was dreaming of his mother.
He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven years old when his
mother had disappeared. She was a tall, statuesque, rather silent
woman with slow movements and magnificent fair hair. His father
he remembered more vaguely as dark and thin, dressed always in neat
dark clothes (Winston remembered especially the very thin soles
of his father's shoes) and wearing spectacles. The two of them must
evidently have been swallowed up in one of the first great purges
of the fifties.
At this moment his mother was sitting in some place deep down beneath
him, with his young sister in her arms. He did not remember his
sister at all, except as a tiny, feeble baby, always silent, with
large, watchful eyes. Both of them were looking up at him. They
were down in some subterranean place -- the bottom of a well, for
instance, or a very deep grave -- but it was a place which, already
far below him, was itself moving downwards. They were in the saloon
of a sinking ship, looking up at him through the darkening water.
There was still air in the saloon, they could still see him and
he them, but all the while they were sinking down, down into the
green waters which in another moment must hide them from sight for
ever. He was out in the light and air while they were being sucked
down to death, and they were down there because he was up here.
He knew it and they knew it, and he could see the knowledge in their
faces. There was no reproach either in their faces or in their hearts,
only the knowledge that they must die in order that he might remain
alive, and that this was part of the unavoidable order of things.
He could not remember what had happened, but he knew in his dream
that in some way the lives of his mother and his sister had been
sacrificed to his own. It was one of those dreams which, while retaining
the characteristic dream scenery, are a continuation of one's intellectual
life, and in which one becomes aware of facts and ideas which still
seem new and valuable after one is awake. The thing that now suddenly
struck Winston was that his mother's death, nearly thirty years
ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in a way that was no longer possible.
Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when
there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members
of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.
His mother's memory tore at his heart because she had died loving
him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return, and
because somehow, he did not remember how, she had sacrificed herself
to a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such
things, he saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred,
and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows.
All this he seemed to see in the large eyes of his mother and his
sister, looking up at him through the green water, hundreds of fathoms
down and still sinking.
Suddenly he was standing on short springy turf, on a summer evening
when the slanting rays of the sun gilded the ground. The landscape
that he was looking at recurred so often in his dreams that he was
never fully certain whether or not he had seen it in the real world.
In his waking thoughts he called it the Golden Country. It was an
old, rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot-track wandering across it
and a molehill here and there. In the ragged hedge on the opposite
side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were swaying very
faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in dense masses
like women's hair. Somewhere near at hand, though out of sight,
there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in
the pools under the willow trees.
The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across the field.
With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and
flung them disdainfully aside. Her body was white and smooth, but
it aroused no desire in him, indeed he barely looked at it. What
overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with
which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness
it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought,
as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could
all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the
arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time. Winston
woke up with the word 'Shakespeare' on his lips.
The telescreen was giving forth an ear-splitting whistle which continued
on the same note for thirty seconds. It was nought seven fifteen,
getting-up time for office workers. Winston wrenched his body out
of bed -- naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only 3,000
clothing coupons annually, and a suit of pyjamas was 600 -- and
seized a dingy singlet and a pair of shorts that were lying across
a chair. The Physical Jerks would begin in three minutes. The next
moment he was doubled up by a violent coughing fit which nearly
always attacked him soon after waking up. It emptied his lungs so
completely that he could only begin breathing again by lying on
his back and taking a series of deep gasps. His veins had swelled
with the effort of the cough, and the varicose ulcer had started
'Thirty to forty group!' yapped a piercing female voice. 'Thirty
to forty group! Take your places, please. Thirties to forties!'
Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreen, upon which
the image of a youngish woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in
tunic and gym-shoes, had already appeared.
'Arms bending and stretching!' she rapped out. 'Take your time by
me. One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four!
Come on, comrades, put a bit of life into it! One, two, three,
four! One, two, three, four! ...'
The pain of the coughing fit had not quite driven out of Winston's
mind the impression made by his dream, and the rhythmic movements
of the exercise restored it somewhat. As he mechanically shot his
arms back and forth, wearing on his face the look of grim enjoyment
which was considered proper during the Physical Jerks, he was struggling
to think his way backward into the dim period of his early childhood.
It was extraordinarily difficult. Beyond the late fifties everything
faded. When there were no external records that you could refer
to, even the outline of your own life lost its sharpness. You remembered
huge events which had quite probably not happened, you remembered
the detail of incidents without being able to recapture their atmosphere,
and there were long blank periods to which you could assign nothing.
Everything had been different then. Even the names of countries,
and their shapes on the map, had been different. Airstrip One, for
instance, had not been so called in those days: it had been called
England or Britain, though London, he felt fairly certain, had always
been called London.
Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had
not been at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly
long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his
early memories was of an air raid which appeared to take everyone
by surprise. Perhaps it was the time when the atomic bomb had fallen
on Colchester. He did not remember the raid itself, but he did remember
his father's hand clutching his own as they hurried down, down,
down into some place deep in the earth, round and round a spiral
staircase which rang under his feet and which finally so wearied
his legs that he began whimpering and they had to stop and rest.
His mother, in her slow, dreamy way, was following a long way behind
them. She was carrying his baby sister -- or perhaps it was only
a bundle of blankets that she was carrying: he was not certain whether
his sister had been born then. Finally they had emerged into a noisy,
crowded place which he had realized to be a Tube station.
There were people sitting all over the stone-flagged floor, and
other people, packed tightly together, were sitting on metal bunks,
one above the other. Winston and his mother and father found themselves
a place on the floor, and near them an old man and an old woman
were sitting side by side on a bunk. The old man had on a decent
dark suit and a black cloth cap pushed back from very white hair:
his face was scarlet and his eyes were blue and full of tears. He
reeked of gin. It seemed to breathe out of his skin in place of
sweat, and one could have fancied that the tears welling from his
eyes were pure gin. But though slightly drunk he was also suffering
under some grief that was genuine and unbearable. In his childish
way Winston grasped that some terrible thing, something that was
beyond forgiveness and could never be remedied, had just happened.
It also seemed to him that he knew what it was. Someone whom the
old man loved -- a little granddaughter, perhaps had been killed.
Every few minutes the old man kept repeating:
'We didn't ought to 'ave trusted 'em. I said so, Ma, didn't I? That's
what comes of trusting 'em. I said so all along. We didn't ought
to 'ave trusted the buggers.
But which buggers they didn't ought to have trusted Winston could
not now remember.
Since about that time, war had been literally continuous, though
strictly speaking it had not always been the same war. For several
months during his childhood there had been confused street fighting
in London itself, some of which he remembered vividly. But to trace
out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom
at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no
written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other
alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in
1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance
with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted
that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different
lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since
Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia.
But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened
to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.
Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was
at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with
Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil,
and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time
as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips,
they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that
was supposed to be good for the back muscles) -- the frightening
thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its
hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened
-- that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia.
He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia
as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge
exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon
be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party
imposed -if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed
into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the
Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls
the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never
had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting
to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an
unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control',
they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'.
'Stand easy!' barked the instructress, a little more genially.
Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs
with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness
while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously
two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory
and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate
morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was
impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to
forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back
into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly
to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to
the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously
to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious
of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand
the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.
The instructress had called them to attention again. 'And now let's
see which of us can touch our toes!' she said enthusiastically.
'Right over from the hips, please, comrades. One-two! One-
Winston loathed this exercise, which sent shooting pains all the
way from his heels to his buttocks and often ended by bringing on
another coughing fit. The half-pleasant quality went out of his
meditations. The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered,
it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even
the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your
own memory? He tried to remember in what year he had first heard
mention of Big Brother. He thought it must have been at some time
in the sixties, but it was impossible to be certain. In the Party
histories, of course, Big Brother figured as the leader and guardian
of the Revolution since its very earliest days. His exploits had
been gradually pushed backwards in time until already they extended
into the fabulous world of the forties and the thirties, when the
capitalists in their strange cylindrical hats still rode through
the streets of London in great gleaming motor-cars or horse carriages
with glass sides. There was no knowing how much of this legend was
true and how much invented. Winston could not even remember at what
date the Party itself had come into existence. He did not believe
he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before 1960, but it was possible
that in its Oldspeak form -- 'English Socialism', that is to say
-- it had been current earlier. Everything melted into mist. Sometimes,
indeed, you could put your finger on a definite lie. It was not
true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that
the Party had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since
his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing. There was never
any evidence. Just once in his whole life he had held in his hands
unmistakable documentary proof of the falsification of an historical
fact. And on that occasion --
'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079
Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better
than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better,
comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'
A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston's body. His face
remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment!
A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching
while the instructress raised her arms above her head and -- one
could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency
-- bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her
'There, comrades! That's how I want to see you doing
it. Watch me again. I'm thirty-nine and I've had four children.
Now look.' She bent over again. 'You see my knees aren't
bent. You can all do it if you want to,' she added as she straightened
herself up. 'Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching
his toes. We don't all have the privilege of fighting in the front
line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the
Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just
think what they have to put up with. Now try again. That's
better, comrade, that's much better,' she added encouragingly
as Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes
with knees unbent, for the first time in several years.
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