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Chapter 11 The Last Man

‘There are three stages in returning you to society,’ said O’Brien.

‘There is learning, there is understanding and there is acceptance.

It is time for you to begin the second stage.’

As always, Winston was lying flat on his back. He was still tied to the bed, but these days he was not tied so tightly. The machine, too, was less frightening. He could stop them using it if he thought quickly enough. O’Brien pulled the lever only when he said something stupid.

Winston could not remember how long this stage had lasted — weeks possibly — or how many times he had lain down on the bed, talking to O’Brien.

‘You have read the book, Goldstein’s book, or parts of it,’ said O’Brien. ‘Did it tell you anything that you did not know already?’

‘You have read it?’ said Winston.

‘I wrote it. I was one of the people who wrote it. No book is written by one person, as you know.’

‘Is any of it true?’

‘It describes our situation truthfully, yes. Its solutions make no sense at all. The proles w i ll never attack the Party or even criticize it. Not in a thousand years or a million. They cannot. I do not have to tell you the reason: you know it already. The Party will rule for all time. Make that the starting point of your thoughts. Now, let us turn to the question of why we are ruling. What do you think?’

Winston said what he thought O’Brien wanted to hear. ‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said. ‘You believe that people are not able to govern themselves and so …’

He screamed. Pain had shot through his body. The machine showed thirty-five.

‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ said O’Brien. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’ He switched the machine off and continued. ‘ Now I will tell you the answer to my question. The Party is only interested in power — not in the happiness of others, or money, or long life. We want power, only power, pure power. And we will never, never let it go. Now do you begin to understand me?’

Winston thought how tired O’Brien looked. O’Brien moved forward in his chair, bringing his face close to Winston’s.

‘You are thinking,’ he said, ‘that my face is old and tired. You are thinking that I talk of power but I cannot stop my own body getting old. Can you not understand,Winston, that each person is only a very small part of something much bigger? And when the small part needs changing, the whole grows stronger. Do you die when you cut your hair?’

O’Brien turned away from the bed and began to walk up and down. ‘You must understand that power belongs to the group, not to one person. An individual has power only when he belongs to a group so completely that he is not an individual any more. The Party says that “Freedom is Slavery” but the opposite is also true. Slavery is Freedom. Alone - free — a human being will die in the end. But it he can be completely part of the Party, not an individual, then he can do anything and he lives for all time.

The second thing is that power means power over the human body but, above all, power over the human mind. We already control everything else.’

For a moment Winston forgot about the machine. ‘How can you say that you control everything? You can’t control the weather. You don’t even control the Earth. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You don’t control them.’

‘Unimportant. We shall control them when we want to. And if we did not, what difference would it make? Oceania is the world.

Have you forgotten doublethink?’

Winston lay back on the bed. He knew he was right. O’Brien was saying that nothing exists outside your own mind. There must be a way of showing this was wrong?

O’Brien was smiling. ‘The real power,’ he said, ‘is not power over things, but over men.’ He paused and for a moment looked like a teacher talking to a clever schoolboy. ‘How does one man show that he has power over another man, Winston?’

Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.

‘Exactly By making him suffer. Power means causing pain.

Power lies in taking human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choice. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are making? It is the opposite of the stupid worlds which people used to imagine, worlds of love and pleasure. We have built a world of fear and suffering and hate. We shall destroy everything else — everything. We are destroying the love between child and parent, between man and man, and between man and woman. In the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers when they are born. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. Nobody will laugh, except at an enemy they have destroyed. There will be no art, no literature, no science. If you want a picture of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.’

Winston could not say anything. His heart seemed frozen.

O’Brien continued:’You are beginning, I can see, to understand what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, become part of it.’

Winston was still just strong enough to speak. ‘You can’t,’ he said weakly.

‘What do you mean, Winston?’

’ If a society were built on hate, it would fall to pieces.’

‘No, no. You think that hating is more tiring than loving.

Why should it be? And even if it was true, what difference would it make?’

Winston was helpless again, unable to argue, unable to find the words to explain the horror that he felt. ‘Something w i ll beat you,’ he said, finally. ‘Life w i ll beat you.’

‘We control life, Winston. And we control the way people are.

People can be changed very easily, you know.’

‘No! I know that you will fail. There is something in all human beings that w i ll beat you.’

’ And are you a human being,Winston? Are you a man?’


’ If you are a man,Winston, you are the last man. Your kind of man is finished. Do you understand that you are alone? Yon are outside history, you do not exist.’ His voice changed as he gave Winston a hard look. And you think you are better than us, because we hate and cause pain?’

‘Yes, I think I am better.’

O’Brien did not speak. Two other voices were speaking. After a moment Winston recognized one of the voices as his own. It was the conversation he had had with O’Brien on the night he had joined the Brotherhood. He heard himself promising to murder another person, to cause the death of hundreds of innocent people, to make a child blind and destroy its face.

O’Brien pressed a switch and the voices stopped.

‘Get up from the bed,’ he said.

Winston got off the bed and stood up with difficulty.

‘You are the last man,’ said O’Brien. ‘Are you really better than us? You’re going to see yourself as you are. Take off your clothes.’

Winston took his dirty overalls off and saw himself in a three-sided mirror at the end of the room. He cried out at the horrible sight.

‘Move closer,’ said O’Brien. ‘Look at yourself closely in the three mirrors.’

Winston had stopped walking towards the mirror because he was frightened. A bent, grey-coloured thing was walking towards him in the mirror. His face was completely changed. He had very little hair, his back was bent, he was terribly thin. This looked like the body of an old, dying man.

‘You have thought sometimes,’ said O’Brien, ‘that my face — the face of a member of the Inner Party — looks old and tired.

What do you think of your own face?’ He pulled out a handful of Winston’s hair. ‘Even your hair is coming out in handfuls.

Open your mouth. Nine, ten, eleven teeth left. H o w many did you have when you came to us? And they are dropping out of your head. Look here!’

He took hold of one of Winston’s few front teeth between his thumb and two fingers. Pain filled Winston’s face. O’Brien had pulled out the loose tooth. He threw it across the cell.

’ You are falling to pieces,’ he said. ‘ You are dirty. Did you know you smell like a dog? What are you? Just a dirty animal. Now look into that mirror again. That is the last man.’

Before he knew what he was doing, Winston had sat on a small chair near the mirror and started to cry. ‘ You did it!’ he said, through his tears. ‘ You made me look like this.’

O’Brien put a hand on his shoulder, almost kindly. ‘No, Winston. You did it yourself when you stopped obeying the Party’ He paused for a moment and then continued. ‘We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you. You have seen your body. Your mind is in the same state. There is nothing that we did not make you do.’

Winston stopped crying. ‘I have not betrayed Julia,’ he said.

O’Brien looked down at him thoughtfully. ‘No,’ he said. ‘No, that is true. You have not betrayed Julia.’

Winston thought again how intelligent O’Brien was.

Nothing, it seemed, could stop him admiring the man. O’Brien had understood that Winston still loved Julia and that meant more than betraying the details of their meetings.

‘Tell me,’ he said. ‘How soon will they shoot me?’

‘It might be a long time,’ said O’Brien. ‘ You are a difficult case.

But don’t give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or later. In the end we shall shoot you.’

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