1984 Book 2 Chapter 4 Summary

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 2, Chapter 4 of ''1984''. Winston waits for Julia in the room that he has rented from Mr. Charrington and thinks that they will soon be caught. Julia arrives, and they try to turn the room into their private, domestic escape.

Only a Matter of Time

Book 2, Chapter 4 of 1984 opens with Winston looking around his room above Mr. Charrington's shop. He's recently rented the room to have a place to meet Julia to continue their affair. As he takes in the sparse furnishings, Winston thinks about the inevitability of he and Julia being caught. 'Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly.' Mr. Charrington was happy to rent the room and seemed to understand and accept the reason behind Winston's need for it.

As Winston waits for Julia to arrive, he hears a woman singing in the street below as she hangs laundry. She sings:

It was only an 'opeless fancy.

It passed like an Ipril dye,

But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred!

They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!

This is a song that has been created by a machine in the Party's Music Department, without any human involvement at all. The words of the song bring Winston back to his worries about being caught. He and Julia are unable to resist the chance to have a private domestic escape, but Winston is sure that they will only be safe for a few weeks at the most.

Winston's Feelings for Julia

It has been some time since Winston and Julia have been able to easily meet up. Party workers have been preparing for Hate Week, and Winston has been tired and frustrated by the extra work and the difficulty in seeing Julia. Winston's feelings for Julia, initially sexual, are now more tender and affectionate. He wishes that they could be a real married couple, able to live and love openly and do everyday things together.

When the lovers are finally able to meet, Julia arrives carrying a bag filled with real coffee, sugar, and tea. These treasures are normally things that only Inner Party members can get, but Julia has managed somehow to obtain them. This isn't her only surprise. She has Winston turn around, and when he looks again, he sees her face painted with makeup and smells perfume. Winston is blown away by Julia's femininity, and they make love.

Winston's Fear of Rats

When Winston and Julia wake up later, Julia sees a rat poke its head out of a hole in the baseboard and throws a shoe at it. Winston is horrified and confesses that rats are his greatest fear. They are also somehow connected to a recurring dream he has about something unendurable hidden behind a wall of darkness. In the dream, he always feels that he knows what is behind the wall, but he wakes up before he becomes conscious of what it is. Julia comforts Winston and promises to plaster the hole closed.

Remnants of the Past

Afterward, Julia walks about the room looking at some of the old objects in the room. She looks at Winston's glass paperweight and wonders what it is. Winston says, 'I don't think it's anything -- I mean, I don't think it was ever put to any use. That's what I like about it. It's a little chunk of history that they've forgotten to alter.' Julia looks at some of the other things in the room, especially the old picture of St. Clement Danes. To Winston's surprise, Julia knows another fragment of the rhyme that Mr. Charrington taught him about the church. It is something from the distant past, and Winston thinks it it must be a type of countersign, or password.

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