In this other question I ask about what happens to Winston Smith at the end of 1984. Without going into spoilers, arguments can be made for two different endings. Much of that is based on a statement made earlier in the book, by O'Brien, who basically states that the Party doesn’t “just” execute people; they break them down and teach them to love Big Brother. Then, when they’re broken and soulless and content to be a member of the party, that’s when they’re executed. (Not an exact quotation, so it's not marked as such, but that's the point O'Brien makes.)

Is there any evidence in the form of interviews, letters from Orwell, essays, or anything else, that tells us that Orwell intended the ending to be ambiguous? Is there any evidence that Orwell did not think it was an ambiguous ending? (Maybe, for example, a record of correspondence with his publisher?)

While I, and, apparently a number of other people on the site, feel the ending was intentionally ambiguous, that is, by no means, authoritative and it's quite possible it wasn't intended as such, at least not originally.

Any evidence of Orwell's intent for the ending would certainly be germain and a possible answer to this question.

  • 4
    That's not the end of the book...; qz.com/95696/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 16:53
  • 2
    You may be interested in questions tagged 1984 over at Literature.SE. ;) (AKA me trying to get more traffic to my site :P)
    – Mithical
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 17:17
  • 1
    @Adamant: I thought about that, but the other question (which is also mine) is strictly in-universe. I considered editing it, to add this, but that doesn't seem appropriate, since it has a selected answer and a total of 30 answer that dealt with the specific in-universe aspect of it.
    – Tango
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:06
  • 3
    @Tango - I disagree. It's couched as an appendix but in reality it gives a substantial in-universe description of the fall of the state, turning Winston's petty rebellion into part of a larger (and more successful) revolution.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:09
  • 1
    @KyleStrand - 1949 is the date that the real novel 1984 was published. Post-2050 is when the in-universe novel 1984 was published. I can see how that could be confusing.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 19:47


Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.