Rereading Nineteen Eighty Four – Part III Chap 2 (18)

O’Brien,  Winston’s torturer, the man who set up Winston so as to arrest and torture him, is probably enjoying the game.  After the physical torture he inflicted on Winston, he smoothly moves to the mental, and tells Winston he can ask questions.

Not unexpected, Winston asks about Julia;

 ‘She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately — unreservedly. I have seldom seen anyone come over to us so promptly. You would hardly recognize her if you saw her. All her rebelliousness, her deceit, her folly, — everything has been burned out of her. It was a perfect conversion, a textbook case.’

‘You tortured her?’

O’Brien left this unanswered. ‘Next question,’ he said.

‘Does Big Brother exist?’  Winston asks.

‘Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.’

‘Does he exist in the same way as I exist?’

‘You do not exist,’ said O’Brien.

Once again the sense of helplessness assailed him.  Did not the statement, ‘You do not exist’, contain a logical absurdity?

‘I think I exist,’ he said wearily. ‘I am conscious of my own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs. I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously. In that sense, does Big Brother exist?’

‘It is of no importance. He exists.’


What do you think?


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