WINSTON & JULIA
To Orwell Today,
Here's a question that has occurred to me and my grade 12 students. I've never seen it addressed in any commentary, from Harold Bloom to yourself:
Is Julia a member of the Thought Police? Is she purposely and knowingly set up to trap Winston? O'Brien needs Winston to fall in love so that Winston can betray his lover and love BB, so he 'plants' Julia. At the end, hey, that isn't Julia. It's someone who has had plastic surgery to look like Julia. (The scar around her forehead. And why else would it have been established that plastic surgery is very advanced?). Meanwhile, the real Julia is off trapping someone else.
Notice also that you NEVER get Julia's point of view in the novel. All statements about her thoughts are inferences by Winston. A master stroke by Orwell. It is after all a novel about not knowing what is real, and now the one thing that the reader thought was
real turns out to be fake!
What do you think?
I don't believe Julia is a member of the Thought Police. In my opinion Orwell makes a very strong case for Julia actually hating Big Brother as much as Winston does. They are different in how they survive living under the rule of Big Brother. Julia manages to derive some pleasure in her life by pretending to be a total Party devotee and she is therefore given a bit more access to benefits than is Winston. She is young enough, at 26, to have never lived in the time before Big Brother took control of the world and can therefore be excused for not fully comprehending the lie under which they are all living. Winston, at 39, had lived eight years in the real world before the take-over by Big Brother. He remembers when London was part of a nation called England, which is now referred to as Airstrip One in Oceania.
The happiness Winston experiences with Julia is the first love he has felt in the thirty years since the disappearance of his father, mother and little sister. Through Julia he gains courage and hope for the future. Julia probably got some of her loving spirit from her grandfather who used to sing her nursery rhymes from the olden days, before he was vaporized when she was eight years old.
Part of how Orwell emphasizes the horror of life under Big Brother is to contrast it with the warmth of normal human relationships. Winston longed for someone to communicate with and he found that with Julia. He likes the way she thinks and he actually does quote quite a bit of what she says.
For example, Winston was impressed with how Julia had grasped the inner meaning of the Party's hatred of meaningful relationships and how they tried to prevent men and women from forming loyalties. The way Julia put it was: "When you make love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything... 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?".
She understood how the Party was trying to distort and dirty sexual attraction. It was her job to fix the printing machines in the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth. She told him about the huge Porno Section where the Party was engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography and distributing it to the proles, including the youth, and organizing the sex talks that were drummed into them for years at the schools.
She also described how much better the members of the Inner Party live - with their luxurious flats; better textures of clothes, better quality of food, drink and tobacco etc. "There's nothing those swine don't have", she said. She knew waiters and servants who pinched things and put them on the black market. She brought Winston REAL coffee with tin cream and proper white bread and jam. He's in ecstasy. With her, for the first time ever, he experienced domestic bliss - something he'd never had with his wife, Katharine, from whom he was divorced years ago. He describes her to Julia as "the human sound-track" because she "had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan". She swallowed absolutely everything the Party handed out to her. It was this type of thinking that drove Winston to total despair. Until he met Julia he had no one to communicate with except his Diary, which was written to people of the future, or was it the past? In any event, it was written to someone somewhere who knew what life was like without the tyranny of Big Brother.
One of the most important insights in the book is attributed by Orwell to Julia. It has to do with reality control. Winston is telling us about the frustration he has, even with Julia, in getting people to listen to him about how big a liar Big Brother is and how a person shouldn't believe anything Big Brother says. Winston wants to wake people up so that they will join with him in spreading the word about the precarious scaffolding that holds up the Party. Winston half believes, half hopes that there is an organization of people like himself who wish the overthrow of Big Brother. Winston believes that if the masses could be awakened to the power within them the Party could be toppled. Winston knows the proles are capable of being energized because he's witnessed it in connection with unimportant things like pots and pans, sports and the Lottery.
He's even confided in Julia about the feelings he has for O'Brien and how he wonders if O'Brien is secretly against Big Brother and whether he should approach O'Brien about it. Julia doesn't laugh at him when he tells her about his dream because she believes in following instincts. That's how she found the nerve to approach Winston that time in the hallway. Something about his face had convinced her he was against the Party and could be trusted. And deep down Julia thinks that everyone in Oceania must hate Big Brother so to her it's conceivable that a member of the Inner Party could also have those feelings. But Julia doesn't have any hope that Big Brother will be toppled in their life-time. She suspects that Big Brother is the one circulating the rumours about an anti-Big Brother rebellion and that Goldstein is actually Big Brother's own creation - put there to trap people into admitting they hate Big Brother.
She told Winston that the reason she didn't even bother following the news was because it was "all lies anyway". That's why she didn't know that the enemy had changed about four years ago from EASTasia to EURasia. Then she made a comment that really impressed Winston the most, and gave him an even greater understanding of Big Brother than he himself had imagined. She told him that she believed that "the rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, 'just to keep people frightened." This was an idea that had never occurred to Winston.
She was even so unorthodox [politically incorrect] as to tell Winston that one of the hardest things for her to do was to keep a straight face during the Two Minutes Hate sessions. Winston could totally relate to this because he himself had great difficulty during Two Minutes Hate. It always amazed him that people couldn't see through Goldstein's "clap-trap" and recognize that he was one and the same as Big Brother.
Another thing Winston liked about Julia was how she didn't use Newspeak words but on the contrary she couldn't help but use profanities whenever she mentioned Big Brother. Winston considered it a healthy sign and a natural reaction to something bad for you - like a horse sneezing at bad hay.
Another proof to me that Julia was truly a helpmate of Winston, and not an enemy sent to entrap him, was how she protected him and made him feel safe. This was especially true when it came to rats, which Winston had an absolute horror of. During one of their visits to the little room above Charrington's shop a rat scurried under the wainscoating which caused Winston to burrow under the covers and shut his eyes tight in fear. Julia wrapped her arms and legs around him to envelop him in warmth and promised to "get rid of the nasty brute".
Winston's experiences with Julia in their Love Nest helped him keep his faith in the human spirit alive. But he didn't think they'd ever be allowed to marry or escape to live like the proles. Eventually they'd be found out and tortured. She told him she was willing to take the chance because having his love was worth it. She convinced Winston that no matter what was done to them, their feelings for each other could never be destroyed.
Then, as we all know, the day came when Mr Charrington proved himself to be a member of the Thought Police and told Winston and Julia that they had been watched from a camera and microphone concealed behind the picture. The black-uniformed men with their iron-shod boots and their truncheons arrived and punched Julia in the solar plexis and then carried her out like a sack, her face yellow and contorted in pain.
That's the last time Winston saw her until after he'd been released from the Ministry of Love, after convincing O'Brien that he was emotionally empty. His worst torture had been inflicted in an attempt by the Party to get him to stop loving Julia. Big Brother had heard him talk in his sleep and call out Julia's name just at the very time when Winston thought Julia was calling out his. He had wanted to help Julia by thinking about her because they had vowed they would never forget each other.
In Room 101, the Chinese torture of "rats on the face" had been attempted on him and to avoid it Winston had begged them to do it to Julia instead. That's what Big Brother wanted to hear because to the Party it represented his willingness to sacrifice all to please Big Brother. So after that they let him go, knowing that they had stripped him of the only self-respect he had, which was Julia's love. Winston believed he didn't have her love anymore because he had betrayed her, and with the loss of Julia so went his only human contact. So now, to Big Brother's way of thinking, he was a good citizen of Oceania. He had no one to love, not even himself, and he would be thankful just to live and be cared for by Big Brother.
They released Winston from prison and gave him a job in the Ministry of Truth. But what they didn't know was that Winston was still emotionally attached to Julia. The only thing keeping him in a state of mindless devotion to Big Brother was the drinking of gin from morning to night.
Then one cold March day, while walking through the Park, Winston and Julia crossed paths. Though they'd both changed greatly in appearance, Winston recognized her and she recognized him. The scar across her forehead was an indication of the torture she'd experienced in the Ministry of Love, not evidence of plastic surgery, which hides its scars. As well, her face - unlike the synthetic face* of O'Brien's Chinese colleague - was capable of human expression as proven by the way she looked at Winston with contempt and dislike. Then when they sat on the bench she immediately started explaining that she'd been wrong about them not being able to "get inside of you". She confessed that she saved her own life by telling the Party to go and hurt Winston instead, and that "after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer". He admits to her that he told the Party the same thing. So they both agreed that their feelings for each other had been killed, and after that there was nothing else to say.
Later in the Chestnut Tree Cafe Winston thinks he hears the old nursery rhyme "under the spreading chestnut tree". But the words have changed to: "I sold you and you sold me". It inspires a powerful image of a happy time spent with his mother and little sister about a month before they were taken away. When the telescreen breaks into his reverie he stops struggling against Big Brother and this, to him, is symbolic of death, and he finally feels release.
All the best,
WINSTON & JULIA SONG
JULIA'S FATE (reader wonders about Party doctrine on Julia's kind of thinking)
Jackie Jura answers question: "Does Winston die after torture? and WHO CONTROLS WINSTON'S MIND?
For more in-depth study of the relationship between Winston and Julia go to:
26.Rebellion & 31.Love Nest & 32.Enemies of the Party & 37.Betrayal & 43.Winston Talks In Sleep & 45.Chestnut Tree Cafe
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~