- Winston's neighbors
- The Parsons Kids
- How children view their parents vs. Big Brother
Big Brother is For The Children
In part two of our journey through this George Orwell classic, we are introduced to some more characters in the life of Winston Smith. Remember that knock at the door Winston received at the end of part one? Thankfully it ended up being his neighbor, Mrs. Parsons (Comrade Parsons..). She has a bit of a problem with her sink, and has enlisted the help of Winston. The only reason she thinks of asking Winston to help is that her husband, Tom, is not home.
Tom is described by Winston as "[...] a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms...". Pretty harsh no? It turns out Tom also works at the Ministry of Truth, and also has some other unique experience in organizations that we have not heard of before. He was a part of the Youth League, the Spies, the Sports Committee, and also the Community Center. The one I would like to focus on is the spies because you will find out that this line of work runs in the family
The Parsons' children now enter the picture, and they seem like a bundle of joy. There are two of them, a boy and a girl, and they run in playing with some forms of weapons shouting at Winston. I say playing, but this sounds like one of those moments where you think "this is not a drill". Winston describes the demeanor of the boy to be vicious, and even says that it did not feel like a game was happening. The boy calls him a traitor and a thought criminal among other things, and Winston is starting to get uneasy. Normally this would not be a big deal, but last chapter, we saw Winston commit the irreversible crime of having a diary and writing in it. He even alludes that at some point the thought police will catch you for your crimes. Immediately after this he is in his neighbor's apartment getting screamed at by her kids saying that he is a thought criminal...sound like coincidence? How would the Parsons kids know about the diary? It kind of now sounds like they are not playing. After Winston exits, the boy fires one more comment at him calling him Goldstein, the stranger who spoke out against Big Brother and who is shown in the Two Minutes of Hate.
The Importance of Children in The Operation
We get a glimpse from Winston that children in Oceania are not living normal lives of what you think children should be living. The Spies organization that Tom was a part of looks to have recruited his kids as well seeing as Winston describes them as wearing the traditional uniform that the group usually wears. The Spies will systematically turn the children into basically what the group name is, a youth brigade of mini thought police. Unsuspecting in one moment, and then ratting on you to the Part in the next moment. It almost seems like the children end up loving the party more than their parents, as Winston mentions instances where children denounce their parents to the Thought Police. They are called heroes for their actions, while parents are left scared of the power their children wield over them.
Herein lies the big strategy of Big Brother. Get your message out as early as possible in somebody's life. Big Brother, through this spy group, has successfully engineered a immensely devoted Party member. Think about it like this. The Party is giving these children things they can look forward to and be proud of. They sing songs, are involved in processions, they go on hikes and probably other activities, and get access to dummy weapons. Back home on the streets of London, conditions are so rough, they don't have nearly as much potential for fun as they would hanging out in the Spies organization. They come to love the Party for what it gives them, and from this love, they will do anything to the Party. This includes giving up the ones they love to the Thought Police. If you can make children come over to your side at that young of an age, you can potentially have a party member for their entire lifetime. The party has made your children heroes, what have you done that can compare? They come home to an apartment smelling like cabbage...
It all starts with the children. Have them do your bidding, label them as heroes, get them to look up to Big Brother rather than their own parents. Could this be the very reason that Winston had trouble remembering childhood memories? It very well could be...