[personal profile] wingedbeast
Earlier in this deconstruction, I likened Winston Smith to a High School burnout. I've read 1984 before and I knew that this lady with the dark hair would make contact with Winston. But, I'd forgotten how. And, I get the importance of why this has to be the way but... having had that thought... I can't think it.

Chapter one of Part 2 eases into the High School sense of things but it fits right from the start.

The woman, still known to us as "the dark haired girl from the fiction department", has had some kind of injury that is common to the fiction department, due to the size of the machinery. And, as a side note, I am curious as to how big and unwieldy a machine you might need or even find valuable in crafting fiction... I think the point is that we don't know how that would work? Perhaps even that it's completely unnecessary to whatever function of a machine? If you have thoughts, please have comments too.

They were perhaps four metres apart when the girl stumbled and fell almost flat on her face. A sharp cry of pain was wrung out of her. She must have fallen right on the injured arm. Winston stopped short. The girl had risen to her knees. Her face had turned a milky yellow colour against which her mouth stood out redder than ever. Her eyes were fixed on his, with an appealing expression that looked more like fear than pain.

A curious emotion stirred in Winston's heart. In front of him was an enemy who was trying to kill him: in front of him, also, was a human creature, in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. Already he had instinctively started forward to help her. In the moment when he had seen her fall on the bandaged arm, it had been as though he felt the pain in his own body.

In a previous post, someone had asked the question of whether or not Orwell had intended for Winston to be hated. I don't think so. I did express my view that the best use of Winston is much like the best use of Oceana and The Party. See yourself in Winston, even when you dislike him. In High School, I see myself in Winston.

I'd spent most of my school career learning one lesson, over and over again. No woman would ever love me or find me attractive. My sexual and romantic awakening was an awakening unto an alarm clock made of bullies, both boys and girls, who repeatedly informed me that any expression of tender feeling my way was the bait of a trap, best ignored. Looking back, I was wrong, there might have been some options but... hey.

The poing being that I can both feel for and really dislike Winston for his automatic assumption this young lady is an enemy, that she, either on her own or with some official backing, was seeking to get him either killed outright or tortured unto death. Really, that's what The Party does, in the name of power, keeps anybody from risking a connection with anybody else. But, still, Winston, this is a person.

I'm at a loss as to what the right thing is for Winston to do, not having any means of verifying, as of yet, that she wasn't trying to end him.

Winston does, perhaps, the only thing that could certainly be right, which is, when she reaches out a hand for help, he helps her up. And, then we get a bit more...

And with that she walked on in the direction in which she had been going, as briskly as though it had really been nothing. The whole incident could not have taken as much as half a minute. Not to let one's feelings appear in one's face was a habit that had acquired a status of instinct, and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no question that she had done it intentionally. It was something small and flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers. It was a scrap of paper folded into a square.

We are told that Oceana is an oppressive nation, at least oppressive to those in the Party. The Thought Police and the Spies and several organizations have a myriad of ways of keeping eyes on you. And, it does occur to Winston that this could be a means of the Party communicating with Winston, potentially an order for him to commit suicide.

Winston also considers that this could be from an underground organization. "Perhaps the Brotherhood existed after all! Perhaps the girl was part of it!"

Either of these would have the gravitas to merit a note passed in secret, under the guise of one person helping another to their feet.

Winston hides the note among his work and does a bit of that job that I still envy before he risks reading it.

He rolled up the completed bundle of work and slid it into the pneumatic tube. Eight minutes had gone by. He re-adjusted his spectacles on his nose, sighed, and drew the next batch of work towards him, with the scrap of paper on top of it. He flattened it out. On it was written, in large unformed handwriting:

I love you.

If America takes a deep fall into totalitarianism. If there needs to be an underground railroad and a resistance movement to protect people from forced labor or camps or attempted genocide, I like to think that I'd be a part of the resistance. But, whatever resistance happens just has to exchange messages that read "I like you, do you like me? Circle Yes/No/Maybe."

In fact, I've got a business idea. Singles Mixer/Dystopian Resistance Larp. Singles go in, make contact, exchange letters under the image of resistance members having coded conversations, but they're really seeing who likes who and who would like to meet up later on. Needs work-shopping, but I think I have something, there.

Back to the point, though, this one line has taken what was once a serious story about abuses of power and the potential value of resistance and... just swapped it out for that one time when you thought that one girl in algebra class might have like-liked you.

And... it still works.

Really. Look at how Oceana and the Party work. Look at what they do. There are right-wing conspiracy theories that a government that actually takes care of the people would keep the people in a state of infancy. Well, The Party does just that, but not through taking care of anybody.

Living in the situation Winston has, he never has the option to reach a point of exploring his own emotions. And, for much the same reason that people hated High School. If you spend your whole day controlling your presentation of emotion, how much time do you have to explore your own? How are you to be aware of the complexities of emotion enough to know that having seen someone and being attracted isn't, necessarily, the exact same thing as loving them?

One of the things he remembers is that... one fantasy I refused to specify way back in part 4 of this deconstruction. He notes it as of no importance, because that's replaced with another fantasy and... I would feel better if he didn't remember it at all or felt guilty. But, to remember it and cast it as unimportant now that it's replaced... that makes me feel bad in a way that him having had the fantasy, itself, didn't.

Those of you who are reading the book know what I'm talking about.

But, that's part and parsal with Winston's own immaturity, which struck me in the following passage regarding when Winston hadn't caught sight of the young lady for three days.

There was no enquiry he could make. She might have been vaporized, she might have committed suicide, she might have been transferred to the other end of Oceana: worst and likeliest of all, she might simply have changed her mind and decided to avoid him.

I feel like I should be angry with Winston. But, that High School idea comes back. So, instead, the emotion that happens is... I feel the desire to sit Winston down and have an important chat about how it's important to view people as beings that exist in relation to themselves. They're not all about you.

Winston, if she changes her mind, if that makes her happy, be happy for her and, considering, go ahead and be happy you didn't get too involved. And, for your sake as well as that of every single person you will ever meet, remember that you feeling bad about yourself for a moment isn't worse than them dying.

I know, you're at a stage in your emotional development where it's hard to think these things through. And, I know, you're in your forties, but, in a very real way, you're still just that little fourteen year old boy who feels things and those feelings get in the way of thinking them out and you forget that other people feel things too.

It's not all your own fault. What are you going to do? Interact with people on a deeper level, express yourself and trust your friends with your emotions? That's not easy when the biggest risk is that they'll make fun of you. But, when someone in some kind of power structure might murder you?

What I'm saying is, I know it's tough, but you still really need to make the effort. You want to make that effort, Champ?

Part of the point?

Date: 2017-05-15 10:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I dbout that Orwell had intended for Winston to be hated. My own theory is that the character's emotional immaturity is demonstrating the effect of Party rule on the individual. As Winston points out at one point, the Party seeks to keep citizens from forming emotional bounds that are out of its control.



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