In "1984", in room 101, Winston was forced to betray Julia by asking them to "give" the rats to her. She also says that "sometimes...they threaten you with something – something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, 'Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' ... And after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer".

It means, that they wanted to do something to her, but she asked them to do it to Winston/somebody else, but nothing happened to Winston.

What did they try to do to her? What was the way they tried to break her? I know, that she had a lobotomy, but that is not an answer to this question. Anyone? Maybe Orwell skipped the fact on purpose?

2 Answers 2


Orwell never says what they confronted Julia with in room 101. In the end it doesn't matter; all that matters is that room 101 contains a person's ultimate breaking point, their absolute worst fear culled from a lifetime of data. The specifics are irrelevant.

Part III, Ch. 5:

‘By itself,’ he said, ‘pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable–something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed...'

The government did to Julia exactly the same thing they did to Winston - force them to betray each other by showing each of them their own, personal nightmare, the one thing that the mere threat alone is enough to break their will.

Orwell never says that Julia had been given a lobotomy (trans-orbital pre-frontal lobotomies don't leave much of an external scar). She seems to be lucid when she says this:

Part III, Ch. 6:

‘Sometimes,’ she said, ‘they threaten you with something–something you can’t stand up to, can’t even think about. And then you say, “Don’t do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to So-and-so.” And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn’t really mean it. But that isn’t true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there’s no other way of saving yourself, and you’re quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don’t give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself.’

It's open to interpretation, but my own feeling is that the scar is simply left over from the "mundane" torture inflicted before room 101. She does appear to be in worse health than Winston, but I think Julia was much more "alive" than Winston ever was, so she had much farther to fall.

"What happens to you here is for ever."

  • Oh, so it is just the kind of case I don't like - skipping stuff, because it is irrelevant ^^ thanks for help, you simply answered the question that I could not find any answer for. Thank you one more time :)
    – Sebastian
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 11:15
  • Glad to help, even if it's not the answer you were hoping for. It's always good to have an excuse to revisit the classics. Please remember to check the green "accepted" mark.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 12:02
  • 1
    @sebastian Skipping stuff because it's irrelevant doesn't really work in world-building. But I think that it's important to keep in mind that 1984 isn't world-building fiction. It's a commentary on a world that already exists. In such fiction it is important for the writer to make careful decisions about information that is and isn't relevant. It's entirely possible that Orwell originally thought of including something specific about Julia's torture, and decided against it.
    – Misha R
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 22:40

I really dont see it that way at all, what I picture is Julia is nolonger appealing to him because of the torture and his acceptance of Big Brother,he nolonger has "feelings" for her, BUT I think the scars are from the rat cage, because the way she says "‘Sometimes,’ she said, ‘they threaten you with something–something you can’t stand up to, can’t even think about. And then you say, “Don’t do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to So-and-so.” Sooo my thoughts are Winston "ratted" her out and they did it to her- she was just starting that she KNEW that Winston betrayed her...IF SO-then what part of Winstons torture was it Julia WISHED upon Winston...

  • 5
    This seems like idle guesswork. Do you have anything to back it up?
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 22:25
  • it is guess work but going on the way Julia gave him a pass on it, by the wording she used, what better way than to be "caged" to know who it was who betrayed you? Besides why even mention the scars on her face- if not from the cage? Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 2:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.