1984 Book 1 Chapter 5 Summary

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  • 0:04 Winston's Work Life
  • 1:03 Out With the Old
  • 1:51 Winston's Suspicions
  • 2:37 Youthful Spies
  • 3:20 Chocolate and a Girl
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly Myers

Kimberly has taught college writing and rhetoric and has a master's degree in Comparative Literature.

This lesson is a summary of Book 1, Chapter 5 of George Orwell's ''1984''. Winston has lunch with coworkers and discusses Newspeak and the spy training of children. He wonders about the future and whether the Thought Police suspect him.

Winston's Work Life

Winston Smith works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite historical documents so they match the history that the Party wants to present to the public. In Book 1, Chapter 5 of 1984, Winston is in the Ministry of Truth dining hall at lunchtime. He ends up eating lunch with a 'friend' named Syme. Winston notes that no one really has friends anymore, they have comrades.

Syme is a Newspeak specialist, meaning that he helps develop the Party's language. He's working on the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak dictionary and describes some of the work to Winston over lunch. Unlike most languages adding words to accommodate new expressions and nuances of meaning, Newspeak sets out to destroy words. Syme explains, ''Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.''

Out With the Old

Controlling language as a means of controlling thought is a major theme, or a subject or idea explored in literature; specifically in Orwell's novel, in this case. If citizens don't have the language to express thoughts against the government, the Party believes that they will not be able to oppose the government in either thought or deed. Syme says, ''Even the literature of the Party will change. The slogans too will change. How could you have a slogan like 'freedom is slavery' when the concept of freedom has been abolished?''

He also tells Winston that by 2050, there will be no people who remember Oldspeak. There will be an entire population that has never known anything other than Newspeak. They will follow the Party unquestioningly because they literally do not have the words to question it.

Winstons's Suspicions

While Winston is secretly horrified by many of these implications, Syme is passionate about his work and its mission. Winston knows Syme would not hesitate to turn him in to the Thought Police if he knew Winston's true feelings about the Party. Even though Syme is dedicated to developing Newspeak, Winston knows that his future is doomed. ''One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.'' The Party wants citizens to blindly follow instruction. Syme is threatening because he is perceptive, well-read, and intelligent.

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