Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 5
During the lunch break, Winston meets up with a colleague, Syme who is a specialist in newspeak and is involved in compiling the Eleventh Dictionary of Newspeak, which will be the definitive edition. Syme is zealously attached to the party, enjoys the hangings as a spectacle is devoted to Big Brother and Winston knows he would denounce anyone to the thought police if he suspected them of unorthodoxy. Yet he feels that Syme himself is the sort of person who is in danger of becoming an “unperson”, of being vaporized as he knows too much, has read too many books and is too intelligent. The Party doesn’t really like that sort of person and they are in constant danger.
Over lunch, Syme discusses Newspeak with the fervor of a fanatic. He tells Winston that it is a misconception to think that Newspeak consists mainly in inventing new words. An equally if not more important process is the destruction of many existing words. The fundamental idea is to cut language down to the bone and Syme describes this butchering of words with a savage relish. For example, if you have the word “good” then you do not need another word “bad” to express its opposite- “ungood” will do the job. And you don’t need words like Excellent or Splendid; instead you can say “plusgood” or “doubleplusgood”. By the time the Eleventh Dictionary is completed, Syme claims, Old Speak will be totally eradicated. All the old authors, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton etc will exist only in their newspeak versions.
Slowly the whole sinister significance of the project begins to sink in – it is not just language that is being destroyed, the attempt is to annihilate consciousness and thought itself. Once newspeak has taken over completely, thoughtcrimes will be impossible, because there will be no language to express rebellious thoughts in. Even doublethink slogans like “freedom is slavery” will be unnecessary, as the concept of freedom will be forgotten. Syme tells Winston that he is guilty of actually thinking in Oldspeak and then translating it into the new idiom, what is ideally required is that the thought process itself take place in Newspeak. Winston has a hard time trying to avoid exhibiting his distaste of the destructive process this implies and is saved by the arrival of Parsons.
Parsons unlike Syms does not display the slightest gleam of intelligence, his line is stolid obedience and Winston marks him out as one of the survivors. He collects some money from Winston as a subscription to conducting Hate Week in their building and proceeds to boast about the “achievements” of his horrible children. They had tracked a man down and handed him over to the thought police as a traitor on the sole ground that he was wearing strange looking shoes and had set fire to a woman’s clothes because she wrapped a parcel in a poster of big Brother. Finally, they had been eavesdropping at their parent’s bedroom door with a listening device to see if any thoughtcrime remarks were made. All of these are presented by Parsons as exploits of which he is very proud!
At this point he sees the girl he had dreamt about observing him from a nearby table. He is uncomfortably aware that she has been looking at him keenly for a couple of days and momentarily wonders if she was a member of the though police. Even if that was not the case, she could still be an amateur spy, which was dangerous enough. He leaves the lunchroom in a rather disturbed state of mind.