Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Old Man in the Pub

What's the point of this moment in the novel? Winston poses a simple question: "If you could choose, would you prefer to live then or now?" (96) The answer Winston receives is far from satisfying. Nothing is learned. No insight gained. He's frustrated. We're frustrated. So I return to my original question, what's the point? Why did Orwell include this scene?


  1. I think Orwell included this scene in order to show how brainwashed the people are. The Party has probably eliminated all people that could be a danger for their society. This means that the man is, at first, not very smart. And secondly, he's probably too scared to talk about the situation. To ruin the facade the Party has put up. All people are scared to think, to disbelieve in these slogans. People are scared. The reasons shy Orwell included this scene is to show how scared people are and how willing they are to believe that society basically teaches them to believe. The men in the bar only grumbled about his beer being expensive and it being too much or too less. The main point is to show that everything is been hidden and that the Part is so strong that they can basically ''evaporate'' all ideas and/or memories form the past. Just like Winston's own thoughts.

    Orwell included this scene in order to show the readers of the book that even our own mind can be brainwashed. That humans can get to a point that they don't know anymore what is right and what is wrong. And just like this men, his memory has lost the real important details of the past. Because his memory is just too scared to reveal the truth, which means that it is better to just forget about it.

  2. Helen, I read this scene very differently. Perhaps the man cannot answer Winston's question because the question is misguided or irrelevant. Perhaps Winston's obsession with discovering whether life has improved since the Revolution is pointless as the Revolution was in name only and nothing at all has changed for the Proles. While the old man's obsession with beer may seem comic (one of the few funny moments in the novel), I do think it's significant. You could argue that it simply confirms that the Proles think of little beyond drink and the lottery. But I think there's more to it. While the Party claims life was miserable before the Revolution and has vastly improved since the Revolution, all the old man can tell us is this: beer used to be better and cheaper, and now it's served in litres instead of pints. Maybe the only changes in how the Proles live are insignificant. If so, there hasn't really been a revolution at all, no matter what the Party claims.

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  4. I understand where Ms.Cox and Helen are directing their comments at, but I'm a little skeptical to believe that the scene has no significance whatsoever. Although, yes, it seems comical for an old man with his nice top hat to be sitting at a bar and ordering a bear and that seems of no relevance to the novel's direction, I still can't convince myself that there is nothing going on there.

    Helen's argument is how I see myself explaining the situation as well, because they are people who have been brainwashed, but I would like to say that I just think that the old man is very cautious. He may seem to be an average old man, just waiting for his beer at a bar, but I feel that he knows a whole lot more that he's telling Winston, or anyone. I think that's he is a much more wise and mature edition of who Winston is. His age and his wisdom tells me that he's smart enough to know that his knowledge of the Party is dangerous and would get him killed. People do it all the time, for example with what we saw in A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley knew that Blanche was making her speech to Stella about him. And she was going to break the two apart, but he was smart enough to keep it as a secret until he needed it. He was, what we said in class, "stalking his prey". Now, I don't know if the old man is stalking the Party and waiting for the right moment to attack the Party, but I think that he is being smart about it and shutting his mouth, for the sake of his life.

    1. After today's lesson I thought again about the significance of the old man in the pub. He was unable to answer Winston when asked what the difference between the old times and now. This as we discussed in class may be not because he is "brainwashed" but in fact because nothing had actually changed? For him the past years, and history have no significance other than it being his "younger years".


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