Winston dreams of his mother, who disappeared in one of the great purges of the 1950s, when Winston was ten or eleven years old. In his dream his mother is sitting below him with his baby sister in her arms, in some sort of underground room. In this memory, he feels sad because he knows that somehow she has given up her life and that of his sisters for him. He thinks of her death as a tragedy - impossible in current times, because she died loving him and giving herself up to a personal loyalty that current Party rule would never allow.
In his dream, Winston suddenly finds himself in the Golden Country, which he happens upon often in his slumbers. The Golden Country is an "an old rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot track wandering across it and a molehole here and there...the elm trees were swaying faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in dense masses like women's hair." In this dream, the dark-haired girl from the Ministry whom Winston despises for her Party-fueled fervor approaches him and tears off her clothes in a gesture so "splendid" that its existence alone rebels against the Party. He wakes with the word "Shakespeare" on his lips.
It is time for his morning Physical Jerks, an exercise routine implemented to all Party members through the telescreen, specifically tailored for each age group. Winston falls among the 30s to 40s group. After overcoming his daily morning coughing fit, Winston begins the exercise routine, but lets his mind wander to the history of Oceania. He can't remember a time when Oceania wasn't at war, but he remembers being quite young and rushing to an underground Tube station with his parents and little sister to take shelter during an attack - although he cannot remember the source of the attack. Next, he remembers an era of common London street fighting, and then only an era of permanent war. Winston remembers that only four years ago Oceania was at war with Eastasia, even though it is currently at war with Eurasia and claims this has always been the case. Such was the nature of doublethink - completely accepting the opposite of the known truth and adjusting one's personal memories accordingly. Winston realizes that the past has been not altered, but rather destroyed. Suddenly, a voice from the telescreen interrupts him, yelling out his name and identification number and urging him to "bend lower." Feigning interest and determination, Winston complies, and succeeds in touching his toes for the first time in many years.
At work in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, Winston reads his daily assignments, sent to him in the form of small cylindrical paper rolls that spurt out of a pneumatic tube. The messages order him to "rectify" certain articles or news items to ensure the Party is always proven right and good, no matter its original predictions and actual outcomes. For instance, the predictions of the Ministry of Plenty's output of goods need to be "rectified" to reflect recently-published "actual" numbers. Once Winston completes assignments by dictating corrections into the speakwrite at his desk (which translates spoken word into written word), Winston puts all related documentation into a "memory hole," thus sending any evidence of altered data to a large furnace in the center of the building.
When taking a short break from his work, Winston notices his coworker Tillotson sitting in the cubicle across from him, whispering secretively into his speakwrite and casting suspicious glances about the room. Winston realizes that he barely even knows the people in his department. The little he knows consists of workplace information and basic personal details. For instance, the sandy-haired woman in the cubicle next to him is responsible for tracking down and deleting all mention of any vaporized person, so as to remove their entire existence from the records. Ironically, her husband was vaporized not long ago. Ampleforth, a poet, sits a few cubicles away from Winston and produces "definitive texts," or garbled versions of poems that the Party has deemed ideologically offensive, but for some reason wants to retain. Winston then reflects on all the other departments in the Ministry of Truth, including those areas that create and distribute fiction, film, textbooks, and plays, both at the Party level and at a level specifically produced for the lower class non-Party members, the proletariat, or "proles," including Pornosec, which produces pornography that no Party member is allowed to even look at.
Returning to work, Winston admits that his greatest pleasure in life is his work. He is good at it, and although he despises the Party's reinvention of the past, he ironically takes pleasure in finding creative ways to complete particularly challenging assignments. Today, Winston creates a "Comrade Ogilvy" out of thin air to replace the name of a recently named "unperson," Inner Party member Comrade Withers, who once received the honor of the Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second Class. Winston creates an entire life for his fictional Comrade Ogilvy, and is sure his work will be found creative and satisfactory in solving the particularly difficult problem of removing a publicly-lauded Inner Party member from the records.
Winston enters the Ministry of Truth canteen and runs into Syme, whom he grudgingly calls his "friend." Syme is a Newspeak specialist working on the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. The two men speak of the rarity of razor blades, and Winston lies, saying he has none, when he actually has a few saved at home for his personal use. Syme asks Winston why he didn't go to the hanging, suggests he knows that they make Winston uncomfortable, and then goes into grotesque detail about the event, noting how the man's tongue was bright blue and sticking out of his mouth when he died.
Winston and Syme obtain their bland, unrecognizable food, and sit. They begin to discuss the Newspeak dictionary, and Syme goes into great detail about his work, discussing the greatness he sees in the destruction of words and the simplification of language. For instance, why does a language need the word "bad," when "ungood" is sufficient? Syme claims that Oldspeak will be obsolete by the year 2050. Winston begins to say "Except for the proles," but cuts himself off as he realizes it might be unorthodox to make this claim. Despite this, Syme sees Winston's point and argues that he is wrong. In his opinion, Newspeak will take over completely, resulting in a climate without thought. He exclaims, "Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." Upon hearing this statement, Winston thinks to himself that Syme is too intelligent, and will eventually be vaporized for seeing too clearly and speaking too plainly.
Tom Parsons eventually joins Winston and Syme. Parsons is an overweight, boyish, deeply loyal Party member with a very simple mind. He is quite active in Party activities and collects a subscription fee from Winston for the house by house Hate Week fund, which will be used to purchase flags and patriotic decorations for the event. Parsons apologizes to Winston for his son, who hit him with a toy catapult the other day, and then launches into a story about how his daughter followed a suspicious man during a troop hike and reported him to the authorities, claiming he was a foreigner because he was wearing "a funny kind of shoes." Winston is horrified, but outwardly agrees that she did her duty to the Party.
A telescreen announcement lauding the Ministry of Plenty's success in exceeding all production goals interrupts their conversation, and Winston reflects on the lies being told. He knows production did not meet the stated goals, but regardless of actual numbers, production will always be reported as far higher than expected. This supports Party morale and convinces the Party members that they are leading happy lives. The phrase "our new, happy life" is repeated often throughout the broadcast. In the midst of this announcement, Winston finds himself predicting the fates of those in his life. He believes that he, Mrs. Parsons, Syme, and O'Brien will be vaporized, while Parsons, the dark-haired girl, and other mindless followers of Party doctrine will never be subject to such a fate. Suddenly, he realizes that the dark-haired girl is staring at him. When he returns her gaze, she quickly looks away, and Winston begins to fear that she knows what he has been thinking and will report him for facecrime. Minutes later, Parsons tells another story of his children setting a woman's skirt on fire for having wrapped fish in newspaper containing pictures of Big Brother. A whistle blows, and the men return to work.
Winston's prophetic dreams continue in this section. He dreams of the Golden Country, and of a sexual encounter with the dark-haired girl (whom we later learn is Julia). Later in the novel, this event actually takes place. This dark-haired girl is an object of sexual attraction for Winston, but also of hate. He is conflicted in his feelings for her, and represses both for fear of expressing himself too openly.
Throughout this section we clearly see the striking contradictions in the Party's constant revision of the past, which Winston directly contributes to through his position in the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth. Any past documentation challenging a current Party goal, achievement or development must be destroyed or altered to support the Party's current actions. In this way, the "past" is constantly changing, and constantly altered. At one point, Oceania is at war with Eurasia and has always been at war with Eurasia, but later in the novel, Oceania is at war with Eastasia and has always been at war with Eastasia. For the Party, the past is mutable. Winston refuses to accept this, most visibly during the Ministry of Plenty report at the end of Chapter V where Winston listens in awe and disgust to false reports that the Ministry of Plenty has exceeded all production goals.
In detailing Winston's work life, Orwell reveals the inner workings of Party organizations and the fastidious control the Party wields over every detail of information administered to Party members and the masses. To work in the Ministry of Truth, Party members must embrace doublethink. They know they are altering past information, yet as loyal Party members must accept their own personal alterations as the truth. Winston cannot embrace doublethink. He knows the Party's version of the past is false - he remembers events the Party pretends never happened, and he refuses to ignore this knowledge.
Through a detailed account of Winston's work life, we also learn how lonely he is. He has no personal friends, except perhaps for Syme, whom he only grudgingly calls a friend. He observes the people he works among with a great deal of detachment. He knows little about their personal lives, and is generally frustrated by their simpleness. He tends to view them with disdain. This loneliness and separation from fellow mankind will fuel the intensity of Winston's eventual relationship with Julia and his longing for a friendship with O'Brien.
In these chapters, we also witness the degree of self-control Winston must wield in order to avoid discovery. In conversations with work colleagues, Winston stops himself from saying what he actually believes, and maintains great control over his facial expressions to avoid expressing discontent when it would be inappropriate to do so. Although Winston has become comfortable with this self-control, he doesn't trust himself completely. Therefore, when he catches the dark-haired girl looking at him during the Ministry of Plenty telescreen report, he is immediately worried that he has revealed himself, and that she will report him for facecrime.