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Notes on the Big Brother land…

Many of you must have guessed what this is about from those two B-words in the title – yes, it is about that. But for those of you who, like I was at one point, are unaware of this completely different world, it is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I got the book as a present from my colleagues – a rare occurrence with me as everybody gives me clothes as presents! Hence, reading the book became more pleasurable. 

Although, I am already halfway through this great piece of modern literature, I will keep updating this post with little notes taken mentally through the course of reading. And no, I wouldn’t do injustice to the book by reviewing it under my limited exposure to such texts so this will only be a compilation of any thoughts that the book strikes in me as I read it. 

To begin with, lets talk about first impressions,  which definitely wont be the last. I admit the first 40 pages didn’t strike me as interesting at all and I frequently zoned out of this futuristic novel. But this was probably because I was being absorbed in other texts like Pride and Prejudice and an Urdu travelogue (as part of school course). So about a week and a half from today, I actually started off from the first page and paced to half the book in a couple of days (still slow for me!) as I began immersing myself in the Big Brother land. 

Precisely, the plot is about Winston and Julia’s growing love in the backdrop of a totalitarian world run by Big Brother. ‘BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU’ is the essence of life in this world and is very literal since screens and microphones transmit most actions and conversations of people to him. What is surprising is that even in the midst of this control-freakishness there is space for Brotherhood – a rebel group working constantly to overthrow the state power. One would wonder if Big Brother is all-knowing and all-powerful how can he let such a body function under his watchful eyes. But perhaps there is no fun in exercising power when everybody is already submitting to it, is it? 

In this regard, particularly, the relationship of Winston and Julia – whose love has just started to blossom until where I have read, is very interesting. Love, sex and marriage mean completely different in Big Brother’s world. Here, sex is only required to reproduce and marriage is only there to regulate it. In fact, offspring out of wedlock is most welcome as the authorities can very well do with some more children without the hassle of a long-lasting love or relationship between their parents. Yes, children are loved here. No, not for the fact that they are supposed to be but because they act as branches of Big Brother’s eyes and ears in each family and are fond of reporting their parents to the Thought Police. So there is an urgency in each of the two lovers’ interaction as they fear being caught. But Julia’s confidence and daring attitude is surely a treat to read about when Winston is shown as submissive yet irritated from his life. It would not be incorrect to say that the former has breathed a new life into Winston, rather has evoked a willingness to live in him.  

With a little discomfort here and a bit of awe there, I would often reach a point where I could process no more of Hate Week and Anti-Sex League but so far the plot is grabbing. It may be a bit early to conclude so but the humanly nuances tucked in snugly by Orwell in the extremely technological setting is the most amazing thing to experience in the book. As much as it is mechanical, it is brought to life by references to a world still comprising of flesh and blood.