Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens: everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Ingsoc, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thought crime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes.
Imagine a world where everything, even your thoughts, is controlled by a corrupt government known only as “The Party.” In George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, this is the state of the world. This novel tells the story of Winston Smith, Julia, and their forbidden love. In 1984, everything the society thinks, does, and says is filtered by The Party. While this novel was probably one of my favorite novels I’ve ever read, my three favorite aspects of it was the setting, the characters, and the vocabulary.
The setting of the novel is a dystopian society in the year 1984. Though the year 1984 is long gone, this book was written in 1949, making this book set in the future. Though it was set in the future, society has made little or no progress. The world consists of three nations: Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. Winston, the protagonist, lives in the nation of Oceania with a leader known as “Big Brother.” Big Brother controls the entire society. Oceania is in an ongoing war with one of the other nations. Who they are at war with is constantly changing, despite what Big Brother says. In Oceania, the society has to believe whatever they are told. If The Party told you “Two plus two equals five, you would have to believe it.”
The second aspect of the book that I would like to talk about is the characters. The protagonist was Winston Smith. Winston hated The Party, Big Brother, and anything related to them. “Down with Big Brother,” he would say. However, even the thinking of anything “unorthodox” was a crime, a “thoughtcrime.” Thoughtcrime was the worst crime that could be committed, thoughtcrime was a death sentence. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death”.
My favorite aspect of the book was the vocabulary. The vocabulary was based on a form of speaking known as “New Speak.” New Speak had been invented to “meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. New Speak was created to make the act of crimethought virtually impossible. Once New Speak was fully adopted and Old Speak forgotten it would have been impossible to think anything unorthodox. The version in use in the year 1984 and the Tenth Edition of the New Speak Dictionary was merely a provisional one.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and may have found a new favorite novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels or political satire. This book is something that should be kept in mind, especially with the state the government is in now. When the government tries to start taking away our rights, who’s to say this isn’t next. George Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the world we are becoming is timelier than ever. With the use of an interesting setting, relatable characters, and unique vocabulary, this book has definitely become a timeless classic.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/ communist philosophy of Stalin in Russia.
What happens when the overworked and underfed animals of Manor Farm rebel against their cruel leader, Mr. Jones? George Orwell’s political satire, Animal Farm, it tells just that. Animal Farm is a 1945 political satire about the communist ways of Josef Stalin. George Orwell tells the story of poorly treated animals who revolt for the promise of freedom. However, not everything is what it seems in this dystopian novel. Although the entire novel keeps you on the edge of your seat, my three favorite aspects were its characters, plot, and its challenging theme.
I enjoyed the characters of Animal Farm and their changes made throughout the story. My favorite character was the pig, Napoleon. Napoleon was not my favorite because of his nice personality, far from it. He was my favorite because of his seemingly innocent guise throughout the first part of the book. Throughout the novel Napoleon definitely makes some changes, especially in the last chapter. He starts off as a leader who appears to only want what is good for the farm, such as the building of the windmill. Towards the second half of the novel the reader starts to realize the change in his personality. However when he waltzes through the farm on his hind legs wearing Mr. Jones’ clothes, the reader will definitely know that something is amiss.
My second favorite aspect of the book was the plot. Though the novel mainly focuses on the U.S.S.R., Stalin in particular, I noticed some similarities to the flawed government system of the United States. The theme was about a new dawn, however things are not always what they seem. The plot was set in a barn in England where the animals were all underfed and overworked. The animals finally decided to overthrow Manor Farm and run Mr. Jones off. After the animals took over the farm everything seemed better. However, the pigs start taking more for themselves until the animals become the most underfed in all of England.
Lastly, I enjoyed the challenging theme. The theme was made to criticize the communist government of the U.S.S.R. The self proclaimed leader, Napoleon, represented Josef Stalin. About halfway into the book Napoleon began turning into the very powers he had overthrown, Mr. Jones. The pigs and dogs take the power for themselves and leave the rest of the animals in complete equality. With the pigs and dogs on top of the food chain Napoleon adopts a new slogan: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the end of the novel, Napoleon begins walking on his hind legs only, an act that was forbidden, and wearing the clothing of Mr. Jones, another forbidden activity. Napoleon becomes worse than Mr. Jones and it is revealed that despite what the animals were told throughout the book, they are the most underfed and overworked animals in all of England.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and plan on reading other political satire novels by George Orwell, such as 1984. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that have more to offer than meets the eye, books that will challenge you to think about their deeper meaning. The theme of this book should definitely be kept in mind, so as to not let this happen to such an extent. Though the book is intended to represent the U.S.S.R., I could definitely relate this to America. Using the interesting characters, enticing plot, and challenging theme, this book has surely become a timeless classic.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
THE OUTISDERS has been one of the most popular book among teens and preteens since it came out in 1967. Ponyboy and his Greaser gang fight rival gang the Socs (short for “Socials,” the wealthier, more preppie kids) and try to make a place for themselves in the world. The juvenile delinquent characters are fully and humanely developed in this realistic look at life, death, and growing up, told from a teen’s point of view. The book was based on the author’s high school experience in Tulsa, OK, in 1965, but the time and setting are not specified in the text.
Ponyboy is just a normal kid. All he wants is to be accepted by society. At least he has his brothers there to have his back when things get out of hand. That is, until the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up “Greasers”, take it too far. In this novel, a heroic tale of friendship, belonging, and family, S. E. Hinton takes on the issue faced by children and teens everywhere, fitting-in. Set in 1966 Oklahoma, The Outsiders is a timeless classic facing an issue that will never disappear. Though I enjoyed the entire novel, the three things I most enjoyed were the plot, theme, and vocabulary.
The plot was a very life-like look at the constant struggle of being an “Outsider”. This story may be set in 1966 Oklahoma, but that doesn’t mean that this plot could not apply to any state and any year. Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers Darry and Sodapop belong to a poor gang known as “The Greasers”. Many of them have lead hard lives which have made them the tough and unforgiving young men they are today. “The Socs” (a group of wealthy, upper class teens) often jump The Greasers for no apparent reason. One night when Ponyboy came home late after being at the movies with Cherry and Marcia (two beautiful Socs) Darry and Ponyboy get into such a fight that Ponyboy runs away with Johnny, one of Ponyboy’s friends and a member of The Greasers. When Johnny and Ponyboy get to the park they meet with Cherry and Marcia’s boyfriends. Bob (Cherry’s boyfriend) and some of his friends beat up Ponyboy and almost drown him in a fountain until Johnny stabs Bob to death, saving Ponyboy’s life. Once they realize what they’ve done, Ponyboy and Johnny go on the run.
The theme was the second point of the book I enjoyed. The theme deals with issues faced by real teens in real life. Ponyboy comes from a broken family, both of his parents died in a car crash. Darry, Ponyboy’s oldest brother, realizes that a family can not go on without a leader. Darry becomes like a father to Ponyboy and a leader to The Greasers. As a Greaser, Ponyboy doesn’t know what it is like to fit in. Many teens face the same issue as Ponyboy. What does it really mean to fit in? To be accepted by the self-proclaimed “Cool Kids”? All teens really care about in today’s society is fitting-in. I think that in this day in time we could be a little more civilized and like people for their character, not what they look like or how much money they have.
The third and last element I enjoyed was the vocabulary. The vocabulary in the book was obviously not correct grammar. This writing technique was employed in this book because of the point of view, which was first person. This story was told from Ponyboy’s point of view. Ponyboy was a greaser who did not have the best English. S. E. Hinton used many slang words such as “Socs”, “Greasers”, “Tuff”, and so on. All of the Greasers use this type of slang which adds to the vocabulary in the novel.
Overall I really enjoyed The Outsiders. Of all the summer reading choices this book was by far my favorite. I loved the note that Ponyboy found from Johnny. The note that Johnny left was so touching it was nearly enough to move a grown man to tears. Ponyboy is definitely a good role model when it comes to his priorities. He knew what was really important, friends and family. S. E. Hinton really hit a home run with her book The Outsiders.