[personal profile] wingedbeast
In the last chapter, we learned that Julia is a more skilled and more experienced rebel at twenty-seven than Winston is at thirty-nine. This chapter picks that up and, in a surprising move considering what more allegedly progressive stories would have, fully admits and maintains that she is the more capable of the two on many a level.

She knows the guidelines. She knows how to have conversations a bit at a time. She knows how often an individual hiding place can be trusted. She knows the ways and the how-tos of having illicit meetings, illicit conversations, how to revel in the illicitness of it all and all for the purpose of illicit sex... (Wow, the porn parody of 1984 won't have to stray very far at all from the source-material.)

We mentioned part of how she gets away with all of this in the last installment. She shouts the loudest with the crowd. She volunteers her time. She presents the image of exactly that woman that Winston hated so much. And, she convinces Winston to do something of the same.

She even induced Winston to mortgage yet another of his evenings by enrolling himself for part-time munition-work which was done voluntarily by zealous Party members. So, one evening every week, Winston spent four hours of paralysing boredom, screwing together small bits of metal which were probably parts of bomb fuses, in a draughty ill-lit work-shop where the knocking of hammers mingled drearily with the music of the telescreens.

There are two thoughts this brings up for me.

Firstly, it occurs to me that this represents, to anybody watching Winston, a change in attitude and behavior. It's the kind of thing that might make one suspicious. In a healthy, trusting relationship, one party doing a nice thing for the other out of the blue is just a nice deed. Oceana does not resemble a healthy, trusting relationship and the Party would be exactly the kind of significant other that receives flowers and assumes infidelity.

Then again, there's other thought, that I will get to in a bit.

Julia does work in the Fiction department. She does work the machines and isn't literary, but she does have a reputation for purity enough to work for pornosec.

There she had remained for a year, helping to produce booklets in the sealed packets with titles like Spanking stories or One Night in a Girls' School, to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal.

I think that's Orwell giving a hint that will be my other thought.

Anyway, there's only six plots, swapped around a bit. (Does Oceana have pizza delivery?) And, she's not really interested in them, not being of the literary sort, even enough for that. (I can't imagine Oceana leaves a lot of quality literature around anyway.)

But, she certainly has an idea about the motivations of the Party.

Life as she saw it was quite simple. You wanted a good time; 'they', meaning the party, wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules as best you could. She seemed to think it was just as natural that 'they' should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught. She hated the party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she had no interest in Party doctrine.

There's that High School sense, again. That sense of authorities wanting to take away our good time just because that's what they do and us trying to have a good time without getting caught just because that's what we do. However, it's not entirely wrong, either about the Party or about some examples of High School.

There are two more thoughts of Julia's before I get to my thought.

Julia on why the party has such a... (must think of phrase other than "hard on")... an enthusiasm for chastity.

'When you make love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?'

And then there's Julia's thought on a memory Winston shares. During a community hike, trying to share the sight of something beautiful with Katherine (who he was still with). That something beautiful was some tufts of loosestrife growing in the cracks of a cliff beneath them.

Julia's thought on that was as follows.

'Why didn't you give her a good shove?' said Julia. 'I would have.'

Now, Winston... Winston has an odd kind of regret, there. It's a kind I share... though less often in relation to murder. It's a regret at not having done something he'd regret. "Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that's all." And, really, at this point I think we can safely say that Winston has not grown as a man in these past couple chapters.

That said, let's take a closer look at Julia's thoughts and that second thought of mine.

Why would the Party care, overall, that Winston and Julia are getting laid? I mean, I know they've got their rules and I know that they'll punish infractions. But, in exchange for a moment of sex and vulgarity in description of the Party, the Party is getting Winston volunteering for munitions work and Julia volunteering for the Junior Anti-Sex League.

In addition to that, they have Julia and Winston actually thinking they're pulling something over on the Party. "Oh, they're engaging in activity that will result in more Oceana citizens. How will we ever recover?"

Julia's idea that the Party wants to stop your good time is... true to a degree. Rather than it being about keeping people energized, it seems to do its job by giving people a distraction, something they can do with all their rebellious spirit that doesn't, you know, actually do anything.

The other options are that Julia could get caught, thus being useful as an example, to the others in Oceana, of what happens to people who flout the Party's power or that Julia could be guilty/afraid of getting caught.

In any of the three options, the Party wins. It wins because it maintains control and gets labor out of them. It also wins because Julia paints a particular picture of those who don't accept Party Control.

'Why didn't you give her a good shove?' said Julia. 'I would have.'

This goes back to the discussion of Emmanuel Goldstein. Or rather, it goes back to a discussion about the mythology of The Devil.

There's been a point I've made in conversation (and even somewhat the premise of my e-book) that if the devil really existed as in modern mythology-If there really were a being who's entire motivation was take souls from God, so that they suffer the consequences of not being Christians-then the most effective thing he could do is precisely not what he's so often accused of.

In the middle ages, there were accusations of witch-craft and Satan-worship. This worship of Satan required, at Satan's request, infant sacrifice... but why? You could construct a mythology explaining that or you could take the different angle that such mythology existed specifically to make opposition to God look bad.

Julia, in her attitudes, paints a picture of the type of woman who doesn't conform to Orthodoxy. Other women, those more in the mainstream mindset, might call her bad words. But, she's casual about the lives of others.

Her first sexual encounter was with a sixty year old man while she was sixteen. He committed suicide to avoid arrest and her response is "And a good job, too, otherwise they'd have had my name out of him when he confessed." Now, I don't blame her, overmuch, for that. After all, what he killed himself to avoid was a risk to her, as well.

And, I think we can fill in a number of details about the nature of their relationship, at least in that that there was a heavy power-imbalance, being that she was sixteen and he sixty.

That said, "good job, too." Julia is playing, blindly, right into Party hands. If she goes on and isn't caught, well... she's not Robin Hood. She's not embarrassing the Party. She's just getting laid and she and her current beau will always be giving a little extra labor and effort to the Party in exchange. No loss to the Party, there.

If she gets caught, then... she's still not Robin Hood. She presents an image of someone most people wouldn't want to be. About the only immediately view-able positive about being Julia is that she gets laid.

It reminds me of the characterization made, by Christians, of atheists often enough. It's the image of someone who, because they don't believe that people are the image of God, doesn't care about people and only cares about their own pleasures. It's not a real person... not for the most part... not unless you grow up thinking that's the only alternative to buying into the Party Line... only to wind up hooked on the Party's Other Line.

Date: 2017-06-06 02:22 am (UTC)
dragoness_e: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
If there really were a being who's entire motivation was take souls from God, so that they suffer the consequences of not being Christians-then the most effective thing he could do is precisely not what he's so often accused of.

Discussion question for the class: what is 'the most effective thing', and how does it compare to the current fundamentalist "Christian" culture?

Date: 2017-06-06 01:22 pm (UTC)
dragoness_e: Raven on the wing (Raven on the wing)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
Wait, I thought that was Cunraya's job, being the resident anti-Christ. ;-)

On the other hand... if, as some believe, that God requires us to love one another, period, rather than "recite the magic words", the most effective thing for the opposition to God is to teach that loving the "wrong" people is sinful and evil, and that it isn't necessary to love the "not exactly right" people, and then make the criteria for the "right" people narrower and narrower until it only applies to yourself. That, I think, has happened with some segments of the religious right.



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