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Book 2 | Chapter 9

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Book 2 | Chapter 9 of George Orwell's novel 1984.

1984 | Book 2, Chapter 9 | Summary

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Summary

Winston is now in possession of "the book," Goldstein's manifesto. But outside, banners, speeches, parades, and displays of weapons have worked citizens into a frenzy against the enemy despite being unaware that the enemy has changed within minutes. Oceania had been at war with Eurasia, but now it's Eastasia, and, according to the Party, it has always been Eastasia.

The revamping of history means overtime work at the Ministry of Truth. Even though Winston knows that everything he creates is false, he tackles it with imagination and enthusiasm. At the end of six days, it's impossible for anyone to prove that the war with Eurasia ever happened, and the workers at the Ministry of Truth get an afternoon off. Winston takes this chance to go to the room above the shop, where he finally has a chance to read "the book."

The rest of the chapter consists, with the exception of a few references to Julia, of the contents of Goldstein's manifesto. The manifesto explains how the Party is structured and why it operates as it does. "The book" ends with the unfinished sentence, "This motive really consists ..." Because the sentence about motive is unfinished, Winston feels he knows the Party's "how" but not its "why."

Analysis

As the primary statement of the opposition, "the book" is an odd piece of writing because it doesn't present any hope for a way out or any method for overthrowing the Party's regime. If anything, it makes the novel even more dystopian. Besides not offering hope, it states that the division of the population into the Low, Middle, and High classes has been that way throughout history and won't ever change. Even if the top 2 percent are overthrown, those who become the new leaders will instigate injustice and division under a different name. The book closely echoes Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, in which he defines class in terms of ownership of property and argues class struggles and conflict are inevitable.

Even though Winston doesn't understand the "why" of Big Brother, "the book" explains why the Party does some things. The lives of the Low must be crushed by drudgery so they can't be conscious of anything outside their dreary daily lives. War must be continuous because warfare uses up resources that otherwise would be available to enrich the lives of the people. Using up resources is key to the Party's success because, if everyone had enough, there wouldn't a division between the classes. Then there would be no need for a hierarchy, and the elite who want power would lose it. Warfare is also desirable because it raises the public's hatred and fear to a fever pitch. If the people live in a constant state of fear, they feel the need to trust their leaders to take care of them. They don't question authority, thus keeping the High class in power. "History" has to be constantly revised because the Party must be seen as omnipotent; because it can't be, "facts" about the past have to keep changing.

The narrator gives a slightly better explanation of doublethink in this chapter by saying, "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously." People do this all the time as they evaluate two opposing viewpoints. But what's different in doublethink is that a person has to accept both ideas. The narrator says that in Oceania people have to rearrange their memories and simultaneously forget they have done so.

At the end of the chapter, Winston repeats an idea mentioned earlier in the novel. Even if a person is the only one in the world who knows the truth, he or she is not mad. "Sanity," he decides, "is not statistical."

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