1984 Discussion (Chapter 1, Part IV)

1984 Discussion (Chapter 1, Part IV)
Full Episode: Chapter 1, Part IV
  • Why do you think the Party would let multiple people work on the same message without any of them knowing?

Winston mentions a couple times (p. 43 and 49) that he believes that Comrade Tillotson is also working to rectify the same message regarding Big Brothers reference to an unperson (Comrade Withers). Tillotson is pretty secretive about his work, as he tries to conceal his dictation in the speak write, and gives Winston multiple evil glances. It is almost like he would not want Winston copying his work. This detail leads me to believe that Big Brother does not want collaboration in this matter. He wants multiple competing ideas working separately and then he gets the final say on the best version to produce and replace the old version. This is rather interesting because if correct, it might be the only time we see individuality be allowed in Oceania. Add to this the fact that a community approach, or making the records department work in groups, is not an option for the Party. Winston mentions that giving projects to rectify to a committee would admit that a fabrication is taking place. If a whole team was working on something, this would certainly draw attention from coworkers, and maybe this trickles down to the proles (hopefully I am using that correctly...). Also if you are Big Brother, you do not want groups working together for fear of what may lead out of that. Camaraderie, friendship, communication, and other things could lead the group from rectifying messages to getting together to voice their opinions on the Party. This could lead to another situation like what they had with Goldstein, another counter revolution...

  • How can Winston write “Down with Big Brother” in Part I, and yet say that he takes great pleasure in his work?

We see Winston mention this on page 45, and I can kind of see where is his coming from. Winston does not seem to have much else going on in his life. He isn't married or dating anybody, He doesn't seem to hang out with friends, He has not mentioned that he is a part of any other groups, like what we see with Tom Parsons. His apartment building is not in great shape, and his physical shape is not great either. For him, work might be that one place where he can focus and create achievements. He can escape from his life, and put his life into his work, even though from our point of view it is for nefarious reasons. He mentions that he is good at rectifying messages, and naturally, it is common for someone to like what they are good at. From my point of view, problem solving keeps people engaged. I think it might stem from our ancestors having to solve problems to survive and find food. I think that these ancient instincts are on display when Wilson is trying to figure out the best ways to update records. I think it is still true that Winston sees the evil that Big Brother is doing, and in a way his position at the Ministry of Truth only helps Big Brother in maintaining power over the masses. It is puzzling to see Winston denounce Big Brother in his diary and also help him by altering the past for him...Talk about a work-life balance.

  • What is the reason for the Party not putting political offenders on public display?

I remember a quote that Josef Stalin allegedly said, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic". If one person dies, it is seen as very personal to the people. The name of that person might be known, the family then might also be known, and it is easier for a community to grieve. Essentially, a name is put to a face. Now in our lives, how many faces do we see and forget right away because we see people every day. It is only when we are introduced that the likelihood of us retaining the memory of that person increases, and then we are able to pick them out from a crowd. This same logic could apply to deaths. When a lot of people die, all at the same time, it becomes less personal. The focus shifts from each individual, to the sheer number that is produced by the group having perished. Who is going to have time to grieve for each individual person in that group? The chances of you looking into who exactly died are decreased, the number or the statistic of hundreds, thousands of people dying tells you everything you need to know.

The theme that we have touched on in regards to Big Brother is that individuality is a big no no. Having friends, having a community is a threat to Big Brother. The Party is your friend, the Party is your community. A public display of a political offender puts a name to a face. It makes it personal, many people might know that political offender, and now emotions may start to kick in. Seeing a single person on display might glorify the heinous act they tried getting away with, it might cause copy cats to pop up and try the same thing. Contrast that with the great purges that have happened every so often, all you might know is that a lot of people died. The focus shifts to the deaths and the sheer numbers dead or vaporized. This drives fear where a single death can drive fear as well as loss, sadness, remorse, etc.

  • Do you notice a difference in the types of media the proletariat would consume vs the media use by the Party?

We are referencing Winston's thoughts on page 44 here. Winston alludes to the fact that the services provided by the records department are not only for the Party. They extend to media consumed by the proletariat, and he describes this in a way that makes it seem like there is a distinction in materials provided to both groups. The Party gets its literature, published articles, documents, speeches, etc. rectified by the ministry in order to make it seem like they never get things wrong (or they referenced an unperson...). The proletariat has media produced for it like newspapers containing sports, crime, or astrology. The Ministry also creates porn for the masses as well. Winston even states in regards to the porn, no Party members are allowed to look at it unless they worked on producing it. Notice the news the proletariat consumes and what is not included. Anything regarding foreign affairs, news on the Party, or the economy. This made me ask another question, Why is the ministry producing different materials for the Party and the Proletariat?

I think we first have to establish that there is a distinction between those two groups. The Party is like the ruling class, there are fewer Party members compared to the proletariat, and they are in positions of power and control over the Proletariat. The Proletariat would represent the working class of Oceania. The people that are working in the Ministries underneath the umbrella of the Party. Part of the control the Party has over the people is that of information. We see it with Winston's job involving rectifying speeches and documents of Big Brother. So if I had to venture a guess, any important information about the country that would be pertinent is going to be off limits for the common people. With Big Brother constantly having to fabricate previous media releases, they get a lot of things wrong or things end up not taking place even though they say it will (like not having to reduce the chocolate ration). News about events happening within Oceania would not be so hot if actual news and journalism were to take place. Instead of feeding the masses important news on the health of the nation, they are fed material that keeps their minds off their miserable lives and asking questions about the country's circumstances. The Proletariat's news also probably keeps them addicted to wanting to constantly see updated sports scores, or the latest on movie stars. Compare this to what a lot of people see on their news or youtube feeds....Are people getting news that is sharing useful information, or are they getting news to feed their addicted brain with sex, drugs, and entertainment.