The setting is London in April of 1984. The novel, first published in 1949, imagines a post World War II future in which conflict has led to mass warfare and the formation of super-states. The governments of these super states control every aspect of life. The story opens with the central character, Winston Smith, returning to his apartment in Victory Mansions. He is on lunch break from his job at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth. To reach his post, Winston has to climb seven flights of stairs; on each landing he reads a huge poster of Big Brother with the caption:
Inside his apartment, Winston dims his telescreen and peers out his window at the streets of London. The landscape is grimy and bleak, full of rubble and nineteenth-century houses that are falling apart. Twenty to thirty rocket-bombs are launched at the city each week. It is the chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceania. Winston can also see the three other huge Ministries – the Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Plenty and the terrifying Ministry of Love. Winston goes to his tiny kitchen and downs some Victory Gin.
He sits in the alcove, where he can avoid detection by the telescreen, and takes out a pen and book he has bought in a junk-shop. He has decided to keep a Diary. Should the authorities discover this, he would likely be killed or sent to a forced-labor camp. He writes the date, and then goes blank. He feels helpless and panicked. Winston doesn’t know to whom or for what he is writing. Perhaps for the future? He starts writing about a film he saw the previous night. Winston, realizing why he decided to begin the diary today, stops writing. That morning, just before the Two Minute Hate, two unexpected people visited the Records Department.
One was a dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department, (in part 2 we discover her name is Julia). The other was O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party. Winston hates the dark-haired girl and suspects she is an agent of the Thought Police. During the Two Minute Hate, Winston realized why he hates Julia; he is sexually attracted to her, but can never have her. After the Hate everyone began to hypnotically chant “B-B” (short for Big Brother). Winston felt both disgust and horror. He caught O’Brien’s eye during the chants, and for a moment knew that O’Brien felt the same way.
This incident shook him and renewed his hope that others might be enemies of the Party and that the Brotherhood, a rebel movement, might actually exist. Winston, his thoughts returning to the blank page of his diary, suddenly writes “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER,” over and over until he fills half a page. Realizing he has committed thoughtcrime, Winston knows he could sooner or later be vaporized. Through this act of rebellion, he is already a dead man; the only question is when they will catch him. He decides to keep writing.
There is a knock at the door. Winston is terrified, but it is only Mrs. Parsons, his neighbor and wife of Mr. Parsons. Her kitchen sink is blocked. Winston follows her to the Parsons’ flat and removes the clot of hair that is blocking the sink. The Parsons children, a boy, nine, and girl, seven, pretend he is a traitor and they are arresting him. They wear the uniform of the Spies. The children become upset that they can’t go to the public hanging of prisoners from Eurasia. As Winston is leaving, the boy shoots him in the back of the neck with a catapult. Winston picks up his pen and recalls a dream he had seven years ago.
He was in a dark room and heard a voice say: “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness. The voice was O’Brien’s, although Winston cannot recall if he had the dream before or after meeting O’Brien. Winston feels completely alone, “The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. ” The telescreen strikes fourteen and Winston knows he must leave soon to get back to work. He finishes his diary entry, washes the telltale ink off his hands, and puts an unusual speck of white dust on the diary cover, so that he will know if someone has moved it. Later that night, Winston has a dream about his mother, who disappeared when he was ten or eleven.
He is standing watching her and his baby sister being sucked down into dark waters. He has the feeling that their lives have been sacrificed for his own. Suddenly, the dream changes; he is standing in the Golden Country. The dark-haired girl approaches from across the field, and with one fluid movement, she flings off her clothes. The gesture overwhelms him: “With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm.
The telescreen thrusts Winston out of his dream state with a loud whistle; it’s time to get up. An instructor on the telescreen leads everyone through their morning exercises, known as the Physical Jerks. As he exercises, Winston tries to remember his childhood. He remembers hiding in a subway station with his mother and father during an air raid, early in the 1950’s. Since then, the country has continually been at war and everything has changed. The telescreen instructor yells at him to exercise harder and he stops daydreaming. After his exercises, Winston goes to work.
He enjoys the intellectual challenges of his job, namely, to change the facts of old newspaper articles for the purpose of government propaganda. He deals with some routine tasks, first aligning the text of a speech by Big Brother to sound as if he accurately predicted events in the manner they occurred, and second, changing initial production estimates for the year to ensure the actual production figures exceed the estimates. Once completed, Winston faces a more tricky job. A previous order given by Big Brother in 1983, dealt with someone who had been vaporized and is now considered an ‘unperson’.
To get rid of this reference to an ‘unperson’, Winston makes up an order in which Big Brother praises a (fake) dead war hero called Comrade Ogilvy. Winston becomes somewhat disturbed by the Party’s power to change the past: “‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. ‘” Around midday, Winston goes to the canteen for lunch and sees Syme, a co-worker from the Research Department. Syme asks if Winston has any razor blades, a commodity currently hard to find, and Winston lies, saying he doesn’t.
They get their lunches and Victory Gin to help them stomach the bad food. They discuss Newspeak, Syme’s specialty. Mr. Parsons joins them and asks Winston for a subscription to Hate Week. Parsons is the treasurer in charge of decorating Victory Mansions. Winston spots the dark-haired girl (Julia) at the next table, looking at him. He wonders again if she is a Thought Police spy. At home, Winston writes in his diary about a prostitute that he once picked up.
Visiting prostitutes, called proles, is dangerous but not a life threatening crime. The Party prefers prostitution to real sexual relationships. Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema. ” The Party views marriage as a vehicle for producing children to serve the Party. Erotic desire is rebellion. Organizations like the Junior Anti-Sex League are encouraged. Winston thinks about his wife, Katharine. He does not know where she is now.
They were together for about fifteen months, almost eleven years ago. She married him in order to have a child, “our duty to the Party,” but hated sex and left him when they were unable to have a baby. Another diary entry: “If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles. Winston believes that only among the proles is there enough force to destroy the Party. They make up about 85 percent of the population and the Party doesn’t really pay any attention to them. But the only thing he has ever seen a group of proles get upset over is a shortage of tin saucepans. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. ” Winston copies some passages from a child’s history textbook he has borrowed from Mrs. Parsons. It is filled with propaganda on the evils of capitalism and the horrible conditions before the Revolution that put the Party in power.
He reflects on the Party’s claim to have improved everything, but there is a big difference between the world the Party describes, a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – three hundred million people all with the same face” and the world in which Winston resides, where buildings are falling apart and there are shortages of everything. Winston is becoming increasingly afraid and frustrated; there is no way to know the truth, everything he knows is only what the Party wants him to know.
He remembers the one time in his life when he had physical proof the Party had lied. In a batch of documents that landed on his desk, he found a photograph of three Party leaders, Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford, who were later exposed as traitors. The photograph showed them at a Party conference in New York, at a time when they had confessed to being on Eurasian soil, thus betraying their country. Winston was too afraid to keep the photograph and he dropped it down the memory hole to the furnace. Winston begins to ponder the reasons behind the Party’s mind control.
Big Brother, if he wanted to, could make two and two equal five. At times, Winston feels alone in his thoughts, bordering on the insane. He again wonders why he writes in the diary, his prose becoming a letter to O’Brien. As if speaking to O’Brien, he writes: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. ” On another day after work, Winston, rather than going to the Community Center as usually directed by the Party, impulsively decides to take a walk in the slums.
As Winston walks, a rocket bomb lands in the street, destroying a group of houses. In the wreckage, Winston notices a bloody, severed human hand, the skin colored white with plaster dust. Winston kicks the appendage into a gutter. Later he notices an old man of about eighty walking down the street. Realizing he is one of the few human beings alive that can tell him the truth about the past before the Party, Winston follows the old man into a prole pub, (an unwise thing for a Party member to do).
He buys the man a beer, the only alcoholic beverage proles are allowed to drink, and attempts to question him about the past. Unfortunately the old man’s memory is “a rubbish-heap of details” and he can’t seem to remember anything useful. Winston walks out of the pub and wanders near the junk-shop where he bought the book for his diary. It is very risky for him to have returned to this area, and he goes inside the shop so that he will be less obvious. He meets the owner, Mr. Charrington, and buys a glass paperweight.
Mr. Charrington shows him a cozy, old-fashioned room above the shop, and Winston reacts with emotion: “It seemed to him that he knew exactly what it felt like to sit in a room like this, in an armchair 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. In the room is an engraving of St. Clement’s Dane.
It reminds Mr. Charrington of an old rhyme which he repeats, and which sticks in Winston’s mind: “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s, You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s” On his way out of the shop and home, Winston sees the dark-haired girl. She runs away when he spots her. He cannot come up with a possible explanation for her being here, other than to spy on him. Winston is struck by an acute sense of terror. At work one morning, Winston leaves his cubicle to go to the bathroom. In the corridor, he sees the dark-haired girl (Julia) again. She falls on her right arm, which is already injured and in a sling.
When Winston helps her up she slips a small piece of paper into his hand. He tries not to look surprised; they are standing in front of a telescreen. Winston returns to his desk. After waiting eight minutes, he finds a way to read it without rousing too much suspicion. He reads “I love you. ” Winston is stunned and it is difficult for him to work for the rest of the day. After work, he goes to the Community Center as is normal, and attempts to conceal his boredom. “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. He decides the best place to contact her without arousing suspicion would be in the middle of the cafeteria, not too near the telescreens, where a buzz of voices should drown out their voices. After a week of failed attempts, Winston, by tripping up another man who is heading for her table, manages to sit at a table alone with Julia. Without looking at each other and conversing in low voices, they arrange to meet in nineteen hours at Victory Square, where the crowd will hopefully shelter them from the telescreens. When they meet in the square, a huge crowd rushes to watch a convoy of Eurasian prisoners passing by.
Winston pushes through the crowd until he is next to the girl; their shoulders and arms are pressed together and he can almost feel the warmth of her cheek. Softly she tells him to get Sunday afternoon off and describes a place in the country where he can meet her. In the last moment before the crowd disperses, she briefly squeezes his hand. He takes the train into the country and meets her at the appointed spot. She leads him to a clearing, where the trees are young and too small for microphones to be hidden. They kiss. The girl tells him her name – Julia. She already knows his.
He admits that before she gave him the note he hated her and thought she might be a Thought Police spy. She is delighted that her disguise works so well. Julia explains that she takes part in all the Party activities as a cover, for safety. She pulls off her Junior Anti-Sex League sash and gives Winston some black-market chocolate. Winston asks her why she is attracted to him. Julia responds that she could tell by his face he was against the Party. They wander together through the woods, speaking in whispers. They find a pasture that Winston recognizes; it is almost exactly like the Golden Country.
They hear a thrush singing: “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. ” They kiss again. They return to the clearing and Julia flings off her clothes. Winston kneels in front of her and asks her if she has done this before. She says she has, many times, with Outer Party members. He tells her that he hates purity and goodness, that the more corrupt she is the more he will love her.
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. ” Winston and Julia have sex. They fall asleep on the grass. Winston wakes first and watches Julia. He reflects that what they have done is a political act. When Julia awakens, she is businesslike and begins arranging their departure. She will leave first and Winston a half-an-hour later, both of them taking different routes home. They decide to meet again in four days’ time, in a street where there is an open market, and she will blow her nose to signal it is safe to talk.
She kisses him and leaves to go and hand out pamphlets for the Junior Anti-Sex League. During the month of May, they meet nightly, often in the streets, a different place every evening. They walk through the crowds for up to half an hour, not quite next to each other and never looking at each other. They speak in low voices, starting and stopping their conversation depending on when they pass a Party member or telescreen. At times, when they reach a meeting place, they are forced to walk past each other without recognition because of a patrol or overhead helicopter.
Because Winston and Julia both work long hours and Julia spends a lot of time in the evenings on volunteer work, their meetings are infrequent. Julia persuades Winston to take on additional Party responsibilities as camouflage, and he spends one evening a week doing boring volunteer work in a weapons factory. One night as they are walking down a side street, a rocket bomb falls nearby and the blast knocks them down. Winston sees Julia’s face next to his, her face, even her lips, completely white. He is terrified that she is dead, but when he reaches out for her he finds he is kissing a live, warm face.
Both of them are completely covered with powdery white plaster dust. Only once that month do they have time alone to talk and make love; they meet in the tower of a ruined church in the country. They talk for hours, sitting on the dusty floor. Unlike Winston, Julia understands why the Party discourages sex: “What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship. Winston tells Julia of a community hike that he went on with his former wife, Katharine.
They lost the rest of the group, and ended up next to a cliff. He tells Julia he was tempted to push her, and Julia says that she would have. Winston points out that nothing they do makes a difference. “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. ” Winston and Julia plan to meet again in the clearing, but the evening before she tells him that it won’t be possible; she is having her period.
He feels a moment of violent anger: “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 around him. She had become a physical necessity” Winston realizes he has true affection for her. He wishes that they had a place to be alone together without feeling the obligation to make love every time they meet. The next day he suggests that they rent the room above Mr. Charrington’s junk-shop. She agrees, despite the knowledge that this decision is much too dangerous, and difficult to hide from the Party.
He rents the room, and Mr. Charrington takes it calmly when he realizes that Winston wants it for a love affair. There are a few pieces of furniture, including a double bed, ususally only found in prole homes. Julia has never slept in one before. As Winston waits for her in the room, he hears a woman singing outside as she hangs out her wash. Julia arrives with her tool bag, from which she unpacks black-market goods: real sugar, white bread, jam, real coffee, and tea. She asks Winston to turn around for a few minutes, and when she tells him to look at her again, she has put on make-up and perfume. He is amazed by how pretty she looks.
After they have sex, Julia decides to make coffee. She spots a rat in a corner of the room and throws a shoe at it. Winston has a panicked reaction; he has a phobia about rats. She comforts him and they drink coffee and eat bread and jam. Julia looks at the glass paperweight and is fascinated by it. She notices the engraving of St. Clement’s Dane – she knows another line to the “Oranges and lemons” church rhyme that Mr. Charrington recited about it. She declares that one day she will take the picture down and clean behind for bugs. Syme disappears. Winston realizes that he has been vaporized.
It is very hot and London is full of preparations for Hate Week. The Ministry of Truth has a lot of extra work. The theme song for Hate Week, the “Hate Song,” has been composed and is being played on the telescreens. Parsons is enthusiastically organizing the volunteers decorating Victory Mansions. A frightening poster of a Eurasian soldier is plastered all over the city, and more rocket bombs than usual are falling, causing a lot of anger and frequent demonstrations. Winston and Julia meet seven times in the month of June. Winston is drinking much less gin and is healthier and happier.
He often stops to chat with Mr. Charrington on his way upstairs. Julia and Winston are both aware the love affair cannot last. They must die sooner or later for defying the Party in this way, and yet they somehow feel secure. “So long as they were actually in this room, they both felt, no harm could come to them. ” They make impractical, daydreaming plans for the future: “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 talk about possible organized rebellion against the Party, but it seems impossible. Julia does not believe that the Brotherhood can exist. Winston tells her about the odd rapport he has with O’Brien, but she does not find it strange; she is used to trusting people based on their expressions. Julia does not believe the war is real. It is simply made up by the Party to keep people frightened. In her opinion, the Party fires bombs on London themselves. But Winston finds that in many cases she does not care about finding the real truth: “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. ” Winston is in the Ministry of Truth, walking down the corridor where Julia first slipped the note into his hand. O’Brien is walking right behind him and coughs to get his attention. He compliments Winston’s use of Newspeak in a recent article and mentions that he was recently speaking to ‘a friend’ of Winston’s who agreed that Winston uses Newspeak well. This is clearly a reference to Syme, who is now an “unperson. ” In mentioning him, O’Brien has committed thoughtcrime.
Winston realizes this comment must be a kind of signal. O’Brien offers to lend Winston the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary and gives him his address. Winston’s reaction to this incident is an ambivalent one. On one hand, he has evidence of an organized rebellion against the Party. On the other, he fears for his life: 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. ” Winston has a dream about being inside the glass paperweight, as if the world was inside the glass dome.
His dream revolved around a single protective gesture of his mother’s arm. The dream brings back a memory of the last time he saw his mother. He was about ten or twelve, his father had already disappeared, and there were many air raids and never enough to eat. His mother moved slowly and was very quiet; she spent a lot of time nursing his young sister who was always ill. They would often fight over food. She was always ready to give him the biggest portion, but no matter how much she gave him he would aggressively demand more. He knew that he was starving the other two, but he could not help it; he even felt that he had a right to do it.
The clamorous hunger in his belly seemed to justify him. ” When a chocolate ration was issued for the first time in a long time, he took the entire chocolate bar, stealing the piece his mother gave to his sister. Feeling guilty, Winston wandered the streets for a long time before returning home. He found his mother and sister gone. His last glimpse of them, his mother sitting on the bed with his sister clutching her, reminded Winston of the dream of the two of them on a sinking ship.
Winston remembers his mother as a noble person who lived according to her own private standards and remained true to her emotions. In the world of the Party there is no room for emotions. “The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. ” He realizes only the proles have remained human, by attaching importance to their feelings. Winston and Julia discuss the inevitability of their capture. If caught by the Thought Police, they must not betray each other.
Both understand they will be made to confess and say anything the Party wishes, but as long as they do not stop loving each other, they will not have truly betrayed each other. The Party cannot make you stop loving someone. “It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything – anything – but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you. The thought that the Party cannot change your feelings comforts Winston and gives him confidence. Julia and Winston go to see O’Brien at his home. They are amazed by the difference in the way the Inner Party lives.
The flats are rich and spacious, smelling of good food. They have servants; everything is clean, well run, and silent. O’Brien’s servant, Martin shows them in. They are nervous and intimidated. O’Brien is dictating a memo as they enter. Winston suddenly worries that he may have made a mistake. What if O’Brien is simply a normal law-abiding Party member? O’Brien walks towards them, and as he passes the telescreen, he switches it off. Julia and Winston are amazed that O’Brien has the power to turn off the telescreen.
He starts to break into a smile and asks, “Shall I say it, or will you? Winston tells him that they have come because they believe there is some kind of rebellious conspiracy against the Party and they would like to join. O’Brien calls in Martin, whom he says is one of them, and pours them all wine, which Winston and Julia have never seen before. He tells them that the Brotherhood and Goldstein exist. He asks them if they would be willing to perform acts of murder, sabotage, or terrorism in service to the Brotherhood.
They are willing to do anything except separate from one another. O’Brien informs them of the secret nature of the organization and the futility of their personal survival. You will work for a while, you will be caught, you will confess, and then you will die… There is no possibility that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime. We are the dead. ” He tells Julia to leave first, in order to appear less suspicious. He arranges with Winston to get a copy of the Book to him. He speaks of their meeting again, and Winston spontaneously suggests, “In the place where there is no darkness? ” words from his dream. O’Brien shows no surprise but appears to recognize the allusion and agrees. He knows the last line of the “Oranges and lemons” rhyme and tells it to Winston.
Winston leaves and sees O’Brien about to turn the telescreen back on. Even for Inner Party members, he tells them, it is dangerous to leave the screen off for more than half an hour. Winston is exhausted. Like all Ministry of Truth workers, he has worked more than ninety hours in the last five days. On the sixth day of Hate Week, it became public knowledge that Oceania was at war with Eastasia, not Eurasia. Thus, it was necessary to alter all war records to prove Oceania had never been at war with Eurasia. When the change occurred, Winston was at a demonstration in a central London square.
It was nighttime, and a speaker was whipping the crowd into a frenzy. A messenger delivered a note to the speaker and he changed the name of the enemy in mid-sentence. Chaos erupted as people tore down the incorrect posters of Eurasian soldiers that had been placed “mistakenly” in the square. While this was happening, a stranger slipped a briefcase containing the Book into Winston’s hand. For six days he has waited for some time off to look at it. Finally he gets fifteen hours off and Winston heads for the room above the junk-shop.
Winston begins to read. The first chapter, entitled “Ignorance is Strength,” divides society into three distinct strata: High, Middle and Low. He skips ahead, knowing he will have plenty of time to read and re-read the book. He starts reading Chapter 3, entitled “War is Peace. ” The chapter describes how the world has been divided into three super-states: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The states have been continually at war for the last 25 years, battling over control of the same regions: northern Africa, the Middle East, southern India, and Indonesia.
The states are too evenly matched and have built defenses too formidable for any one to be conquered by the others even in combination. According to Goldstein, The reason behind waging war has changed completely. The super-states do not fight to conquer or defeat one another. The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.
If the general standard of living were to be increased, wealth could be evenly distributed and there would be no need for a hierarchical society. Hence, for the privileged minority to maintain their position, they need to make sure that the standard of living for the masses remains low. Economic scarcity is artificially created to magnify the differences between the classes.
War helps people to accept the existence of this social and economic hierarchy. “the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival. Technological development under the Party is virtually nonexistent; scientific breakthroughs require creative thought, a concept outlawed by the Party. The Party wishes to first conquer the whole surface of the Earth and remain in power by killing any form of independent thought. Scientific research is limited to finding new ways of killing large numbers of people without warning, and finding new ways to control the mind of an individual. The super-states already have the atomic bomb, a weapon more destructive than any other yet discovered.
The nuclear war of the Fifties convinced the ruling classes of the super-states that a larger nuclear conflict would mean the end of society. Hence, there is a tacit understanding between the states that no nuclear weapons will be used.. The fighting takes place within the central territories. The governments of the super-states do not want to occupy territory and allow citizens to come in contact with each other. For example, If Oceania occupied France and Germany, and Oceanians met the people of France and Germany, they may realize the French and Germans are not much different from themselves.
The government trains its citizens to hate and distrust foreigners as monsters. They do not want this illusion destroyed. In reality, life in the three super-states and the philosophies of their respective governments are very similar. War functions only as the mechanism keeping the government in power. Winston stops reading for a moment. The book fascinates him. “It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already. ” Julia arrives and flings herself into his arms.
He tells her that he has the book, but she is not very interested and goes to make coffee. After they have been in bed for half an hour, Winston returns to the subject of the book. He starts reading it to her. She is clearly not paying much attention. He starts with Chapter One. Throughout history the High group in society has tried to keep its privileged position, while the Middle has periodically overthrown them with the help of the Low, who together believe they are fighting for liberty and justice, only to have the Middle become the new High. The Low group remains downtrodden.