1984 Reading Questions Answer Key Chapter 1 Questions Sections I-II 1. Describe Victory Mansions. Why is the name ironic? Victory Mansions, Winston’s home, is a smelly, run-down place with no electricity in the daytime and an inoperable elevatior. It is certainly no mansion. 2. Describe Winston Smith. Frail, blonde, 39, blue overalls, nervous, depressed 3. What kind of invasion of privacy exist in Oceania? The two-way telescreen, the Police Patrol swooping down in helicopters to peer in people’s windows, the constant fear of being targeted as an enemy by the Thought Police, the posters of Big Brother with reminders the “Big Brother is Watching You.” 4. What are the three slogans of the party? War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength 5. What are the four ministries and their purposes? The Ministry of Truth oversees news, entertainment, education, and the arts. The Ministry of Peace is in charge of war. The Ministry of Plenty is concerned with economic affairs, and the Ministry of Love enforces laws. 6. Why was it such a terrible thing for Winston to write a diary? It indicated that he was expressing thoughts not planted in his head by the Party. What does the account in his diary tell you about this society? They are completely oblivious to human rights. 7. What hope does Winston have about O’Brien? That he is intelligent and politically unorthodox; that he knows something about the Brotherhood. 8. Who is Emmanuel Goldstein? The enemy of the people and the focus of the Two Minutes Hate. What purpose does he serve the government? It gives the people a “traitor” to unite against, reinforcing their own witless devotion. How did Winston sometimes feel toward Goldstein? His heart went out to him. In what other ways was Winston’s hate channeled? Toward the girl with dark hair, who was pretty and sexless and seemed very orthodox. 9. What “thoughtcrime” did Winston commit? He wrote “Down with Big Brother” over and over in his diary. What happens to those arrested by the Thought Police? They are vaporized and their existence is forgotten. 10. What amusements do the Parsons children enjoy? They play “Thought Police;” they go to hangings, hikes, and drills with their youth group, the Spies. 11. What had Winston dreamed seven years ago? That O’Brien whispered to him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” What do you think this could mean? 12. In Oceania’s society, what is the only thing that can be counted as one’s own? “a few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” To what does this refer? Thoughts. 13. Why does Winston consider himself a dead man? Because he is guilty of thoughtcrime, and he knows he will be found out eventually. Appendix 1. What is the purpose of Newspeak? To provide a medium of expression appropriate to the proper mental attitude of Ingsoc devotees, all unnecessary words are to be purged. 2. Into what three distinct classes are the vocabularies divided, and what are the purposes of each? A vocabulary, for everyday life; B vocabulary, compound words such as goodthink, crimethought, used for political purposes; C vocabulary, scientific and technical terms. 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key 3. What happened to books written before 1960? Most were destroyed, but some were rewritten. Sections III-V 1. Describe Winston’s dream about his mother. He was high above his mother and sister, watching them drown in a sinking ship. Why did his dream affect his so deeply? He realized that his mother sacrificed her life for him; he realized that love, loyalty and depthj of emotion like his mother’s no longer existed, and that he was too young and selfish to ever have expressed his love for his mother to her. What do Winston’s memories of his mother symbolize? The past, when emotions existed. 2. Why doesn’t tragedy exist in Winston’s world? There can be no tragedy if there is no emotion and no privacy. In what way is tragedy an important part of our lives? We can “learn” from the tragedies that happen to others, such as drunk driving accidents. We also learn to feel compassion, perhaps to alleviate suffering, to grow stronger from our own tragedies, and to be thankful for good fortune. 3. What happened in Winston’s dream about the Golden Country? The dark-haired girl from the office flung off her clothes in a wonderful defiant gesture. 4. What is Winston’s primary task at work? To rewrite articles from the past so that the Party appears to never have been wrong; to eradicate names of those who have been vaporized. 5. According to the Party, has Oceania always been at war with Eurasia? Yes. According to Winston? No. 6. How is reality control an example of doublethink? It requires the belief that what is true NOW was always true, and that the past has not been altered. 7. Discuss Syme’s words, “Orthodoxy in unconsciousness.” Are there important concerns in our world to which you or other people are unconscious or oblivious? Answers may vary. 8. How does proletarian literature differ from that produced for Party members? Proletarian literature is concerned with rubbish- sports, astrology, sex, and sentimentality; Party literature is a bit more intellectual, although it is complete propaganda. 9. Who is Comrade Ogilvy, and what does he symbolize? He is a made-up model citizen. He is a symbol of the party’s dishonesty, since he does not exist, yet people believe he does. 10. Why does Winston think Syme will be vaporized? Because he is too intelligent. Why does he think Parsons won’t? He is too stupid. What do you imagine Parsons’ handwriting – “the neat handwriting of the illiterate” – looked like? Answers may vary. 11. Do you think the girl with the dark hair is a member of the Thought Police? Answers may vary. Sections VI-VIII 1. Who is Katherine? Winston’s wife, no longer with him. What is the only purpose of sexual relations in the party’s estimation? Propagation. 2. With whom does Winston believe hope for the future lies? The Proles. Why? They make up 85% of the population, and since they are illiterate slaves of the Party they are not considered important. They have, however, retained a certain amount of humanity, which requires no intelligence. 3. What small scrap of truth about the past had Winston once held in his hands? Winston had seen a newspaper photograph showing the counter-revolutionaries Jones, Aronson, and 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key Rutherford in Eurasia on the same date that it was later reported they were confessing to their activities in Oceania. This was hard evidence if distortion, that the confessions were lies, but Winston threw the newspaper photo into the memory hole, too terrified to keep it. 4. What does Winston Not understand about the Party’s destruction of the past? He understands HOW; he does not understand WHY. 5. What did Winston mean by writing, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”? That the solid world exists and its laws do not change. 6. Who do you think dropped the rocket bomb? Answers may vary, but some may believe it is not the Eurasians but the government of Oceania itself, to keep the proles in a constant state of fear and hatred for the “enemy.” Does Winston’s reaction to the human hand lying on the pavement seem in accord with what you know so far about his character? Answers may vary. 7. How is the lottery in 1984 similar to lotteries today? Millions of people participate, yet the winners are few. It gives false hope to many people. In our society, there are also those who make a living by “predicting” numbers for people. 8. What item does Winston discover at the antique shop? A piece of coral inside a hemisphere of glass. Why does it appeal to him? It seems to belong to a past age. 9. What is so appealing about the room above the shop? There is no telescreen, and old 12- hour clock, a big bed, and the room seems somehow a safe haven from the intruding eyes of Big Brother. 10. Why is Winston fascinated with the proprietor’s rhyme about the church bells? There are no longer any church bells, yet the rhyme recalls their sound for Winston. The rhyme, too, is from a past age. Chapter 2 Questions Sections I-III 1. Why was Winston’s concern for Julia a “curious emotion”? Citizens did not normally feel empathy or sympathy for their peers. Winston thought Julia as “the enemy” so his concern was doubly hard to understand. 2. Do you think Winston’s immediate trust of Julia is foolish? Is it justified? Winston trusts Julia because he saw that she was “frightened out of her wits” when she handed him the note. 3. Why is it so difficult for Winston to get in touch with Julia after he receives her note? Why doesn’t he just go up and talk to her? Trying to follow her home would be dangerous since he might be seen; all letters were opened so he couldn’t write to her. Just going up to her at work would be too suspect. 4. Where did Winston finally receive directions to a meeting place from Julia? They stood together in a large crowd watching a procession of Eurasian prisoners. They had to look straight ahead and talk without moving their lips. 5. Read the first paragraph for part II aloud. How has the tone changed? This is a sunny place with flowers and the song of birds, in stark contrast to the surroundings in Winston’s room and workplace. 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key 6. Why do you think Winston admits his age, his wife, his varicose veins, and his false teeth? He wants to know that Julia loves his true self, with nothing hidden. 7. Why do you think Winston has little physical desire for Julia in the beginning? He has been suppressing such feelings for 12 years. 8. How is Julia different from the orthodox Party member Winston had thought she was? She loves the excitement of getting away with something, enjoys sex, uses foul language, and seems to have found a way of being fairly happy by appearing to be a model citizen. She is much more daring than Winston. 9. Winston “stopped thinking and merely felt.” How is this reaction out of character for him? He is a thinker and tries to be logical; the Party discourages private emotions. 10. Why is their final embrace a “political act” for Winston and Julia? They were doing something that was completely unorthodox: defying Big Brother by feeling good and loving one another. 11. How far does Julia’s interest in Party doctrine go? She is interested only in the facets that directly affect her life and interfere with her wishes. She doesn’t seem to object in principle or have much interest in an intellectual discussion. 12. How does Julia explain the Party’s sexual Puritanism? A private sex life would be out of the Party’s control; sexual deprivation created a hysteria that could be funneled into war fever and leader worship. Sections IV-VII 1. Do you think Julia is good for Winston? Various answers. How has she changed him? He has stopped drinking so much and has put on weight. His cough and varicose veins have improved. 2. What is the permanent meeting place of the two lovers? The room above Mr. Charrington’s antique shop. 3. What surprises does Julia have for Winston in part IV? Sugar, white bread, jam, milk, coffee, tea. What does Winston’s delight over these everyday items indicate about the news the Ministry of Plenty circulates? That it is lies; there are shortages of everything. 4. How do you think Julia got the Inner Party foods? Answers will vary. Julia never answers Winston when he asks her where she got them. 5. Reread the words to the song the prole woman sings. Why are they significant? Why is her singing significant? The song is a lament for the past, but Winston sees it as “drivel.” Still, he is stricken by the realization that he has never heard a Party member singing spontaneously, and that the woman actually seems quite happy. How might the title, “Only a Hopeless fancy.” Be a form of foreshadowing? It might be a title for Julia and Winston’s relationship. 6. What fear of Winston’s is revealed? Rats. 7. What is the significance of the coral in the glass globe? The piece of coral, like the feelings in Winston’s and Julia’s hearts, is protected by the glass the way the room protects them from the eyes of Big Brother. Both the coral piece and the lover’s feelings are from a past world. 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key 8. Discuss “the room was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk.” Julia and Winston are a rare breed in Oceania. In the room, they could act as they might have before the revolution. 9. How sure is Winston that Mr. Charrington is on his side? He seems quite sure of the shop owner, and even fond of him. Do you think Winston is right? 10. In Part VI, what long-anticipated event occurs? O’Brien speaks to Winston in a way that indicates Winston is right about O’Brien being in the Brotherhood. 11. Why does Winston have the sensation of stepping into a grave? He knows, as he has known all along, that thoughtcrime is punishable by death. His impending alliance with O’Brien will put his thoughtcrime into action, and he knows it will result in his death. 12. From his dream in Part VII, what do we learn about Winston’s childhood, in particular about his mother? There was never enough to eat, and Winston spent his childhood in a hungry rage against his mother, who was patient and loving and tried to procure small toys and treats for Winston and for his straving baby sister. It was during one of his selfish rages, when he had stolen his sister’s chocolate and run away, that his mother and sister disappeared. Winston’s remaining childhood was spent in a Reclamation Center. He has no knowledge of what happened to his mother or sister. 13. To what are the proles loyal? To each other. In what “condition” have they remained? Human. 14. What does Winston decide are the only things that matter? Feelings. If confession would not be betrayal, what would it be? To stop loving Julia. What would this betrayal prove? That they had “gotten inside him.” 15. What art does Winston believe the Party has not yet mastered? They could not see inside the human heart. Sections VIII-X 1. Notice the difference between O’Brien’s home and Winston’s. What does this signify? That O’Brien is a powerful member of the Inner Party. 2. What is the purpose of O’Brien’s demands that Julia and Winston agree to do so many unconscionable things if they are asked? To discover the seriousness of their intentions. What won’t they do? Separate and never see one another again. 3. Does it surprise you that Winston toasts the past? It shouldn’t. The past has been his focal point throughout the novel. 4. Describe the picture in Winston’s mind when he asked O’Brien to complete the rhyme. He was visualizing all of the beautiful and real aspects of his life- memories of his mother, Charrigton’s room, the glass paperweight. 5. What events took place that resulted in Winston having to work more than 90 hours in five days? At the end of Hate Week, it was announced that Oceania is now at war with Eastasia, and always has been. Winston had to alter a tremendous number of documents to “prove” that this was true. 6. What is the book? Who is its author? Why does Winston have it? The book, written by Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, was sent to Winston by O’Brien. It explains the theories by which the government of Oceania operates. 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key 7. What question still remains in Winston’s mind after he closes the book? He understands how, but not why. In what ways does the book comfort him? He now knows he is not crazy. 8. What was behind the picture that was screwed to the wall? A telescreen. 9. To whom does the “familiar voice” belong? Mr. Charrington. Does this surprise you? How much does he know about Winston? The diary, his affair with Julia, his love for the past, his betrayal of the Party. 10. How is the smashing of the paperweight symbolic? The safe, protected world of the room over Mr. Charrington’s was a myth; Julia and Winston’s life together is over. 11. What is Winston’s last image of Julia? Contorted in pain, she is being carried away by two men. Chapter 3 Questions Sections I-III 1. Describe Winston’s cell. No windows, high ceiling, cold white light, low steady hum, four telescreens watching him constantly and yelling at him. 2. Does Winston know how long he has been in the cell or what time of the day or night it is? No, this is part of brainwashing, effectively making prisoners feel frustrated and helpless. 3. Would Winston use the razor blade to kill himself if he was given one? No, he didn’t think he would be able to do it. 4. Why was Ampleforth in jail? He used the word “God” in a poem. 5. Why was Parsons in jail? His children turned him in. 6. What do you think happens in Room 101? Answers will vary. 7. Did O’Brien come to Winston’s cell to save him? What do we now know about O’Brien? No. He was never part of the Brotherhood and he set up Winston and Julia. 8. What was the purpose of all the beatings Winston endured? Did it work? The physical pain made Winston confess to anything and everything, even things he had not done. He would say anything just to make the pain stop, although he tried his best to endure it as long as he could. 9. What purpose did the group of Party intellectuals serve? They made Winston doubt his own powers of reasoning and logic and confused him. 10. Who did Winston feel was directing his torture? O’Brien. Did he hate him for this? No. He also felt that O’Brien was protecting him from what could be worse treatment. 11. What torture method does O’Brien use to try to get Winston’s mind to submit to him? Electric shock. What one thing has Winston not yet done? Betrayed Julia. 12. O’Brien eventually gets Winston to believe that his four fingers are five. What has O’Brien proven? That he can control the mind. See “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows” (1-VII) Winston has lost the freedom to think. 13. When would O’Brien consider Winston “cured”? When he loved Big Brother, turned his mind over to the Party and really believed whatever he was told to believe. 14. O’Brien tells Winston that Julia betrayed him immediately. Do you believe him? Are you surprised? Answers will vary. 15. According to O’Brien, “Reality is inside the skull… Nothing exists except through human consciousness.” A common philosophical question related to this concept is, “if a tree falls in 1984 Reading Questions Answer Key the woods and no one else is there to hear it, does it make any sound?” Discuss. If your answer is yes, can you prove it? 16. Winston tells O’Brien that a civilization founded on fear, hatred, and cruelty cannot endure. Do you agree with Winston or O’Brien? What should a civilization be founded upon? Answers will vary. 17. Why does Winston consider himself “morally superior”? Because he has a human heart and human feelings. 18. After Winston saw himself in the mirror, how did he feel? He felt such pity for his poor ruined body that he collapsed in tears. 19. To what one event is Winston looking forward? Being shot. Why hasn’t this happened yet? Heretics are not shot until they capitulate completely. 20. At the end of section III, O’Brien is still not satisfied with Winston. Why? Winston still loves Julia; emotionally, he is still “human.” Sections IV-VI 1. As Winston was allowed to heal, he escaped into what? Dreams. What had he lost? The power of intellectual effort. From the subjects of his dreams, what do you know was still left in Winston? Love, feeling, emotion. 2. What did Winston wake up shouting? “Julia! Julia! My Love!” Why did this horrify him? He knew it had been heard. 3. How had Winston “retreated a step further”? He had surrendered his mind, but he had hoped to keep his heart inviolate. What had he realized about secrets? In order to keep them, they must be secret from oneself. 4. What, now, is Winston’s definition of “freedom”? To die hating Big Brother and the members of the Inner Party. 5. Do you think it was wise for Winston to admit that he hated Big Brother? Would he have been sent to Room 101 regardless? If so, is it good that he said it? Answer will vary. 6. What is in Winston’s Room 101? Rats. 7. The climax of the story occurs in Section V. What is it? Winston finally betrays Julia, begging O’Brien to put Julia in his place and saying he doesn’t care what they do to her. 8. Were you surprised that Winston was let out of prison? Why do you think O’Brien didn’t have him shot? Could it still happen? Answers vary. 9. How has Winston’s life changed? He has become an alcoholic; his job is higher-paying but meaningless; he no longer loves Julia. 10. What does Winston now do with his memories? Dismiss them as false. 11. In the brief encounter with Julia, how did she act? Stiff and cold; contemptuous. Who in Winston’s past life is she now like? Katharine. 12. What is the “final, indispensable, healing change”? Winston loved Big Brother. Is this really a “victory” for him, as he thinks? Answers will vary. What will happen to him now? He will probably be shot now that he has completely capitulated.