Winston dreamt of his mother that night. He dreamt of his mother and sister who along with his father whom he remembered more vaguely had been exterminated in one of the famous Party “purges”. He realized that in some unfathomable way, his mother and sister had died for him; they had died so that he could go on living. Always in his dreams, he saw them in a deep grave or well and he felt that they were there so that he could be up on the surface.
He also felt that his mother’s love for him and his awareness of her death as a tragedy belonged to a bygone age when words like love and tragedy had some real meaning just as human individuals possessed some real dignity. Then it was natural for members of a family to stand together and love one another, now there was only fear, selfishness and suspicion.
Another landscape entered Winston’s dream, a sunny pastoral land with a brook which he always felt he had seen somewhere in childhood but could ever place accurately. The girl he had noticed at work during yesterdays’ Hate came into the landscape and flung off her clothes in a grand gesture. Her body was beautiful, but it was not her body that Winston looked at in his dream, it was the symbolism of the gesture that attracted him. He felt that in flinging away her clothes like that, she was also throwing away all the shackles imposed by the Party and by Big Brother. He woke up from his dream with the word “Shakespeare” on his lips, symbolizing human potential.
But the reality to which he woke up was a very grim one. He had to join in compulsory exercises following the instructions given by a woman from the telescreen. As he mechanically went through the routine, his mind went back to the past; trying to remember something of the childhood he had dreamt about.
He vaguely remembered that the Area where he lived which was now called Airstrip One was once called England though London had always been called London. And there were memories of a time when there was no war, when the first bomb had fallen and his family had taken shelter in a cellar.
Oceania was at war with Eurasia now, but just four years ago, these two had formed an alliance against Eastasia. Winston remembered this clearly, but it made no difference what he or any other individual remembered, for the Party said that Eurasia had always been the Enemy and what the Party said was the Truth. This, thought Winston, was the most frightening aspect of the party regime-that it could obliterate memory, turn lies into Truth and alter the Past. The Party slogan was “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” This was where “doublethink” came into play, minds were trained to hold contradictory positions simultaneously and unquestioningly- for example you had to believe at one and the same time that Democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy. Winston could remember a time when the Party did not rule, when Big Brother had not become all-powerful; but according to the Party they had always existed and this lie was repeated ad infinitum until it “became” the truth. This, Winston thought was a far more terrible weapon in the hands of the Party than torture or execution.
While he was lost in his thoughts, Winston’s body had been performing the exercises routinely. Now he is suddenly startled out of his reverie by the instructress from the telescreen addressing him directly. Shouting at him as “6079 Smith W” the woman tells him to pay more attention and recalls him to the regimented present where each man is a coded number and the telescreens spy on every activity.