Sex as Rebellion

The opening of Book Two of 1984, in which Winston meets Julia and begins the erotic affair he has so deeply desired, commences the main section of the novel and strikes an immediate contrast between the two lovers. Unlike Winston, Julia is neither overly speculative about, nor troubled by, the Party. Rather, she possesses a mix of sensuality and practicality that enables her to plan their affair with ruthless efficiency and then enjoy it with abandon. Julia also lacks Winston's fatalism. When he tells her, "We are the dead," she replies calmly, "We're not dead yet." Julia is more optimistic than Winston, and uses her body to remind him that he is alive. She accepts the Party and her life for what it is, and tries to make the best of a situation that cannot be greatly improved.

Though not interested in Winston's need to understand the Party, Julia does facilitate Winston's attempts to undermine the Party. In Chapter III, she produces some of the most astute analysis of the Party in the novel. Her understanding of sexual repression as a mechanism to incite "war fever" and "leader worship" renders her sexual activity a political act. From Winston's point of view, the...

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