Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: 1984

1984 by George Orwell


This is one of many classic books that I haven't read yet. I did the International Baccalaureate program in High School and I read lots of Latin American books instead of many books that most high schoolers read. I did George Orwell's Animal Farm in 2001 and feel practically the same about both books.

I love that George Orwell dives right into the story before explaining the vocabulary he made up for the book. You don't have to know where Oceania and Eastasia are to understand the world he created, though it is nice to find out later. I love when authors make up words.

I wish that some of the secondary characters were slightly more developed. The only character that you really grow to know and understand is Winston, the main character. I really would have liked to know more about his co-workers, his neighbors and Julia.

My brother lent this book to Dan to read, but I got a hold of it first. I told Dan not to read it. He hates books that don't end well. He has been pressing me for a synopsis and suspects that the main character is martyred. That's not the case. This book ends with no hope and left me feeling very sad for Winston, Julia (his lover) and the whole world Orwell created.

Essentially, George Orwell imagined a post-WWII world with 3 socialist superpowers in constant war with each other. The leaders (Inner Party) of Oceania (the Americas, southern Africa, Australia and the British Isles) use the war to divert resources to keep the middle class (Outer Party) and poor (Proles) in their respective social classes. They also control the information by constantly rewriting history (this is Winston's job) and changing the language (to Newspeak). If you don't have the words, you cannot have thoughts about ideas such as justice, equally and freedom. The Inner Party monitors everyone at all times (Big Brother is watching you.)

Winston begins to think about what the world was like before the Inner Party established power (though they claim that they have always been) and consciously knows that the news he "corrects" is nothing but lies. He meets Julia, who feels the same way. Eventually both are captured. The torture and medical processes that Winston endures alter his mind until he is compliant with the Inner Party and believes his memories to be false. The book ends with him worrying about the safety of the Inner Party and expressing love for Big Brother.

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