Monday, May 5, 2008

The Chestnut Tree

After Winston is released from the Ministry of Love we find him sitting in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. Earlier in the book Winston mentions how the Cafe was where thought criminals like Rutherford spent a great deal of their time. It is ironic that in the end he should end up in the same place. The Chestnut Tree Cafe is by all accounts a quite depressing place. It is the place one goes after they have been tortured, but before they have been killed. The ironic thing is that Winston is happy there, probably happier than he has ever been. He no longer has any worries, he can simply trust in Big Brother and everything will be fine. He is in many ways more free than other party members, he does not have to worry about being seen speaking to others, as he would have been before he entered the Ministry of Love. The Chestnut Tree Cafe is the place Winston first sees Julia after that disastrous day in the room above Mr. Charrington's shop. At that point there is nothing left between them. They no longer love each other, they don't really have any true emotions left to them. Winston is in the Cafe when he hears a song coming from the telescreen.

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me

It's true, Winston and Julia did sell each other, they betrayed each other to save themselves. Now Winston sits in the Chestnut Tree Cafe alone. There is something about that last scene, that is deeply affecting. The way Winston's love for Julia along with his very being has been so completely destroyed and yet he is happy. For he now has a new love the love of Big Brother and there he sits in the Chestnut Tree Cafe.


Dubbykinz said...

Thanks; this is really helpful. :)

Salvatore said...

Yes, this is a rather detailed summarization of whatever happened to Winston in the Hestnut Tree Cafe. But in the end what specific thing in the reality world does the place symbolize? I believe that every single item and character in Animal farm as well as 1984 has a very clear and specific symbol. According t your description, does the cafe symbolize a rubbish court, like a concentration camp?

Anonymous said...

Very good question. I have always thought it was a window for us observers, from our vantage point of interested but completely safe readers of these events, to see the product of the Ministry of Love in that moment before it was destroyed. Thus Orwell showed it to us early in the story to provoke our curiosity in it and in the working of that awful agency, then elucidated it at the end. It seems to be that point where the dark, underground workings of the Ingsoc inquisition, or rather its results, can be judged before that last instant in which they are destroyed forever. That’s another comment in the complete degradation of humanity: when it is finally reduced to a state of complete, mindless slavery it is then thrown away as offal. You would think Winston and his ilk would be useful for propaganda purposes. But the Party is so thoroughly in control they don’t even have use for him. He is at that point only a byproduct of the industry that manufactures power as an end in itself.

Bromo33333 said...

I think the Chestnut Tree Cafe is a small piece of a bygone era, something the current era could not, and would not create. By its very nature is nostalgia, and stands in contrast to Ingsoc, yet does not contradict it.

In many ways it is a place for un-persons since it is a kind of un-place.

john william vondra said...

The original title of 1984 was the last man in Europe, and that pretty much sums up the meaning of the Spreading Chest Nut's tree.. the sexual revolution...the last man in Europe the last man in the world, the last man standing Jesus Christ. Repent and Hurry to reconcile with The Holy Catholic Church. Amen

john william vondra said...

PS. Today is the 100th year celebration of the end of WWI ..and the chest nuts are gaining in number and power..Only The Holy Roman Catholic Church stands in their way.