George Orwell, an alias of Eric Arthur Blair, is know for the books 1984 and Animal Farm. In both of these, as well as in most of his others, he seems to delight in using vivid and wholly believable characters, easily believable because of their obvious and tragic faults. Another similarity seems to be the consistent use of irony, a stylistic choice which plays big in Burmese Days and in several other works. Also, Blair enjoyed placing his characters in situations and settings that were out-of-the- ordinary, constantly reversing or switching roles. It is a mark of talent that he is able to use all of these so effectively, making us believe the unbelievable and accept the incredible at the same time that he makes us emphasize with the characters and see similarities between them and ourselves, long after they were written.
Blair’s penchant for extremely well-done characters, entirely believable and understandable, is shown by both his major works as well as his lesser known first fiction piece, Burmese Days. In 1984, the main focus of the story is Winston Smith, an Normal Party member living in the year 1984 except for his dislike of all that the Party stands for and distrust of its message. Of course, these qualities, questioning of authority and subtle disloyalty to unfair persecutors, are considered good by the public today. In the book however, these abilities were destroyed, smothered, and obliterated through careful means, and anyone having them was branded insane, dangerous, and antisocial. Thus, the author creates an immediate bond between us and the suffering main character by showing a little person vs. Big Brother (Blair being the first person to use the word). “The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed, even if he had never set pen to paper, the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime could not be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they ware bound to get you” (Orwell 166).
This passage, particularly the final sentence, slowly builds up the reader’s bond with Winston. He is being persecuted for being innocent, for thinking, and this persecution makes him seem all the more likable. The final, and perhaps most interesting part of Winston’s development in 1984 is near the end of the novel.
deatharms Comparison of Death in Farewell to Arms and The Outsider (The Stranger)
Death in Farewell to Arms and The Outsider
Hemingway once said that “all stories…end in death.” Certainly, each living person’s “story” ends that way. The interrelationship of a narrative to a life, of the “boundary situation” of an ending, is of vital importance to the existence of these two fictional narratives, A Farewell to Arms and The Outsider. Death plays an important, one might say necessary, part in both novels, too: Frederic Henry is, of course, in war and witness to death many times, wounded himself, and loses Catherine; Meursault’s story begins with his mother’s death, he later kills an Arab, and then is himself tried and sentenced to death. In fact, the defining death-confrontations (Frederic’s loss of Catherine, Meursault’s death sentence) transform the characters into narrators; that is to say, the stories are told because of the confrontations with death. We must recognize that the fictive characters are attempting to provide or create an order or meaning where it appears there is none. Or, there are pre-existing versions, meta-narratives, which prove inadequate or unsatisfying, and which must be replaced by the narrative each character produces. Meursault responds directly and violently to the priest who represents one such meta-narrative for Meursault’s life. In the crescendo of the final scene of that novel when Meursault confronts the priest and finally re- leases the pent up anger and frustration repressed for so long, he does experience an epiphany:
As if this great outburst of anger had purged all of my ills, killed all my hopes, I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world. And finding it so much…
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…s of The Myth of Sisyphus in The Outsider, and particularly to the discussion of the search for truth. In the Myth Camus goes through an inventory of accepted sources for truth and finds them all lacking: first he tries religion, but surprisingly it is too relative, for which god is god; second he tries science, but finds that it offers not precision but metaphor (the world is like…); third he tries logic, but finds that paradoxically it leads to contradiction (for if “all statements are true” is true then “no statements are true” must be one of the true statements). He is left with the “I” – not the Cartesian “I” – but the Humean “I” (a bundle of perceptions) as the foundation for a meaning system.
That changing, evolving, non-static “I” is at the heart of both of these works.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Simon, 1957.