Sunday, October 20, 2013

1984 by George Orwell Part 1

So right now at my school, I am teaching a class that is currently reading this book together.  This is kind of a fun class because I am excited to be doing class discussions with students that are reading a book all at the same time.  Tomorrow we will be discussing part one of 1984 by George Orwell.  And I have been contemplating a lot of the different themes that come out in this section. One of the things that is really sticking out to me as I am reading this is the comments that George Orwell is making about history.

Winston contemplates a lot about how the Party has completely rewritten history and regularly does it--and he knows this because it is apart of his job.  And there is the idea that we don't know exactly what is true and what is not true. He realizes that without a record and no memory of the people, proving whether something happened or not is really tricky.

He even goes to talk to a man that is old enough to have lived before the Revolution to see what he remembers....which is not a lot.  Winston even tells the story of three high Party members who were going to be purged by Big Brother---they are arrested and confess to their crimes.  But one day, Winston gets a copy of a newspaper article that actually contradicts what they said in their confessions....proving that the three were just told what to say and that history is being changed.

As a history teacher, we understand that there is bias that is inevitable in history writing.  But this story takes that bias to the max! Everyone knows that the history is written really by the victors and this book really begs the question, how much of that can we really believe?

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