1984 Book 1 Chapter 4 Summary

Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson will include a brief recap of 1984: Part 1, Chapter 3, and will then continue with a summary of the major points in Chapter 4, focusing on Winston's job.


Winston had a dream about his parents and little sister who died in one of the early political purges by the Party. Winston felt guilty about how they all had to die so he could live on, but saw no resentment in their eyes.

Winston had another dream about a place called Golden Country, which signified the destruction of the entire cult of Big Brother and the Party.

After Winston woke up, he was instructed by the telescreen to do the awkward exercises called Physical Jerks. As he haphazardly did the exercises, he remembered his childhood and the early days of the war. He realized that even though current history stretches Big Brother's roots to the '40s and '30s, he does not remember any signs of him before the '50s.

Winston's Job Description

Winston goes to work at the records department of the Ministry of Truth. He sits at his desk, facing his speakwrite, a machine which writes down what he speaks into it. His job is to update any written information that has been since proven wrong or harmful to the Party. They go through all forms of media, so they can match the current information, then destroy the originals.

Winston receives his instructions at his desk through tubes of various sizes coming from other parts of the Ministry, and deposits the originals and other documents he needs destroyed into a slit on the wall which leads to a massive incinerator, called a memory hole.

Winston Corrects Big Brother's Speeches

Winston is instructed to correct one of Big Brother's speeches. This particular one was where Big Brother misjudged enemy assault patterns. Winston updated quarterly boot production numbers so there would appear to be more than enough boots for everyone. Winston also had to change another speech where the Ministry of Plenty announced no changes in the chocolate rations. Winston speaks all the corrections into his speakwrite. He then sends off the written results to the proper areas using the same tubes around his desk.

Winston does his job as instructed, but is fully aware that everyone knows the truth. The soldiers at the front line know where the enemy attacked, and many of them walk around barefoot because there weren't enough boots. But Winston also knows that it is important that the Party and Big Brother are never perceived as wrong in any way.

Winston's Coworkers

Meanwhile, Winston notices Tillotson, a coworker of his from across the way, acting as if he is working on something secret. He is sitting very close to his speakwrite and occasionally shooting nasty glances at Winston. He realizes that he does not really know what any of his coworkers are working on, except the sandy-haired woman in the cubicle next to him. She works on deleting names of vaporized people from the records. Winston thought this was ironic because he knew the woman's own husband had been vaporized.

There is also Ampleforth, a man a few cubicles away who is especially good with rhymes. His job it is to alter poetry the Party deems unacceptable in some way but wants to keep. Winston realizes that as large as his section of the Ministry of Truth is, there are so many more sections involved in inventing the Party and Big Brother's truths, such as those that alter photographs, films, sound clips, and others.

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