O’Brien, knowing Winston was terrified, brought the rat cage nearer his face.
Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic.
To think, to think, even with a split second left — to think was the only hope.
He could smell the rats. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness.
Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.
The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else.
The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face.
One of the rats was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood, his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air.
Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.