1984 by George Orwell Part Three Summary

Part Three, Chapter One Summary

Winston wakes up, unsure of where he is, but guessing that he is probably in the Ministry of Love which is responsible for maintaining law and order in Oceania. He has a terrible hunger pain, and when he tries to search in his pockets for food, a voice from the telescreen warns him to stop. Before arriving here, he had been at an ordinary prison, where he had noticed the startling difference between regular criminals and political prisons. The Party prisoners were reserved and terrified, while the others were loud and energetic. He even meets a large prostitute who has the same last name as he does, and she surmises that she might even be his mother, which Winston cannot dispute.

Here in his new cell, Winston thinks often of O’Brien, and even though O’Brien had told him that the Brotherhood never saves its members, Winston holds a flickering hope that O’Brien will be able to smuggle a razor blade into him so that he may kill himself. Still, Winston is unsure if he even had the razor blade if he can even bring himself to commit suicide.

Winston’s colleague from the Records Department, Ampleforth, is also tossed into his cell for the crime of using the word God in one of his translations of Kipling. Ampleforth is equally unaware of the time as Winston is, but before they can talk further, Ampleforth is removed and taken to Room 101.

Winston is consumed with thoughts of his hunger, the bread in his pocket, O’Brien, Julia, the razor blade; his thoughts are interrupted when Parsons enters. Parsons has been accused of thoughtcrime by his daughter, who tells the Patrols that her father mumbled “Down with Big Brother” in his sleep. Parsons is not mad at his daughter, only proud that he has raised a loyal Party member. He fully admits to being guilty of his crime, embarrassed that he has even committed it. Parsons leaves thereafter, as do many other prisoners who come and go from the cell. Winston observes that many are taken to Room 101, the mention of which usually causes terror and fear.

One prisoner is brought in who is obviously suffering from great starvation. Winston tries to offer him some bread, but the telescreen voice loudly stops him. Just then, an officer comes in to remove the starving man and take him to Room 101. Upon hearing this, the man erupts in fear and begs and pleads for any other punishment except Room 101. He is beaten until he submits and goes with the guards. Winston then sits alone with his thoughts, even asking himself if he would double his own pain if it means saving Julia. He believes the answer is yes, but he knows that it is not really true since he does not feel any anything and knows that the answer yes is what he ought to say. Just then, O’Brien enters and Winston thinks that he has been caught too, but he is extremely disheartened to discover that O’Brien is one of the Enemy. The guard who comes in with O’Brien hits Winston in the elbow, and Winston falls to the crowd, with all his thoughts surrounding the unbearable pain.

Part Three, Chapter Two Summary

Winston finds himself on a bed, with O’Brien standing on one side of him and another man in a white coat standing on the other. He is beaten frequently: given time to recover in between but always in a constant state of pain. He is questioned incessantly by Party intellectuals, who always try to slip him up and catch him in self-contradictions. In his suffering, Winston finds himself confessing to everything, even things he does not commit. In fact, when he is rolled down a corridor, he erupts in a fit of confession and laughter, telling everyone about the history of his life and everyone he knows. As Winston lays in his bed, he hears O’Brien’s voice whisper that he has been watching Winston for the past seven years. It is the same voice that told Winston that they would meet in the place where there is no darkness in Winston’s dream. Winston does not know if there is any end to his interrogations.

O’Brien explains to Winston the torture device which is attached to him. Winston wonders why the Party is taking time to torture him, and O’Brien explains that Winston is worth the trouble. O’Brien brings up the photo which Winston had years ago which he thought could prove the falseness of the Party, but then explains that the photo does not exist, despite Winston’s protests. O’Brien then holds up four fingers and tells Winston to admit that he sees five fingers, but Winston cannot. (O’Brien is referring to the line in Winston’s diary where he says that so long as he believes two and two make four, he is still in control of himself and his humanity.) Each time Winston responds with four, he is shocked by the machine to the point where he is willing to tell O’Brien any number so long as the pain subsides. O’Brien explains that it is not enough for Winston to just say that there are five fingers, but that he has to truly believe that there are five there. The Party does not permit martyrdom, O’Brien explains, so no one can be killed believing in any bit of Party heresy. O’Brien tells Winston that he will be squeezed hollow while in the Ministry of Love, and then refilled with love for the Party. Winston asks several questions of O’Brien, who is elusive with his answers, though O’Brien tells Winston that Julia has betrayed him. Winston also wants to know what is in Room 101, but O’Brien only answers that Winston already knows what he will find there. Winston is given a shot which puts him to sleep.

Part Three, Chapter Three Summary

O’Brien explains the three stages of Winston’s reintegration with society: learning, understanding, and acceptance. Winston now enters the second stage. O’Brien again refers to Winston’s diary and asks Winston about his desire to know why, and not just how, the Party functions. O’Brien tells Winston that he helped to write the Emmanuel Goldstein book, and Winston questions him about it. O’Brien tells him that the overthrow of the Party is not possible, that the rule of the Party is forever, and he warns Winston never to forget that fact. O’Brien wants Winston to explain why he thinks the Party rules, and Winston responds with the answer that he thinks O’Brien wants to hear: that the Party rules for the good of the people. O’Brien bellows that he is wrong, that the Party rules entirely for its own sake, to keep and hold power forever. The Party is not a means to a great end, as many would believe, but rather it is the end itself – the Party will never relinquish control! O’Brien appears to read Winston’s every thought, so when Winston thinks about O’Brien’s old face and why it should look that way if he holds so much power, but O’Brien scoffs and says that the individual is not important, only the collective matters. The Party controls language and thought, and therefore controls everything. Winston says the Party cannot control the stars, but O’Brien brings up doublethink, saying that the Party can say the stars are near and far as it pleases – no one can contradict the Party if it says that the earth is the center of the universe and the stars are unimportant.

O’Brien goes on to explain the bigger picture – the ultimate goal of the Party. There will be no laughter, no literature, no art, no science, nothing that will compete with the Party. Children will be removed from their parents once they are born, and the sex instinct will be entirely without emotion. All heretics will be stamped out of existence forever. Winston cannot believe this, saying that it is impossible to build a society on hate and feat, but O’Brien counters that it is no more difficult than building one on love. The spirit of man will prevail, says Winston, and the Party will fall someday. O’Brien challenges Winston to see his own human spirit, and when Winston sees himself naked in a mirror, he is horrified with his disgusting appearance. Winston sobs with the realization of his own ugliness, but says that he has not betrayed Julia which is the truth since he did not stop loving her even though he confessed their crimes together, though O’Brien tells him that Julia has betrayed him. Winston yearns to know when he will be shot, but O’Brien tells him that he is a difficult case so it will be a long time.

Part Three, Chapter Four Summary

Many days have passed, perhaps even weeks, though Winston has no idea of time. He has been allowed to recover and he has grown healthier, not having been beaten any more. He is in a tiny cell where he is treated comfortably, provided with good food and even cigarettes. All this time, Winston has realized his folly in trying to overthrow the Party, not because it was a daunting and impossible task but because the Party is right and he is the one who is wrong. The Party has even been carefully watching him for the past seven years and know all the details and intimacies of his life.

There is a pencil in his cell, which Winston takes clumsily in his hands to write down “Two and two make five” and “God is Power.” He has accepted everything the Party has forced on him. There is no past but what the Party says is the past. The enemy has always been what the Party has deemed the enemy. Winston even practices crimestop while he is alone in his cell, which is Newspeak for the process by which he deduces for himself why Party doctrine is the way that it is. For example, O’Brien says that gravity does not exist, that if he wants to float away from this spot, he can. Winston rationalizes that if O’Brien believes that he is floating away, and the observer believes that O’Brien is floating away, then O’Brien therefore is indeed floating away! However, one night he awakes, calling out for Julia, his love, Julia. He is ashamed for his moment of weakness, knowing that his punishment will be lengthened for his outburst. One day the Party will kill him, though Winston knows the day is not yet come. But still he holds fleetingly at the possibility that he can die without having been converted, saying “To die hating them, that was freedom.”

O’Brien storms into his room, asking Winston what his feelings are for Big Brother. Winston replies that he hates Big Brother, and O’Brien tells him he is ready for the next stage of his re-integration. There, he will learn to love Big Brother. Winston is sent off to Room 101.

Part Three, Chapter Five Summary

Although the Ministry of Love has no windows, Winston feels that he has been taken to a room underground. He is in a larger cell, and O’Brien comes in and explains what Room 101 is – the worst thing in the world. Each person’s Room 101 is different, since everyone has a different idea of what the worst thing in the world is, but for Winston, Room 101 is rats.

Upon hearing this, Winston is horrified and cries out for mercy and a different punishment. Winston pleads that he will do anything, anything, just to be relieved of meeting the rats. O’Brien explains that Winston has to go through the unendurable, and for him, that involves having his face trapped in a contraption where the rats can eat at him. Winston is erratic and searches for anything that he can do to escape this monstrous pain. The only solution is to escape his own body, even though it is tied rigidly to a chair. He screams for the punishment to be given to Julia instead, and he is wild with fear. He sees himself moving away from the rats, even though he knows that his body is still tied down. He feels as if he is far far away from the rats, even though he hears the click of the door being released and knows that the rats are making their way to his face.

Part Three, Chapter Six Summary

Winston is in the Chestnut Tree Café, drinking gin and playing chess as if it were a routine. As soon as his gin glass is empty, the waiters know to refill it, without even being told, and Winston even has his own table at the café. The telescreen is announcing news about the war against Eurasia (Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia), and Winston is lost in his thoughts. He tries not to think about what happened to him, and concentrates on the present, where he has a good job which does not require much work at all. He works on a subcommittee of a subcommittee, dedicated to compiling some form of information about Newspeak, though Winston himself is not sure what the ultimate task is. He thinks about the war and what a possible victory might mean against Eurasia. He has mixed emotions about the war, but he cannot pinpoint what he feels exactly. He traces in the dust on the table: 2+2=5.

He recalls seeing Julia for the first time after being released. She has changed, and they both confess to betraying each other. Julia says that at a certain point, all you can do is care about yourself, and Winston agrees, since they have both ceased to care about each other a long time ago.

The telescreen plays a song, which brings tears to Winston’s eyes. He has a fleeting memory of his mother and sister, about a day when they had all played Snakes and Ladders and had a wonderful time with each other. He quickly pushes the memory out of his mind. The telescreen loudly announces that there has been a victory in Africa for Oceania and that the end of the war is possibly near. All this time, Winston’s emotions had not been solidified, when even moments ago he had questioned whether or not the announcement would be good news or bad news for Oceania. But hearing the news of the victory, all has changed. As the telescreen continues to report about war news, Winston looks at the large poster of Big Brother. Tears roll down his face as he suddenly realizes how much he has misunderstood the Party – Winston loves Big Brother. He has won the victory over himself.

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