I didn’t read this with the intent of writing about it. However, since it’s on the list that I posted, I thought I’d write down my thoughts. I picked this book to read because it has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while and I haven’t read it. I always knew that it was a classic, but really had no idea what it was about. I had the general idea that it was a modern kind of dark book. And now that I have read it, it is a dark book.
At the beginning it reminded me of the movie V for Vendetta. The government can control everything you do, and knows everything that you think mostly by your behavior and even slight minuscule facial expressions. The government alters the past so that no one can find evidence that the government wasn’t right in the first place. I suppose that this interference on the part of the government is supposed to be corollary for the socialist movements in Germany and Russia as the first copyright is in 1949. It may be that if the Axis powers had won that our lives would be much like the ones in this book.
The protagonist in this story first rebels in his mind against the Party (the government) – called thoughtcrime. He is eventually caught and reprogrammed. It is a trying business to put all your thoughts under regulation so that nothing bad occurs to you (what is bad is good in this book, as far as the Party is concerned). In the end, he does succumb to the Party’s propaganda and he is able to control his mind and emotions.
The last paragraph flabbergasted me. I was so hoping for a happy ending with truth, justice, and freedom winning out. As it is of course my being raised as an American that makes those things on such a high pedestal for me.
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless understanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, every thing was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
He had won the victory over himself… Wow… If for a second the Party had better ideals and did not affront truth or an uncorrupted human nature, then maybe the journey that he went through was more something to be cheered. If he had conquered his passions, his sins, his base desires, I would have looked on his struggle as something holy.