Ling AP Lit. and Comp. 2010-11 discussion

What is Truth? > Fatalism and Optimism: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

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message 1: by Alon (new)

Alon Mazori | 23 comments On page 113, Winston comments that Julia "does not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself as a corpse" (113).
Julia disagrees, retorting, "Don't you enjoy being alive? Don't you like feeling: This is me, this is my hand, this is my leg, I'm real, I'm solid, I'm alive!.....Then stop talking about dying" (113).

Their argument makes me wonder: how should one face one's impending death? With a sense of cold, submissive, fatalistic realism, as Wilson does? Or with Julia's belief that it is "somehow possible to construct a secret world in which you could live as you choose," so long as you had "luck and cunning and boldness?" (113)

message 2: by Alon (new)

Alon Mazori | 23 comments I believe, however gloomy it may sound, that Wilson's approach is more practical. While Julia's approach does spare one the misery of the knowledge that one will die sometime soon, and is thus in complete accordance with the phrase, "ignorance is bliss," such ignorance is only a meaningless delusion. Just as one cannot ignore that the sky is blue because one wants it to be red, or that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa because one dislikes Copernicus, one cannot ignore the reality of one's death merely because it is too painful or mind-numbing. In order to deal with any issue, one must first squarely confront it and begin formulating a course of action. Otherwise, one's bubble is just waiting to be popped by the rifles of the Party.

message 3: by Hillary (new)

Hillary (hillaryschwartz) | 21 comments I agree that Winston's approach to death is much more pragmatic. Julia's outlook on death is more optimistic, but optimism with regard to impending death can only delude a person for so long. Death will come, and when it comes one should recognize the reality of death. I also agree that avoiding the issue will only make the actual impact of the issue itself even worse. Once the reality of the situation is recognized, a practical approach and plan can be formed. I predict that, since Winston has a practical view about death, Winston's future will be less of a shock to him than it will be to Julia.

message 4: by Ling (new)

Ling Zhang | 20 comments In the case of the book, I definitely think Winston's approach is better because it is realistic. As we learn in the book, Winston and Julia's capture by the Thought Police is eventual and cannot be avoided. Once captured, they will be tortured over and over and eventually killed. It is unavoidable, it is their future. With Winston's approach, Winston is ready, or as ready as one can be, for what lies ahead. He knows what his crimes will lead to, what his future will be. He is more conscious of the Party and more conscious of his fate. Like HIllary said, his "future will be less of a shock to him than it will be to Julia."

Julia is living for the moment. She may not fully realize the magnitude of her crimes in the Party's standards. She is not fully conscious of her actions, her wrongs and her future. Therefore, she may not be able to stand it when she is captured by the Thought Police.

message 5: by Alon (new)

Alon Mazori | 23 comments But is Julia not happier than Winston? Is it wrong to live for the moment, to enjoy life to the fullest?
What if instead of the Thought Police as the danger, Winston and Julia were diagnosed with terminal cancer? The issue is not that the means of the Thought Police are horrific, but merely that the Thought Police will kill anyone who chooses to dissent. Similarly, cancer will kill anyone who chooses to smoke tobacco. What matters is that Winston and Julia know that they have willingly caused their death. If the end is the same, then why should Winston not take part in Julia's happiness and remain in his constant gloom?

message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian | 11 comments I agree with Alon that Winston's approach, which has been described as a realist approach to life, is more practical because it prepares him for the impending doom that is death. However, I do not think that this would be happiness. He is constantly concerned with problems and issues that make him feel uneasy. However,with Julia's approach, which Alon has described as almost being a carpe diem attitude to life, she has at least been feeling some sort of superificial happiness. In a way as Alon said before, her ignorance of what is around her has led to what has so far in her life been happiness.

message 7: by Shigeto (new)

Shigeto Ono | 17 comments I agree with Alon. Winston is constantly contemplating about the inevitable death, but I think he is more inviting of it. Because he think about it so much, Winston accepts it whereas Julia doesn't even think about it, or rather avoids the conversation. This is shown as she sleeps whenever Winston discusses about death and the thought police. She only desires the present and lets the future flow.

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