He became simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed,
whatever was demanded of him.

39. Interrogation & Torture

O'Brien came in. Winston started to his feet. The shock of the sight had driven all caution out of him. For the first time in years he forgot the presence of the telescreen.

"They've got you too!" he cried.

"They got me a long time ago," said O'Brien with a mild, almost regretful irony. He stepped aside.

From behind him there emerged a broad-chested guard with a long black truncheon in his hand. "You knew this, Winston," said O'Brien. "Don't deceive yourself. You did know it - you have always known it."

Yes, he saw now, he had always known it. But there was no time to think about that. All he had eyes for was the truncheon in the guard's hand. It might fall anywhere; go on the crown, on the tip of the ear, on the upper arm, on the elbow-- The elbow! He had slumped to his knees, almost paralyzed, clasping the stricken elbow with his other hand. Everything had exploded into yellow light. Inconceivable, inconceivable that one blow could cause such pain! The light cleared and he could see the other two looking down at him. The guard was laughing at his contortions. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes, no heroes, he thought over and over as he writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left arm.

With that first blow on the elbow the nightmare had started. All that then happend was a preliminary, routine interrogation to which nearly all prisoners were subjected. There was a long range of crimes - espionage, sabotage, and the like - to which everyone had to confess as a matter of course. The confession was a formality, though the torture was real. How many times he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued, he could not remember. Always there were five or six men in black uniforms at him simultaneously. Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times when he rolled about on the floor, as shameless as an animal, writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and yet more kicks, in his ribs, in his belly, on his elbows, on his shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on the bone at the base of his spine. There were times when it went on and on until the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not that the guards continued to beat him but that he could not force himself into losing consciousness. There were times when his nerve so forseook him that he began shouting for mercy even before the beating began, when the mere sight of a fist drawn back for a blow was enough to make him pour forth a confession of real and imaginary crimes. There were other times when he started out with the resolve of confessing nothing, when every word had to be forced out of him between gasps of pain, and there were times when he feebly tried to compromise, when he said to himself:

"I will confess, but not yet. I must hold out till the pain becomes unbearable. Three more kicks, two more kicks, and then I will tell them what they want."

Sometimes he was beaten till he could hardly stand, then flung like a sack of potatoes on to the stone floor of a cell, left to recuperate for a few hours, and then taken out and beaten again. There were also longer peiods of recovery. He remembered them dimly, because they were spent chiefly in sleep or stupor. He remembered a cell with a plank bed, a sort of shelf sticking out from the wall, and a tin wash-basin, and meals of hot soup and bread and sometimes coffee. He remembered a surly barber arriving to scrape his chin and crop his hair, and business-like, unsympathetic men in white coats feeling his pulse, tapping his reflexes, turning up his eyelids, running harsh fingers over him in search of broken bones, and shooting needles into his arm to make him sleep.

The beatings became less frequent, and became mainly a threat, a horror to which he could be sent back at any moment when his answers were unsatisfactory. His questioners now were not ruffians in black uniforms but Party intellectuals, little rotund men with quick movements and flashing spectacles, who worked on him in relays over periods which lasted - he thought, he could not be sure - ten or twelve hours at a stretch. These other questioners saw to it that he was in constant slight pain, but it was not chiefly pain that they relied on. They slapped his face, wrung his ears, pulled his hair, made him stand on one leg, refused him leave to urinate, shone glaring lights in his face until his eyes ran with water; but the aim of this was simply to humiliate him and destroy his power of arguing and reasoning. Their real weapon was the merciless questioning that went on and on, hour after hour, tripping him up, laying traps for him, twisting everything that he said, convicting him at every step of lies and self-contradiction until he began weeping as much from shame as from nervous fatigue. Sometimes he would weep half a dozen times in a single session. Most of the time they screamed abuse at him and threatened at every hesitation to deliver him over to the guards again; but sometimes they would suddenly change their tune, call him comrade, appeal to him in the name of Ingsoc and BIG BROTHER, and ask him sorrowfully whether even now he had not enough loyalty to the Party left to make him wish to undo the evil he had done. When his nerves were in rags after hours of questioning, even this appeal could reduce him to snivelling tears.

In the end the nagging voices broke him down more completely than the boots and fists of the guards. He became simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed, whatever was demanded of him. His sole concern was to find out what they wanted him to confess, and then confess it quickly, before the bullying started anew. He confessed to the assassination of eminent Party members, the distribution of seditious pamphlets, embezzlement of public funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage of every kind. He confessed that he had been a spy in the pay of the Eastasian government as far back as 1968. He confessed that he was a religous believer, an admirer of capitalism, and a sexual pervert. He confessed that he had murdered his wife, although he knew, and his questioners must have known, that his wife was still alive. He confessed that for years he had been in personal touch with Goldstein and had been a member of an underground organization which had included almost every human being he had ever known. It was easier to confess everything and implicate everybody. Besides, in a sense it was all true. It was true that he had been the enemy of the Party, and in the eyes of the Party there was no distinction between the thought and the deed.

All through his interrogation, although he had never seen him, he had had the feeling that O'Brien was at his elbow, just out of sight. It was O'Brien who was directing everything. It was he who set the guards on to Winston and who prevented them from killing him. It was he who decided when Winston should scream with pain, when he should have a respite, when he should be fed, when he should sleep, when the drugs should be pumped into his arm. It was he who asked the questions and suggested the answers. He was the tormentor, he was the protector, he was the inquisitor, he was the friend. And once - Winston could not remember whether it was in drugged sleep, or in normal sleep, or even in a moment of wakefulness - a voice murmured in his ear:

 "Don't worry Winston; you are in my keeping. For seven years I have watched over you. Now the turning-point has come. I shall save you, I shall make you perfect."

He was not sure whether it was O'Brien's voice; but it was the same voice that had said to him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness," in that other dream, seven years ago.

There was a tramp of heavy boots outside. The door clanged open. The waxen-faced officer marched in, followed by two guards. He did not remember any ending to his interrogation.


TV SHOW '24' DENIGRATES AMERICA (Jewish creator is racist to Arabs who hero sadistically tortures every week) & Torturing Iraqis on prime-time TV (evil sadists are 'good guys'). NewYorker/VanSun Feb 11, 2007

HOSTEL shows torture as sport (in pay-for-killing Soviet club using American boys as victims; sadistic sex, drugs, gore) & Horror movie HOSTEL tops USA charts (rated ok for 18-year-olds). Gateway & Scotsman, Jan 10, 2006. Go to USA pilots taken by the Soviet Union (during the Vietnam War) & KOREA-VIETNAM-IRAQ WARS

Rate of false confessions 'astonishing' (suspects feel pressured by police, donfess to rimes they did not commit). National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Oct 22, 2005

TORTURING TO FIND GOD (people to be tortured & brain scanned to see if faith lives in the brain). MSNBC, Jan 12, 2005. Go to 42.The Party Tells Why & ORWELL SAW GOD IN MAN

Fischer says detention a kidnapping (claims to be assaulted twice & has bruises/cuts to prove it). CTV.ca, Jul 28, 2004. Go to UNLCE SAM FINDS BOBBY FISCHER

Russia uses torture & death squads (which target innocent civilians). Independent, Jun 25, 2004. Go to 38.Cellars

My hell in Camp X-ray (psychological torture & mind games to confess acts never committed). Daily Mirror, Mar 12, 2004. Go to 34.Ministry of Love (Hate) & GUANTANAMERA now GUANTANAMO BAY

Real victims of sleep deprivation (Reality TV show 'Shattered' uses torture as light entertainment). BBC, Jan 11, 2004. Go to 34.Ministry of Love (Hate) & BEYOND ORWELL

Torture widespread in Europe (Russia-Turkey-Uzbekistan-Azerbaijan...including immersion in boiling water). BBC, Nov 8, 2003. Go to 34.Ministry of Love & 7.Systems of Thought

Israel running secret jails (blindfolded in black, windowless cells; psychological torture immense). Newsday, Jun 30, 2003. Go to 20.Police & 34.Miniluv (Torture)

Sampson abandoned by Canada (cowardly & unworthy gov't remains friendly with torturers). Toronto Sun, Apr 6, 2003

Zimbabwe MP describes torture (while world watches Iraq, Mugabe accelerates terror). Independent, Mar 25, 2003. Go to 7.Systems of Thought

What's the diff Mr Bush? (USA tortured innocent Afghanis, now USA troops facing backlash). Mirror, Mar 25, 2003. Go to GUANTANAMERA now GUANTANAMO BAY

"As his father, it's hell" (son in Saudi jail 800 days). Globe & Mail, Mar 17, 2003

Canada criticises captive's father (for bad-mouthing son's torturers & exposing Saudi injustice). National Post, Mar 12, 2003. Go to 7.Systems of Thought

Prisoners tortured to death (at USA base in Afghanistan). Independent, Mar 7, 2003

Saudis torture Westerners again (gov'ts do nothing, as usual). Globe & Mail, Jan 8, 2003

Guantanamo for "worst of the worst" (101-yr old Afghani man). London Independent, Nov 5, 2002 and (16-yr old Canadian boy). Aussie News, Nov 5, 2002. Go to 34.Ministry of Love

CIA break Muslim cleric (tells all after 3-months torture). Aussie Age, Oct 21, 2002. Go to 4.Old World Destruction & A "1984" PARODY

Saudis torture Canadian to confess (Canadian gov't "in touch"). National Post, Sep 26, 2002. Go to 34.Ministry of Love

Canadian sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia (confessed after torture to crime he didn't commit). National Post, Apr 26, 2002

USA sends suspects to face torture (CIA agents conduct interrogations). The Guardian, Mar 12, 2002. Go to 34.Ministry of Love

Canadian being tortured in Saudi jail (has crushed vertebra, trauma to feet). National Post, May 28, 2001

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com