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1984: Winston & Julia excerpts (Part 2, chaps. 7 & 8 excerpts)

Author: George Orwell

Orwell, George. 1984. www.george-orwell.org/1984/index.html


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(from Part 2, chapter 7)

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He thought for a little while. 'Has it ever occurred to you,' he said, 'that the best thing for us to do would be simply to walk out of here before it's too late, and never see each other again?'

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'Yes, dear, it has occurred to me, several times. But I'm not going to do it, all the same.'

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'We've been lucky,' he said 'but it can't last much longer. You're young. You look normal and innocent. If you keep clear of people like me, you might stay alive for another fifty years.'

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'No. I've thought it all out. What you do, I'm going to do. And don't be too downhearted. I'm rather good at staying alive.'

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'We may be together for another six months -- a year -- there's no knowing. At the end we're certain to be apart. Do you realize how utterly alone we shall be? When once they get hold of us there will be nothing, literally nothing, that either of us can do for the other. If I confess, they'll shoot you, and if I refuse to confess, they'll shoot you just the same. Nothing that I can do or say, or stop myself from saying, will put off your death for as much as five minutes. Neither of us will even know whether the other is alive or dead. We shall be utterly without power of any kind. The one thing that matters is that we shouldn't betray one another, although even that can't make the slightest difference.'

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'If you mean confessing,' she said, 'we shall do that, right enough. Everybody always confesses. You can't help it. They torture you.'

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'I don't mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn't matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you -- that would be the real betrayal.'

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She thought it over. 'They can't do that,' she said finally. 'It's the one thing they can't do. They can make you say anything -- anything -- but they can't make you believe it. They can't get inside you.'

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'No,' he said a little more hopefully, 'no; that's quite true. They can't get inside you. If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them.'

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He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking. Perhaps that was less true when you were actually in their hands. One did not know what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning. Facts, at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture. But if the object was not to stay alive but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable.

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---

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(from Part 2, chapter 8)

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'Then there is such a person as Goldstein?' he said.

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'Yes, there is such a person, and he is alive. Where, I do not know.'

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'And the conspiracy -- the organization? Is it real? It is not simply an invention of the Thought Police?'

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'No, it is real. The Brotherhood, we call it. You will never learn much more about the Brotherhood than that it exists and that you belong to it. I will come back to that presently.' He looked at his wrist-watch. 'It is unwise even for members of the Inner Party to turn off the telescreen for more than half an hour. You ought not to have come here together, and you will have to leave separately. You, comrade' -- he bowed his head to Julia -- 'will leave first. We have about twenty minutes at our disposal. You will understand that I must start by asking you certain questions. In general terms, what are you prepared to do?'

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'Anything that we are capable of,' said Winston.

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O'Brien had turned himself a little in his chair so that he was facing Winston. He almost ignored Julia, seeming to take it for granted that Winston could speak for her. For a moment the lids flitted down over his eyes. He began asking his questions in a low, expressionless voice, as though this were a routine, a sort of catechism, most of whose answers were known to him already.

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'You are prepared to give your lives?'

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'Yes.'

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'You are prepared to commit murder?'

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'Yes.'

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'To commit acts of sabotage which may cause the death of hundreds of innocent people?'

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'Yes.'

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'To betray your country to foreign powers?'

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'Yes.'

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'You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming drugs, to encourage prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases -- to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of the Party?'

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'Yes.'

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'If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a child's face -- are you prepared to do that?'

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'Yes.'

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'You are prepared to lose your identity and live out the rest of your life as a waiter or a dock-worker?'

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'Yes.'

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'You are prepared to commit suicide, if and when we order you to do so?'

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'Yes.'

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'You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one another again?'

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'No!' broke in Julia.

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It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before he answered. For a moment he seemed even to have been deprived of the power of speech. His tongue worked soundlessly, forming the opening syllables first of one word, then of the other, over and over again. Until he had said it, he did not know which word he was going to say. 'No,' he said finally.

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'You did well to tell me,' said O'Brien. 'It is necessary for us to know everything.'

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He turned himself toward Julia and added in a voice with somewhat more expression in it:

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'Do you understand that even if he survives, it may be as a different person? We may be obliged to give him a new identity. His face, his movements, the shape of his hands, the colour of his hair -- even his voice would be different. And you yourself might have become a different person. Our surgeons can alter people beyond recognition. Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes we even amputate a limb.'

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Winston could not help snatching another sidelong glance at Martin's Mongolian face. There were no scars that he could see. Julia had turned a shade paler, so that her freckles were showing, but she faced O'Brien boldly. She murmured something that seemed to be assent.

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DMU Timestamp: November 12, 2020 20:50

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