Mrs. Moritz's 9th Honors English

Thursday, April 05, 2007

1st Hour 1984 Scribe

Hey everybody!

So today we started out class by organizing our chairs in 2 circles, an inner and outer. Two girls from journalism visited our class right before we began our discussion (to inform us of a meeting at 7:00 tonight). After a few instructions from Mrs. Moritz, our first fishbowl began.

Here are my notes from the fishbowl (with questions through page 37 of 1984). I just wrote down some good points made; I hope it doesn't get too confusing. The questions are written down first, followed by a paragraph including most of the statements made by the Inner Circle. I think they show the majority of thoughts and comments made...

How are some ideas in government used to suprise people? Provide a connection to the real world.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin had Secret Police to seek out those who voiced their opinions against him. In North Korea, people have radios in their home they are forbidden to turn off. In the US, there is a TON of commercial propoganda. And even though it is not government-related, PEER PRESSURE intimidates a person to think a certain way.

How can things change so fast? (How could people become so corrupt so quickly?)

In other countries, people feel resentment for the US, which often is caused by or causes jealousy. Also, too much government control can cause the brainwashing and weakening of the people and strengthening in the government's power over them. People become brainwashed because they are told not to think or question, just to follow along with the 'norm' and strongly support their government. And it all just pretty much goes downhill from there. They are also given certain events (the government's re-writing of history) to focus on to prevent 'thoughcrime.' A connection was made to American Idol in the way that it is the same every season (many singers trying to win and avoid getting voted off), but people just keep coming back (like to their government). And, like the Goldstein Hate Session, the media has control over the people's minds. A little bit was said of how in 1984, like 9/11, people are constantly bombarded with the same story to ensure they do not forget.


Why does no one else (besides Winston) seem to care?

Other citizens of Oceania probably do and question the past, but then the fear of being punished drives them away from their thoughts. They also could be afraid of discovering that Big Brother isn't actually real, a part of why Winston feels guilty about journaling. They are just afraid to question what life would be like without Big Brother (history was erased, so they have no knowledge of a better society).

Is Big Brother real? Or is he just a sort of 'representation'?

It is possible Big Brother isn't real and is just a 'puppet', someone for the people of Oceania to focus on. Connections were made to The Wizard of Oz and The Matrix.

Do you think they could have brainwashed us, too?

YES. A connection was made to the IPod. When it first came out, everyone had to have it. Then a better version, VIDEO, was released, and then everyone felt the need to have that, too. And then....the list goes on. The fact that the people of Oceania have no idea what is going on (like the IPod craze) gives the Party extreme power. The Party is comparable to Hitler: I will give you better. Feeding them a "blind hate" (in 1984 at Goldstein, in Germany at Jews)allows the Party to easily influence them. Both also killed off the 'imperfect'. And yet another comparison made was to that of the novel we read earlier this year: Fahrenheit 451. In both books, the way the people are filled up with so much information leaves them with no ability to think for themselves. And a final comparison was then made to Leader Camp: rivalry brings groups closer together.

A few other comparisons were then made between the 1984 government and LOTF/ice cream trucks.

What do you think of the slogan? And how do you think it represents society?

The slogan is more of a government motto that the people's. The people probably don't even understand it, anyway.

In his diary, Winston writes about the children he saw at the movies watching a gory movie. What does this say about the culture of his society?

It somewhat relates to ours!

How did you feel when you read about the children who were begging to go see a hanging?

The children see it as a type of "game", and still retain their innocence. The older ones, however, are buying into the brainwashing, much like the Hitler Youth. A good point brought up was that in medieval times, it was common for children to view hangings...a reoccurence in history.

Is the government really beneficial to the people at all?

Yes...sort of. If workout sessions and small rations of food count.

Why would starving people still have such strong support for Big Brother?

As long as the people do not know Big Brother is the cause of their starvation, they have no reason to dislike him! Big Brother can then make false promises.

An interesting fact was brought up: the Ministries in 1984 (like Love) are the opposite of what they should be! And the slogan is a formula to control the people...

In this book, everyone calls everyone else "comrade" - what does it do to morale?

Well, for one, it takes away identity and individualism. It is somewhat communistic, but no one thinks everyone is equal. And there are some social classes even though there aren't supposed to be. Someone said that's just natural, that there are born leaders and followers.

Is the Inner Party distinguishable?

Yes. Members of the Inner Party wear black overalls.

The final comment made was that so far, the government is just a weird twist on communism and socialism.

Hope that wasn't too confusing!

-Alison :)



Questions to blog on from Kylie, Kaley, Shannon and Rachel:
Why do you think Winston is having these thoughts and writing these diary entries when he knows he could easily be punished for them?
What do you think about Winston's connected feeling to O'Brien? Do you think it is headed toward an ugly road, or will this friendship end up being useful?

20 Comments:

  • I think Winston's connection to O'Brien is false and he wants so badly to know that he is not alone and that somebody else feels the same way he does that he imagined the connection with him. O'Brien has a very high position in the Party and probably lives a fortunate life compared to the others. It is doubtful that he would risk what he has. I also doubt that O'Brien would be beneficial to Winston because he would gain a lot of respect for turning him in and is probably too far in the Party to realize its corruptions.

    By Blogger Kristen F., at 8:38 AM  

  • I think that Winston's connected feeling to O'Brien can mean nothing but trouble. Why would Winston want to share his opinons that are punishable by vaporization with someone who is in the inner party. The friendship may seem useful at first however this will lead Winston down an ugly road. In the world of Oceania that is ruled by fear Winston cannot afford to share his unruly thoughts. Already he has to avoid his telescreen and hide his motives after one diary entry. O'Brien may seem inviting but without a doubt he will lead to Winston's downfall.

    By Blogger Dan E, at 8:46 AM  

  • I think that Winston gets his connected feeling from O'Brien, as O'Brien serves as a strong, solid figure in Winston's life. He is something that Winston can relate to and therefore he wants to trust him and tell him what is going on in his life and what he is thinking. I think that this friendship could be heading down an ugly road, as there is something shifty about O’Brien that Winston does not see that he is an Inner Party member, as the summary paragraph told us. So, if Winston does something that goes against the societal norm, then he could easily be in trouble. As Winston is already going against so many rules and breaking them, during his man v. self conflict that is going on inside of him, I think that this will be an additional obstacle for Winston to deal with.

    Also, I did not get a chance to talk about this in the fish bowl today, but I would like to address the question of, is Big Brother real or not. To this I would have to say yes and no. I think that "Big Brother" himself is not real. I think that he is a fictional character made up by the Inner Party to keep the rest of the Party and society in line and under control. He serves the purpose as someone who very wise, so that the people will not go against what he says. For the yes part, I think that his ideas and actions are real, even if not completed by himself, but by the members of the Inner Party. Big Brother is always right, as they have shown us with the doublespeak and such, so then why does the Party members and people not see this as such? It is because they want some figure to be there leader, someone who they can look up to and admire. His ideas are that of the Inner Party, but they are still ideas which affect society. So, he is real because "his" ideas are real, as they get carried out in society.

    By Blogger alyse, at 8:48 AM  

  • Anyway, I'm not sure if I need to answer both but I will.

    I personnally believe that Winston's writings in the diary despite his knowing that he may be caught, stem from his work at the Ministry of Truth. There, he rewrites the past to make the Party seem invincible. He want's to create something tangible that will not be rewritten, at least for the time being. He, as a human being, needs something that can hold to be a truth. His writing are the product of this desire. His desire to have something that he can trust, and know at least that it has not been altered is overwhelming. He also realizes that there is really nothing he has left to lose. At one point he makes the statement, "I'm already dead." He knows that no matter what he does he will be caught and he will be punished. He knows his writings will not survive so he is sucummed to his desire to have something that has not and cannot be altered. Finally, he want's to pass something on, or at least show the party that free thought still exists. However, one could argue that this is not the case because he himself admits that his writings will not survive. My response to that would be the concept of "doublethink". Winston, as well as the rest of the populas, have lived thier entire lives holding two contradicting things to be both true. I think, that it is thus, he is able to convince himself that something will come of this, even though he also believes that they will be destroyed.

    Ok, next question.

    Having read the book before I know what becomes of this, but I will try to 'pretend' as though I don't. Again, Winston knows he will be caught and thus I think that O'Brien is his only hope of not getting "vaporized". The friendship will not be one of picnics in the park or sleepovers, of that we can be sure. But, when it comes to a matter of life and death, then yes, I do believe that the freindship will be useful.

    By Blogger Tony J., at 8:52 AM  

  • I definitely agree with Kristen. I also think that Winston is having these thoughts about rebelling and hating Big Brother because he is starting to realize how corrupt his society is. After going over to Mrs. Parson's house to help with the plumbing, he realizes how frightening her children are and that they have a certain innate ferocity about them. He notices that most children are like the Parson kids'. He reflects on the days when he was a kid and remembers how much his mother loved him. His visit to the Parson home is definitely an awakening experience for Winston.

    After realizing what a corrupt society he lives in, he cannot help but want to change it, or rebel. I think that that was an innate personality trait in him. That is why he starts writing in the diary; it gets his feelings out and lets him open up, which is not an accepted thing to do in the society.

    I also think that Winston is reaching for someone that agrees with him and he is curious about O'Brien. When they make eye contact, I definitely think that he could have wanted O'Brien to be on his side so badly, that he almost imagined it.

    By Blogger melissa61192, at 8:58 AM  

  • Hello everyone! Wow, I agree with everyone here, and I just want to expand on a couple of things.

    All right, so: Winston's obsession. I think Winston wants this diary so badly to have something solid to hold on to, as Tony j. so cleverly stated (see his blog for some more brilliant observations). Aso, I believe it is in human nature to wish to CREATE things...anything, really. Look at Michalangelo (sp?) and the Sistene Chapel. Look at a mom, at home with her kids...she made them. The very basic human instict is to leave something behind so that others might remember you, if not forever than at least for a little while. With everything around Winston, from the buildings to the people, being destroyed everyday, is it so strange that he wanted to be remembered, at least in his own head, for just a little while?

    Brilliant, brilliant, on to part two. As one probably can realize, I know more about 1984 than is healthy for me, thanks to drama, so I will pretend I've never read the book before for this question. Kristen f., dan e., tony j, alyse, and melissa have all brought up very valid points of what is "likely" to happen because of Winston and O'Brien's friendship. We seem to all agree that O'Brien will likely be Winston's downfall, in the long term. In the short term, however, O'Brien gives Winston something no one has mentioned: HOPE. sure, yeah, O'Brien betrays him as we learned in the summary and yes, Winston suffers and in the end comes to love Big Brother and all that, but really...no friendship is permanent and this one served its purpose for the few moments it was around. I personally find the relationship between O'Brien and Winston more interesting than Winston and Julia, partially because O'Brien is my favorite character but also because it is unconventional. O'Brien is interesting whether he's talking or listening, and he and Winston are so similar is so many ways that it really spices up the book. Despite his ultimate betrayl, O'Brien offers Winston hope for a short period of time. And, being forced to live day to day like everyone in 1984 and even everyone in our own time, I think that's enough for now. Better to have this one friendship, this lifeline, than nothing at all, despite the consequences.

    Okay, that's all! Thanks for reading, sorry it's so long!

    By Blogger CMeghan, at 9:25 AM  

  • I think that Winston is writing in his diary because he feels confused about what he is really doing in the Party and why things are the way they are. He has a lot of emotions and thoughts, and he has to keep his stories straight so he doesn't give information away, so he records things that have happened. However, I think that later on Winston will decide to write more than just events that have happened in his life. He will decide that if he is going against the Party and is involved in activities against the Party, that his diary will not matter. I think that he will decide that of all the things the government will be able to attack him for, the diary is the smallest and insignificant to them. His actions will be more monumental than his diary. I hope that this makes sense.

    About Winston's feeling of connection to O'Brien, I think that his relationship will be beneficial to Winston in the short-run because it will give Winston a feeling that he is doing something to bring Big Brother down. In the long-run however, I think that O'Brien's relationship with Winston will be detrimental to Winston's future and overall goal. This will be true of Winston's other relationships too.

    Ta Da!

    By Blogger Julia B, at 9:25 AM  

  • Winston is having 'dangerous' thoughts even when he knows he could be punished very harshly because he is just too obsessed. He needs to let it all out, because if not I think he fears that he will let something slip infront of someone who shouldn't hear what he might say and turn him in. He also has confidence because he knows that in that little alcove, the telescreen cannot see him. It actually said that in the book, that the main reason he was doing it was because he knew he couldn't be seen.

    For the other question, I will be like Tony and pretend like I dont know the depressing details of the story. I think that the first time I read it I wasn't sure about O'Brien, because it seems like it would be so easy for Winston to make it up in his head, but he also seems so sure... and O'Brien seems unusual enough that there could be something there.

    Alright, now I am HUNGRY and so I will go eat lunch.

    By Blogger Tina L, at 9:45 AM  

  • I aggree with Julia that Winston Smith is writing in his diary just so that he may express his thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that he can not voice aloud for fear of being noticed by the Party and declared an enemy. However, by writing down these things, Winston is setting himself up for discovery even more so than by retaining them. The diary would provide substancial evidence that he has committed thought crime and, thus, must be vaporized. Although I personally am against his recordings due to the consequences, in the novel Winston may feel it is essential. I think that Winston wants to leave behind proof that he existed as an individual, proof that someone out there thought for themselves despite the Party's efforts. He wanted to admit to others in the future as well as to himself that Oceania was a corrupt society bent on war, destruction, and blind devotion.

    O'Brien's relationship with Winston, I believe, is a "one way" connection (if that makes sense). In my opinion, while Winston feels as if O'Brien shares his disdain for Big Brother and the Party, O'Brien does not make that connection to Winston. This relationship will lead to nothing but trouble, as has been said by countless others before me. That is all I have to say about that.

    I had a question to branch off of todays fishbowl discussion. Feel free to respond or ignore it...
    1. Why does George Orwell integrate so much history into the novel when the novel itself centers around the totalitarian tactics of rewrtiting and erasing history to make the Party appear almost "god like."

    By Blogger kchurchill, at 10:04 AM  

  • Winston writes this in his diary because he is tired of his life as an underling and wants more.

    I think O'Brien tries to make it look as if he is tried with Big Brother but is really just search for Goldstien's spies. Yet O'Brien's frendship will be helpful later.

    By Blogger Damian L., at 10:42 AM  

  • I think that Winston is putting his thoughts down on paper because he needs an outlet to concentrate on so he can still act like a normal party memeber during the day. I think that Winston can use his unique connection with O'Brien as long as he is careful. If he uses this oppertunity for respect with in thee party (never going to happen) then it might turn out for the better. But, if Winston uses this to try and become a rebel then I think O'Brien will be the Inner Party member he is trained to be and turn Winston in (TRAP!!)

    By Blogger Sander K., at 10:44 AM  

  • I think Winston wants to write something in the diary to leave some type of legacy so that if he is vaporized there will be something left behind that shows he did exist at one time. As far as his connection with O'Brian I think it is wishful thinking on Winstons part, he needs something or someone to validate he is not alone in his feelings and thoughts.

    By Blogger JamesJ, at 11:07 AM  

  • I think Winston's "connection" to
    Winston is having these thoughts and writing them down because I think it makes it easier for him to understand the things going on in his head.I think it will help him avoid being "brain washed" by the party and give him a reason to continue questioning the party.

    I think that the "connection" to O'Brien isn't the type of connection Winston thinks it is. I think that there is something about O'Brien that makes him different from the others, but I don't think that it is his hatred feelings towards Big Brother. I think later on in the novel we will learn more about O'Brien and his involvment with the Party and his feelings towards Big Brother.

    By Blogger Blair, at 11:34 AM  

  • I believe that Winston is compelled to write in his diary because of his Mother and Sister. They sacrificed themselves to give Winston a shot at life. Winston probably feels guilty and wants to somehow make it up to them. So he writes his diary as a way of expressing what he really thinks. He knows that he can’t bring them back but maybe he can allow himself from guilt by writing. HE needs to prove to himself that their sacrifice was not in vain even though it may mean his life.

    As for O'Brien, everyone knows what happens and what O'Brien does. But i think that he might help Winston in some way. It could be by re-enforcing his growing hate or it could be by changing his views altogether. It could be both. The friendship may very well turn out to be useful but it will most definitely lead Winston to an ugly road.

    By Blogger katieorlandini, at 11:50 AM  

  • Before I respond, I have a quick question for this particular blog and for possibly the future. Do we answer both questions that have been posed? I will to be on the safe side!


    It is my belief that Winston writes in his journal for his own sanity. I do wonder though what George Orwell thought about every other person living in Airstrip One. We, as of now, belive that Winston is the only one sneaking writings at home. How do we know that he is the exception? It's one's assumption that everyone else is blindly following along and that Winston is the "rebel". Even our rebel joins in at yelling at the telescreen during the two minutes of hate daily. For all we know, everyone else around him who are screaming as well, might be writing in their journals too. I do agree with everyone that it is his escape to share how he truly feels about the Party. However, I do find it interesting to look at it from a different perspective.


    I believe very strongly in fate. It is something that cannot be avoided, it is meant to happen. That doesn't necessarily mean that something great will happen. This is the perfect example. Winston feels a strong connection to O'Brien because he is trying to grasp onto any humanity. He sees that in the eyes of O'Brien. I think that this draw to O'Brein will lead Winston down an ugly path. The relationship, whatever the reason for it, is doomed and will provide Winston with pure devestation.

    By Blogger Martha P., at 1:48 PM  

  • Winston is having these thoughts because he has kept them bottled up inside himself for so long that he can't help himself any longer. He is taking the chance of being caught because he has to let out his feelings. Winston's connected feeling to O'Brien makes Winston feel safer because he feels as though O'Brien is going through the same feelings as Winston is. I think this friendship will end up being useful because Winston and O'Brien will learn to help one another through these times of disagreement towards the totalitarian government and towards Big Brother.

    By Blogger erikaw, at 2:40 PM  

  • I think that Winston is thinking the way that he is because he knows that he can only be punished for his thoughts if he betrays them to the telescreen through his actinos, and believes that he can get away with it.
    Concerning Winston's relationship to O'Brian, I believe that it could turn out good at first, but it will turn sour at the end.

    By Blogger matt f., at 3:02 PM  

  • Tina's mom chimes in:

    I tried to post this at work and couldn't get in, so with KOS here are my comments...

    I think Winston Smith is very much like a teen-ager - if you all will pardon me. He knows he may get caught and be severely punished for his subversive thoughts, and for writing them down. He is "pushing the envelope..." rebelling against the parent - Big Brother. It is also a way to express how he feels inside without expounding on it aloud. (Consequently allowing US to know how he really feels.)

    As for O'Brien, I haven't really decided yet. A glance that may or may not have meant something, may or may not have been a connection, and a dreamed voice that Winston decides after the fact is O'Brien is a pretty tenuous link to rely on. I am afraid it may lead to something scary.

    A question I thought of as I was reading these first few chapters is what in the world Orwell was seeing in his society in 1949 that led him to think the world could change so dramatically in 40 some-odd years!?

    By Blogger DLynch, at 3:56 PM  

  • Why do you think Winston is having these thoughts and writing these diary entries when he knows he could easily be punished for them?
    What do you think about Winston's connected feeling to O'Brien? Do you think it is headed toward an ugly road, or will this friendship end up being useful?

    I think that Winston is having these thoughts simply because they have been repressed for so long. He's writing the diary despite the potential consequences because it's refreshing to write it. Especially since he works rewriting history for the Party, he knows that the Party is not all that it would like to present itself to be. Though he previously chose not to acknowledge these thoughts, he is now at a point in his life where he wants to remember and he wants to fell as though his life has meaning. I think that the author specifically chose Winston's age because 39 is when many men go through a "mid-life crisis."

    I definitely see Winston's feelings of connection toward O'Brien will lead him nowhere positive. Winston's trust seems to me an example of the ways the Party is capable of brainwashing the citizens. The way that Winston blindly trusts a Party member like O'Brien is representative of how the people blindly trust a government because they feel that it is trustworthy. I think that this theme--blind faith--will be recurring throughout the book.

    --Whitney Pierson,

    By Blogger mmoritz, at 4:11 PM  

  • Why do you think Winston is having these thoughts and writing these diary entries when he knows he could easily be punished for them?

    Winston definitely feels the thrill of thinking differently - that is why he does think differently. After being the same as everyone else for most of his life, he feels that to step out of the circle he'd been standing in would be exciting, new, and fresh. Also, it is hard to remember something in a society like Oceania. It's like, if a person who was pretty smart was told all their life that they were stupid, they would probably start to believe it - the same thing applies to individual thought. When everybody tells you something that goes against what you are thinking, it is difficult to remember what the original thought had been. So I believe Winston knows that should he keep the thoughts in his head, they will be erased - the diary will remind him of his thinking.

    <3 jordan

    By Blogger jordanne, at 6:27 PM  

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