did not know where he was. Presumably he was in the Ministry of
Love, but there was no way of making certain. He was in a high-ceilinged
windowless cell with walls of glittering white porcelain. Concealed
lamps flooded it with cold light, and there was a low, steady
humming sound which he supposed had something to do with the air
supply. A bench, or shelf, just wide enough to sit on ran round
the wall, broken only by the door and, at the end opposite the
door, a lavatory pan with no wooden seat. There were four telescreens,
one in each wall.
There was a dull aching in his belly. It had been there ever since
they had bundled him into the closed van and driven him away.
But he was also hungry, with a gnawing, unwholesome kind of hunger.
It might be twenty-four hours since he had eaten, it might be
thirty-six. He still did not know, probably never would know,
whether it had been morning or evening when they arrested him.
Since he was arrested he had not been fed.
He sat as still as he could on the narrow bench, with his hands
crossed on his knee. He had already learned to sit still. If you
made unexpected movements they yelled at you from the telescreen.
But the craving for food was growing upon him. What he longed
for above all was a piece of bread. He had an idea that there
were a few breadcrumbs in the pocket of his overalls. It was even
possible -- he thought this because from time to time something
seemed to tickle his leg -- that there might be a sizeable bit
of crust there. In the end the temptation to find out overcame
his fear; he slipped a hand into his pocket.
'Smith!' yelled a voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Hands
out of pockets in the cells!'
He sat still again, his hands crossed on his knee. Before being
brought here he had been taken to another place which must have
been an ordinary prison or a temporary lock-up used by the patrols.
He did not know how long he had been there; some hours at any
rate; with no clocks and no daylight it was hard to gauge the
time. It was a noisy, evil-smelling place. They had put him into
a cell similar to the one he was now in, but filthily dirty and
at all times crowded by ten or fifteen people. The majority of
them were common criminals, but there were a few political prisoners
among them. He had sat silent against the wall, jostled by dirty
bodies, too preoccupied by fear and the pain in his belly to take
much interest in his surroundings, but still noticing the astonishing
difference in demeanour between the Party prisoners and the others.
The Party prisoners were always silent and terrified, but the
ordinary criminals seemed to care nothing for anybody. They yelled
insults at the guards, fought back fiercely when their belongings
were impounded, wrote obscene words on the floor, ate smuggled
food which they produced from mysterious hiding-places in their
clothes, and even shouted down the telescreen when it tried to
restore order. On the other hand some of them seemed to be on
good terms with the guards, called them by nicknames, and tried
to wheedle cigarettes through the spyhole in the door. The guards,
too, treated the common criminals with a certain forbearance,
even when they had to handle them roughly. There was much talk
about the forced-labour camps to which most of the prisoners expected
to be sent. It was 'all right' in the camps, he gathered, so long
as you had good contacts and knew the ropes. There was bribery,
favouritism, and racketeering of every kind, there was homosexuality
and prostitution, there was even illicit alcohol distilled from
potatoes. The positions of trust were given only to the common
criminals, especially the gangsters and the murderers, who formed
a sort of aristocracy. All the dirty jobs were done by the politicals.
There was a constant come-and-go of prisoners of every description:
drug-peddlers, thieves, bandits, black-marketeers, drunks, prostitutes.
Some of the drunks were so violent that the other prisoners had
to combine to suppress them. An enormous wreck of a woman, aged
about sixty, with great tumbling breasts and thick coils of white
hair which had come down in her struggles, was carried in, kicking
and shouting, by four guards, who had hold of her one at each
corner. They wrenched off the boots with which she had been trying
to kick them, and dumped her down across Winston's lap, almost
breaking his thigh-bones. The woman hoisted herself upright and
followed them out with a yell of 'F -- bastards!' Then, noticing
that she was sitting on something uneven, she slid off Winston's
knees on to the bench.
'Beg pardon, dearie,' she said. 'I wouldn't 'a sat on you, only
the buggers put me there. They dono 'ow to treat a lady, do they?'
She paused, patted her breast, and belched. 'Pardon,' she said,
'I ain't meself, quite.'
She leant forward and vomited copiously on the floor.
'Thass better,' she said, leaning back with closed eyes. 'Never
keep it down, thass what I say. Get it up while it's fresh on
your stomach, like.'
She revived, turned to have another look at Winston and seemed
immediately to take a fancy to him. She put a vast arm round his
shoulder and drew him towards her, breathing beer and vomit into
'Wass your name, dearie?' she said.
'Smith,' said Winston.
'Smith?' said the woman. 'Thass funny. My name's Smith too. Why,'
she added sentimentally, 'I might be your mother!'
She might, thought Winston, be his mother. She was about the right
age and physique, and it was probable that people changed somewhat
after twenty years in a forced-labour camp.
No one else had spoken to him. To a surprising extent the ordinary
criminals ignored the Party prisoners. 'The polits,' they called
them, with a sort of uninterested contempt. The Party prisoners
seemed terrified of speaking to anybody, and above all of speaking
to one another. Only once, when two Party members, both women,
were pressed close together on the bench, he overheard amid the
din of voices a few hurriedly-whispered words; and in particular
a reference to something called 'room one-oh-one', which he did
It might be two or three hours ago that they had brought him here.
The dull pain in his belly never went away, but sometimes it grew
better and sometimes worse, and his thoughts expanded or contracted
accordingly. When it grew worse he thought only of the pain itself,
and of his desire for food. When it grew better, panic took hold
of him. There were moments when he foresaw the things that would
happen to him with such actuality that his heart galloped and
his breath stopped. He felt the smash of truncheons on his elbows
and iron-shod boots on his shins; he saw himself grovelling on
the floor, screaming for mercy through broken teeth. He hardly
thought of Julia. He could not fix his mind on her. He loved her
and would not betray her; but that was only a fact, known as he
knew the rules of arithmetic. He felt no love for her, and he
hardly even wondered what was happening to her. He thought oftener
of O'Brien, with a flickering hope. O'Brien might know that he
had been arrested. The Brotherhood, he had said, never tried to
save its members. But there was the razor blade; they would send
the razor blade if they could. There would be perhaps five seconds
before the guard could rush into the cell. The blade would bite
into him with a sort of burning coldness, and even the fingers
that held it would be cut to the bone. Everything came back to
his sick body, which shrank trembling from the smallest pain.
He was not certain that he would use the razor blade even if he
got the chance. It was more natural to exist from moment to moment,
accepting another ten minutes' life even with the certainty that
there was torture at the end of it.
Sometimes he tried to calculate the number of porcelain bricks
in the walls of the cell. It should have been easy, but he always
lost count at some point or another. More often he wondered where
he was, and what time of day it was. At one moment he felt certain
that it was broad daylight outside, and at the next equally certain
that it was pitch darkness. In this place, he knew instinctively,
the lights would never be turned out. It was the place with no
darkness: he saw now why O'Brien had seemed to recognize the allusion.
In the Ministry of Love there were no windows. His cell might
be at the heart of the building or against its outer wall; it
might be ten floors below ground, or thirty above it. He moved
himself mentally from place to place, and tried to determine by
the feeling of his body whether he was perched high in the air
or buried deep underground.
There was a sound of marching boots outside. The steel door opened
with a clang. A young officer, a trim black-uniformed figure who
seemed to glitter all over with polished leather, and whose pale,
straight-featured face was like a wax mask, stepped smartly through
the doorway. He motioned to the guards outside to bring in the
prisoner they were leading. The poet Ampleforth shambled into
the cell. The door clanged shut again.
Ampleforth made one or two uncertain movements from side to side,
as though having some idea that there was another door to go out
of, and then began to wander up and down the cell. He had not
yet noticed Winston's presence. His troubled eyes were gazing
at the wall about a metre above the level of Winston's head. He
was shoeless; large, dirty toes were sticking out of the holes
in his socks. He was also several days away from a shave. A scrubby
beard covered his face to the cheekbones, giving him an air of
ruffianism that went oddly with his large weak frame and nervous
Winston roused hirnself a little from his lethargy. He must speak
to Ampleforth, and risk the yell from the telescreen. It was even
conceivable that Ampleforth was the bearer of the razor blade.
'Ampleforth,' he said.
There was no yell from the telescreen. Ampleforth paused, mildly
startled. His eyes focused themselves slowly on Winston.
'Ah, Smith!' he said. 'You too!'
'What are you in for?'
'To tell you the truth -- ' He sat down awkwardly on the bench
opposite Winston. 'There is only one offence, is there not?' he
'And have you committed it?'
'Apparently I have.'
He put a hand to his forehead and pressed his temples for a moment,
as though trying to remember something.
'These things happen,' he began vaguely. 'I have been able to
recall one instance -- a possible instance. It was an indiscretion,
undoubtedly. We were producing a definitive edition of the poems
of Kipling. I allowed the word "God" to remain at the end of a
line. I could not help it!' he added almost indignantly, raising
his face to look at Winston. 'It was impossible to change the
line. The rhyme was "rod". Do you realize that there are only
twelve rhymes to "rod" in the entire language? For days I had
racked my brains. There was no other rhyme.'
The expression on his face changed. The annoyance passed out of
it and for a moment he looked almost pleased. A sort of intellectual
warmth, the joy of the pedant who has found out some useless fact,
shone through the dirt and scrubby hair.
'Has it ever occurred to you,' he said, 'that the whole history
of English poetry has been determined by the fact that the English
language lacks rhymes?'
No, that particular thought had never occurred to Winston. Nor,
in the circumstances, did it strike him as very important or interesting.
'Do you know what time of day it is?' he said.
Ampleforth looked startled again. 'I had hardly thought about
it. They arrested me -- it could be two days ago -- perhaps three.'
His eyes flitted round the walls, as though he half expected to
find a window somewhere. 'There is no difference between night
and day in this place. I do not see how one can calculate the
They talked desultorily for some minutes, then, without apparent
reason, a yell from the telescreen bade them be silent. Winston
sat quietly, his hands crossed. Ampleforth, too large to sit in
comfort on the narrow bench, fidgeted from side to side, clasping
his lank hands first round one knee, then round the other. The
telescreen barked at him to keep still. Time passed. Twenty minutes,
an hour -- it was difficult to judge. Once more there was a sound
of boots outside. Winston's entrails contracted. Soon, very soon,
perhaps in five minutes, perhaps now, the tramp of boots would
mean that his own turn had come.
The door opened. The cold-faced young officer stepped into the
cell. With a brief movement of the hand he indicated Ampleforth.
'Room 101,' he said.
Ampleforth marched clumsily out between the guards, his face vaguely
perturbed, but uncomprehending.
What seemed like a long time passed. The pain in Winston's belly
had revived. His mind sagged round and round on the same trick,
like a ball falling again and again into the same series of slots.
He had only six thoughts. The pain in his belly; a piece of bread;
the blood and the screaming; O'Brien ; Julia; the razor blade.
There was another spasm in his entrails, the heavy boots were
approaching. As the door opened, the wave of air that it created
brought in a powerful smell of cold sweat. Parsons walked into
the cell. He was wearing khaki shorts and a sports-shirt.
This time Winston was startled into self-forgetfulness.
'You here!' he said.
Parsons gave Winston a glance in which there was neither interest
nor surprise, but only misery. He began walking jerkily up and
down, evidently unable to keep still. Each time he straightened
his pudgy knees it was apparent that they were trembling. His
eyes had a wide-open, staring look, as though he could not prevent
himself from gazing at something in the middle distance.
'What are you in for?' said Winston.
'Thoughtcrime!' said Parsons, almost blubbering. The tone of his
voice implied at once a complete admission of his guilt and a
sort of incredulous horror that such a word could be applied to
himself. He paused opposite Winston and began eagerly appealing
to him: 'You don't think they'll shoot me, do you, old chap? They
don't shoot you if you haven't actually done anything -- only
thoughts, which you can't help? I know they give you a fair hearing.
Oh, I trust them for that! They'll know my record, won't they?
You know what kind of chap I was. Not a bad chap in my way. Not
brainy, of course, but keen. I tried to do my best for the Party,
didn't I? I'll get off with five years, don't you think? Or even
ten years? A chap like me could make himself pretty useful in
a labour-camp. They wouldn't shoot me for going off the rails
'Are you guilty?' said Winston.
'Of course I'm guilty!' cried Parsons with a servile glance at
the telescreen. 'You don't think the Party would arrest an innocent
man, do you?' His frog-like face grew calmer, and even took on
a slightly sanctimonious expression. 'Thoughtcrime is a dreadful
thing, old man,' he said sententiously. 'It's insidious. It can
get hold of you without your even knowing it. Do you know how
it got hold of me? In my sleep! Yes, that's a fact. There I was,
working away, trying to do my bit -- never knew I had any bad
stuff in my mind at all. And then I started talking in my sleep.
Do you know what they heard me saying?'
He sank his voice, like someone who is obliged for medical reasons
to utter an obscenity.
"Down with Big Brother!" Yes, I said that! Said it over and over
again, it seems. Between you and me, old man, I'm glad they got
me before it went any further. Do you know what I'm going to say
to them when I go up before the tribunal? "Thank you," I'm going
to say, "thank you for saving me before it was too late."
'Who denounced you?' said Winston.
'It was my little daughter,' said Parsons with a sort of doleful
pride. 'She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying,
and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart
for a nipper of seven, eh? I don't bear her any grudge for it.
In fact I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right
He made a few more jerky movements up and down, several times,
casting a longing glance at the lavatory pan. Then he suddenly
ripped down his shorts.
'Excuse me, old man,' he said. 'I can't help it. It's the waiting.'
He plumped his large posterior into the lavatory pan. Winston
covered his face with his hands.
'Smith!' yelled the voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W!
Uncover your face. No faces covered in the cells.'
Winston uncovered his face. Parsons used the lavatory, loudly
and abundantly. It then turned out that the plug was defective
and the cell stank abominably for hours afterwards.
Parsons was removed. More prisoners came and went, mysteriously.
One, a woman, was consigned to 'Room 101', and, Winston noticed,
seemed to shrivel and turn a different colour when she heard the
words. A time came when, if it had been morning when he was brought
here, it would be afternoon; or if it had been afternoon, then
it would be midnight. There were six prisoners in the cell, men
and women. All sat very still. Opposite Winston there sat a man
with a chinless, toothy face exactly like that of some large,
harmless rodent. His fat, mottled cheeks were so pouched at the
bottom that it was difficult not to believe that he had little
stores of food tucked away there. His pale-grey eyes flitted timorously
from face to face and turned quickly away again when he caught
The door opened, and another prisoner was brought in whose appearance
sent a momentary chill through Winston. He was a commonplace,
mean-looking man who might have been an engineer or technician
of some kind. But what was startling was the emaciation of his
face. It was like a skull. Because of its thinness the mouth and
eyes looked disproportionately large, and the eyes seemed filled
with a murderous, unappeasable hatred of somebody or something.
The man sat down on the bench at a little distance from Winston.
Winston did not look at him again, but the tormented, skull-like
face was as vivid in his mind as though it had been straight in
front of his eyes. Suddenly he realized what was the matter. The
man was dying of starvation. The same thought seemed to occur
almost simultaneously to everyone in the cell. There was a very
faint stirring all the way round the bench. The eyes of the chinless
man kept flitting towards the skull-faced man, then turning guiltily
away, then being dragged back by an irresistible attraction. Presently
he began to fidget on his seat. At last he stood up, waddled clumsily
across the cell, dug down into the pocket of his overalls, and,
with an abashed air, held out a grimy piece of bread to the skull-faced
There was a furious, deafening roar from the telescreen. The chinless
man jumped in his tracks. The skull-faced man had quickly thrust
his hands behind his back, as though demonstrating to all the
world that he refused the gift.
'Bumstead!' roared the voice. '2713 Bumstead J.! Let fall that
piece of bread!'
The chinless man dropped the piece of bread on the floor.
'Remain standing where you are,' said the voice. 'Face the door.
Make no movement.'
The chinless man obeyed. His large pouchy cheeks were quivering
uncontrollably. The door clanged open. As the young officer entered
and stepped aside, there emerged from behind him a short stumpy
guard with enormous arms and shoulders. He took his stand opposite
the chinless man, and then, at a signal from the officer, let
free a frightful blow, with all the weight of his body behind
it, full in the chinless man's mouth. The force of it seemed almost
to knock him clear of the floor. His body was flung across the
cell and fetched up against the base of the lavatory seat. For
a moment he lay as though stunned, with dark blood oozing from
his mouth and nose. A very faint whimpering or squeaking, which
seemed unconscious, came out of him. Then he rolled over and raised
himself unsteadily on hands and knees. Amid a stream of blood
and saliva, the two halves of a dental plate fell out of his mouth.
The prisoners sat very still, their hands crossed on their knees.
The chinless man climbed back into his place. Down one side of
his face the flesh was darkening. His mouth had swollen into a
shapeless cherry-coloured mass with a black hole in the middle
From time to time a little blood dripped on to the breast of his
overalls. His grey eyes still flitted from face to face, more
guiltily than ever, as though he were trying to discover how much
the others despised him for his humiliation.
The door opened. With a small gesture the officer indicated the
'Room 101,' he said.
There was a gasp and a flurry at Winston's side. The man had actually
flung himself on his knees on the floor, with his hand clasped
'Comrade! Officer!' he cried. 'You don't have to take me to that
place! Haven't I told you everything already? What else is it
you want to know? There's nothing I wouldn't confess, nothing!
Just tell me what it is and I'll confess straight off. Write it
down and I'll sign it -- anything! Not room 101!'
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man's face, already very pale, turned a colour Winston would
not have believed possible. It was definitely, unmistakably, a
shade of green.
'Do anything to me!' he yelled. 'You've been starving me for weeks.
Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me. Sentence me to
twenty-five years. Is there somebody else you want me to give
away? Just say who it is and I'll tell you anything you want.
I don't care who it is or what you do to them. I've got a wife
and three children. The biggest of them isn't six years old. You
can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front
of my eyes, and I'll stand by and watch it. But not Room 101!'
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man looked frantically round at the other prisoners, as though
with some idea that he could put another victim in his own place.
His eyes settled on the smashed face of the chinless man. He flung
out a lean arm.
'That's the one you ought to be taking, not me!' he shouted. 'You
didn't hear what he was saying after they bashed his face. Give
me a chance and I'll tell you every word of it. He's the
one that's against the Party, not me.' The guards stepped forward.
The man's voice rose to a shriek. 'You didn't hear him!' he repeated.
'Something went wrong with the telescreen. He's the one
you want. Take him, not me!'
The two sturdy guards had stooped to take him by the arms. But
just at this moment he flung himself across the floor of the cell
and grabbed one of the iron legs that supported the bench. He
had set up a wordless howling, like an animal. The guards took
hold of him to wrench him loose, but he clung on with astonishing
strength. For perhaps twenty seconds they were hauling at him.
The prisoners sat quiet, their hands crossed on their knees, looking
straight in front of them. The howling stopped; the man had no
breath left for anything except hanging on. Then there was a different
kind of cry. A kick from a guard's boot had broken the fingers
of one of his hands. They dragged him to his feet.
'Room 101,' said the officer.
The man was led out, walking unsteadily, with head sunken, nursing
his crushed hand, all the fight had gone out of him.
A long time passed. If it had been midnight when the skull-faced
man was taken away, it was morning: if morning, it was afternoon.
Winston was alone, and had been alone for hours. The pain of sitting
on the narrow bench was such that often he got up and walked about,
unreproved by the telescreen. The piece of bread still lay where
the chinless man had dropped it. At the beginning it needed a
hard effort not to look at it, but presently hunger gave way to
thirst. His mouth was sticky and evil-tasting. The humming sound
and the unvarying white light induced a sort of faintness, an
empty feeling inside his head. He would get up because the ache
in his bones was no longer bearable, and then would sit down again
almost at once because he was too dizzy to make sure of staying
on his feet. Whenever his physical sensations were a little under
control the terror returned. Sometimes with a fading hope he thought
of O'Brien and the razor blade. It was thinkable that the razor
blade might arrive concealed in his food, if he were ever fed.
More dimly he thought of Julia. Somewhere or other she was suffering
perhaps far worse than he. She might be screaming with pain at
this moment. He thought: 'If I could save Julia by doubling my
own pain, would I do it? Yes, I would.' But that was merely an
intellectual decision, taken because he knew that he ought to
take it. He did not feel it. In this place you could not feel
anything, except pain and foreknowledge of pain. Besides, was
it possible, when you were actually suffering it, to wish for
any reason that your own pain should increase? But that question
was not answerable yet.
The boots were approaching again. The door opened. O'Brien came
Winston started to his feet. The shock of the sight had driven
all caution out of him. For the first time in many years he forgot
the presence of the telescreen.
'They've got you too!' he cried.
'They got me a long time ago,' said O'Brien with a mild, almost
regretful irony. He stepped aside. From behind him there emerged
a broad-chested guard with a long black truncheon in his hand.
'You know him, Winston,' said O'Brien. 'Don't deceive yourself.
You did know it -- you have always known it.'
Yes, he saw now, he had always known it. But there was no time
to think of that. All he had eyes for was the truncheon in the
guard's hand. It might fall anywhere; on the crown, on the tip
of the ear, on the upper arm, on the elbow --
The elbow! He had slumped to his knees, almost paralysed, clasping
the stricken elbow with his other hand. Everything had exploded
into yellow light. Inconceivable, inconceivable that one blow
could cause such pain! The light cleared and he could see the
other two looking down at him. The guard was laughing at his contortions.
One question at any rate was answered. Never, for any reason on
earth, could you wish for an increase of pain. Of pain you could
wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world
was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no
heroes, no heroes, he thought over and over as he writhed on the
floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left arm.
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