"But who cares about that as long as they laugh in the beginning and listen at the end. That’s all we want them to do … listen at the end!”
When Winston realizes that he will be playing a woman in Antigone in front of the other prisoners, he wants to withdraw from the performance completely. Here, John tries to convince him to do it by insisting that the audience will eventually stop paying attention to his character and listen to the play. Indeed, John tells him, whether or not they listen is the most important element of the performance.
"Time waits no longer. I go now to my living death, because I honored those things to which honor belongs."
This is a line from Antigone, uttered by Winston in his performance as Antigone. Within Sophocles's play, Antigone is accepting her execution because she knows that she is dying for a noble cause. In the context of The Island, Antigone's words also have significance for Winston's character as well, because Winston also sacrificed his life to prison because he stood up against apartheid, an honorable cause.
“You are only a man, Creon. Even as there are laws made by men, so too there are others that come from God.’’
Winston, as Antigone, utters this line to John, who is playing Creon, in their performance. It alludes to the fact that Creon is wielding a lot of power, but that Antigone is standing up to him because she believes that there are also divine laws that must be respected. She is trying to respect that divine law by burying her brother and rebelling against the state.
"He made us run. He's happy now. Leave him. Maybe he'll let us go back to the quarry tomorrow."
At the very beginning of the play, the prisoners discuss Hodoshe, one of the prison guards they especially hate. John advises Winston to not pay too much mind to Hodoshe, and move on in hopes that he will be more lenient with them the next day.
"No, man, John! Antigone is Not Guilty...."
When they discuss the plot of the play, Winston mistakenly thinks that Antigone pleads Not Guilty, and insists that she cannot plead this, since she isn't actually guilty. John counters that, even though they both know that she is not actually "guilty" ethically, she still pleads Guilty, but Winston will not accept this.
"My appeal was heard last Wednesday. Sentence reduced. I've got 3 months to go."
In the middle of the play, John receives word that his appeal went through and he will be released from prison. In this moment, he tells Winston what happened, and breaks the news that he will only be there for another three months.
"Look, in this cell we're going to forget those 3 months. The whole bloody thing is most probably a trick anyway. So let's just forget about it. We run to the quarry tomorrow. Together."
Not long after telling Winston, John realizes that the news of his release is having a shattering effect on his cellmate, who has been sentenced for life. He tries to cover his tracks by suggesting that it's probably not real and life will continue on as normal at the prison. This is his attempt to comfort his friend.
"You stink, John. You stink of beer, of company, of poes, of freedom.... Your freedom stinks, John, and it's driving me mad."
Winston candidly tells John about how he feels about his imminent release from prison. He does not hold back in telling his friend that imagining all of the freedoms that John is going to have is really making him go insane and bothering him. While he knows that it is not John's fault that he's getting let go, he expresses the pain that he feels seeing a friend leave the prison before him.
"Forget me...because I'm going to forget you. Yes, I will forget you. Others will come in here, John, count, go, and I'll forget them. Still more will come, count like you, go like you, and I will forget them. And then one day, it will all be over."
One of the worst parts of his life sentence in prison is the fact that Winston feels that he is sure to forget everything about his former life and about the people he has met since being imprisoned. He expresses this to John here, the fact that he will forget everything, fading into the prison, like a kind of living ghost.
"I must leave the light of day forever, for the Island, strange and cold, to be lost between life and death."
Winston says this in the context of the play, Antigone, but it is a little less clear whether he is speaking as Antigone or himself. In this moment, we see that they are both doomed to the same fate for fighting for what they believe in. Antigone is doomed to be buried alive, and Winston must die on the island, imprisoned for a crime he does not believe makes him guilty.
The Island Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Island is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
John and Winston do not have freedom of speech. If they did, they would not be in prison. The regime is oppressive and kills or incarcerates anyone who is in opposition of their government and its policies. Being against the government is not only...