I had worked more than 90 hours in five days – a truly painful experience. But I wasn’t the only one; everyone in the Ministry had, but now it was all over. My briefcase still had the book in it and had been lying there for six days. It was still unopened.
During the end of Hate Week, there was a riotous interlude, where posters were ripped from the walls and banners were torn to shreds and trampled on. I still didn’t understand why anyone would publicly showcase their hate for the Party for everyone to hear.
I was still anticipating Julia’s arrival, but in the meantime, I noticed the book. I sat down in my armchair and undid the straps of my briefcase. The book was black, amateurishly bound, with no name or title on the cover. The pages were worn and looked like they would fall apart with the slightest touch. But that didn’t stop me from opening to the first page. The title ran “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchial Collectivism” and it was by the one and only Emmanuel Goldstein. I started reading and I truly appreciated that I was able to read in comfort and safety. I was alone and there was no sign of a telescreen anywhere around me.
The book fascinated and reassured me. Even though nothing seemed to strike me as new, that was what interested me. Besides, in my eyes, the best books were the ones that told you what you knew already. I heard Julia’s footsteps on the stairs and went out to meet her. I told her that I had the book and that all members of the Brotherhood must read it. She seemed not to care at first, but then she told me to read it aloud. And that’s exactly what I did.
I kept reading until I finally became aware of the silence that seemed to take over. She was asleep, so I shut the book, carefully put it on the ground, and pulled the comforter over both of us. Maybe we would read the rest of the book in the morning, but for now, all I wanted to do was rest.
I still hadn’t learned the ultimate secret I had set out to find. I mean, I did understand how, but I didn’t understand why.
- Winston Smith