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Book 2 | Chapter 4

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Book 2 | Chapter 4 of George Orwell's novel 1984.

1984 | Book 2, Chapter 4 | Summary



Winston is back in the room above Mr. Charrington's shop. He's rented it long term. At the front of the hearth are an oil stove, a saucepan, and two cups. In the weeks they've been together, Winston's physical desire for Julia has turned into a deeper affection, and he's doing his best to make the shabby little room a romantic getaway.

Julia arrives with real coffee, real sugar, and other treats. She wears makeup and perfume so she'll feel like a woman in this room. They make love and fall asleep. Julia sees a rat when she wakes up. Unfazed, she tosses a shoe at it and starts to describe what rats do to their babies. But Winston is in a panic. It reminds him of a dream of something too dreadful for him to face. Julia asks about the paperweight and the picture of St. Clement's church on the wall. Winston recites a verse from the rhyme about it, and to his astonishment, she finishes the rhyme. As the evening ends, Winston contemplates the paperweight.


The rhyme about St. Clement's and the paperweight are mentioned again. Julia remembers a bit more of the rhyme than Mr. Charrington did, but the same ominous ending is there: "Here comes a chopper to chop off your head!" The rhyme is part of an old children's game in which a child is caught between arms of the others during the last lines, as if his or her head is being chopped off.

Metaphorically, Winston sees the paperweight as their room. Inside it is the coral, symbolizing both his life and Julia's. It may therefore symbolize a secret place where Winston and Julia are sealed off from Big Brother. He also describes it as a useless object and a chunk of history. Perhaps Orwell is hinting that remembering history is useless under the Party, but what tidbits he can remember are beautiful.

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