Book Review: 1984

I have trouble reading between the lines. I take everything at face value, which can be unfortunate at times. For instance, when reading literature. I read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell in high school, but sadly I think the moral of the story was slightly lost on me. I knew the author was making a political statement, but I don’t remember fully grasping what that was.

Fast forward 10 years or so, and I stumbled across a copy of 1984. AG had been telling me I needed to read it, and I have had plenty of time on my hands lately. So when I found a used copy at the library for $1, I grabbed it.

I could hardly put this book down. It is set in London, but not a London we would recognize. “Big Brother” and “The Party” are now in charge. People are watched every minute of every day through telescreens installed in every home and building. (Does it remind you of an agency that has three letters: NSA?) Children are indoctrinated and turn their parents in. The past is rewritten, so no one knows what truth is anymore.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.

This, to me, is the core of the book. Government can easily take over when its citizens become uninformed, merely swallowing the information given to them, rather than analyzing it. 1984 is a lesson in what happens when people become complacent and stop thinking for themselves.

 

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