had done it, they had done it at last!
The room they were standing in was long-shaped and softly lit.
The telescreen was dimmed to a low murmur; the richness of the
dark-blue carpet gave one the impression of treading on velvet.
At the far end of the room O'Brien was sitting at a table under
a green-shaded lamp, with a mass of papers on either side of him.
He had not bothered to look up when the servant showed Julia and
Winston's heart was thumping so hard that he doubted whether he
would be able to speak. They had done it, they had done it at
last, was all he could think. It had been a rash act to come here
at all, and sheer folly to arrive together; though it was true
that they had come by different routes and only met on O'Brien's
doorstep. But merely to walk into such a place needed an effort
of the nerve. It was only on very rare occasions that one saw
inside the dwelling-places of the Inner Party, or even penetrated
into the quarter of the town where they lived. The whole atmosphere
of the huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of everything,
the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco, the silent
and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the white-jacketed
servants hurrying to and fro -- everything was intimidating. Although
he had a good pretext for coming here, he was haunted at every
step by the fear that a black-uniformed guard would suddenly appear
from round the corner, demand his papers, and order him to get
out. O'Brien's servant, however, had admitted the two of them
without demur. He was a small, dark-haired man in a white jacket,
with a diamond-shaped, completely expressionless face which might
have been that of a Chinese. The passage down which he led them
was softly carpeted, with cream-papered walls and white wainscoting,
all exquisitely clean. That too was intimidating. Winston could
not remember ever to have seen a passageway whose walls were not
grimy from the contact of human bodies.
O'Brien had a slip of paper between his fingers and seemed to
be studying it intently. His heavy face, bent down so that one
could see the line of the nose, looked both formidable and intelligent.
For perhaps twenty seconds he sat without stirring. Then he pulled
the speakwrite towards him and rapped out a message in the hybrid
jargon of the Ministries:
one comma five comma seven approved fullwise stop suggestion
contained item six doubleplus ridiculous verging crimethink
cancel stop unproceed constructionwise antegetting plusfull
estimates machinery overheads stop end message.'
rose deliberately from his chair and came towards them across
the soundless carpet. A little of the official atmosphere seemed
to have fallen away from him with the Newspeak words, but his
expression was grimmer than usual, as though he were not pleased
at being disturbed. The terror that Winston already felt was suddenly
shot through by a streak of ordinary embarrassment. It seemed
to him quite possible that he had simply made a stupid mistake.
For what evidence had he in reality that O'Brien was any kind
of political conspirator? Nothing but a flash of the eyes and
a single equivocal remark: beyond that, only his own secret imaginings,
founded on a dream. He could not even fall back on the pretence
that he had come to borrow the dictionary, because in that case
Julia's presence was impossible to explain. As O'Brien passed
the telescreen a thought seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned
aside and pressed a switch on the wall. There was a sharp snap.
The voice had stopped.
Julia uttered a tiny sound, a sort of squeak of surprise. Even
in the midst of his panic, Winston was too much taken aback to
be able to hold his tongue.
'You can turn it off!' he said.
'Yes,' said O'Brien, 'we can turn it off. We have that privilege.'
He was opposite them now. His solid form towered over the pair
of them, and the expression on his face was still indecipherable.
He was waiting, somewhat sternly, for Winston to speak, but about
what? Even now it was quite conceivable that he was simply a busy
man wondering irritably why he had been interrupted. Nobody spoke.
After the stopping of the telescreen the room seemed deadly silent.
The seconds marched past, enormous. With difficulty Winston continued
to keep his eyes fixed on O'Brien's. Then suddenly the grim face
broke down into what might have been the beginnings of a smile.
With his characteristic gesture O'Brien resettled his spectacles
on his nose.
'Shall I say it, or will you?' he said.
'I will say it,' said Winston promptly. 'That thing is really
'Yes, everything is turned off. We are alone.'
'We have come here because --'
He paused, realizing for the first time the vagueness of his own
motives. Since he did not in fact know what kind of help he expected
from O'Brien, it was not easy to say why he had come here. He
went on, conscious that what he was saying must sound both feeble
'We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of
secret organization working against the Party, and that you are
involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies
of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc. We are
thought-criminals. We are also adulterers. I tell you this because
we want to put ourselves at your mercy. If you want us to incriminate
ourselves in any other way, we are ready.'
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder, with the feeling that
the door had opened. Sure enough, the little yellow-faced servant
had come in without knocking. Winston saw that he was carrying
a tray with a decanter and glasses.
'Martin is one of us,' said O'Brien impassively. 'Bring the drinks
over here, Martin. Put them on the round table. Have we enough
chairs? Then we may as well sit down and talk in comfort. Bring
a chair for yourself, Martin. This is business. You can stop being
a servant for the next ten minutes.'
The little man sat down, quite at his ease, and yet still with
a servant-like air, the air of a valet enjoying a privilege. Winston
regarded him out of the corner of his eye. It struck him that
the man's whole life was playing a part, and that he felt it to
be dangerous to drop his assumed personality even for a moment.
O'Brien took the decanter by the neck and filled up the glasses
with a dark-red liquid. It aroused in Winston dim memories of
something seen long ago on a wall or a hoarding -- a vast bottle
composed of electric lights which seemed to move up and down and
pour its contents into a glass. Seen from the top the stuff looked
almost black, but in the decanter it gleamed like a ruby. It had
a sour-sweet smell. He saw Julia pick up her glass and sniff at
it with frank curiosity.
'It is called wine,' said O'Brien with a faint smile. 'You will
have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it gets to
the Outer Party, I am afraid.' His face grew solemn again, and
he raised his glass: 'I think it is fitting that we should begin
by drinking a health. To our Leader: To Emmanuel Goldstein.'
Winston took up his glass with a certain eagerness. Wine was a
thing he had read and dreamed about. Like the glass paperweight
or Mr Charrington's half-remembered rhymes, it belonged to the
vanished, romantic past, the olden time as he liked to call it
in his secret thoughts. For some reason he had always thought
of wine as having an intensely sweet taste, like that of blackberry
jam and an immediate intoxicating effect. Actually, when he came
to swallow it, the stuff was distinctly disappointing. The truth
was that after years of gin-drinking he could barely taste it.
He set down the empty glass.
'Then there is such a person as Goldstein?' he said.
'Yes, there is such a person, and he is alive. Where, I do not
'And the conspiracy -- the organization? Is it real? It is not
simply an invention of the Thought Police?'
'No, it is real. The Brotherhood, we call it. You will never learn
much more about the Brotherhood than that it exists and that you
belong to it. I will come back to that presently.' He looked at
his wrist-watch. 'It is unwise even for members of the Inner Party
to turn off the telescreen for more than half an hour. You ought
not to have come here together, and you will have to leave separately.
You, comrade' -- he bowed his head to Julia -- 'will leave first.
We have about twenty minutes at our disposal. You will understand
that I must start by asking you certain questions. In general
terms, what are you prepared to do?'
'Anything that we are capable of,' said Winston.
O'Brien had turned himself a little in his chair so that he was
facing Winston. He almost ignored Julia, seeming to take it for
granted that Winston could speak for her. For a moment the lids
flitted down over his eyes. He began asking his questions in a
low, expressionless voice, as though this were a routine, a sort
of catechism, most of whose answers were known to him already.
'You are prepared to give your lives?'
'You are prepared to commit murder?'
'To commit acts of sabotage which may cause the death of hundreds
of innocent people?'
'To betray your country to foreign powers?'
'You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt
the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming drugs, to encourage
prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases -- to do anything
which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of
'If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw
sulphuric acid in a child's face -- are you prepared to do that?'
'You are prepared to lose your identity and live out the rest
of your life as a waiter or a dock-worker?'
'You are prepared to commit suicide, if and when we order you
to do so?'
'You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one
'No!' broke in Julia.
It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before he answered.
For a moment he seemed even to have been deprived of the power
of speech. His tongue worked soundlessly, forming the opening
syllables first of one word, then of the other, over and over
again. Until he had said it, he did not know which word he was
going to say. 'No,' he said finally.
'You did well to tell me,' said O'Brien. 'It is necessary for
us to know everything.'
He turned himself toward Julia and added in a voice with somewhat
more expression in it:
'Do you understand that even if he survives, it may be as a different
person? We may be obliged to give him a new identity. His face,
his movements, the shape of his hands, the colour of his hair
-- even his voice would be different. And you yourself might have
become a different person. Our surgeons can alter people beyond
recognition. Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes we even amputate
Winston could not help snatching another sidelong glance at Martin's
Mongolian face. There were no scars that he could see. Julia had
turned a shade paler, so that her freckles were showing, but she
faced O'Brien boldly. She murmured something that seemed to be
'Good. Then that is settled.'
There was a silver box of cigarettes on the table. With a rather
absent-minded air O'Brien pushed them towards the others, took
one himself, then stood up and began to pace slowly to and fro,
as though he could think better standing. They were very good
cigarettes, very thick and well-packed, with an unfamiliar silkiness
in the paper. O'Brien looked at his wrist-watch again.
'You had better go back to your Pantry, Martin,' he said. 'I shall
switch on in a quarter of an hour. Take a good look at these comrades'
faces before you go. You will be seeing them again. I may not.'
Exactly as they had done at the front door, the little man's dark
eyes flickered over their faces. There was not a trace of friendliness
in his manner. He was memorizing their appearance, but he felt
no interest in them, or appeared to feel none. It occurred to
Winston that a synthetic face was perhaps incapable of changing
its expression. Without speaking or giving any kind of salutation,
Martin went out, closing the door silently behind him. O'Brien
was strolling up and down, one hand in the pocket of his black
overalls, the other holding his cigarette.
'You understand,' he said, 'that you will be fighting in the dark.
You will always be in the dark. You will receive orders and you
will obey them, without knowing why. Later I shall send you a
book from which you will learn the true nature of the society
we live in, and the strategy by which we shall destroy it. When
you have read the book, you will be full members of the Brotherhood.
But between the general aims that we are fighting for and the
immediate tasks of the moment, you will never know anything. I
tell you that the Brotherhood exists, but I cannot tell you whether
it numbers a hundred members, or ten million. From your personal
knowledge you will never be able to say that it numbers even as
many as a dozen. You will have three or four contacts, who will
be renewed from time to time as they disappear. As this was your
first contact, it will be preserved. When you receive orders,
they will come from me. If we find it necessary to communicate
with you, it will be through Martin. When you are finally caught,
you will confess. That is unavoidable. But you will have very
little to confess, other than your own actions. You will not be
able to betray more than a handful of unimportant people. Probably
you will not even betray me. By that time I may be dead, or I
shall have become a different person, with a different face.'
He continued to move to and fro over the soft carpet. In spite
of the bulkiness of his body there was a remarkable grace in his
movements. It came out even in the gesture with which he thrust
a hand into his pocket, or manipulated a cigarette. More even
than of strength, he gave an impression of confidence and of an
understanding tinged by irony. However much in earnest he might
be, he had nothing of the single-mindedness that belongs to a
fanatic. When he spoke of murder, suicide, venereal disease, amputated
limbs, and altered faces, it was with a faint air of persiflage.
'This is unavoidable,' his voice seemed to say; 'this is what
we have got to do, unflinchingly. But this is not what we shall
be doing when life is worth living again.' A wave of admiration,
almost of worship, flowed out from Winston towards O'Brien. For
the moment he had forgotten the shadowy figure of Goldstein. When
you looked at O'Brien's powerful shoulders and his blunt-featured
face, so ugly and yet so civilized, it was impossible to believe
that he could be defeated. There was no stratagem that he was
not equal to, no danger that he could not foresee. Even Julia
seemed to be impressed. She had let her cigarette go out and was
listening intently. O'Brien went on:
'You will have heard rumours of the existence of the Brotherhood.
No doubt you have formed your own picture of it. You have imagined,
probably, a huge underworld of conspirators, meeting secretly
in cellars, scribbling messages on walls, recognizing one another
by codewords or by special movements of the hand. Nothing of the
kind exists. The members of the Brotherhood have no way of recognizing
one another, and it is impossible for any one member to be aware
of the identity of more than a few others. Goldstein himself,
if he fell into the hands of the Thought Police, could not give
them a complete list of members, or any information that would
lead them to a complete list. No such list exists. The Brotherhood
cannot be wiped out because it is not an organization in the ordinary
sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible.
You will never have anything to sustain you, except the idea.
You will get no comradeship and no encouragement. When finally
you are caught, you will get no help. We never help our members.
At most, when it is absolutely necessary that someone should be
silenced, we are occasionally able to smuggle a razor blade into
a prisoner's cell. You will have to get used to living without
results and without hope. You will work for a while, you will
be caught, you will confess, and then you will die. Those are
the only results that you will ever see. There is no possibility
that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime.
We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall
take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But
how far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might
be a thousand years. At present nothing is possible except to
extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively.
We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual,
generation after generation. In the face of the Thought Police
there is no other way.'
He halted and looked for the third time at his wrist-watch.
'It is almost time for you to leave, comrade,' he said to Julia.
'Wait. The decanter is still half full.'
He filled the glasses and raised his own glass by the stem.
'What shall it be this time?' he said, still with the same faint
suggestion of irony. 'To the confusion of the Thought Police?
To the death of Big Brother? To humanity? To the future?'
'To the past,' said Winston.
'The past is more important,' agreed O'Brien gravely. They emptied
their glasses, and a moment later Julia stood up to go. O'Brien
took a small box from the top of a cabinet and handed her a flat
white tablet which he told her to place on her tongue. It was
important, he said, not to go out smelling of wine: the lift attendants
were very observant. As soon as the door had shut behind her he
appeared to forget her existence. He took another pace or two
up and down, then stopped.
'There are details to be settled,' he said. 'I assume that you
have a hiding-place of some kind?'
Winston explained about the room over Mr Charrington's shop.
'That will do for the moment. Later we will arrange something
else for you. It is important to change one's hiding-place frequently.
Meanwhile I shall send you a copy of the book' -- even
O'Brien, Winston noticed, seemed to pronounce the words as though
they were in italics -- 'Goldstein's book, you understand, as
soon as possible. It may be some days before I can get hold of
one. There are not many in existence, as you can imagine. The
Thought Police hunt them down and destroy them almost as fast
as we can produce them. It makes very little difference. The book
is indestructible. If the last copy were gone, we could reproduce
it almost word for word. Do you carry a brief-case to work with
you?' he added.
'As a rule, yes.'
'What is it like?'
'Black, very shabby. With two straps.'
'Black, two straps, very shabby -- good. One day in the fairly
near future -- I cannot give a date -- one of the messages among
your morning's work will contain a misprinted word, and you will
have to ask for a repeat. On the following day you will go to
work without your brief-case. At some time during the day, in
the street, a man will touch you on the arm and say "I think you
have dropped your brief-case." The one he gives you will contain
a copy of Goldstein's book. You will return it within fourteen
They were silent for a moment.
'There are a couple of minutes before you need go,' said O'Brien.
'We shall meet again -- if we do meet again -'
Winston looked up at him. 'In the place where there is no darkness?'
he said hesitantly.
O'Brien nodded without appearance of surprise. 'In the place where
there is no darkness,' he said, as though he had recognized the
allusion. 'And in the meantime, is there anything that you wish
to say before you leave? Any message? Any question?'
Winston thought. There did not seem to be any further question
that he wanted to ask: still less did he feel any impulse to utter
high-sounding generalities. Instead of anything directly connected
with O'Brien or the Brotherhood, there came into his mind a sort
of composite picture of the dark bedroom where his mother had
spent her last days, and the little room over Mr Charrington's
shop, and the glass paperweight, and the steel engraving in its
rosewood frame. Almost at random he said:
'Did you ever happen to hear an old rhyme that begins "Oranges
and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's"?'
Again O'Brien nodded. With a sort of grave courtesy he completed
and lemons, say the bells of St Clement's,
You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin's,
When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch.'
knew the last line!' said Winston.
'Yes, I knew the last line. And now, I am afraid, it is time for
you to go. But wait. You had better let me give you one of these
As Winston stood up O'Brien held out a hand. His powerful grip
crushed the bones of Winston's palm. At the door Winston looked
back, but O'Brien seemed already to be in process of putting him
out of mind. He was waiting with his hand on the switch that controlled
the telescreen. Beyond him Winston could see the writing-table
with its green-shaded lamp and the speakwrite and the wire baskets
deep-laden with papers. The incident was closed. Within thirty
seconds, it occurred to him, O'Brien would be back at his interrupted
and important work on behalf of the Party.
HERE TO DISCUSS THIS BOOK