The estimated reading time for this post is 7 Minutes

In George Orwell’s 1984, the protagonist, Winston, is essentially alone in his own mind. In a world where everyone around him has chosen a path of conformity, Winston refuses to come to terms with the reality that Big Brother controls him and everyone he knows. It is this sense of alienation that drives him on a path of mental release and self-realization, which could only be found with the help of another person who not only hates the Party as much as Winston but also generally contradicts Winston’s anxious and restless personality— Julia.

Certain characters such as Parsons, Winston’s neighbor, are a prime example of one of the many people who follow the mob mentality under Big Brother. For example, on page 348, when Parsons is incarcerated for a thought crime, Winston asks who denounced Parsons, to which he responds ‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride.’I don’t bear any grudge for it. In fact, I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.’’

Parsons is so trusting and invested in the party that he does not even feel betrayed when his own daughter turns him in, and it is likely that Orwell placed characters like him in close proximity to Winston in the story to show how they contrast with Winston’s core beliefs and to further reinstate how alone Winston is in the everyday anti-establishment thoughts that he has.

In chapter eight of part one, Winston attempts to escape his mind and find someone who could share a memory of the way things used to be before Big Brother took over when he goes to his local pub to talk to an elderly man. However, this effort proves to be futile because all the man can tell Winston is useless information he recalls that only has personal significance to him. This interaction leads to Winston feeling generally defeated, as if the past only existed in his head and there was no one left who could tell of how society was before the Party took power because everyone who lived through this time was either ignorant of their surroundings, or had become senile to the point where they could no longer provide any relevant recollections.

Winston’s life takes a turn though when he meets Julia, a mysterious woman who, spontaneously, claims that she loves him although the two of them had never before met face to face. But when they finally do meet and express themselves to each other, their personalities starkly contrast with one another. Compared to Winston, Julia proves to be far more cunning, as she knows all the right places to hide and where to go in order to keep from being seen by Big Brother; and it’s this same prevalent survival instinct that keeps her and Winston together for as long as they did, because their interactions are largely based on their shared hatred and defiance against the Party, which was strictly forbidden.

Additionally, Julia appears to be more emotionally stable on the surface, because, unlike Winston, she finds it foolish to dwell on the past. Oftentimes, Winston seems to sadden himself thinking about the events he had experienced before and the things that he had done to others. One thing that he still finds troubling is how he would steal food from his mother and his weak, sickened sister as a child, further mentioning how he believed this had eventually led to his mother’s disappearance and possible death.

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After explaining this to Julia, she merely dismisses it by saying “I expect you were a beastly little swine in those days. All children are swine”, as if to say she did not hold this against Winston and justified it by saying he was only a child at the time. When Winston still desires to continue the story and wallow in his pity and shame toward the situation, page 208 states “From her breathing it was evident that she was going off to sleep”, meaning what Winston was telling her that he had thought was so haunting was not even shocking enough to wake Julia.

This further supports the idea that what Winston had done in his past did not really matter to her and may have even disinterested and bored her. After Winston proceeds to think to himself and continues to trail off into thought about the topic of his mother on page 208, he suddenly exclaims ‘The proles are human beings,’ ‘We are not human’, and in response to this, Julia wakes up, indicating that she had once again regained interest. Given that Julia is opposed to clinging onto the past, it appears that Julia has become interested again because instead of wallowing in his past, Winston uses it to his advantage and reflects on it in order to create a new philosophy for his future rather than using it as a tool to self-harm. Julia’s silent treatment during the beginning of this interaction pushes Winston to dig deeper into this part of his past that used to cause him dread and to make lessons out of his mistakes.

Another occasion Julia makes a personal impact on Winston is in part two, chapter three of the novel, when Winston follows Julia’s directions out into a hidden area in the country and they go on what could be called their first date. During this time, they have a conversation in which Winston begins to rant about a terrible past relationship he’d had with his ex-wife, Katherine, whom he had described as “vapid” and “mindless”, and who was obsessed with the notion of bearing a child with him.

He talked about how he’d disliked her because of her frightening devotion to the party, and how she had even seen having a child as her duty to the Party. Later on, he would tell Julia about how he and Katherine had found themselves both alone on the edge of a cliff, to which Julia, almost encouragingly responds “Why didn’t you give her a good shove? I would’ve.” Winston responds by saying that he would’ve wanted to push her off if he was the same person that he’d eventually become. Winston later changes his mind though, saying

“But Actually it would have made no difference,’ to where Julia says ‘Then why are you sorry you didn’t do it?’ ‘Only because I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game that we’re playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that’s all.”

Again, Julia continues to present herself as highly spontaneous during this situation in contrast to Winston’s calculated and thought-out demeanor, and believes in taking action and doing what you feel in the moment; although Winston ultimately disagrees with her the more he thinks about the situation, Julia has still encouraged him to think about the motives behind his actions in a way that will alter his perception of the future. From these instances, it is evident that Julia’s outward and spontaneous personality has a way of challenging Winston not to simply denounce and wallow in the horror of his actions, but to fully understand them and draw new conclusions based on them in order to positively affect his outlook on the future, and the present. With Julia, Winston is finally able to say what he wants without having to hide his thoughts inside a diary or bury them within himself.

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