Shannon, Jordan, and Ray began the hour by giving a five question quiz, relatively simple to all who read the book. They then led the class in a Socratic seminar, where they asked questions and we responded with our thoughts.
With questions such as “What do you think is in room 101?” and “What would cause someone to rather be killed or have his family killed than go in room 101?” the class really began having some controversy.
The class continued to answer questions, but it didn’t feel as though we really dug as deep as we could have. A question arose asking how O’ Brien was able to tell whether or not Winston was telling the truth, and Moritz followed it by asking if there was some sort of connection between them by comparing it to friends finishing each others sentences.
We* compared how Big Brother is manipulating and controlling society and “brainwashing” the citizens to the United States today. Some of the students believed that our economy was being “brainwashed” through America’s use of the media, while others thought that our society differed too much from 1984 to have it reflect any aspects of their government.
Moritz told us about how she would confess to anything if she were going to be tortured. She then discussed theoretically torturing the class as an example of being able to withstand pain. She used the example of soldiers in Iraq torturing Iraqis to gain false confessions to show how O’ Brien uses torture to show total dominance over Winston.
O’ Brien quickly became a major topic for discussion; about whether he worked for the inner party and used the brotherhood as a trap to catch citizens who lack loyalty to the party, or worked for the brotherhood and used the party as a safety net when something goes wrong within the brotherhood.
For the last fifteen minutes of class, we discussed whether or not the government would ever go to such great lengths that they would begin placing cameras or other devices within our society. The class seemed pretty divided, where some of the students believed that it was possible, and that, in a minor way, they have already begun to do so by tapping into phone lines of suspected terrorists.