He was much better. He was growing fatter and stronger every day, if it
was proper to speak of days.
The white light and the humming sound were the same as ever, but the cell
was a little more comfortable than the others he had been in. There was a
pillow and a mattress on the plank bed, and a stool to sit on. They had
given him a bath, and they allowed him to wash himself fairly frequently
in a tin basin. They even gave him warm water to wash with. They had given
him new underclothes and a clean suit of overalls. They had dressed his
varicose ulcer with soothing ointment. They had pulled out the remnants
of his teeth and given him a new set of dentures.
Weeks or months must have passed. It would have been possible now to keep
count of the passage of time, if he had felt any interest in doing so,
since he was being fed at what appeared to be regular intervals. He was
getting, he judged, three meals in the twenty-four hours; sometimes he
wondered dimly whether he was getting them by night or by day. The food
was surprisingly good, with meat at every third meal. Once there was even
a packet of cigarettes. He had no matches, but the never-speaking guard
who brought his food would give him a light. The first time he tried to
smoke it made him sick, but he persevered, and spun the packet out for
a long time, smoking half a cigarette after each meal.
They had given him a white slate with a stump of pencil tied to the
corner. At first he made no use of it. Even when he was awake he was
completely torpid. Often he would lie from one meal to the next almost
without stirring, sometimes asleep, sometimes waking into vague reveries
in which it was too much trouble to open his eyes. He had long grown
used to sleeping with a strong light on his face. It seemed to make no
difference, except that one's dreams were more coherent. He dreamed a
great deal all through this time, and they were always happy dreams. He
was in the Golden Country, or he was sitting among enormous glorious,
sunlit ruins, with his mother, with Julia, with O'Brien – not doing
anything, merely sitting in the sun, talking of peaceful things. Such
thoughts as he had when he was awake were mostly about his dreams. He
seemed to have lost the power of intellectual effort, now that the
stimulus of pain had been removed. He was not bored, he had no desire
for conversation or distraction. Merely to be alone, not to be beaten
or questioned, to have enough to eat, and to be clean all over, was
By degrees he came to spend less time in sleep, but he still felt no
impulse to get off the bed. All he cared for was to lie quiet and feel the
strength gathering in his body. He would finger himself here and there,
trying to make sure that it was not an illusion that his muscles were
growing rounder and his skin tauter. Finally it was established beyond a
doubt that he was growing fatter; his thighs were now definitely thicker
than his knees. After that, reluctantly at first, he began exercising
himself regularly. In a little while he could walk three kilometres,
measured by pacing the cell, and his bowed shoulders were growing
straighter. He attempted more elaborate exercises, and was astonished and
humiliated to find what things he could not do. He could not move out of a
walk, he could not hold his stool out at arm's length, he could not stand
on one leg without falling over. He squatted down on his heels, and found
that with agonizing pains in thigh and calf he could just lift himself to
a standing position. He lay flat on his belly and tried to lift his weight
by his hands. It was hopeless, he could not raise himself a centimetre.
But after a few more days – a few more mealtimes – even that feat was
accomplished. A time came when he could do it six times running. He began
to grow actually proud of his body, and to cherish an intermittent belief
that his face also was growing back to normal. Only when he chanced to put
his hand on his bald scalp did he remember the seamed, ruined face that
had looked back at him out of the mirror.
His mind grew more active. He sat down on the plank bed, his back against
the wall and the slate on his knees, and set to work deliberately at the
task of re-educating himself.
He had capitulated, that was agreed. In reality, as he saw now, he had
been ready to capitulate long before he had taken the decision. From the
moment when he was inside the Ministry of Love – and yes, even during those
minutes when he and Julia had stood helpless while the iron voice from the
telescreen told them what to do – he had grasped the frivolity, the
shallowness of his attempt to set himself up against the power of the
Party. He knew now that for seven years the Thought Police had watched him
like a beetle under a magnifying glass. There was no physical act, no word
spoken aloud, that they had not noticed, no train of thought that they had
not been able to infer. Even the speck of whitish dust on the cover of his
diary they had carefully replaced. They had played sound-tracks to him,
shown him photographs. Some of them were photographs of Julia and himself.
Yes, even... He could not fight against the Party any longer. Besides,
the Party was in the right. It must be so; how could the immortal,
collective brain be mistaken? By what external standard could you check
its judgements? Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of
learning to think as they thought. Only – – !
The pencil felt thick and awkward in his fingers. He began to write down
the thoughts that came into his head. He wrote first in large clumsy
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it:
TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE
But then there came a sort of check. His mind, as though shying away from
something, seemed unable to concentrate. He knew that he knew what came
next, but for the moment he could not recall it. When he did recall it,
it was only by consciously reasoning out what it must be: it did not come
of its own accord. He wrote:
GOD IS POWER
He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past never had been
altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war
with Eastasia. Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford were guilty of the crimes
they were charged with. He had never seen the photograph that disproved
their guilt. It had never existed, he had invented it. He remembered
remembering contrary things, but those were false memories, products of
self-deception. How easy it all was! Only surrender, and everything else
followed. It was like swimming against a current that swept you backwards
however hard you struggled, and then suddenly deciding to turn round and
go with the current instead of opposing it. Nothing had changed except
your own attitude: the predestined thing happened in any case. He hardly
knew why he had ever rebelled. Everything was easy, except – – !
Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature were nonsense. The
law of gravity was nonsense. 'If I wished,' O'Brien had said, 'I could
float off this floor like a soap bubble.' Winston worked it out. 'If he
THINKS he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously THINK I see him
do it, then the thing happens.' Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage
breaking the surface of water, the thought burst into his mind: 'It doesn't
really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.' He pushed the thought
under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere
or other, outside oneself, there was a 'real' world where 'real' things
happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of
anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind.
Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.
He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger
of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought never to
have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a
dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic,
instinctive. CRIMESTOP, they called it in Newspeak.
He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with
propositions – 'the Party says the earth is flat', 'the party says that
ice is heavier than water' – and trained himself in not seeing or not
understanding the arguments that contradicted them. It was not easy.
It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical
problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as 'two and two make
five' were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed also a sort of
athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate
use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical
errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to
All the while, with one part of his mind, he wondered how soon they would
shoot him. 'Everything depends on yourself,' O'Brien had said; but he knew
that there was no conscious act by which he could bring it nearer. It
might be ten minutes hence, or ten years. They might keep him for years in
solitary confinement, they might send him to a labour-camp, they might
release him for a while, as they sometimes did. It was perfectly possible
that before he was shot the whole drama of his arrest and interrogation
would be enacted all over again. The one certain thing was that death
never came at an expected moment. The tradition – the unspoken tradition:
somehow you knew it, though you never heard it said – was that they shot
you from behind; always in the back of the head, without warning, as you
walked down a corridor from cell to cell.
One day – but 'one day' was not the right expression; just as probably it
was in the middle of the night: once – he fell into a strange, blissful
reverie. He was walking down the corridor, waiting for the bullet. He knew
that it was coming in another moment. Everything was settled, smoothed
out, reconciled. There were no more doubts, no more arguments, no more
pain, no more fear. His body was healthy and strong. He walked easily,
with a joy of movement and with a feeling of walking in sunlight. He was
not any longer in the narrow white corridors in the Ministry of Love, he
was in the enormous sunlit passage, a kilometre wide, down which he had
seemed to walk in the delirium induced by drugs. He was in the Golden
Country, following the foot-track across the old rabbit-cropped pasture.
He could feel the short springy turf under his feet and the gentle sunshine
on his face. At the edge of the field were the elm trees, faintly stirring,
and somewhere beyond that was the stream where the dace lay in the green
pools under the willows.
Suddenly he started up with a shock of horror. The sweat broke out on his
backbone. He had heard himself cry aloud:
'Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!'
For a moment he had had an overwhelming hallucination of her presence. She
had seemed to be not merely with him, but inside him. It was as though she
had got into the texture of his skin. In that moment he had loved her far
more than he had ever done when they were together and free. Also he knew
that somewhere or other she was still alive and needed his help.
He lay back on the bed and tried to compose himself. What had he done? How
many years had he added to his servitude by that moment of weakness?
In another moment he would hear the tramp of boots outside. They could not
let such an outburst go unpunished. They would know now, if they had not
known before, that he was breaking the agreement he had made with them.
He obeyed the Party, but he still hated the Party. In the old days he had
hidden a heretical mind beneath an appearance of conformity. Now he had
retreated a step further: in the mind he had surrendered, but he had hoped
to keep the inner heart inviolate. He knew that he was in the wrong, but
he preferred to be in the wrong. They would understand that – O'Brien would
understand it. It was all confessed in that single foolish cry.
He would have to start all over again. It might take years. He ran a hand
over his face, trying to familiarize himself with the new shape. There
were deep furrows in the cheeks, the cheekbones felt sharp, the nose
flattened. Besides, since last seeing himself in the glass he had been
given a complete new set of teeth. It was not easy to preserve
inscrutability when you did not know what your face looked like. In any
case, mere control of the features was not enough. For the first time he
perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from
yourself. You must know all the while that it is there, but until it is
needed you must never let it emerge into your consciousness in any shape
that could be given a name. From now onwards he must not only think right;
he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he must keep his hatred
locked up inside him like a ball of matter which was part of himself and
yet unconnected with the rest of him, a kind of cyst.
One day they would decide to shoot him. You could not tell when it would
happen, but a few seconds beforehand it should be possible to guess. It
was always from behind, walking down a corridor. Ten seconds would be
enough. In that time the world inside him could turn over. And then
suddenly, without a word uttered, without a check in his step, without the
changing of a line in his face – suddenly the camouflage would be down and
bang! would go the batteries of his hatred. Hatred would fill him like an
enormous roaring flame. And almost in the same instant bang! would go the
bullet, too late, or too early. They would have blown his brain to pieces
before they could reclaim it. The heretical thought would be unpunished,
unrepented, out of their reach for ever. They would have blown a hole in
their own perfection. To die hating them, that was freedom.
He shut his eyes. It was more difficult than accepting an intellectual
discipline. It was a question of degrading himself, mutilating himself. He
had got to plunge into the filthiest of filth. What was the most horrible,
sickening thing of all? He thought of Big Brother. The enormous face
(because of constantly seeing it on posters he always thought of it as
being a metre wide), with its heavy black moustache and the eyes that
followed you to and fro, seemed to float into his mind of its own accord.
What were his true feelings towards Big Brother?
There was a heavy tramp of boots in the passage. The steel door swung open
with a clang. O'Brien walked into the cell. Behind him were the waxen-faced
officer and the black-uniformed guards.
'Get up,' said O'Brien. 'Come here.'
Winston stood opposite him. O'Brien took Winston's shoulders between his
strong hands and looked at him closely.
'You have had thoughts of deceiving me,' he said. 'That was stupid.
Stand up straighter. Look me in the face.'
He paused, and went on in a gentler tone:
'You are improving. Intellectually there is very little wrong with you.
It is only emotionally that you have failed to make progress. Tell me,
Winston – and remember, no lies: you know that I am always able to detect
a lie – tell me, what are your true feelings towards Big Brother?'
'I hate him.'
'You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you to take the last step.
You must love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him: you must love
He released Winston with a little push towards the guards.
'Room 101,' he said.