Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 7
Winston carries on writing in his diary with dedicated if apprehensive zeal. He knows that if once the “proles” rose up in rebellion, the Party could not survive. But the “proles” seemed incapable of organizing themselves into any concrete entity. All their immense energy was dissipated in trivial grievances; they had no concern to expend on larger issues. The Party itself did not interfere too much with the “proles”; they were “below suspicion.” So long as they were willing to breed and labor they were left largely to their own devices. According to the Party “Proles and animals are free.”
The Party claimed that it had liberated the “proles” who before the Party’s regime had been hideously oppressed by capitalists. Winston recollected pictures and statistics of these monstrous capitalists in the history textbooks issued by the Party. According to those books, everything had changed since those days and had changed for the better. But when even Party members like himself found life a drudgery, it was hard to believe that things had improved for the “proles.”
Winston himself was engaged in altering the past at the Ministry of Truth and he knew very well how the process worked. But there had been one incident which stood out in his memory, convincing him that lies could not become truth. This incident had happened around 1965. Most of the original leaders of the Party Revolution except Big Brother himself had been purged and vaporized on the charge of being counter revolutionaries and traitors. Prominent among these were three leaders Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford. They had all been arrested and charged of treason to the Party and after public confessions had been temporarily reinstated. But everyone knew this was only a stopgap arrangement, once you fell into the hands of the thought police there was no escape. Winston had seen the three men at a café where they were carefully avoided by most people as being dangerous to associate with. He had noticed the signs of torture on their faces.
Soon afterwards, the three were rearrested and after further confessions of conspiracies with Eurasia were executed. Years later a scrap of newspaper which somehow had escaped destruction had found it’s way to Winston’s desk. There was a photograph of the three men attending a prominent Party function on the same date they were said to have been launching conspiracies on Eurasian soil. Winston had destroyed the paper immediately, but it stayed at the back of his mind, as evidence confirming what he already knew, that what the Party presented as Truth was a complete tissue of lies.
Winston wondered how far this falsification would go. Given the inexorable nature of the Party’s project, sooner or later, they would declare that two and two are five and if he, Winston questioned it he would probably be a lunatic and “in a minority of one.” At this point however, Winston thinks of O’Brien and the thought is strangely reassuring. He feels that he would have a sympathetic listener in O’Brien and that O’Brien actually is the audience for whom he is keeping his diary. With new confidence he sets out his definition of freedom in the diary – “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”