had affected, and the sordid swarming life of
the streets was going on as though nothing had happened. It was nearly
twenty hours, and the drinking-shops which the proles frequented ('pubs',
they called them) were choked with customers. From their grimy swing doors,
endlessly opening and shutting, there came forth a smell of urine, sawdust,
and sour beer. In an angle formed by a projecting house-front three men
were standing very close together, the middle one of them holding a
folded-up newspaper which the other two were studying over his shoulder.
Even before he was near enough to make out the expression on their faces,
Winston could see absorption in every line of their bodies. It was
obviously some serious piece of news that they were reading. He was a few
paces away from them when suddenly the group broke up and two of the men
were in violent altercation. For a moment they seemed almost on the point
'Can't you bleeding
well listen to what I say? I tell you no number ending
in seven ain't won for over fourteen months!'
'Yes, it 'as, then!'
'No, it 'as
not! Back 'ome I got the 'ole lot of 'em for over two years
wrote down on a piece of paper. I takes 'em down reg'lar as the clock. An'
I tell you, no number ending in seven----'
'Yes, a seven
'AS won! I could pretty near tell you the bleeding number.
Four oh seven, it ended in. It were in February--second week in February.'
grandmother! I got it all down in black and white. An' I
tell you, no number----'
'Oh, pack it in!' said the third man.
They were talking
about the Lottery. Winston looked back when he had gone
thirty metres. They were still arguing, with vivid, passionate faces.
The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public
event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that
there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal
if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their
folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was
concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of
intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole
tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and
lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery,
which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed
everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary.
Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being
non-existent persons. In the absence of any real intercommunication between
one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange.
But if there
was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling on to that.
When you put it in words it sounded reasonable: it was when you looked at
the human beings passing you on the pavement that it became an act of
faith. The street into which he had turned ran downhill. He had a feeling
that he had been in this neighbourhood before, and that there was a main
thoroughfare not far away. From somewhere ahead there came a din of
shouting voices. The street took a sharp turn and then ended in a flight
of steps which led down into a sunken alley where a few stall-keepers
were selling tired-looking vegetables. At this moment Winston remembered
where he was. The alley led out into the main street, and down the next
turning, not five minutes away, was the junk-shop where he had bought the
blank book which was now his diary. And in a small stationer's shop not
far away he had bought his penholder and his bottle of ink.
He paused for
a moment at the top of the steps. On the opposite side of
the alley there was a dingy little pub whose windows appeared to be frosted
over but in reality were merely coated with dust. A very old man, bent but
active, with white moustaches that bristled forward like those of a prawn,
pushed open the swing door and went in. As Winston stood watching, it
occurred to him that the old man, who must be eighty at the least, had
already been middle-aged when the Revolution happened. He and a few others
like him were the last links that now existed with the vanished world of
capitalism. In the Party itself there were not many people left whose ideas
had been formed before the Revolution. The older generation had mostly
been wiped out in the great purges of the fifties and sixties, and the few
who survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual
surrender. If there was any one still alive who could give you a truthful
account of conditions in the early part of the century, it could only be a
prole. Suddenly the passage from the history book that he had copied into
his diary came back into Winston's mind, and a lunatic impulse took hold
of him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance with that
old man and question him. He would say to him: 'Tell me about your life
when you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better
than they are now, or were they worse?'
he should have time to become frightened, he descended the
steps and crossed the narrow street. It was madness of course. As usual,
there was no definite rule against talking to proles and frequenting their
pubs, but it was far too unusual an action to pass unnoticed. If the
patrols appeared he might plead an attack of faintness, but it was not
likely that they would believe him. He pushed open the door, and a hideous
cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face. As he entered the din of
voices dropped to about half its volume. Behind his back he could feel
everyone eyeing his blue overalls. A game of darts which was going on at
the other end of the room interrupted itself for perhaps as much as thirty
seconds. The old man whom he had followed was standing at the bar, having
some kind of altercation with the barman, a large, stout, hook-nosed young
man with enormous forearms. A knot of others, standing round with glasses
in their hands, were watching the scene.
'I arst you
civil enough, didn't I?' said the old man, straightening his
shoulders pugnaciously. 'You telling me you ain't got a pint mug in the
'ole bleeding boozer?'
'And what in
hell's name IS a pint?' said the barman, leaning forward with
the tips of his fingers on the counter.
''Ark at 'im!
Calls 'isself a barman and don't know what a pint is! Why,
a pint's the 'alf of a quart, and there's four quarts to the gallon.
'Ave to teach you the A, B, C next.'
of 'em,' said the barman shortly. 'Litre and half
litre--that's all we serve. There's the glasses on the shelf in front
'I likes a pint,'
persisted the old man. 'You could 'a drawed me off a pint
easy enough. We didn't 'ave these bleeding litres when I was a young man.'
'When you were
a young man we were all living in the treetops,' said the
barman, with a glance at the other customers.
There was a
shout of laughter, and the uneasiness caused by Winston's entry
seemed to disappear. The old man's white-stubbled face had flushed pink. He
turned away, muttering to himself, and bumped into Winston. Winston caught
him gently by the arm.
'May I offer you a drink?' he said.
'You're a gent,'
said the other, straightening his shoulders again. He
appeared not to have noticed Winston's blue overalls. 'Pint!' he added
aggressively to the barman. 'Pint of wallop.'
The barman swished
two half-litres of dark-brown beer into thick glasses
which he had rinsed in a bucket under the counter. Beer was the only drink
you could get in prole pubs. The proles were supposed not to drink gin,
though in practice they could get hold of it easily enough. The game of
darts was in full swing again, and the knot of men at the bar had begun
talking about lottery tickets. Winston's presence was forgotten for a
moment. There was a deal table under the window where he and the old man
could talk without fear of being overheard. It was horribly dangerous, but
at any rate there was no telescreen in the room, a point he had made sure
of as soon as he came in.
''E could 'a
drawed me off a pint,' grumbled the old man as he settled down
behind a glass. 'A 'alf litre ain't enough. It don't satisfy. And a 'ole
litre's too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price.'
'You must have
seen great changes since you were a young man,' said
The old man's
pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and
from the bar to the door of the Gents, as though it were in the bar-room
that he expected the changes to have occurred.
'The beer was
better,' he said finally. 'And cheaper! When I was a young
man, mild beer--wallop we used to call it--was fourpence a pint. That was
before the war, of course.'
'Which war was that?' said Winston.
'It's all wars,'
said the old man vaguely. He took up his glass, and his
shoulders straightened again. ''Ere's wishing you the very best of 'ealth!'
In his lean
throat the sharp-pointed Adam's apple made a surprisingly rapid
up-and-down movement, and the beer vanished. Winston went to the bar and
came back with two more half-litres. The old man appeared to have forgotten
his prejudice against drinking a full litre.
'You are very
much older than I am,' said Winston. 'You must have been a
grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old
days, before the Revolution. People of my age don't really know anything
about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says
in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that. The
history books say that life before the Revolution was completely different
from what it is now. There was the most terrible oppression, injustice,
poverty worse than anything we can imagine. Here in London, the great mass
of the people never had enough to eat from birth to death. Half of them
hadn't even boots on their feet. They worked twelve hours a day, they left
school at nine, they slept ten in a room. And at the same time there were
a very few people, only a few thousands--the capitalists, they were
called--who were rich and powerful. They owned everything that there was
to own. They lived in great gorgeous houses with thirty servants, they
rode about in motor-cars and four-horse carriages, they drank champagne,
they wore top hats----'
The old man brightened suddenly.
he said. 'Funny you should mention 'em. The same thing come
into my 'ead only yesterday, I dono why. I was jest thinking, I ain't seen
a top 'at in years. Gorn right out, they 'ave. The last time I wore one
was at my sister-in-law's funeral. And that was--well, I couldn't give you
the date, but it must'a been fifty years ago. Of course it was only 'ired
for the occasion, you understand.'
'It isn't very
important about the top hats,' said Winston patiently.
'The point is, these capitalists--they and a few lawyers and priests and
so forth who lived on them--were the lords of the earth. Everything existed
for their benefit. You--the ordinary people, the workers--were their
slaves. They could do what they liked with you. They could ship you off to
Canada like cattle. They could sleep with your daughters if they chose.
They could order you to be flogged with something called a cat-o'-nine
tails. You had to take your cap off when you passed them. Every capitalist
went about with a gang of lackeys who----'
The old man brightened again.
said. 'Now there's a word I ain't 'eard since ever so long.
Lackeys! That reg'lar takes me back, that does. I recollect--oh, donkey's
years ago--I used to sometimes go to 'Yde Park of a Sunday afternoon to
'ear the blokes making speeches. Salvation Army, Roman Catholics, Jews,
Indians--all sorts there was. And there was one bloke--well, I couldn't
give you 'is name, but a real powerful speaker 'e was. 'E didn't 'alf
give it 'em! "Lackeys!" 'e says, "lackeys of the bourgeoisie! Flunkies of
the ruling class!" Parasites--that was another of them. And 'yenas--'e
definitely called 'em 'yenas. Of course 'e was referring to the Labour
Party, you understand.'
Winston had the feeling that they were talking at cross-purposes.
'What I really
wanted to know was this,' he said. 'Do you feel that you
have more freedom now than you had in those days? Are you treated more
like a human being? In the old days, the rich people, the people at the
'The 'Ouse of Lords,' put in the old man reminiscently.
'The House of
Lords, if you like. What I am asking is, were these people
able to treat you as an inferior, simply because they were rich and you
were poor? Is it a fact, for instance, that you had to call them "Sir" and
take off your cap when you passed them?'
The old man
appeared to think deeply. He drank off about a quarter of his
beer before answering.
'Yes,' he said.
'They liked you to touch your cap to 'em. It showed
respect, like. I didn't agree with it, myself, but I done it often enough.
Had to, as you might say.'
'And was it
usual--I'm only quoting what I've read in history books--was
it usual for these people and their servants to push you off the pavement
into the gutter?'
'One of 'em
pushed me once,' said the old man. 'I recollect it as if it
was yesterday. It was Boat Race night--terribly rowdy they used to get on
Boat Race night--and I bumps into a young bloke on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Quite a gent, 'e was--dress shirt, top 'at, black overcoat. 'E was kind
of zig-zagging across the pavement, and I bumps into 'im accidental-like.
'E says, "Why can't you look where you're going?" 'e says. I say, "Ju think
you've bought the bleeding pavement?" 'E says, "I'll twist your bloody 'ead
off if you get fresh with me." I says, "You're drunk. I'll give you in
charge in 'alf a minute," I says. An' if you'll believe me, 'e puts 'is
'and on my chest and gives me a shove as pretty near sent me under the
wheels of a bus. Well, I was young in them days, and I was going to 'ave
fetched 'im one, only----'
A sense of helplessness
took hold of Winston. The old man's memory was
nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day
without getting any real information. The party histories might still be
true, after a fashion: they might even be completely true. He made a last
'Perhaps I have
not made myself clear,' he said. 'What I'm trying to say
is this. You have been alive a very long time; you lived half your life
before the Revolution. In 1925, for instance, you were already grown up.
Would you say from what you can remember, that life in 1925 was better
than it is now, or worse? If you could choose, would you prefer to live
then or now?'
The old man
looked meditatively at the darts board. He finished up his
beer, more slowly than before. When he spoke it was with a tolerant
philosophical air, as though the beer had mellowed him.
'I know what
you expect me to say,' he said. 'You expect me to say as I'd
sooner be young again. Most people'd say they'd sooner be young, if you
arst 'em. You got your 'ealth and strength when you're young. When you
get to my time of life you ain't never well. I suffer something wicked
from my feet, and my bladder's jest terrible. Six and seven times a night
it 'as me out of bed. On the other 'and, there's great advantages in being
a old man. You ain't got the same worries. No truck with women, and that's
a great thing. I ain't 'ad a woman for near on thirty year, if you'd
credit it. Nor wanted to, what's more.'
back against the window-sill. It was no use going on. He was
about to buy some more beer when the old man suddenly got up and shuffled
rapidly into the stinking urinal at the side of the room. The extra
half-litre was already working on him. Winston sat for a minute or two
gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet carried him out
into the street again. Within twenty years at the most, he reflected, the
huge and simple question, 'Was life better before the Revolution than it
is now?' would have ceased once and for all to be answerable. But in effect
it was unanswerable even now, since the few scattered survivors from the
ancient world were incapable of comparing one age with another. They
remembered a million useless things, a quarrel with a workmate, a hunt for
a lost bicycle pump, the expression on a long-dead sister's face, the
swirls of dust on a windy morning seventy years ago: but all the relevant
facts were outside the range of their vision. They were like the ant,
which can see small objects but not large ones. And when memory failed and
written records were falsified--when that happened, the claim of the Party
to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted,
because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard
against which it could be tested.
At this moment
his train of thought stopped abruptly. He halted and looked
up. He was in a narrow street, with a few dark little shops, interspersed
among dwelling-houses. Immediately above his head there hung three
discoloured metal balls which looked as if they had once been gilded. He
seemed to know the place. Of course! He was standing outside the junk-shop
where he had bought the diary.
A twinge of
fear went through him. It had been a sufficiently rash act to
buy the book in the beginning, and he had sworn never to come near the
place again. And yet the instant that he allowed his thoughts to wander,
his feet had brought him back here of their own accord. It was precisely
against suicidal impulses of this kind that he had hoped to guard himself
by opening the diary. At the same time he noticed that although it was
nearly twenty-one hours the shop was still open. With the feeling that he
would be less conspicuous inside than hanging about on the pavement, he
stepped through the doorway. If questioned, he could plausibly say that
he was trying to buy razor blades.
had just lighted a hanging oil lamp which gave off an
unclean but friendly smell. He was a man of perhaps sixty, frail and
bowed, with a long, benevolent nose, and mild eyes distorted by thick
spectacles. His hair was almost white, but his eyebrows were bushy and
still black. His spectacles, his gentle, fussy movements, and the fact
that he was wearing an aged jacket of black velvet, gave him a vague air
of intellectuality, as though he had been some kind of literary man, or
perhaps a musician. His voice was soft, as though faded, and his accent
less debased than that of the majority of proles.
you on the pavement,' he said immediately. 'You're the
gentleman that bought the young lady's keepsake album. That was a beautiful
bit of paper, that was. Cream-laid, it used to be called. There's been no
paper like that made for--oh, I dare say fifty years.' He peered at Winston
over the top of his spectacles. 'Is there anything special I can do for
you? Or did you just want to look round?'
'I was passing,'
said Winston vaguely. 'I just looked in. I don't want
anything in particular.'
'It's just as
well,' said the other, 'because I don't suppose I could have
satisfied you.' He made an apologetic gesture with his softpalmed hand.
'You see how it is; an empty shop, you might say. Between you and me, the
antique trade's just about finished. No demand any longer, and no stock
either. Furniture, china, glass it's all been broken up by degrees. And
of course the metal stuff's mostly been melted down. I haven't seen a brass
candlestick in years.'
The tiny interior
of the shop was in fact uncomfortably full, but there
was almost nothing in it of the slightest value. The floorspace was very
restricted, because all round the walls were stacked innumerable dusty
picture-frames. In the window there were trays of nuts and bolts, worn-out
chisels, penknives with broken blades, tarnished watches that did not even
pretend to be in going order, and other miscellaneous rubbish. Only on a
small table in the corner was there a litter of odds and ends--lacquered
snuffboxes, agate brooches, and the like--which looked as though they might
include something interesting. As Winston wandered towards the table his
eye was caught by a round, smooth thing that gleamed softly in the
lamplight, and he picked it up.
It was a heavy
lump of glass, curved on one side, flat on the other, making
almost a hemisphere. There was a peculiar softness, as of rainwater, in
both the colour and the texture of the glass. At the heart of it, magnified
by the curved surface, there was a strange, pink, convoluted object that
recalled a rose or a sea anemone.
'What is it?' said Winston, fascinated.
that is,' said the old man. 'It must have come from the
Indian Ocean. They used to kind of embed it in the glass. That wasn't made
less than a hundred years ago. More, by the look of it.'
'It's a beautiful thing,' said Winston.
'It is a beautiful
thing,' said the other appreciatively. 'But there's not
many that'd say so nowadays.' He coughed. 'Now, if it so happened that you
wanted to buy it, that'd cost you four dollars. I can remember when a thing
like that would have fetched eight pounds, and eight pounds was--well, I
can't work it out, but it was a lot of money. But who cares about genuine
antiques nowadays--even the few that's left?'
paid over the four dollars and slid the coveted thing
into his pocket. What appealed to him about it was not so much its beauty
as the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different
from the present one. The soft, rainwatery glass was not like any glass
that he had ever seen. The thing was doubly attractive because of its
apparent uselessness, though he could guess that it must once have been
intended as a paperweight. It was very heavy in his pocket, but fortunately
it did not make much of a bulge. It was a queer thing, even a compromising
thing, for a Party member to have in his possession. Anything old, and for
that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect. The old man had
grown noticeably more cheerful after receiving the four dollars. Winston
realized that he would have accepted three or even two.
room upstairs that you might care to take a look at,' he
said. 'There's not much in it. Just a few pieces. We'll do with a light if
we're going upstairs.'
He lit another
lamp, and, with bowed back, led the way slowly up the
steep and worn stairs and along a tiny passage, into a room which did
not give on the street but looked out on a cobbled yard and a forest of
chimney-pots. Winston noticed that the furniture was still arranged as
though the room were meant to be lived in. There was a strip of carpet on
the floor, a picture or two on the walls, and a deep, slatternly arm-chair
drawn up to the fireplace. An old-fashioned glass clock with a twelve-hour
face was ticking away on the mantelpiece. Under the window, and occupying
nearly a quarter of the room, was an enormous bed with the mattress still
'We lived here
till my wife died,' said the old man half apologetically.
'I'm selling the furniture off by little and little. Now that's a beautiful
mahogany bed, or at least it would be if you could get the bugs out of it.
But I dare say you'd find it a little bit cumbersome.'
He was holding
the lamp high up, so as to illuminate the whole room, and
in the warm dim light the place looked curiously inviting. The thought
flitted through Winston's mind that it would probably be quite easy to
rent the room for a few dollars a week, if he dared to take the risk. It
was a wild, impossible notion, to be abandoned as soon as thought of; but
the room had awakened in him a sort of nostalgia, a sort of ancestral
memory. It seemed to him that he knew exactly what it felt like to sit in
a room like this, in an arm-chair beside an open fire with your feet in
the fender and a kettle on the hob; utterly alone, utterly secure, with
nobody watching you, no voice pursuing you, no sound except the singing
of the kettle and the friendly ticking of the clock.
'There's no telescreen!' he could not help murmuring.
'Ah,' said the
old man, 'I never had one of those things. Too expensive.
And I never seemed to feel the need of it, somehow. Now that's a nice
gateleg table in the corner there. Though of course you'd have to put new
hinges on it if you wanted to use the flaps.'
There was a
small bookcase in the other corner, and Winston had already
gravitated towards it. It contained nothing but rubbish. The hunting-down
and destruction of books had been done with the same thoroughness in the
prole quarters as everywhere else. It was very unlikely that there existed
anywhere in Oceania a copy of a book printed earlier than 1960. The old
man, still carrying the lamp, was standing in front of a picture in a
rosewood frame which hung on the other side of the fireplace, opposite
'Now, if you
happen to be interested in old prints at all----' he began
across to examine the picture. It was a steel engraving of an
oval building with rectangular windows, and a small tower in front. There
was a railing running round the building, and at the rear end there was
what appeared to be a statue. Winston gazed at it for some moments. It
seemed vaguely familiar, though he did not remember the statue.
fixed to the wall,' said the old man, 'but I could unscrew it
for you, I dare say.'
'I know that
building,' said Winston finally. 'It's a ruin now. It's in
the middle of the street outside the Palace of Justice.'
Outside the Law Courts. It was bombed in--oh, many years
ago. It was a church at one time, St Clement Danes, its name was.' He
smiled apologetically, as though conscious of saying something slightly
ridiculous, and added: 'Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's!'
'What's that?' said Winston.
and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's." That was a rhyme
we had when I was a little boy. How it goes on I don't remember, but I do
know it ended up, "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a
chopper to chop off your head." It was a kind of a dance. They held out
their arms for you to pass under, and when they came to "Here comes a
chopper to chop off your head" they brought their arms down and caught you.
It was just names of churches. All the London churches were in it--all the
principal ones, that is.'
vaguely to what century the church belonged. It was always
difficult to determine the age of a London building. Anything large and
impressive, if it was reasonably new in appearance, was automatically
claimed as having been built since the Revolution, while anything that was
obviously of earlier date was ascribed to some dim period called the Middle
Ages. The centuries of capitalism were held to have produced nothing of any
value. One could not learn history from architecture any more than one
could learn it from books. Statues, inscriptions, memorial stones, the
names of streets--anything that might throw light upon the past had been
'I never knew it had been a church,' he said.
'There's a lot
of them left, really,' said the old man, 'though they've
been put to other uses. Now, how did that rhyme go? Ah! I've got it!
"Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin's----"
there, now, that's as far as I can get. A farthing, that was a small copper
coin, looked something like a cent.'
'Where was St Martin's?' said Winston.
That's still standing. It's in Victory Square, alongside the
picture gallery. A building with a kind of a triangular porch and pillars
in front, and a big flight of steps.'
the place well. It was a museum used for propaganda displays
of various kinds--scale models of rocket bombs and Floating Fortresses,
waxwork tableaux illustrating enemy atrocities, and the like.
it used to be called,' supplemented the old man,
'though I don't recollect any fields anywhere in those parts.'
not buy the picture. It would have been an even more
incongruous possession than the glass paperweight, and impossible to carry
home, unless it were taken out of its frame. But he lingered for some
minutes more, talking to the old man, whose name, he discovered, was not
Weeks--as one might have gathered from the inscription over the
shop-front--but Charrington. Mr Charrington, it seemed, was a widower aged
sixty-three and had inhabited this shop for thirty years. Throughout that
time he had been intending to alter the name over the window, but had never
quite got to the point of doing it. All the while that they were talking
the half-remembered rhyme kept running through Winston's head. Oranges and
lemons say the bells of St Clement's, You owe me three farthings, say
the bells of St Martin's! It was curious, but when you said it to yourself
you had the illusion of actually hearing bells, the bells of a lost London
that still existed somewhere or other, disguised and forgotten. From one
ghostly steeple after another he seemed to hear them pealing forth. Yet so
far as he could remember he had never in real life heard church bells
He got away
from Mr Charrington and went down the stairs alone, so as not
to let the old man see him reconnoitring the street before stepping out of
the door. He had already made up his mind that after a suitable
interval--a month, say--he would take the risk of visiting the shop again.
It was perhaps not more dangerous than shirking an evening at the Centre.
The serious piece of folly had been to come back here in the first place,
after buying the diary and without knowing whether the proprietor of the
shop could be trusted. However----!
Yes, he thought
again, he would come back. He would buy further scraps of
beautiful rubbish. He would buy the engraving of St Clement Danes, take
it out of its frame, and carry it home concealed under the jacket of his
overalls. He would drag the rest of that poem out of Mr Charrington's
memory. Even the lunatic project of renting the room upstairs flashed
momentarily through his mind again. For perhaps five seconds exaltation
made him careless, and he stepped out on to the pavement without so much
as a preliminary glance through the window. He had even started humming
to an improvised tune
Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's,
You owe me three farthings, say the----
Suddenly his heart seemed to turn to ice and his bowels to water. A figure
in blue overalls was coming down the pavement, not ten metres away. It was
the girl from the Fiction Department, the girl with dark hair. The light
was failing, but there was no difficulty in recognizing her. She looked
him straight in the face, then walked quickly on as though she had not
For a few seconds
Winston was too paralysed to move. Then he turned to the
right and walked heavily away, not noticing for the moment that he was
going in the wrong direction. At any rate, one question was settled. There
was no doubting any longer that the girl was spying on him. She must have
followed him here, because it was not credible that by pure chance she
should have happened to be walking on the same evening up the same obscure
backstreet, kilometres distant from any quarter where Party members lived.
It was too great a coincidence. Whether she was really an agent of the
Thought Police, or simply an amateur spy actuated by officiousness, hardly
mattered. It was enough that she was watching him. Probably she had seen
him go into the pub as well.
It was an effort
to walk. The lump of glass in his pocket banged against
his thigh at each step, and he was half minded to take it out and throw it
away. The worst thing was the pain in his belly. For a couple of minutes
he had the feeling that he would die if he did not reach a lavatory soon.
But there would be no public lavatories in a quarter like this. Then the
spasm passed, leaving a dull ache behind.
The street was
a blind alley. Winston halted, stood for several seconds
wondering vaguely what to do, then turned round and began to retrace his
steps. As he turned it occurred to him that the girl had only passed him
three minutes ago and that by running he could probably catch up with her.
He could keep on her track till they were in some quiet place, and then
smash her skull in with a cobblestone. The piece of glass in his pocket
would be heavy enough for the job. But he abandoned the idea immediately,
because even the thought of making any physical effort was unbearable. He
could not run, he could not strike a blow. Besides, she was young and lusty
and would defend herself. He thought also of hurrying to the Community
Centre and staying there till the place closed, so as to establish a
partial alibi for the evening. But that too was impossible. A deadly
lassitude had taken hold of him. All he wanted was to get home quickly and
then sit down and be quiet.
It was after
twenty-two hours when he got back to the flat. The lights
would be switched off at the main at twenty-three thirty. He went into the
kitchen and swallowed nearly a teacupful of Victory Gin. Then he went to
the table in the alcove, sat down, and took the diary out of the drawer.
But he did not open it at once. From the telescreen a brassy female voice
was squalling a patriotic song. He sat staring at the marbled cover of the
book, trying without success to shut the voice out of his consciousness.
It was at night
that they came for you, always at night. The proper thing
was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly some people did so.
Many of the disappearances were actually suicides. But it needed desperate
courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and
certain poison, were completely unprocurable. He thought with a kind of
astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery
of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment
when a special effort is needed. He might have silenced the dark-haired
girl if only he had acted quickly enough: but precisely because of the
extremity of his danger he had lost the power to act. It struck him that
in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but
always against one's own body. Even now, in spite of the gin, the dull
ache in his belly made consecutive thought impossible. And it is the same,
he perceived, in all seemingly heroic or tragic situations. On the
battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that
you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until
it fills the universe, and even when you are not paralysed by fright or
screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or
cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth.
He opened the
diary. It was important to write something down. The woman
on the telescreen had started a new song. Her voice seemed to stick into
his brain like jagged splinters of glass. He tried to think of O'Brien,
for whom, or to whom, the diary was written, but instead he began thinking
of the things that would happen to him after the Thought Police took him
away. It would not matter if they killed you at once. To be killed was
what you expected. But before death (nobody spoke of such things, yet
everybody knew of them) there was the routine of confession that had to
be gone through: the grovelling 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? Why was
it not possible to cut a few days or weeks out of your life? Nobody ever
escaped detection, and nobody ever failed to confess. When once you had
succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be
dead. Why then did that horror, which altered nothing, have to lie embedded
in future time?
He tried with
a little more success than before to summon up the image of
O'Brien. 'We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,' O'Brien
had said to him. He knew what it meant, or thought he knew. The place where
there is no darkness was the imagined future, which one would never see,
but which, by foreknowledge, one could mystically share in. But with the
voice from the telescreen nagging at his ears he could not follow the train
of thought further. He put a cigarette in his mouth. Half the tobacco
promptly fell out on to his tongue, a bitter dust which was difficult to
spit out again. The face of Big Brother swam into his mind, displacing that
of O'Brien. Just as he had done a few days earlier, he slid a coin out of
his pocket and looked at it. The face gazed up at him, heavy, calm,
protecting: but what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache?
Like a leaden knell the words came back at him:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
It was the middle
of the morning, and Winston had left the cubicle to go
to the lavatory.
A solitary figure
was coming towards him from the other end of the long,
brightly-lit corridor. It was the girl with dark hair. Four days had gone
past since the evening when he had run into her outside the junk-shop.
As she came nearer he saw that her right arm was in a sling, not noticeable
at a distance because it was of the same colour as her overalls. Probably
she had crushed her hand while swinging round one of the big kaleidoscopes
on which the plots of novels were 'roughed in'. It was a common accident
in the Fiction Department.
They were perhaps
four metres apart when the girl stumbled and fell almost
flat on her face. A sharp cry of pain was wrung out of her. She must have
fallen right on the injured arm. Winston stopped short. The girl had risen
to her knees. Her face had turned a milky yellow colour against which her
mouth stood out redder than ever. Her eyes were fixed on his, with an
appealing expression that looked more like fear than pain.
A curious emotion
stirred in Winston's heart. In front of him was an enemy
who was trying to kill him: in front of him, also, was a human creature,
in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. Already he had instinctively
started forward to help her. In the moment when he had seen her fall on
the bandaged arm, it had been as though he felt the pain in his own body.
'You're hurt?' he said.
'It's nothing. My arm. It'll be all right in a second.'
She spoke as
though her heart were fluttering. She had certainly turned
'You haven't broken anything?'
'No, I'm all right. It hurt for a moment, that's all.'
She held out
her free hand to him, and he helped her up. She had regained
some of her colour, and appeared very much better.
she repeated shortly. 'I only gave my wrist a bit of a
bang. Thanks, comrade!'
And with that
she walked on in the direction in which she had been going,
as briskly as though it had really been nothing. The whole incident could
not have taken as much as half a minute. Not to let one's feelings appear
in one's face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct,
and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen
when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to
betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was
helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no
question that she had done it intentionally. It was something small and
flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his
pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers. It was a scrap of paper
folded into a square.
While he stood
at the urinal he managed, with a little more fingering, to
get it unfolded. Obviously there must be a message of some kind written on
it. For a moment he was tempted to take it into one of the water-closets
and read it at once. But that would be shocking folly, as he well knew.
There was no place where you could be more certain that the telescreens
were watched continuously.
He went back
to his cubicle, sat down, threw the fragment of paper
casually among the other papers on the desk, put on his spectacles and
hitched the speakwrite towards him. 'Five minutes,' he told himself,
'five minutes at the very least!' His heart bumped in his breast with
frightening loudness. Fortunately the piece of work he was engaged on was
mere routine, the rectification of a long list of figures, not needing
written on the paper, it must have some kind of political
meaning. So far as he could see there were two possibilities. One, much
the more likely, was that the girl was an agent of the Thought Police,
just as he had feared. He did not know why the Thought Police should
choose to deliver their messages in such a fashion, but perhaps they had
their reasons. The thing that was written on the paper might be a threat, a
summons, an order to commit suicide, a trap of some description. But there
was another, wilder possibility that kept raising its head, though he
tried vainly to suppress it. This was, that the message did not come from
the Thought Police at all, but from some kind of underground organization.
Perhaps the Brotherhood existed after all! Perhaps the girl was part of it!
No doubt the idea was absurd, but it had sprung into his mind in the very
instant of feeling the scrap of paper in his hand. It was not till a couple
of minutes later that the other, more probable explanation had occurred to
him. And even now, though his intellect told him that the message probably
meant death--still, that was not what he believed, and the unreasonable
hope persisted, and his heart banged, and it was with difficulty that he
kept his voice from trembling as he murmured his figures into the
He rolled up
the completed bundle of work and slid it into the pneumatic
tube. Eight minutes had gone by. He re-adjusted his spectacles on his nose,
sighed, and drew the next batch of work towards him, with the scrap of
paper on top of it. He flattened it out. On it was written, in a large
I LOVE YOU.
seconds he was too stunned even to throw the incriminating
thing into the memory hole. When he did so, although he knew very well the
danger of showing too much interest, he could not resist reading it once
again, just to make sure that the words were really there.
For the rest
of the morning it was very difficult to work. What was even
worse than having to focus his mind on a series of niggling jobs was the
need to conceal his agitation from the telescreen. He felt as though a
fire were burning in his belly. Lunch in the hot, crowded, noise-filled
canteen was torment. He had hoped to be alone for a little while during
the lunch hour, but as bad luck would have it the imbecile Parsons flopped
down beside him, the tang of his sweat almost defeating the tinny smell of
stew, and kept up a stream of talk about the preparations for Hate Week.
He was particularly enthusiastic about a papier-mache model of Big
Brother's head, two metres wide, which was being made for the occasion by
his daughter's troop of Spies. The irritating thing was that in the racket
of voices Winston could hardly hear what Parsons was saying, and was
constantly having to ask for some fatuous remark to be repeated. Just once
he caught a glimpse of the girl, at a table with two other girls at the
far end of the room. She appeared not to have seen him, and he did not
look in that direction again.
was more bearable. Immediately after lunch there arrived a
delicate, difficult piece of work which would take several hours and
necessitated putting everything else aside. It consisted in falsifying a
series of production reports of two years ago, in such a way as to cast
discredit on a prominent member of the Inner Party, who was now under a
cloud. This was the kind of thing that Winston was good at, and for more
than two hours he succeeded in shutting the girl out of his mind
altogether. Then the memory of her face came back, and with it a raging,
intolerable desire to be alone. Until he could be alone it was impossible
to think this new development out. Tonight was one of his nights at the
Community Centre. He wolfed another tasteless meal in the canteen, hurried
off to the Centre, took part in the solemn foolery of a 'discussion group',
played two games of table tennis, swallowed several glasses of gin, and
sat for half an hour through a lecture entitled 'Ingsoc in relation to
chess'. His soul writhed with boredom, but for once he had had no impulse
to shirk his evening at the Centre. At the sight of the words I LOVE YOU
the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor
risks suddenly seemed stupid. It was not till twenty-three hours, when he
was home and in bed--in the darkness, where you were safe even from the
telescreen so long as you kept silent--that he was able to think
It was a physical
problem that had to be solved: how to get in touch with
the girl and arrange a meeting. He did not consider any longer the
possibility that she might be laying some kind of trap for him. He knew
that it was not so, because of her unmistakable agitation when she handed
him the note. Obviously she had been frightened out of her wits, as well
she might be. Nor did the idea of refusing her advances even cross his
mind. Only five nights ago he had contemplated smashing her skull in with
a cobblestone, but that was of no importance. He thought of her naked,
youthful body, as he had seen it in his dream. He had imagined her a fool
like all the rest of them, her head stuffed with lies and hatred, her
belly full of ice. A kind of fever seized him at the thought that he might
lose her, the white youthful body might slip away from him! What he feared
more than anything else was that she would simply change her mind if he
did not get in touch with her quickly. But the physical difficulty of
meeting was enormous. It was like trying to make a move at chess when you
were already mated. Whichever way you turned, the telescreen faced you.
Actually, all the possible ways of communicating with her had occurred to
him within five minutes of reading the note; but now, with time to think,
he went over them one by one, as though laying out a row of instruments
on a table.
kind of encounter that had happened this morning could not
be repeated. If she had worked in the Records Department it might have
been comparatively simple, but he had only a very dim idea whereabouts in
the building the Fiction Department lay, and he had no pretext for going
there. If he had known where she lived, and at what time she left work,
he could have contrived to meet her somewhere on her way home; but to try
to follow her home was not safe, because it would mean loitering about
outside the Ministry, which was bound to be noticed. As for sending a
letter through the mails, it was out of the question. By a routine that
was not even secret, all letters were opened in transit. Actually, few
people ever wrote letters. For the messages that it was occasionally
necessary to send, there were printed postcards with long lists of phrases,
and you struck out the ones that were inapplicable. In any case he did not
know the girl's name, let alone her address. Finally he decided that the
safest place was the canteen. If he could get her at a table by herself,
somewhere in the middle of the room, not too near the telescreens, and
with a sufficient buzz of conversation all round--if these conditions
endured for, say, thirty seconds, it might be possible to exchange a few
For a week after
this, life was like a restless dream. On the next day she
did not appear in the canteen until he was leaving it, the whistle having
already blown. Presumably she had been changed on to a later shift. They
passed each other without a glance. On the day after that she was in the
canteen at the usual time, but with three other girls and immediately
under a telescreen. Then for three dreadful days she did not appear at
all. His whole mind and body seemed to be afflicted with an unbearable
sensitivity, a sort of transparency, which made every movement, every
sound, every contact, every word that he had to speak or listen to, an
agony. Even in sleep he could not altogether escape from her image. He did
not touch the diary during those days. If there was any relief, it was in
his work, in which he could sometimes forget himself for ten minutes at a
stretch. He had absolutely no clue as to what had happened to her. There
was no enquiry he could make. She might have been vaporized, she might
have committed suicide, she might have been transferred to the other end
of Oceania: worst and likeliest of all, she might simply have changed her
mind and decided to avoid him.
The next day
she reappeared. Her arm was out of the sling and she had a
band of sticking-plaster round her wrist. The relief of seeing her was
so great that he could not resist staring directly at her for several
seconds. On the following day he very nearly succeeded in speaking to her.
When he came into the canteen she was sitting at a table well out from the
wall, and was quite alone. It was early, and the place was not very full.
The queue edged forward till Winston was almost at the counter, then was
held up for two minutes because someone in front was complaining that he
had not received his tablet of saccharine. But the girl was still alone
when Winston secured his tray and began to make for her table. He walked
casually towards her, his eyes searching for a place at some table beyond
her. She was perhaps three metres away from him. Another two seconds would
do it. Then a voice behind him called, 'Smith!' He pretended not to hear.
'Smith!' repeated the voice, more loudly. It was no use. He turned round.
A blond-headed, silly-faced young man named Wilsher, whom he barely knew,
was inviting him with a smile to a vacant place at his table. It was not
safe to refuse. After having been recognized, he could not go and sit at
a table with an unattended girl. It was too noticeable. He sat down with
a friendly smile. The silly blond face beamed into his. Winston had a
hallucination of himself smashing a pick-axe right into the middle of it.
The girl's table filled up a few minutes later.
But she must
have seen him coming towards her, and perhaps she would take
the hint. Next day he took care to arrive early. Surely enough, she was at
a table in about the same place, and again alone. The person immediately
ahead of him in the queue was a small, swiftly-moving, beetle-like man
with a flat face and tiny, suspicious eyes. As Winston turned away from
the counter with his tray, he saw that the little man was making straight
for the girl's table. His hopes sank again. There was a vacant place at a
table further away, but something in the little man's appearance suggested
that he would be sufficiently attentive to his own comfort to choose the
emptiest table. With ice at his heart Winston followed. It was no use
unless he could get the girl alone. At this moment there was a tremendous
crash. The little man was sprawling on all fours, his tray had gone flying,
two streams of soup and coffee were flowing across the floor. He started
to his feet with a malignant glance at Winston, whom he evidently
suspected of having tripped him up. But it was all right. Five seconds
later, with a thundering heart, Winston was sitting at the girl's table.
He did not look
at her. He unpacked his tray and promptly began eating.
It was all-important to speak at once, before anyone else came, but now
a terrible fear had taken possession of him. A week had gone by since
she had first approached him. She would have changed her mind, she must
have changed her mind! It was impossible that this affair should end
successfully; such things did not happen in real life. He might have
flinched altogether from speaking if at this moment he had not seen
Ampleforth, the hairy-eared poet, wandering limply round the room with
a tray, looking for a place to sit down. In his vague way Ampleforth
was attached to Winston, and would certainly sit down at his table if
he caught sight of him. There was perhaps a minute in which to act. Both
Winston and the girl were eating steadily. The stuff they were eating was
a thin stew, actually a soup, of haricot beans. In a low murmur Winston
began speaking. Neither of them looked up; steadily they spooned the
watery stuff into their mouths, and between spoonfuls exchanged the few
necessary words in low expressionless voices.
'What time do you leave work?'
'Where can we meet?'
'Victory Square, near the monument.'
'It's full of telescreens.'
'It doesn't matter if there's a crowd.'
'No. Don't come
up to me until you see me among a lot of people. And don't
look at me. Just keep somewhere near me.'
to see Winston and sat down at another table. They did
not speak again, and, so far as it was possible for two people sitting on
opposite sides of the same table, they did not look at one another. The
girl finished her lunch quickly and made off, while Winston stayed to
smoke a cigarette.
in Victory Square before the appointed time. He wandered round
the base of the enormous fluted column, at the top of which Big Brother's
statue gazed southward towards the skies where he had vanquished the
Eurasian aeroplanes (the Eastasian aeroplanes, it had been, a few years
ago) in the Battle of Airstrip One. In the street in front of it there was
a statue of a man on horseback which was supposed to represent Oliver
Cromwell. At five minutes past the hour the girl had still not appeared.
Again the terrible fear seized upon Winston. She was not coming, she had
changed her mind! He walked slowly up to the north side of the square and
got a sort of pale-coloured pleasure from identifying St Martin's Church,
whose bells, when it had bells, had chimed 'You owe me three farthings.'
Then he saw the girl standing at the base of the monument, reading or
pretending to read a poster which ran spirally up the column. It was not
safe to go near her until some more people had accumulated. There were
telescreens all round the pediment. But at this moment there was a din of
shouting and a zoom of heavy vehicles from somewhere to the left. Suddenly
everyone seemed to be running across the square. The girl nipped nimbly
round the lions at the base of the monument and joined in the rush.
Winston followed. As he ran, he gathered from some shouted remarks that
a convoy of Eurasian prisoners was passing.
Already a dense
mass of people was blocking the south side of the square.
Winston, at normal times the kind of person who gravitates to the outer
edge of any kind of scrimmage, shoved, butted, squirmed his way forward
into the heart of the crowd. Soon he was within arm's length of the girl,
but the way was blocked by an enormous prole and an almost equally enormous
woman, presumably his wife, who seemed to form an impenetrable wall of
flesh. Winston wriggled himself sideways, and with a violent lunge managed
to drive his shoulder between them. For a moment it felt as though his
entrails were being ground to pulp between the two muscular hips, then he
had broken through, sweating a little. He was next to the girl. They were
shoulder to shoulder, both staring fixedly in front of them.
A long line
of trucks, with wooden-faced guards armed with sub-machine
guns standing upright in each corner, was passing slowly down the street.
In the trucks little yellow men in shabby greenish uniforms were squatting,
jammed close together. Their sad, Mongolian faces gazed out over the sides
of the trucks utterly incurious. Occasionally when a truck jolted there
was a clank-clank of metal: all the prisoners were wearing leg-irons.
Truck-load after truck-load of the sad faces passed. Winston knew they
were there but he saw them only intermittently. The girl's shoulder, and
her arm right down to the elbow, were pressed against his. Her cheek was
almost near enough for him to feel its warmth. She had immediately taken
charge of the situation, just as she had done in the canteen. She began
speaking in the same expressionless voice as before, with lips barely
moving, a mere murmur easily drowned by the din of voices and the rumbling
of the trucks.
'Can you hear me?'
'Can you get Sunday afternoon off?'
carefully. You'll have to remember this. Go to Paddington
With a sort
of military precision that astonished him, she outlined the
route that he was to follow. A half-hour railway journey; turn left outside
the station; two kilometres along the road; a gate with the top bar
missing; a path across a field; a grass-grown lane; a track between bushes;
a dead tree with moss on it. It was as though she had a map inside her
head. 'Can you remember all that?' she murmured finally.
'You turn left, then right, then left again. And the gate's got no top bar.'
'Yes. What time?'
You may have to wait. I'll get there by another way. Are
you sure you remember everything?'
'Then get away from me as quick as you can.'
She need not
have told him that. But for the moment they could not
extricate themselves from the crowd. The trucks were still filing past,
the people still insatiably gaping. At the start there had been a few boos
and hisses, but it came only from the Party members among the crowd, and
had soon stopped. The prevailing emotion was simply curiosity. Foreigners,
whether from Eurasia or from Eastasia, were a kind of strange animal. One
literally never saw them except in the guise of prisoners, and even as
prisoners one never got more than a momentary glimpse of them. Nor did
one know what became of them, apart from the few who were hanged as
war-criminals: the others simply vanished, presumably into forced-labour
camps. The round Mogol faces had given way to faces of a more European
type, dirty, bearded and exhausted. From over scrubby cheekbones eyes
looked into Winston's, sometimes with strange intensity, and flashed away
again. The convoy was drawing to an end. In the last truck he could see an
aged man, his face a mass of grizzled hair, standing upright with wrists
crossed in front of him, as though he were used to having them bound
together. It was almost time for Winston and the girl to part. But at the
last moment, while the crowd still hemmed them in, her hand felt for his
and gave it a fleeting squeeze.
It could not
have been ten seconds, and yet it seemed a long time that
their hands were clasped together. He had time to learn every detail
of her hand. He explored the long fingers, the shapely nails, the
work-hardened palm with its row of callouses, the smooth flesh under the
wrist. Merely from feeling it he would have known it by sight. In the
same instant it occurred to him that he did not know what colour the
girl's eyes were. They were probably brown, but people with dark hair
sometimes had blue eyes. To turn his head and look at her would have
been inconceivable folly. With hands locked together, invisible among
the press of bodies, they stared steadily in front of them, and instead
of the eyes of the girl, the eyes of the aged prisoner gazed mournfully
at Winston out of nests of hair.
his way up the lane through dappled light and shade,
stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted. Under the
trees to the left of him the ground was misty with bluebells. The air
seemed to kiss one's skin. It was the second of May. From somewhere deeper
in the heart of the wood came the droning of ring-doves.
He was a bit
early. There had been no difficulties about the journey, and
the girl was so evidently experienced that he was less frightened than he
would normally have been. Presumably she could be trusted to find a safe
place. In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the
country than in London. There were no telescreens, of course, but there
was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might
be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey
by yourself without attracting attention. For distances of less than
100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but
sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who
examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward
questions. However, no patrols had appeared, and on the walk from the
station he had made sure by cautious backward glances that he was not
being followed. The train was full of proles, in holiday mood because of
the summery weather. The wooden-seated carriage in which he travelled was
filled to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from a toothless
great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going out to spend an afternoon
with 'in-laws' in the country, and, as they freely explained to Winston,
to get hold of a little black-market butter.
The lane widened,
and in a minute he came to the footpath she had told him
of, a mere cattle-track which plunged between the bushes. He had no watch,
but it could not be fifteen yet. The bluebells were so thick underfoot
that it was impossible not to tread on them. He knelt down and began
picking some partly to pass the time away, but also from a vague idea that
he would like to have a bunch of flowers to offer to the girl when they
met. He had got together a big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly
scent when a sound at his back froze him, the unmistakable crackle of a
foot on twigs. He went on picking bluebells. It was the best thing to do.
It might be the girl, or he might have been followed after all. To look
round was to show guilt. He picked another and another. A hand fell
lightly on his shoulder.
He looked up.
It was the girl. She shook her head, evidently as a warning
that he must keep silent, then parted the bushes and quickly led the way
along the narrow track into the wood. Obviously she had been that way
before, for she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed,
still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling was relief, but as
he watched the strong slender body moving in front of him, with the scarlet
sash that was just tight enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the
sense of his own inferiority was heavy upon him. Even now it seemed quite
likely that when she turned round and looked at him she would draw back
after all. The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted
him. Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him
feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of
London in the pores of his skin. It occurred to him that till now she had
probably never seen him in broad daylight in the open. They came to the
fallen tree that she had spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart
the bushes, in which there did not seem to be an opening. When Winston
followed her, he found that they were in a natural clearing, a tiny grassy
knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely. The girl
stopped and turned.
'Here we are,' she said.
He was facing
her at several paces' distance. As yet he did not dare move
nearer to her.
'I didn't want
to say anything in the lane,' she went on, 'in case there's
a mike hidden there. I don't suppose there is, but there could be. There's
always the chance of one of those swine recognizing your voice. We're all
He still had
not the courage to approach her. 'We're all right here?'
he repeated stupidly.
'Yes. Look at
the trees.' They were small ashes, which at some time had
been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of
them thicker than one's wrist. 'There's nothing big enough to hide a mike
in. Besides, I've been here before.'
They were only
making conversation. He had managed to move closer to her
now. She stood before him very upright, with a smile on her face that
looked faintly ironical, as though she were wondering why he was so slow
to act. The bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to have
fallen of their own accord. He took her hand.
'Would you believe,'
he said, 'that till this moment I didn't know what
colour your eyes were?' They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of
brown, with dark lashes. 'Now that you've seen what I'm really like,
can you still bear to look at me?'
years old. I've got a wife that I can't get rid of. I've
got varicose veins. I've got five false teeth.'
'I couldn't care less,' said the girl.
The next moment,
it was hard to say by whose act, she was in his his arms.
At the beginning he had no feeling except sheer incredulity. The youthful
body was strained against his own, the mass of dark hair was against his
face, and yes! actually she had turned her face up and he was kissing the
wide red mouth. She had clasped her arms about his neck, she was calling
him darling, precious one, loved one. He had pulled her down on to the
ground, she was utterly unresisting, he could do what he liked with her.
But the truth was that he had no physical sensation, except that of mere
contact. All he felt was incredulity and pride. He was glad that this was
happening, but he had no physical desire. It was too soon, her youth and
prettiness had frightened him, he was too much used to living without
women--he did not know the reason. The girl picked herself up and pulled a
bluebell out of her hair. She sat against him, putting her arm round his
dear. There's no hurry. We've got the whole afternoon. Isn't
this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I got lost once on a community
hike. If anyone was coming you could hear them a hundred metres away.'
'What is your name?' said Winston.
'Julia. I know yours. It's Winston--Winston Smith.'
'How did you find that out?'
'I expect I'm
better at finding things out than you are, dear. Tell me,
what did you think of me before that day I gave you the note?'
He did not feel
any temptation to tell lies to her. It was even a sort of
love-offering to start off by telling the worst.
'I hated the
sight of you,' he said. 'I wanted to rape you and then murder
you afterwards. Two weeks ago I thought seriously of smashing your head in
with a cobblestone. If you really want to know, I imagined that you had
something to do with the Thought Police.'
The girl laughed
delightedly, evidently taking this as a
tribute to the excellence of her disguise.
'Not the Thought Police! You didn't honestly think that?'
not exactly that. But from your general appearance--merely
because you're young and fresh and healthy, you understand--I thought that
I was a good Party member. Pure in word and deed. Banners,
processions, slogans, games, community hikes all that stuff. And you
thought that if I had a quarter of a chance I'd denounce you as a
thought-criminal and get you killed off?'
of that kind. A great many young girls are like that,
'It's this bloody
thing that does it,' she said, ripping off the scarlet
sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging it on to a bough. Then,
as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in
the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She
broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had
taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was
dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was
dull-brown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it,
like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted
chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent
had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was
powerful and troubling.
'Where did you get this stuff?' he said.
she said indifferently. 'Actually I am that sort of girl,
to look at. I'm good at games. I was a troop-leader in the Spies. I do
voluntary work three evenings a week for the Junior Anti-Sex League. Hours
and hours I've spent pasting their bloody rot all over London. I always
carry one end of a banner in the processions. I always look cheerful and
I never shirk anything. Always yell with the crowd, that's what I say.
It's the only way to be safe.'
The first fragment
of chocolate had melted on Winston's tongue. The taste
was delightful. But there was still that memory moving round the edges of
his consciousness, something strongly felt but not reducible to definite
shape, like an object seen out of the corner of one's eye. He pushed it
away from him, aware only that it was the memory of some action which he
would have liked to undo but could not.
'You are very
young,' he said. 'You are ten or fifteen years younger than
I am. What could you see to attract you in a man like me?'
'It was something
in your face. I thought I'd take a chance. I'm good at
spotting people who don't belong. As soon as I saw you I knew you were
THEM, it appeared,
meant the Party, and above all the Inner Party, about
whom she talked with an open jeering hatred which made Winston feel uneasy,
although he knew that they were safe here if they could be safe anywhere.
A thing that astonished him about her was the coarseness of her language.
Party members were supposed not to swear, and Winston himself very seldom
did swear, aloud, at any rate. Julia, however, seemed unable to mention
the Party, and especially the Inner Party, without using the kind of words
that you saw chalked up in dripping alley-ways. He did not dislike it. It
was merely one symptom of her revolt against the Party and all its ways,
and somehow it seemed natural and healthy, like the sneeze of a horse that
smells bad hay. They had left the clearing and were wandering again
through the chequered shade, with their arms round each other's waists
whenever it was wide enough to walk two abreast. He noticed how much
softer her waist seemed to feel now that the sash was gone. They did not
speak above a whisper. Outside the clearing, Julia said, it was better to
go quietly. Presently they had reached the edge of the little wood. She
'Don't go out
into the open. There might be someone watching. We're all
right if we keep behind the boughs.'
They were standing
in the shade of hazel bushes. The sunlight, filtering
through innumerable leaves, was still hot on their faces. Winston looked
out into the field beyond, and underwent a curious, slow shock of
recognition. He knew it by sight. An old, close-bitten pasture, with a
footpath wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged
hedge on the opposite side the boughs of the elm trees swayed just
perceptibly in the breeze, and their leaves stirred faintly in dense
masses like women's hair. Surely somewhere nearby, but out of sight,
there must be a stream with green pools where dace were swimming?
'Isn't there a stream somewhere near here?' he whispered.
there is a stream. It's at the edge of the next field,
actually. There are fish in it, great big ones. You can watch them lying
in the pools under the willow trees, waving their tails.'
'It's the Golden Country--almost,' he murmured.
'The Golden Country?'
'It's nothing, really. A landscape I've seen sometimes in a dream.'
'Look!' whispered Julia.
A thrush had
alighted on a bough not five metres away, almost at the level
of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen them. It was in the sun, they in
the shade. It spread out its wings, fitted them carefully into place
again, ducked its head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance
to the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song. In the
afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston and Julia clung
together, fascinated. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with
astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as though the
bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity. Sometimes it stopped
for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then swelled its
speckled breast and again burst into song. Winston watched it with a sort
of vague reverence. For whom, for what, was that bird singing? No mate,
no rival was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood
and pour its music into nothingness? He wondered whether after all there
was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He and Julia had spoken only in
low whispers, and it would not pick up what they had said, but it would
pick up the thrush. Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small,
beetle-like man was listening intently--listening to that. But by degrees
the flood of music drove all speculations out of his mind. It was as
though it were a kind of liquid stuff that poured all over him and got
mixed up with the sunlight that filtered through the leaves. He stopped
thinking and merely felt. The girl's waist in the bend of his arm was soft
and warm. He pulled her round so that they were breast to breast; her body
seemed to melt into his. Wherever his hands moved it was all as yielding as
water. Their mouths clung together; it was quite different from the hard
kisses they had exchanged earlier. When they moved their faces apart again
both of them sighed deeply. The bird took fright and fled with a clatter
Winston put his lips against her ear. 'NOW,' he whispered.
'Not here,' she whispered back. 'Come back to the hide-out. It's safer.'
an occasional crackle of twigs, they threaded their way back
to the clearing. When they were once inside the ring of saplings she turned
and faced him. They were both breathing fast, but the smile had reappeared
round the corners of her mouth. She stood looking at him for an instant,
then felt at the zipper of her overalls. And, yes! it was almost as in his
dream. Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes
off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent
gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated. Her body
gleamed white in the sun. But for a moment he did not look at her body;
his eyes were anchored by the freckled face with its faint, bold smile.
He knelt down before her and took her hands in his.
'Have you done this before?'
'Of course. Hundreds of times--well, scores of times, anyway.'
'With Party members?'
'Yes, always with Party members.'
'With members of the Inner Party?'
'Not with those
swine, no. But there's plenty that WOULD if they got half
a chance. They're not so holy as they make out.'
His heart leapt.
Scores of times she had done it: he wished it had been
hundreds--thousands. Anything that hinted at corruption always filled him
with a wild hope. Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface,
its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing
iniquity. If he could have infected the whole lot of them with leprosy or
syphilis, how gladly he would have done so! Anything to rot, to weaken, to
undermine! He pulled her down so that they were kneeling face to face.
more men you've had, the more I love you. Do you understand
'I hate purity,
I hate goodness! I don't want any virtue to exist anywhere.
I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.'
'Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I'm corrupt to the bones.'
'You like doing this? I don't mean simply me: I mean the thing in itself?'
'I adore it.'
That was above
all what he wanted to hear. Not merely the love of one
person but the animal instinct, the simple undifferentiated desire: that
was the force that would tear the Party to pieces. He pressed her down
upon the grass, among the fallen bluebells. This time there was no
difficulty. Presently the rising and falling of their breasts slowed to
normal speed, and in a sort of pleasant helplessness they fell apart. The
sun seemed to have grown hotter. They were both sleepy. He reached out for
the discarded overalls and pulled them partly over her. Almost immediately
they fell asleep and slept for about half an hour.
first. He sat up and watched the freckled face, still
peacefully asleep, pillowed on the palm of her hand. Except for her mouth,
you could not call her beautiful. There was a line or two round the eyes,
if you looked closely. The short dark hair was extraordinarily thick and
soft. It occurred to him that he still did not know her surname or where
The young, strong
body, now helpless in sleep, awoke in him a pitying,
protecting feeling. But the mindless tenderness that he had felt under
the hazel tree, while the thrush was singing, had not quite come back.
He pulled the overalls aside and studied her smooth white flank. In the
old days, he thought, a man looked at a girl's body and saw that it was
desirable, and that was the end of the story. But you could not have pure
love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was
mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax
a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act.
'We can come
here once again,' said Julia. 'It's generally safe to use any
hide-out twice. But not for another month or two, of course.'
As soon as she
woke up her demeanour had changed. She became alert and
business-like, put her clothes on, knotted the scarlet sash about her
waist, and began arranging the details of the journey home. It seemed
natural to leave this to her. She obviously had a practical cunning which
Winston lacked, and she seemed also to have an exhaustive knowledge of the
countryside round London, stored away from innumerable community hikes.
The route she gave him was quite different from the one by which he had
come, and brought him out at a different railway station. 'Never go home
the same way as you went out,' she said, as though enunciating an important
general principle. She would leave first, and Winston was to wait half an
hour before following her.
She had named
a place where they could meet after work, four evenings
hence. It was a street in one of the poorer quarters, where there was an
open market which was generally crowded and noisy. She would be hanging
about among the stalls, pretending to be in search of shoelaces or
sewing-thread. If she judged that the coast was clear she would blow
her nose when he approached; otherwise he was to walk past her without
recognition. But with luck, in the middle of the crowd, it would be
safe to talk for a quarter of an hour and arrange another meeting.
'And now I must
go,' she said as soon as he had mastered his instructions.
'I'm due back at nineteen-thirty. I've got to put in two hours for the
Junior Anti-Sex League, handing out leaflets, or something. Isn't it
bloody? Give me a brush-down, would you? Have I got any twigs in my hair?
Are you sure? Then good-bye, my love, good-bye!'
She flung herself
into his arms, kissed him almost violently, and a moment
later pushed her way through the saplings and disappeared into the wood
with very little noise. Even now he had not found out her surname or her
address. However, it made no difference, for it was inconceivable that
they could ever meet indoors or exchange any kind of written communication.
As it happened,
they never went back to the clearing in the wood. During
the month of May there was only one further occasion on which they actually
succeeded in making love. That was in another hiding-place known to Julia,
the belfry of a ruinous church in an almost-deserted stretch of country
where an atomic bomb had fallen thirty years earlier. It was a good
hiding-place when once you got there, but the getting there was very
dangerous. For the rest they could meet only in the streets, in a different
place every evening and never for more than half an hour at a time. In the
street it was usually possible to talk, after a fashion. As they drifted
down the crowded pavements, not quite abreast and never looking at one
another, they carried on a curious, intermittent conversation which flicked
on and off like the beams of a lighthouse, suddenly nipped into silence
by the approach of a Party uniform or the proximity of a telescreen, then
taken up again minutes later in the middle of a sentence, then abruptly
cut short as they parted at the agreed spot, then continued almost without
introduction on the following day. Julia appeared to be quite used to this
kind of conversation, which she called 'talking by instalments'. She was
also surprisingly adept at speaking without moving her lips. Just once in
almost a month of nightly meetings they managed to exchange a kiss. They
were passing in silence down a side-street (Julia would never speak when
they were away from the main streets) when there was a deafening roar, the
earth heaved, and the air darkened, and Winston found himself lying on his
side, bruised and terrified. A rocket bomb must have dropped quite near at
hand. Suddenly he became aware of Julia's face a few centimetres from his
own, deathly white, as white as chalk. Even her lips were white. She was
dead! He clasped her against him and found that he was kissing a live
warm face. But there was some powdery stuff that got in the way of his
lips. Both of their faces were thickly coated with plaster.
There were evenings
when they reached their rendezvous and then had to
walk past one another without a sign, because a patrol had just come round
the corner or a helicopter was hovering overhead. Even if it had been
less dangerous, it would still have been difficult to find time to meet.
Winston's working week was sixty hours, Julia's was even longer, and
their free days varied according to the pressure of work and did not
often coincide. Julia, in any case, seldom had an evening completely free.
She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and
demonstrations, distributing literature for the junior Anti-Sex League,
preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings
campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said, it was camouflage.
If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones. She even induced
Winston to mortgage yet another of his evenings by enrolling himself for
the part-time munition work which was done voluntarily by zealous Party
members. So, one evening every week, Winston spent four hours of paralysing
boredom, screwing together small bits of metal which were probably parts
of bomb fuses, in a draughty, ill-lit workshop where the knocking of
hammers mingled drearily with the music of the telescreens.
When they met
in the church tower the gaps in their fragmentary
conversation were filled up. It was a blazing afternoon. The air in the
little square chamber above the bells was hot and stagnant, and smelt
overpoweringly of pigeon dung. They sat talking for hours on the dusty,
twig-littered floor, one or other of them getting up from time to time to
cast a glance through the arrowslits and make sure that no one was coming.
Julia was twenty-six
years old. She lived in a hostel with thirty other
girls ('Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!' she said
parenthetically), and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing
machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted
chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor.
She was 'not clever', but was fond of using her hands and felt at home
with machinery. She could describe the whole process of composing a novel,
from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the
final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the
finished product. She 'didn't much care for reading,' she said. Books were
just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.
She had no memories
of anything before the early sixties and the only
person she had ever known who talked frequently of the days before the
Revolution was a grandfather who had disappeared when she was eight. At
school she had been captain of the hockey team and had won the gymnastics
trophy two years running. She had been a troop-leader in the Spies and a
branch secretary in the Youth League before joining the Junior Anti-Sex
League. She had always borne an excellent character. She had even (an
infallible mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in Pornosec,
the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap
pornography for distribution among the proles. It was nicknamed Muck House
by the people who worked in it, she remarked. There she had remained for
a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like
'Spanking Stories' or 'One Night in a Girls' School', to be bought
furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they
were buying something illegal.
'What are these books like?' said Winston curiously.
rubbish. They're boring, really. They only have six plots,
but they swap them round a bit. Of course I was only on the kaleidoscopes.
I was never in the Rewrite Squad. I'm not literary, dear--not even enough
He learned with
astonishment that all the workers in Pornosec, except the
heads of the departments, were girls. The theory was that men, whose sex
instincts were less controllable than those of women, were in greater
danger of being corrupted by the filth they handled.
even like having married women there,' she added. Girls are
always supposed to be so pure. Here's one who isn't, anyway.
She had had
her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member
of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. 'And a good job too,'
said Julia, 'otherwise they'd have had my name out of him when he
confessed.' Since then there had been various others. Life as she saw it
was quite simple. You wanted a good time; 'they', meaning the Party,
wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules as best you could. She
seemed to think it just as natural that 'they' should want to rob you of
your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught. She hated
the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general
criticism of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she had no
interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never used Newspeak words
except the ones that had passed into everyday use. She had never heard of
the Brotherhood, and refused to believe in its existence. Any kind of
organized revolt against the Party, which was bound to be a failure,
struck her as stupid. The clever thing was to break the rules and stay
alive all the same. He wondered vaguely how many others like her there
might be in the younger generation people who had grown up in the world of
the Revolution, knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something
unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority but simply
evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog.
They did not
discuss the possibility of getting married. It was too remote
to be worth thinking about. No imaginable committee would ever sanction
such a marriage even if Katharine, Winston's wife, could somehow have been
got rid of. It was hopeless even as a daydream.
'What was she like, your wife?' said Julia.
you know the Newspeak word GOODTHINKFUL? Meaning naturally
orthodox, incapable of thinking a bad thought?'
'No, I didn't know the word, but I know the kind of person, right enough.'
He began telling
her the story of his married life, but curiously enough
she appeared to know the essential parts of it already. She described
to him, almost as though she had seen or felt it, the stiffening of
Katharine's body as soon as he touched her, the way in which she still
seemed to be pushing him from her with all her strength, even when her
arms were clasped tightly round him. With Julia he felt no difficulty in
talking about such things: Katharine, in any case, had long ceased to be
a painful memory and became merely a distasteful one.
'I could have
stood it if it hadn't been for one thing,' he said. He told
her about the frigid little ceremony that Katharine had forced him to go
through on the same night every week. 'She hated it, but nothing would
make her stop doing it. She used to call it--but you'll never guess.'
'Our duty to the Party,' said Julia promptly.
'How did you know that?'
'I've been at
school too, dear. Sex talks once a month for the
over-sixteens. And in the Youth Movement. They rub it into you for years.
I dare say it works in a lot of cases. But of course you can never tell;
people are such hypocrites.'
She began to
enlarge upon the subject. With Julia, everything came back
to her own sexuality. As soon as this was touched upon in any way she was
capable of great acuteness. Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner
meaning of the Party's sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex
instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party's control
and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more
important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable
because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship. The way
she put it was:
'When you make
love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy
and don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that.
They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching
up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If
you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother
and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of
their bloody rot?'
That was very
true, he thought. There was a direct intimate connexion
between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the
hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be
kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct
and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the
Party, and the Party had turned it to account. They had played a similar
trick with the instinct of parenthood. The family could not actually be
abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their
children, in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand,
were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them
and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension
of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be
surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.
mind went back to Katharine. Katharine would unquestionably
have denounced him to the Thought Police if she had not happened to be too
stupid to detect the unorthodoxy of his opinions. But what really recalled
her to him at this moment was the stifling heat of the afternoon, which
had brought the sweat out on his forehead. He began telling Julia of
something that had happened, or rather had failed to happen, on another
sweltering summer afternoon, eleven years ago.
It was three
or four months after they were married. They had lost their
way on a community hike somewhere in Kent. They had only lagged behind
the others for a couple of minutes, but they took a wrong turning, and
presently found themselves pulled up short by the edge of an old chalk
quarry. It was a sheer drop of ten or twenty metres, with boulders at the
bottom. There was nobody of whom they could ask the way. As soon as she
realized that they were lost Katharine became very uneasy. To be away
from the noisy mob of hikers even for a moment gave her a feeling of
wrong-doing. She wanted to hurry back by the way they had come and start
searching in the other direction. But at this moment Winston noticed some
tufts of loosestrife growing in the cracks of the cliff beneath them.
One tuft was of two colours, magenta and brick-red, apparently growing on
the same root. He had never seen anything of the kind before, and he called
to Katharine to come and look at it.
Look at those flowers. That clump down near the bottom.
Do you see they're two different colours?'
She had already
turned to go, but she did rather fretfully come back for
a moment. She even leaned out over the cliff face to see where he was
pointing. He was standing a little behind her, and he put his hand on
her waist to steady her. At this moment it suddenly occurred to him how
completely alone they were. There was not a human creature anywhere, not a
leaf stirring, not even a bird awake. In a place like this the danger that
there would be a hidden microphone was very small, and even if there was a
microphone it would only pick up sounds. It was the hottest sleepiest hour
of the afternoon. The sun blazed down upon them, the sweat tickled his
face. And the thought struck him...
'Why didn't you give her a good shove?' said Julia. 'I would have.'
you would have. I would, if I'd been the same person then as
I am now. Or perhaps I would--I'm not certain.'
'Are you sorry you didn't?'
'Yes. On the whole I'm sorry I didn't.'
They were sitting
side by side on the dusty floor. He pulled her closer
against him. Her head rested on his shoulder, the pleasant smell of her
hair conquering the pigeon dung. She was very young, he thought, she
still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push
an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.
'Actually it would have made no difference,' he said.
'Then why are you sorry you didn't do it?'
I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game that we're
playing, we can't win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds,
He felt her
shoulders give a wriggle of dissent. She always contradicted
him when he said anything of this kind. She would not accept it as a law
of nature that the individual is always defeated. In a way she realized
that she herself was doomed, that sooner or later the Thought Police would
catch her and kill her, but with another part of her mind she believed
that it was somehow possible to construct a secret world in which you could
live as you chose. All you needed was luck and cunning and boldness. She
did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the
only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from
the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself
as a corpse.
'We are the dead,' he said.
'We're not dead yet,' said Julia prosaically.
Six months, a year--five years, conceivably. I am afraid
of death. You are young, so presumably you're more afraid of it than I am.
Obviously we shall put it off as long as we can. But it makes very little
difference. So long as human beings stay human, death and life are the
Which would you sooner sleep with, me or a skeleton? Don't
you enjoy being alive? Don't you like feeling: This is me, this is my hand,
this is my leg, I'm real, I'm solid, I'm alive! Don't you like THIS?'
herself round and pressed her bosom against him. He could feel
her breasts, ripe yet firm, through her overalls. Her body seemed to be
pouring some of its youth and vigour into his.
'Yes, I like that,' he said.
'Then stop talking
about dying. And now listen, dear, we've got to fix
up about the next time we meet. We may as well go back to the place in
the wood. We've given it a good long rest. But you must get there by a
different way this time. I've got it all planned out. You take the
train--but look, I'll draw it out for you.'
And in her practical
way she scraped together a small square of dust,
and with a twig from a pigeon's nest began drawing a map on the floor.
round the shabby little room above Mr Charrington's shop.
Beside the window the enormous bed was made up, with ragged blankets and
a coverless bolster. The old-fashioned clock with the twelve-hour face was
ticking away on the mantelpiece. In the corner, on the gateleg table, the
glass paperweight which he had bought on his last visit gleamed softly out
of the half-darkness.
In the fender
was a battered tin oilstove, a saucepan, and two cups,
provided by Mr Charrington. Winston lit the burner and set a pan of water
to boil. He had brought an envelope full of Victory Coffee and some
saccharine tablets. The clock's hands said seventeen-twenty: it was
nineteen-twenty really. She was coming at nineteen-thirty.
his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly.
Of all the crimes that a Party member could commit, this one was the least
possible to conceal. Actually the idea had first floated into his head in
the form of a vision, of the glass paperweight mirrored by the surface
of the gateleg table. As he had foreseen, Mr Charrington had made no
difficulty about letting the room. He was obviously glad of the few dollars
that it would bring him. Nor did he seem shocked or become offensively
knowing when it was made clear that Winston wanted the room for the purpose
of a love-affair. Instead he looked into the middle distance and spoke in
generalities, with so delicate an air as to give the impression that he
had become partly invisible. Privacy, he said, was a very valuable thing.
Everyone wanted a place where they could be alone occasionally. And when
they had such a place, it was only common courtesy in anyone else who knew
of it to keep his knowledge to himself. He even, seeming almost to fade
out of existence as he did so, added that there were two entries to the
house, one of them through the back yard, which gave on an alley.
Under the window
somebody was singing. Winston peeped out, secure in the
protection of the muslin curtain. The June sun was still high in the sky,
and in the sun-filled court below, a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman
pillar, with brawny red forearms and a sacking apron strapped about her
middle, was stumping to and fro between a washtub and a clothes line,
pegging out a series of square white things which Winston recognized as
babies' diapers. Whenever her mouth was not corked with clothes pegs she
was singing in a powerful contralto:
It was only an 'opeless fancy.
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred!
They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!
The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless
similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of
the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any
human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator.
But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an
almost pleasant sound. He could hear the woman singing and the scrape of
her shoes on the flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street,
and somewhere in the far distance a faint roar of traffic, and yet the
room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of a telescreen.
folly! he thought again. It was inconceivable that they could
frequent this place for more than a few weeks without being caught. But
the temptation of having a hiding-place that was truly their own, indoors
and near at hand, had been too much for both of them. For some time
after their visit to the church belfry it had been impossible to arrange
meetings. Working hours had been drastically increased in anticipation of
Hate Week. It was more than a month distant, but the enormous, complex
preparations that it entailed were throwing extra work on to everybody.
Finally both of them managed to secure a free afternoon on the same day.
They had agreed to go back to the clearing in the wood. On the evening
beforehand they met briefly in the street. As usual, Winston hardly looked
at Julia as they drifted towards one another in the crowd, but from the
short glance he gave her it seemed to him that she was paler than usual.
'It's all off,'
she murmured as soon as she judged it safe to speak.
'Tomorrow, I mean.'
'Tomorrow afternoon. I can't come.'
'Oh, the usual reason. It's started early this time.'
For a moment
he was violently angry. During the month that he had known
her the nature of his desire for her had changed. At the beginning there
had been little true sensuality in it. Their first love-making had been
simply an act of the will. But after the second time it was different. The
smell of her hair, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of her skin seemed
to have got inside him, or into the air all round him. She had become a
physical necessity, something that he not only wanted but felt that he
had a right to. When she said that she could not come, he had the feeling
that she was cheating him. But just at this moment the crowd pressed
them together and their hands accidentally met. She gave the tips of his
fingers a quick squeeze that seemed to invite not desire but affection. It
struck him that when one lived with a woman this particular disappointment
must be a normal, recurring event; and a deep tenderness, such as he had
not felt for her before, suddenly took hold of him. He wished that they
were a married couple of ten years' standing. He wished that he were
walking through the streets with her just as they were doing now but openly
and without fear, talking of trivialities and buying odds and ends for the
household. He wished above all that they had some place where they could
be alone together without feeling the obligation to make love every time
they met. It was not actually at that moment, but at some time on the
following day, that the idea of renting Mr Charrington's room had occurred
to him. When he suggested it to Julia she had agreed with unexpected
readiness. Both of them knew that it was lunacy. It was as though they were
intentionally stepping nearer to their graves. As he sat waiting on the
edge of the bed he thought again of the cellars of the Ministry of Love.
It was curious how that predestined horror moved in and out of one's
consciousness. There it lay, fixed in future times, preceding death as
surely as 99 precedes 100. One could not avoid it, but one could perhaps
postpone it: and yet instead, every now and again, by a conscious, wilful
act, one chose to shorten the interval before it happened.
At this moment
there was a quick step on the stairs. Julia burst into the
room. She was carrying a tool-bag of coarse brown canvas, such as he had
sometimes seen her carrying to and fro at the Ministry. He started forward
to take her in his arms, but she disengaged herself rather hurriedly,
partly because she was still holding the tool-bag.
'Half a second,'
she said. 'Just let me show you what I've brought. Did
you bring some of that filthy Victory Coffee? I thought you would. You
can chuck it away again, because we shan't be needing it. Look here.'
She fell on
her knees, threw open the bag, and tumbled out some spanners
and a screwdriver that filled the top part of it. Underneath were a number
of neat paper packets. The first packet that she passed to Winston had a
strange and yet vaguely familiar feeling. It was filled with some kind of
heavy, sand-like stuff which yielded wherever you touched it.
'It isn't sugar?' he said.
Not saccharine, sugar. And here's a loaf of bread--proper
white bread, not our bloody stuff--and a little pot of jam. And here's a
tin of milk--but look! This is the one I'm really proud of. I had to wrap
a bit of sacking round it, because----'
But she did
not need to tell him why she had wrapped it up. The smell was
already filling the room, a rich hot smell which seemed like an emanation
from his early childhood, but which one did occasionally meet with even
now, blowing down a passage-way before a door slammed, or diffusing itself
mysteriously in a crowded street, sniffed for an instant and then lost
'It's coffee,' he murmured, 'real coffee.'
'It's Inner Party coffee. There's a whole kilo here,' she said.
'How did you manage to get hold of all these things?'
'It's all Inner
Party stuff. There's nothing those swine don't have,
nothing. But of course waiters and servants and people pinch things,
and--look, I got a little packet of tea as well.'
Winston had squatted down beside her. He tore open a corner of the packet.
'It's real tea. Not blackberry leaves.'
a lot of tea about lately. They've captured India, or
something,' she said vaguely. 'But listen, dear. I want you to turn your
back on me for three minutes. Go and sit on the other side of the bed.
Don't go too near the window. And don't turn round till I tell you.'
abstractedly through the muslin curtain. Down in the yard
the red-armed woman was still marching to and fro between the washtub and
the line. She took two more pegs out of her mouth and sang with deep
They sye that time 'eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an' the tears acrorss the years
They twist my 'eart-strings yet!
She knew the whole drivelling song by heart, it seemed. Her voice floated
upward with the sweet summer air, very tuneful, charged with a sort of
happy melancholy. One had the feeling that she would have been perfectly
content, if the June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes
inexhaustible, to remain there for a thousand years, pegging out diapers
and singing rubbish. It struck him as a curious fact that he had never
heard a member of the Party singing alone and spontaneously. It would even
have seemed slightly unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to
oneself. Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near the starvation
level that they had anything to sing about.
'You can turn round now,' said Julia.
He turned round,
and for a second almost failed to recognize her. What he
had actually expected was to see her naked. But she was not naked. The
transformation that had happened was much more surprising than that. She
had painted her face.
She must have
slipped into some shop in the proletarian quarters and bought
herself a complete set of make-up materials. Her lips were deeply reddened,
her cheeks rouged, her nose powdered; there was even a touch of something
under the eyes to make them brighter. It was not very skilfully done, but
Winston's standards in such matters were not high. He had never before
seen or imagined a woman of the Party with cosmetics on her face. The
improvement in her appearance was startling. With just a few dabs of colour
in the right places she had become not only very much prettier, but, above
all, far more feminine. Her short hair and boyish overalls merely added
to the effect. As he took her in his arms a wave of synthetic violets
flooded his nostrils. He remembered the half-darkness of a basement
kitchen, and a woman's cavernous mouth. It was the very same scent that
she had used; but at the moment it did not seem to matter.
'Scent too!' he said.
scent too. And do you know what I'm going to do next? I'm
going to get hold of a real woman's frock from somewhere and wear it
instead of these bloody trousers. I'll wear silk stockings and high-heeled
shoes! In this room I'm going to be a woman, not a Party comrade.'
They flung their
clothes off and climbed into the huge mahogany bed. It
was the first time that he had stripped himself naked in her presence.
Until now he had been too much ashamed of his pale and meagre body, with
the varicose veins standing out on his calves and the discoloured patch
over his ankle. There were no sheets, but the blanket they lay on was
threadbare and smooth, and the size and springiness of the bed astonished
both of them. 'It's sure to be full of bugs, but who cares?' said Julia.
One never saw a double bed nowadays, except in the homes of the proles.
Winston had occasionally slept in one in his boyhood: Julia had never been
in one before, so far as she could remember.
fell asleep for a little while. When Winston woke up the
hands of the clock had crept round to nearly nine. He did not stir, because
Julia was sleeping with her head in the crook of his arm. Most of her
make-up had transferred itself to his own face or the bolster, but a light
stain of rouge still brought out the beauty of her cheekbone. A yellow ray
from the sinking sun fell across the foot of the bed and lighted up the
fireplace, where the water in the pan was boiling fast. Down in the yard
the woman had stopped singing, but the faint shouts of children floated in
from the street. He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past it had
been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in the cool of a summer
evening, a man and a woman with no clothes on, making love when they chose,
talking of what they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply
lying there and listening to peaceful sounds outside. Surely there could
never have been a time when that seemed ordinary? Julia woke up, rubbed
her eyes, and raised herself on her elbow to look at the oilstove.
'Half that water's
boiled away,' she said. 'I'll get up and make some
coffee in another moment. We've got an hour. What time do they cut the
lights off at your flats?'
at the hostel. But you have to get in earlier than that,
because--Hi! Get out, you filthy brute!'
twisted herself over in the bed, seized a shoe from the floor,
and sent it hurtling into the corner with a boyish jerk of her arm, exactly
as he had seen her fling the dictionary at Goldstein, that morning during
the Two Minutes Hate.
'What was it?' he said in surprise.
'A rat. I saw
him stick his beastly nose out of the wainscoting. There's a
hole down there. I gave him a good fright, anyway.'
'Rats!' murmured Winston. 'In this room!'
over the place,' said Julia indifferently as she lay down
again. 'We've even got them in the kitchen at the hostel. Some parts of
London are swarming with them. Did you know they attack children? Yes,
they do. In some of these streets a woman daren't leave a baby alone for
two minutes. It's the great huge brown ones that do it. And the nasty
thing is that the brutes always----'
'DON'T GO ON!' said Winston, with his eyes tightly shut.
gone quite pale. What's the matter? Do they make you feel
'Of all horrors in the world--a rat!'
herself against him and wound her limbs round him, as though
to reassure him with the warmth of her body. He did not reopen his eyes
immediately. For several moments he had had the feeling of being back in a
nightmare which had recurred from time to time throughout his life. It was
always very much the same. He was standing in front of a wall of darkness,
and on the other side of it there was something unendurable, something too
dreadful to be faced. In the dream his deepest feeling was always one of
self-deception, because he did in fact know what was behind the wall of
darkness. With a deadly effort, like wrenching a piece out of his own
brain, he could even have dragged the thing into the open. He always woke
up without discovering what it was: but somehow it was connected with what
Julia had been saying when he cut her short.
'I'm sorry,' he said, 'it's nothing. I don't like rats, that's all.'
dear, we're not going to have the filthy brutes in here.
I'll stuff the hole with a bit of sacking before we go. And next time we
come here I'll bring some plaster and bung it up properly.'
black instant of panic was half-forgotten. Feeling slightly
ashamed of himself, he sat up against the bedhead. Julia got out of bed,
pulled on her overalls, and made the coffee. The smell that rose from the
saucepan was so powerful and exciting that they shut the window lest
anybody outside should notice it and become inquisitive. What was even
better than the taste of the coffee was the silky texture given to it by
the sugar, a thing Winston had almost forgotten after years of saccharine.
With one hand in her pocket and a piece of bread and jam in the other,
Julia wandered about the room, glancing indifferently at the bookcase,
pointing out the best way of repairing the gateleg table, plumping herself
down in the ragged arm-chair to see if it was comfortable, and examining
the absurd twelve-hour clock with a sort of tolerant amusement. She brought
the glass paperweight over to the bed to have a look at it in a better
light. He took it out of her hand, fascinated, as always, by the soft,
rainwatery appearance of the glass.
'What is it, do you think?' said Julia.
'I don't think
it's anything--I mean, I don't think it was ever put to any
use. That's what I like about it. It's a little chunk of history that
they've forgotten to alter. It's a message from a hundred years ago, if
one knew how to read it.'
'And that picture
over there'--she nodded at the engraving on the opposite
wall--'would that be a hundred years old?'
'More. Two hundred,
I dare say. One can't tell. It's impossible to discover
the age of anything nowadays.'
She went over
to look at it. 'Here's where that brute stuck his nose out,'
she said, kicking the wainscoting immediately below the picture. 'What is
this place? I've seen it before somewhere.'
'It's a church,
or at least it used to be. St Clement Danes its name was.'
The fragment of rhyme that Mr Charrington had taught him came back into
his head, and he added half-nostalgically: "Oranges and lemons, say the
bells of St Clement's!"
To his astonishment she capped the line:
'You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin's,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey----'
'I can't remember how it goes on after that. But anyway I remember it ends
up, "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop
off your head!"'
It was like
the two halves of a countersign. But there must be another
line after 'the bells of Old Bailey'. Perhaps it could be dug out of
Mr Charrington's memory, if he were suitably prompted.
'Who taught you that?' he said.
He used to say it to me when I was a little girl. He was
vaporized when I was eight--at any rate, he disappeared. I wonder what a
lemon was,' she added inconsequently. 'I've seen oranges. They're a kind
of round yellow fruit with a thick skin.'
'I can remember
lemons,' said Winston. 'They were quite common in the
fifties. They were so sour that it set your teeth on edge even to smell
'I bet that
picture's got bugs behind it,' said Julia. 'I'll take it down
and give it a good clean some day. I suppose it's almost time we were
leaving. I must start washing this paint off. What a bore! I'll get the
lipstick off your face afterwards.'
not get up for a few minutes more. The room was darkening. He
turned over towards the light and lay gazing into the glass paperweight.
The inexhaustibly interesting thing was not the fragment of coral but the
interior of the glass itself. There was such a depth of it, and yet it was
almost as transparent as air. It was as though the surface of the glass
had been the arch of the sky, enclosing a tiny world with its atmosphere
complete. He had the feeling that he could get inside it, and that in
fact he was inside it, along with the mahogany bed and the gateleg table,
and the clock and the steel engraving and the paperweight itself. The
paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia's life and his
own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal.
Syme had vanished.
A morning came, and he was missing from work: a few
thoughtless people commented on his absence. On the next day nobody
mentioned him. On the third day Winston went into the vestibule of the
Records Department to look at the notice-board. One of the notices carried
a printed list of the members of the Chess Committee, of whom Syme had
been one. It looked almost exactly as it had looked before--nothing had
been crossed out--but it was one name shorter. It was enough. Syme had
ceased to exist: he had never existed.
was baking hot. In the labyrinthine Ministry the windowless,
air-conditioned rooms kept their normal temperature, but outside the
pavements scorched one's feet and the stench of the Tubes at the rush hours
was a horror. The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the
staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings,
military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen
programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies
built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs
faked. Julia's unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the
production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets.
Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in
going through back files of 'The Times' and altering and embellishing news
items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night, when crowds of
rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air. The
rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance
there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which
there were wild rumours.
The new tune
which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song,
it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged
on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly
be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared out by
hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying. The
proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the midnight streets it competed
with the still-popular 'It was only a hopeless fancy'. The Parsons children
played it at all hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a
piece of toilet paper. Winston's evenings were fuller than ever. Squads of
volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing the street for Hate Week,
stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and
perilously slinging wires across the street for the reception of streamers.
Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display four hundred
metres of bunting. He was in his native element and as happy as a lark.
The heat and the manual work had even given him a pretext for reverting
to shorts and an open shirt in the evenings. He was everywhere at once,
pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying everyone along
with comradely exhortations and giving out from every fold of his body what
seemed an inexhaustible supply of acrid-smelling sweat.
A new poster
had suddenly appeared all over London. It had no caption,
and represented simply the monstrous figure of a Eurasian soldier, three
or four metres high, striding forward with expressionless Mongolian face
and enormous boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip. From whatever
angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun, magnified by the
foreshortening, seemed to be pointed straight at you. The thing had been
plastered on every blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the
portraits of Big Brother. The proles, normally apathetic about the war,
were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism.
As though to harmonize with the general mood, the rocket bombs had been
killing larger numbers of people than usual. One fell on a crowded film
theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins. The
whole population of the neighbourhood turned out for a long, trailing
funeral which went on for hours and was in effect an indignation meeting.
Another bomb fell on a piece of waste ground which was used as a playground
and several dozen children were blown to pieces. There were further angry
demonstrations, Goldstein was burned in effigy, hundreds of copies of the
poster of the Eurasian soldier were torn down and added to the flames, and
a number of shops were looted in the turmoil; then a rumour flew round
that spies were directing the rocket bombs by means of wireless waves, and
an old couple who were suspected of being of foreign extraction had their
house set on fire and perished of suffocation.
In the room
over Mr Charrington's shop, when they could get there, Julia
and Winston lay side by side on a stripped bed under the open window,
naked for the sake of coolness. The rat had never come back, but the bugs
had multiplied hideously in the heat. It did not seem to matter. Dirty or
clean, the room was paradise. As soon as they arrived they would sprinkle
everything with pepper bought on the black market, tear off their clothes,
and make love with sweating bodies, then fall asleep and wake to find that
the bugs had rallied and were massing for the counter-attack.
six--seven times they met during the month of June. Winston
had dropped his habit of drinking gin at all hours. He seemed to have lost
the need for it. He had grown fatter, his varicose ulcer had subsided,
leaving only a brown stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of
coughing in the early morning had stopped. The process of life had ceased
to be intolerable, he had no longer any impulse to make faces at the
telescreen or shout curses at the top of his voice. Now that they had a
secure hiding-place, almost a home, it did not even seem a hardship that
they could only meet infrequently and for a couple of hours at a time.
What mattered was that the room over the junk-shop should exist. To know
that it was there, inviolate, was almost the same as being in it. The room
was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk.
Mr Charrington, thought Winston, was another extinct animal. He usually
stopped to talk with Mr Charrington for a few minutes on his way upstairs.
The old man seemed seldom or never to go out of doors, and on the other
hand to have almost no customers. He led a ghostlike existence between the
tiny, dark shop, and an even tinier back kitchen where he prepared his
meals and which contained, among other things, an unbelievably ancient
gramophone with an enormous horn. He seemed glad of the opportunity to
talk. Wandering about among his worthless stock, with his long nose and
thick spectacles and his bowed shoulders in the velvet jacket, he had
always vaguely the air of being a collector rather than a tradesman.
With a sort of faded enthusiasm he would finger this scrap of rubbish or
that--a china bottle-stopper, the painted lid of a broken snuffbox, a
pinchbeck locket containing a strand of some long-dead baby's hair--never
asking that Winston should buy it, merely that he should admire it. To
talk to him was like listening to the tinkling of a worn-out musical-box.
He had dragged out from the corners of his memory some more fragments of
forgotten rhymes. There was one about four and twenty blackbirds, and
another about a cow with a crumpled horn, and another about the death
of poor Cock Robin. 'It just occurred to me you might be interested,' he
would say with a deprecating little laugh whenever he produced a new
fragment. But he could never recall more than a few lines of any one
Both of them
knew--in a way, it was never out of their minds that what
was now happening could not last long. There were times when the fact of
impending death seemed as palpable as the bed they lay on, and they would
cling together with a sort of despairing sensuality, like a damned soul
grasping at his last morsel of pleasure when the clock is within five
minutes of striking. But there were also times when they had the illusion
not only of safety but of permanence. So long as they were actually in
this room, they both felt, no harm could come to them. Getting there was
difficult and dangerous, but the room itself was sanctuary. It was as when
Winston had gazed into the heart of the paperweight, with the feeling that
it would be possible to get inside that glassy world, and that once inside
it time could be arrested. Often they gave themselves up to daydreams of
escape. Their luck would hold indefinitely, and they would carry on their
intrigue, just like this, for the remainder of their natural lives. Or
Katharine would die, and by subtle manoeuvrings Winston and Julia would
succeed in getting married. Or they would commit suicide together. Or
they would disappear, alter themselves out of recognition, learn to speak
with proletarian accents, get jobs in a factory and live out their lives
undetected in a back-street. It was all nonsense, as they both knew. In
reality there was no escape. Even the one plan that was practicable,
suicide, they had no intention of carrying out. To hang on from day to day
and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed
an unconquerable instinct, just as one's lungs will always draw the next
breath so long as there is air available.
they talked of engaging in active rebellion against the
Party, but with no notion of how to take the first step. Even if the
fabulous Brotherhood was a reality, there still remained the difficulty
of finding one's way into it. He told her of the strange intimacy that
existed, or seemed to exist, between himself and O'Brien, and of the
impulse he sometimes felt, simply to walk into O'Brien's presence, announce
that he was the enemy of the Party, and demand his help. Curiously enough,
this did not strike her as an impossibly rash thing to do. She was used to
judging people by their faces, and it seemed natural to her that Winston
should believe O'Brien to be trustworthy on the strength of a single flash
of the eyes. Moreover she took it for granted that everyone, or nearly
everyone, secretly hated the Party and would break the rules if he thought
it safe to do so. But she refused to believe that widespread, organized
opposition existed or could exist. The tales about Goldstein and his
underground army, she said, were simply a lot of rubbish which the Party
had invented for its own purposes and which you had to pretend to believe
in. Times beyond number, at Party rallies and spontaneous demonstrations,
she had shouted at the top of her voice for the execution of people whose
names she had never heard and in whose supposed crimes she had not the
faintest belief. When public trials were happening she had taken her place
in the detachments from the Youth League who surrounded the courts from
morning to night, chanting at intervals 'Death to the traitors!' During
the Two Minutes Hate she always excelled all others in shouting insults
at Goldstein. Yet she had only the dimmest idea of who Goldstein was and
what doctrines he was supposed to represent. She had grown up since the
Revolution and was too young to remember the ideological battles of the
fifties and sixties. Such a thing as an independent political movement was
outside her imagination: and in any case the Party was invincible. It
would always exist, and it would always be the same. You could only rebel
against it by secret disobedience or, at most, by isolated acts of
violence such as killing somebody or blowing something up.
In some ways
she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible
to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connexion to mention
the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her
opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on
London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, 'just to
keep people frightened'. This was an idea that had literally never occurred
to him. She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during
the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out
laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they
in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept
the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and
falsehood did not seem important to her. She believed, for instance, having
learnt it at school, that the Party had invented aeroplanes. (In his own
schooldays, Winston remembered, in the late fifties, it was only the
helicopter that the Party claimed to have invented; a dozen years later,
when Julia was at school, it was already claiming the aeroplane; one
generation more, and it would be claiming the steam engine.) And when he
told her that aeroplanes had been in existence before he was born and long
before the Revolution, the fact struck her as totally uninteresting. After
all, what did it matter who had invented aeroplanes? It was rather more
of a shock to him when he discovered from some chance remark that she did
not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia
and at peace with Eurasia. It was true that she regarded the whole war as
a sham: but apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy
had changed. 'I thought we'd always been at war with Eurasia,' she said
vaguely. It frightened him a little. The invention of aeroplanes dated
from long before her birth, but the switchover in the war had happened
only four years ago, well after she was grown up. He argued with her about
it for perhaps a quarter of an hour. In the end he succeeded in forcing
her memory back until she did dimly recall that at one time Eastasia and
not Eurasia had been the enemy. But the issue still struck her as
unimportant. 'Who cares?' she said impatiently. 'It's always one bloody
war after another, and one knows the news is all lies anyway.'
talked to her of the Records Department and the impudent
forgeries that he committed there. Such things did not appear to horrify
her. She did not feel the abyss opening beneath her feet at the thought
of lies becoming truths. He told her the story of Jones, Aaronson, and
Rutherford and the momentous slip of paper which he had once held between
his fingers. It did not make much impression on her. At first, indeed, she
failed to grasp the point of the story.
'Were they friends of yours?' she said.
'No, I never
knew them. They were Inner Party members. Besides, they were
far older men than I was. They belonged to the old days, before the
Revolution. I barely knew them by sight.'
'Then what was
there to worry about? People are being killed off all the
time, aren't they?'
He tried to
make her understand. 'This was an exceptional case. It wasn't
just a question of somebody being killed. Do you realize that the past,
starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives
anywhere, it's in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like
that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about
the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been
destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has
been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed,
every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and
minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless
present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the
past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even
when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence
ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don't know
with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories. Just in
that one instance, in my whole life, I did possess actual concrete evidence
after the event--years after it.'
'And what good was that?'
'It was no good,
because I threw it away a few minutes later. But if the
same thing happened today, I should keep it.'
'Well, I wouldn't!'
said Julia. 'I'm quite ready to take risks, but only
for something worth while, not for bits of old newspaper. What could you
have done with it even if you had kept it?'
'Not much, perhaps.
But it was evidence. It might have planted a few doubts
here and there, supposing that I'd dared to show it to anybody. I don't
imagine that we can alter anything in our own lifetime. But one can imagine
little knots of resistance springing up here and there--small groups of
people banding themselves together, and gradually growing, and even leaving
a few records behind, so that the next generations can carry on where we
'I'm not interested in the next generation, dear. I'm interested in US.'
'You're only a rebel from the waist downwards,' he told her.
She thought this brilliantly witty and flung her arms round him in delight.
In the ramifications
of party doctrine she had not the faintest interest.
Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the
mutability of the past, and the denial of objective reality, and to use
Newspeak words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid
any attention to that kind of thing. One knew that it was all rubbish, so
why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo,
and that was all one needed. If he persisted in talking of such subjects,
she had a disconcerting habit of falling asleep. She was one of those
people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her,
he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while
having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view
of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of
understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations
of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was
demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to
notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.
They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm,
because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass
undigested through the body of a bird.
It had happened
at last. The expected message had come. All his life, it
seemed to him, he had been waiting for this to happen.
He was walking
down the long corridor at the Ministry and he was almost
at the spot where Julia had slipped the note into his hand when he became
aware that someone larger than himself was walking just behind him. The
person, whoever it was, gave a small cough, evidently as a prelude to
speaking. Winston stopped abruptly and turned. It was O'Brien.
At last they
were face to face, and it seemed that his only impulse was
to run away. His heart bounded violently. He would have been incapable of
speaking. O'Brien, however, had continued forward in the same movement,
laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston's arm, so that the two of
them were walking side by side. He began speaking with the peculiar grave
courtesy that differentiated him from the majority of Inner Party members.
'I had been
hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,' he said. 'I was
reading one of your Newspeak articles in 'The Times' the other day. You
take a scholarly interest in Newspeak, I believe?'
recovered part of his self-possession. 'Hardly scholarly,' he
said. 'I'm only an amateur. It's not my subject. I have never had anything
to do with the actual construction of the language.'
'But you write
it very elegantly,' said O'Brien. 'That is not only my own
opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of yours who is certainly an
expert. His name has slipped my memory for the moment.'
heart stirred painfully. It was inconceivable that this
was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme was not only dead,
he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have
been mortally dangerous. O'Brien's remark must obviously have been intended
as a signal, a codeword. By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had
turned the two of them into accomplices. They had continued to stroll
slowly down the corridor, but now O'Brien halted. With the curious,
disarming friendliness that he always managed to put in to the gesture he
resettled his spectacles on his nose. Then he went on:
'What I had
really intended to say was that in your article I noticed you
had used two words which have become obsolete. But they have only become
so very recently. Have you seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak
'No,' said Winston.
'I didn't think it had been issued yet. We are still
using the ninth in the Records Department.'
'The tenth edition
is not due to appear for some months, I believe. But a
few advance copies have been circulated. I have one myself. It might
interest you to look at it, perhaps?'
'Very much so,' said Winston, immediately seeing where this tended.
'Some of the
new developments are most ingenious. The reduction in the
number of verbs--that is the point that will appeal to you, I think. Let
me see, shall I send a messenger to you with the dictionary? But I am
afraid I invariably forget anything of that kind. Perhaps you could pick
it up at my flat at some time that suited you? Wait. Let me give you my
They were standing
in front of a telescreen. Somewhat absent-mindedly
O'Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered
notebook and a gold ink-pencil. Immediately beneath the telescreen, in
such a position that anyone who was watching at the other end of the
instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled an address, tore
out the page and handed it to Winston.
'I am usually
at home in the evenings,' he said. 'If not, my servant will
give you the dictionary.'
He was gone,
leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper, which this time
there was no need to conceal. Nevertheless he carefully memorized what was
written on it, and some hours later dropped it into the memory hole along
with a mass of other papers.
They had been
talking to one another for a couple of minutes at the most.
There was only one meaning that the episode could possibly have. It had
been contrived as a way of letting Winston know O'Brien's address. This
was necessary, because except by direct enquiry it was never possible to
discover where anyone lived. There were no directories of any kind. 'If
you ever want to see me, this is where I can be found,' was what O'Brien
had been saying to him. Perhaps there would even be a message concealed
somewhere in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain. The
conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had reached the outer
edges of it.
He knew that
sooner or later he would obey O'Brien's summons. Perhaps
tomorrow, perhaps after a long delay--he was not certain. What was
happening was only the working-out of a process that had started years
ago. The first step had been a secret, involuntary thought, the second
had been the opening of the diary. He had moved from thoughts to words,
and now from words to actions. The last step was something that would
happen in the Ministry of Love. He had accepted it. The end was contained
in the beginning. But it was frightening: or, more exactly, it was like
a foretaste of death, like being a little less alive. Even while he was
speaking to O'Brien, when the meaning of the words had sunk in, a chilly
shuddering feeling had taken possession of his body. He had the sensation
of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better
because he had always known that the grave was there and waiting for him.