Study Guide

1984 Book 3, Chapter 3

By George Orwell

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Book 3, Chapter 3

  • After weeks of torture, O'Brien tells Winston that he is about to enter the second stage of the three-stage process of "reintegration": learning, understanding, and acceptance.
  • O'Brien reveals a cornucopia of information to start the process of reintegration: the Party is indestructible because it seeks absolute power for power's sake; the Party will succeed indefinitely because it controls the only reality that matters — the human mind; the Party shall eventually be rid of all enemies because all private loyalties will be abolished.
  • O'Brien likens a picture of the future to be "a boot stamping on a human face — forever." It will be a hateful world of power, manifesting itself in "inflicting pain and humiliation."
  • O'Brien forces Winston to look in the mirror for a picture of "humanity." Winston cries upon seeing his deterioration; he looks to be 60-years-old with the grayness, emaciation, and a not-so-straight spine. In short, he looks like a boot stamped on his face.
  • O'Brien humiliates Winston by ridiculing this picture of "the last man." (An allusion to Orwell's originally intended title, "The Last Man in Europe.")
  • Winston lashes back, and O'Brien recognizes that there is one last strength: Winston has not yet betrayed Julia.
  • Whatever, says O'Brien. It doesn't matter since everyone gets shot anyway. Although, better play it safe and destroy that last loyalty.

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