Essay Questions For 1984 Chapter

1984 (Orwell)

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Discussion Questions 
1. The world within which Winston lives is replete with contradictions. For example a, major tenet of the Party's philosophy is that War is Peace. Similarly, the Ministry of Love serves as, what we would consider, a department of war. What role do these contradictions serve on a grand scale? Discuss other contradictions inherent in the Party's philosophy. What role does contradiction serve within the framework of Doublethink? How does Doublethink satisfy the needs of The Party?

2. In the afterword, the commentator describes 1984 as "a warning." Indeed, throughout the text, Orwell plants both subtle and overt warnings to the reader. What do you think are some of the larger issues at hand here?

3. Describe the role that O'Brien plays in Winston's life. Why do you think that initially, Winston is drawn to O'Brien? Why does he implicitly trust him, despite the enormous dangers involved?

4. Discuss the significance and nature of Winston's dreams. Deconstruct the dream wherein O'Brien claims that they "shall meet in a place where there is no darkness" (page 22), and the dream in which Winston's mother and sister disappear (page 26). What are the underpinnings of these dreams? What deeper meanings do they hold? Why do you think the author devotes as much time as he does to Winston's dreams?

5. Discuss Winston as a heroic figure. What qualities does he posses that could define him as one?

6. Compare and contrast some of the other characters in Winston's world: Parsons, Syme, O'Brien. How does Winston view each one? How do they differ from Winston? What opinion do you think each one has of Winston?

7. On pages 147-148, Winston reflects on the omnipresence of The Party: "He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them….Facts at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by inquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture. But if the object was not to stay alive, but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make?" What, in essence, is Winston saying about the lone individual in relation to The State? Does this contention remain true throughout the novel?

8. Early on in the novel, we learn of Winston's belief in the proles as a liberating force. What accounts for Winston's almost blind faith in the proles? What are some of the characteristics of the proles that, in Winston's eyes, make them the ultimate means for overthrowing Big Brother?

9. From her first appearance as "the dark-haired girl," through to the end of the novel, Julia is a key figure in 1984. Trace the path of Julia in relation to Winston's life; in what ways does she influence him? Did you trust her, initially? Overall, do you feel she had a positive or negative impact upon him?

10. After his first formal meeting with O'Brien, Winston receives a book, ostensibly written by Emmanuel Goldberg. In reading passages from this book, Winston is further enlightened as to "how" the current society came into being. Focus on these passages, and in particular, on the theory of the High, Middle and Low classes (page 179). If true, what does this theory hold for the proles? Is Winston's plan for the proles now altered? Why or why not?

11. During Winston's interrogation, O'Brien explains that whereas preceding totalitarian regimes had failed, The Party was truly successful in its consolidation of power (page 226). How, according to O'Brien, does the The Party as an oligarchy differ from Nazism or Russian Communism? How does he define the role of the martyr, both in terms of The Party and the other totalitarian systems?

12. Following his capture in Mr. Charrington's spare room, Winston undergoes a process of "philosophical cleansing" and re-education against which he valiantly, but unsuccessfully fights. Discuss Winston's "capitulation" at the hands of O'Brien. How is Winston brought to "love Big Brother?" In sacrificing Julia, how has Winston, in essence, signaled his own end?

13. How would you describe the author's tone in 1984? Does it add to or detract from the character's discourse?

14. Discuss the role of sex and intimacy in 1984. What specific function does the Party's directive on sexual interaction serve?

15. In the final analysis, how accurate was Orwell in his vision of the future? In what ways does our contemporary society compare to his idea of society in 1984? Are there examples in which he was correct? What is most opposite? Do you see a potential for aspects of Orwell's "vision" to come true?

16. During his final encounter with O'Brien, Winston argues that, if all else fails, the inherent nature of the individual—the "spirit of man"—is strong enough to undermine a society such as that created by The Party. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Is Winston's belief applicable to the world we live in today? Can you cite examples in our own recent history that support or dismiss Winston's belief in the resiliency and righteousness of the human spirit?

17. Prior to meeting her, Winston fantasizes about Julia in violent, humiliating ways. Later, he describes in his diary an encounter with a middle-aged, toothless prostitute. How do you account for these thoughts? How does Winston's understanding of women change after his first liaison with Julia?

18. Given Winston's own acknowledgment that he is under constant surveillance, and that it would only be a matter of time before the Thought Police caught him, no one in his world could be trusted. Prior to his capture, which character or characters did you envision as betraying Winston? How did you foresee his ultimate demise? Did you, on the contrary, feel that by some chance he would overcome the forces aligned against him, and fulfill his wish to conquer The Party?

19. Imagine yourself as Winston Smith at the beginning of 1984. What would you do to undermine The Party? Knowing what you know now, how would you extricate yourself from the fate that awaits you?

20. Refer back to Winston's conversation with the old man at the pub (page 78). Why is Winston so determined in his approach to the old man? What is Winston hoping to learn from him?
(Questions from Penguin Modern Classics.)

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Here are some discussion questions and short assignments to do as you read the novel.

During your discussions, try to provide details, examples and quotations to support your ideas.

PART 1: Chapter 1: Submit this as a typed hard copy, 14 Font (date to be announced).

Pretend you have had a nightmare in which you are suddenly living in Winston’s world. You have just woken up and you are sweating and screaming. You’ve woken up two of your roommates who are concerned about you. Tell them about your dream.

You must include appropriate and illuminating references to:

400-500 words (multi-paragraph)


9/10Evidence of close reading of the chapter. All or close to all of the important details that are relevant to the chapter have been included in the description of the dream. Language used is vivid and precise and reveals a unique and creative response to the chapter. Only one or no spelling errors; no major grammatical errors, multi-paragraph.
7/8Close reading of the chapter, but some important details missing. Some spelling and grammatical errors.
5/6Many important details are missing. Assignment submitted looks more like a draft.
oopsNot completed yet.

Discussion Questions:

1) What is “quiet optimism”? (p6)
2) Why are there no laws in Oceania? (p8)
3) Winston observes that an angry prole is turned out of a movie theatre but isn’t punished (p11). Why do you think she isn’t punished the same way a party member would be.
4) Why do you think Orwell described Goldstein as having a Jewish face? (p14)

PART 1: Chapter II Discussion Questions:

1) Describe Mrs. Parsons and how she lives.
2) How do the Parsons’ children behave? Why is Mrs. Parsons nervous around them?
3) What is a child hero?
4) On page 30, Winston reflects that “He was already dead.” Explain what he means by this.
5) Go back to Chapter 1. Who is O’brien and what is significant about him?
6) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Be prepared to discuss why.
7) Look at this link: Hitler Youth Movement What does this movement have in common with the Youth League in 1984.
8) Look at this link: The White Rose What was this group and what were they trying to do?

PART 1: Chapter III– Discussion Questions:

1) On p.32 of this chapter, Winson states that “Tragedy…belonged to an ancient time…” On page 33 he wakes up with “‘Shakespeare’ on his lips.” What do you think George Orwell was trying to say by putting these two ideas together.
2) State the names of the countries at war. What is the lie regarding these countries that Winston knows?
3) Describe doublethink (see page 37-38). Can you think of a modern example of doublethink?
4) What are some other lies told by the state that Winston mentions?
5) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART 1: Chapter IV – Discussion Questions:

1) Describe where Winston works and what Winston does for a living.
2) On page 43, Winston states that “it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another.” Explain what he means by this.
3) What does “vaporized” mean? What is an “unperson.”
4) Who are proles? How are they treated differently?
5) What is a “speakwrite”?
6) Describe Comrade Ogilvy. What are the circumstances of his life and death and how is he significant to the story?
7) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART 1: Chapter V – Discussion Questions:

1) Who is Syme? Describe what he does for a living. Why does Winston call him “venomously orthodox”?
2) Describe Newspeak? What is the purpose of Newspeak? How does Syme feel about Newspeak?
3) What is a “thoughtcrime?
4) What is Oldspeak? Why would the Party want to get rid of Oldspeak?
5) According to Syme, what is orthodoxy?
6) What does Winston think is wrong with Syme?
7) George Orwell created characters in order for his readers to identify their own behavior and the behavior of people they associate with. What kind of a modern person does Parsons represent. Use examples from the story to support your view.
8) Describe the inconsistency between the statistics that pour out of the telescreen (p62) and the reality of the citizens’ lives.
9) What is a “facecrime”?
10) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART 1: Chapter VI – Discussion Questions:

1) Describe the Party’s rules and attitudes towards sex and marriage.
2) What is the “Junior Anti-sex league? Describe its purpose.
3) What “artsem”? Does it actually work? Explain.
4) Describe Winton’s relationship with his wife Katherine. How did she feel about the Party.
5) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Be prepared to discuss why.

PART 1: Chapter VII – Discussion Questions:

1) Why does Winston state that “If there was hope, it must lie with the proles.”
2) How are the proles presented in the novel? What kind of people are they? How are they treated differently from the Inner and Outer Party and why?
3) How does the Party represent capitalists before the Revolution?
4) Who is Big Brother, Goldstein, Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford? What is their story?
5) What is the Chestnut Tree Café?
6) What is the significance of the photograph found by Winston (p.81)?
7) What does Winston do with the photograph?
8) How does Winston feel about O’brien?
9) Go to the 1984-Media section of the website (or google and find your own). Choose one of the links and make a connection to any part of the novel you have read so far.

PART 1: Chapter VIII – Discussion Questions:

1) Do party members ever spend time alone? Explain.
2) What is “ownlife”?
3) What is a “steamer”?
4) What is Winston wearing that makes him stand out to the proles?
5) What does Winston do to the human hand he finds in the gutter? What does this say about Winton’s previous experiences?
6) How do proles feel about the Lottery? What is the truth about the Lottery?
7) Why does Winston feel that “it could only be a prole” (p.90) who could give a “truthful account of conditions in the early part of the century”?
8) What question does Winton ask the man in the bar? What does Winston conclude at the end of the conversation with the man?
9) Describe the glass object Winston buys in the antique shop. (p99) Why is it “doubly attractive”?
10) What is the name of the owner of the antique shop?
11) When Winston runs into a female party member, what does he first consider doing and why does he change his mind?
12) Discuss any part of this chapter that relates or reminds you of your own life or of a part of our culture.

PYONGYANG – graphic novel by Guy Delisle After reading the novel:

1) Compare 10 similarities of events described in the novel Pyongyang to events in 1984.

Ex. Cult of Personality
a) Pyongyang: Pictures, statues and monuments throughout the city celebrate the Great Leaders.
b) 1984: Pictures of Big Brother throughout London.

2) Watch at least 30 minutes of video on the topic of North Korea. In a short – 200 word – response write a reflection (you can use “I” and personal opinions) in which you discuss some of the following points. (You may focus on one point or briefly summarize all of them.) You must use complete sentences:

– similarities to 1984and Pyongyang.
– similarities to the modern world.
– your personal feelings about what you have seen.
– questions you still have.
– something that made you angry or sad.
– something that surprised you.
– a shocking statistic.
– additional thoughts.

PART II: Chapter I – Discussion Questions:

1) What is written on the piece of paper the girl gives Winston at work?
2) What are the two possibilities Winston believes are behind the piece of paper?
3) Winton considers how to meet with the girl. What are two ideas he dismisses and what does he finally decide to do?
4) How long does it take Winston to talk to the girl?
5) Where do they meet?
6) Who is in control of their meetings? Give evidence.
7) Go to the 1984-Media section of the website (or google and find your own). Choose one of the links and make a connection to any part of the novel you have read so far.

PART II: Chapter II – Discussion Questions:

1) When Julia asks Winston what he thought of her before that day, how does he respond?
2) What does Julia rip off her body?
3) Where did Julia get the chocolate?
4) At the top of page 130 a thrush appears. Orwell describes the thrush in detail. What do you think the thrush symbolizes? (there are multiple answers)
5) What does Julia say when Winston asks, “have you done this before?”
6) Why is Winston so happy about her response?
7) In the context of the story, explain why Winston says” “I have purity, I have goodness! I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.”
8) Write a short (100 word) response explaining the last 3 sentences of this chapter.

PART II: Chapter III – Discussion Questions:

1) Julia and Winston have very little time to meet. What keeps Julia so busy and why does she do it?
2) Choose 5 powerful descriptive adjectives (use a thesaurus) that describe Julia. Provide evidence to support your choice and a page # for each choice. Please submit using the following format:

3) Describe Pornosec?
4) When did Julia have her first love affair?
5) What does Julia think of the Brotherhood?
6) What is ‘goodthinkful”?
7) What does Julia mean when she says “All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour.” (p.139)

ADDITION: Read the article in the following link: Article
In a 300 word multi-paragraph response: a) Summarize the author’s findings. b) Using examples of literature you have read, discuss connections you have made to your own life.

PART II: Chapter IV – Discussion Questions:

1) Who is Mr. Charrington and where do Julia and Winston now meet?
2) What is a “versificator”? (p145)
3) Julia shows up with groceries. Where did she get them?
4) What does Julia talk about that horrifies Winston?
5) Describe the paperweight (p152). Why does Winston like it? How is the paperweight like a metaphor for their relationship? (p154)
6) Nursery rhymes are mentioned throughout the novel. Write two verses of a nursery rhyme you sang as a child. Google the song and write a few notes about the origins. What is Orwell pointing out by mentioning nursery rhymes so often? (Hint: Inner and Outer party members are not allowed to sing these songs.)

PART II: Chapter V- Discussion Questions:

1) Describe some of the details of Syme’s disappearance?
2) List 5 non-violent preparations being made for Hate Week.
3) List 3 acts of violence likely engineered by the Party for Hate Week.
4) List 4-5 things Julia believes that surprises Winston? (p160-61)
5) Go back to Part II, Number 2. Add 5 more adjectives to your list, based on this chapter.
6) What does Winston mean when he says, “You’re only a rebel from the waist downwards.” (p163)
7) Go to the 1984-Media section of the website (or google and find your own). Choose one of the links and make a connection to any part of the novel you have read so far.

PART II: Chapter VI – Discussion Questions:

1) Under what pretense are Winston and O’brien meeting?
2) What changes have been made to the 10th Edition of Newspeak? What might the Party’s motive be in making this particular change?
3) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART II: Chapter VII – Discussion Questions:

1) When Winston thinks back to his childhood, how did he behave towards his mother and sister? Provide details.
2) What happens to his mother and sister?
3) What does Winston mean when he says, “The proles had stayed human”? (p.172)
4) Re-read from the last paragraph of page 173 to the end of the chapter on page 174. Use a sticky note to tag this part; it will become important later in the book. What do Julia and Winston believe the Party will never be able to do?
5) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART II: Chapter VIII – Discussion Questions:

1) How is O’Brien’s room different from Winston’s flat? Give details.
2) To whom do they raise their wine glasses?
3) State two things Julia and Winston are willing to do for the Party.
4) What does Julia say she will not do?
5) Who wrote the book O’brien promises to send Winston?
6) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.
7) If you had to choose a character in the novel that most closely resembles how you see yourself in relation to the world, who would it be. In 100-200 words, justify this choice using examples from your life.

PART II: Chapter IX – Discussion Questions

1) What do the crowds do, specifically, when they are told that Oceania is not at war with Eurasia, but is at war with Eastasia?

2) Describe what the employees at the Record Department have to do with this new information?
3) What is an oligarchy?
4) Who is the author of the book?

The Book: (Remember when you are reading this challenging part of the book, that it is describing the years leading up to and including
Winston’s world in 1984 and not our world today.)

5) What is a hierarchy?
p.193 What countries comprise the three super-states? (p193) Find a picture of the territories on the internet to help you visualize.
6) How long have the super-states been at war? (p193)
7) What are the 3 things that make this war different from others in the past? (p193)
8) Where does the fight take place? Are there many casualties? (p193)
9) Create your own list of 10 legitimate reasons why human beings have fought wars. Be specific – money is not specific. (Collaborate with your classmates).
10) The book states that “None of the three super-states could be definitively conquered even by the other two in combination. Give details to explain why. (p 194)
11) According to the book, is the economic purpose of the war? (p194)
12) Why do the states want to control Africa, the Middle East, Southern India and Indonesia? Explain. (p195)
13) The book states that “the labor of the exploited people around the Equator is not really necessary to the world’s economy.” If so, then why capture them at all? (p196)
14) What is the purpose of war? Why? Explain in a paragraph or note form. (p196)
15) Explain how the following quote relates to the aim of the Inner Party: “But it was clear that an all round increase in wealth threatened the destruction-indeed, in some sense was the destruction-of a hierarchical society.” (p197)
16) According to the book, what happens if leisure and security are enjoyed by all alike? (p198)
17) According to the book, a hierarchical society was only possible based on what? (p198)
18) According to the book, how do you “keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world? (p198)
19) According to the book, what is the essential act of war? (p198)
20) According to the book, why is the manufacturing of weapons convenient? (p199)
21) According to the book, what important reason does the state have for not ordering its citizens to build pyramids or temples instead of weapons if the aim is just to keep them busy? Whose morale is most important? (p200)
22) According to the book where is the hysteria and hatred of the enemy strongest? How does what you’ve learned about doublethink relate to this? (p200)
23) What is one of the few remaining activities for an inventive mind? (p201)
24) What are the two aims of the Party? (p201)
25) What are the two great problems for the Party to overcome? (p201)
26) Read page 204 carefully. In a paragraph, explain why no invasion of enemy territory is ever undertaken? (p204)
27) What 3 aspects of a social system is similar to all three super-states? (p205)
28) “The ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing. Their lives are dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it is necessary that the war should continue everlastingly and without victory.” (No question here – just wanted to point out how cool and strange and awful those statements are.)
29) According to the book, what is the object of war? (p207)
30) According the book, what are the three kinds of people in the world, what are their aims and what eventually happens to them? (p209-10)
31) According the book, what are the only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power? (p215)-
32) According the book, what is the function of Big Brother? (p216-
33) According the book, what is the essence of oligarchical rule? (p218)
34) What is “crimestop”? (p220-21)
35) According the book, why is the alteration of the past necessary? (p221)
36) Try, to the best of your ability, to explain doublethink in your own words. Try coming up with your own example. (p223)
37) List at least 5 examples of contradictions or doublethink used by the party. (p225)
38) According the book, what is the prevailing mental condition of the High? (p225)

PART II: Chapter X – Discussion Questions:

1) Where does the voice “You are the dead” come from?
2) What happens to the paperweight? How is this symbolic of Julia and Winston’s story?
3) What does Charrington turn out to be?

PART III: Chapter I – Discussion Questions:
1) Winston notices a stark difference between the way Party prisoners behave and are treated and common prisoners. Find at least 10 points of comparison between the two and fill out a table similar to this:

PART III: Chapter II – Discussion Questions:

1) Make a list of the things to which Winston confesses.
2) What does O’brien say is wrong with Winston?
3) On p. 259, Winston thinks: That was doublethink. To what is he referring.
4) What is O’brien’s view of reality which he describes to Winston?
5) Open the following site: Ivan Pavlov In a short paragraph, discuss how Ivan Pavlov’s research is similar to O’brien’s methods with Winston.
6) According to O’brien, why has Winston been brought to the Ministry of Love?
7) On page 266 O’brien says “And above all we do not allow the dead to rise up against us.” In a complete paragraph explain what he means by this? (This is an interesting question that deserves your time – read from the bottom of 265 and all of 266 for the answer.)
8) When Winston asks why he s being tortured (p267), O’brien says, “But we make the brain perfect before we blow it out.” In a paragraph, explain what he means by this. (Read all of 267-268 to provide your answer.)
9) Go to the 1984-Media section of the website (or google and find your own). Choose one of the links and in a minimum 100 word paragraph, make a connection to any part of the novel you have read so far.

PART III: Chapter III – Discussion Questions:

1) According to O’Brien, what are the three stages in Winston’s re-integration?
2) Who wrote “the Book”?
3) Explain what Winston means when he says (p. 275) “What can you do…against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?”
4) O’Brien states that the Party is different from all the other oligarchies of the past. Explain what he means by this? (p.275-76)
5) O’Brien asks Winston to strip and look at himself in the mirror. Why do you think he does this? How does Winston respond?
6) Choose one or two lines that attracted your attention. Discuss why.

PART III: Chapter IV – Discussion Questions:

1) In a single paragraph of at least 125 words, explain how Winston has changed physically and mentally since he last saw O’brien. Use evidence and some quotations to support your argument.
2) Explain what Winston means on page 294 when he says, “They would have blown a hole in their own perfection. To die hating them, that was freedom.”

PART III: Chapter V – Discussion Questions:

1) How does Winston save himself?
2) In the last paragraph of the chapter, what is symbolically happening to Winston. (Don’t worry if you find this difficult – we’ll discuss this)

PART III: Chapter VI – Discussion Questions:

1) Where is Winston in this chapter?
2) What a couple of things Winston can do now that he couldn’t before he was arrested?
3) Discuss the symbolism of the chess game Winston plays (with himself…Orwell is so brilliant!).
4) Winston says the story he has just remembered about his family is false. What does this tell you about what has happened to Winston?
5) What, according to the last couple sentences of the book, has happened to Winston?
6) Go to the 1984-Media section of the website (or google and find your own). Choose one of the links and in a minimum 100 word paragraph, make a connection to any part of the novel you have read so far.


1) Although the Party uses propaganda to convince its citizens that they are living abundant lives, it is evident that the city of London is a wretched place to live.

2) The Party has tremendous control over its citizens and involves itself in every facet of their lives. Provide evidence of this control.

3) Write a synthesis essay comparing Symes and Parsons.

4) Orwell has been accused of portraying the lower classes unfairly, often representing them as stupid and unthinking. Discuss his representation of proles (see ch. 8 in particular).

5) Discuss how the Party controls the traditional family unit and replaces it with a fanatical devotion to the nation.

6) Discuss how the Party interferes with the ability of its citizens to create strong identities. (Ex. free time, history, family, language, fear)

7) Write a synthesis essay comparing Julia and Winston.

8) Write a synthesis essay comparing the concept of doublethink in the novel and in our modern world.

1984 Final Project

Connecting Pyong Yang, 1984, and the Modern World.

Choose one examples of an image, event, sentence, or idea in 1984 and find commonalities with Pyongyang. Then find a matching example in the modern world (can be articles, videos, artwork, news events, etc.) Use your 10 minute presentation to present this modern connection including your personal reflection on the topic.

Present your research using Prezi, Powerpoint, or any other presentation software.

Some examples:
Language Manipulation
Thought Police
“You’re only a rebel from the waist down.”
“Big Brother is Watching You”
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the
present controls the past.”
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs
in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
“The choice for mankind likes between freedom and happiness and for the
great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”
“Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

Marking Criteria: to achieve 9 or 10 out of 10

The 10 Minute presentation:

– is well organized and prepared.
– powerpoint has very few words – student doesn’t read off slides but instead uses
notes on cards, etc.
– student speaks articulately and clearly – has spent some time preparing.
– if working in a group, all group members contribute equally.
– is well researched – the student is knowledgeable about the topic and comes
across as a mini-expert on the topic.
– makes relevant connections between the 2 books and the modern world.
– student speaks articulately and clearly – has spent some time preparing

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