Book One: Chapter I SUMMARY BOOK ONE: CHAPTER I Summary: Chapter I Page 1 On a cold day in April of 1984, a man named Winston Smith returns to his home, a dilapidated apartment building called Victory Mansions. Thin, frail, and thirty-nine years old, it is painful for him to trudge up the stairs because he has a varicose ulcer above his right ankle. The elevator is always out of service, so he does not try to use it. As he climbs the staircase, he is greeted on each landing by a poster depicting an enormous face, underscored by the words “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.” 1984 Spark Notes
1984 Spark Notes Winston is an insigni±cant o´cial in the Party, the totalitarian political regime that rules all of Airstrip One—the land that used to be called England—as part of the larger state of Oceania. Though Winston is technically a member of the ruling class, his life is still under the Party’s oppressive political control. In his apartment, an instrument called a telescreen—which is always on, spouting propaganda, and through which the Thought Police are known to monitor the actions of citizens—shows a dreary report about pig iron. Winston keeps his back to the screen. From his window he sees the Ministry of Truth, where he works as a propaganda o´cer altering historical records to match the Party’s o´cial version of past events. Winston thinks about the other Ministries that exist as part of the Party’s governmental apparatus: the Ministry of Peace, which wages war; the Ministry of Plenty, which plans economic shortages; and the dreaded Ministry of Love, the center of the Inner Party’s loathsome activities. WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (See Important Quotations Explained ) From a drawer in a little alcove hidden from the telescreen, Winston pulls out a small diary he recently purchased. He found the diary in a second-hand store in the proletarian district, where the very poor live relatively unimpeded by Party monitoring. The proles, as they are called, are so impoverished and insigni±cant that the Party does not consider them a threat to its power. Winston begins to write in his diary, although he realizes that this constitutes an act of rebellion against the Party. He describes the ±lms he watched the night before. He thinks about his lust and hatred for a dark-haired girl who works in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth, and about an important Inner Party member named O’Brien—a man he is sure is an enemy of the Party. Winston remembers the moment before that day’s Two Minutes Hate, an assembly during which Party orators whip the populace into a frenzy of hatred against the enemies of Oceania. Just before the Hate began, Winston knew he hated Big Brother, and saw the same loathing in O’Brien’s eyes.
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