An the memories of its citizens and people. Seen

An individual’s specific memory of the past is that individual’s specific perception of reality to the events that took place during that period in time. People can often confuse between what they perceive as truth and the events that actually occurred, making one’s ‘reality’ differ to genuine happenings. George Orwell explores this relationship of memory and reality throughout the story of 1984, where the Party, the highest political class, has succeeded in altering the memories of its citizens and people. Seen mainly through the perspective of the protagonist, Winston Smith, the reader can observe the correlations between one’s memory and their reality, and what an altered remembrance can result in.In the beginning of the novel, Winston attempts to remember a previous London in the past, only to fail, having no recollection of his preceded life. “He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him whether London had always been quite like this…But it was no use, he could not remember: nothing remained of his childhood except a series of bright-lit tableaux occurring against no background and mostly unintelligible.”(3) Winston’s memory of the past is opaque and incomprehensible, leaving him unable to justify whether or not if London was always a “grimy landscape”(3). His incapability of remembering and providing a corresponding reality renders him to only know the current London, or Air Strip One, established by the Party.Later, when Winston decided to write in his journal for the first time, the first thing he writes down is, “April 4th, 1984.” (6). Immediately after, Winston is overcome with uncertainty and frustration, unable to ascertain as to whether or not the date was accurate. “A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To begin with, he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984” (6). The concept of time in 1984 society is dissimilar to our own, where the interpretation of time is not concrete, instead malleable and inconstant. This allows for the rewriting of history, which in turns shifts the reality of the citizens, as seen during the Two Minutes Hate. “He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other”(11). The reader would assume this as bizarre, as arbitrarily warring with one country and suddenly having peace with the other should be considered improbable. However, because of the susceptible nature of people’s memories, they accept that they are now warring with a different country, shifting their outlook of reality.The conception of memories and reality comes up again in Charrington’s shop, where Winston has grown to suspect the party of falsifying the past, and was explaining his notions to Julia, “…she did not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia. It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently, she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed. ‘I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,’ she said vaguely. It frightened him a little” (136). Julia’s brazen ignorance towards the switch of war displays clearly displays the significance of memory and its impact on one’s perception of reality, seeing as four years prior, Julia was aware that Eastasia was the enemy.Orwell delves deeply into the relationship between memory and reality when Winston is captured and interrogated by O’Brien. He presents Winston with questions and explanations, regarding metaphysics, demonstrating how one should comprehend and accept Party ideals. “Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O’Brien turned away from the wall. ‘Ashes,’ he said. ‘Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.’ ‘But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.’ ‘I do not remember it,’ said O’Brien” (220). Winston is able to recognize and recall the photo, educing the image out of anamnesis. Being able to accept that the photo was there, meant that the photo existed for him in his reality, despite what O’Brien says.A final mention of memory occurs near the end of the book when Winston sits in the corner of the Chestnut Tree Cafe, “Uncalled, a memory floated into his mind. He saw a candle-lit room with a vast white-counterpaned bed, and himself, a boy of nine or ten, sitting on the door, shaking a dice-box, and laughing excitedly. His mother was sitting opposite him and also laughing” (264). Winston rejects the memory, classifying it as false, “He pushed the picture out of his mind. It was a false memory. He was troubled by false memories occasionally. They did not matter so long as one knew them for what they were. Some things had happened, others had not happened” (264). The memory of his childhood is genuinely discarded and has ceased to exist from Winston’s reality. As long as the memory of his childhood does not come up, that part of his very being is now irrelevant and meaningless. When examining the relationship between memory and reality in 1984, it’s clear that remembrance heavily impacts one’s reality and the existence of one’s self. Memory is how an individual self-knowingly exists, up to the point that recollection of past events is considered reality. Should they be altered, those affected memories augment a new existence and divergent perception of realism.Works CitedOrwell, George. 1984. Plume, 1983.