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The main reason Winston talks to this man was to figure out anything from the past. This man was old, and obviously lived through a lot, and Winston was hoping to figure out what life was like before the revolution. He wants to know if the past was changed to what the party wanted them to think, or if what he read was accurate. The man was a look into the past. Although the man wasn’t much help to Winston, he found the past in different things like the paperweight. He doesn’t get much from the old man, he was drawn off onto a different subject about top hats, or beer.