"The Life of Julia: Take a look at how Big Brother's plans have helped one woman over her lifetime."
Winston had finished working his way through the crowd to the front of the square when he heard the words. Just in time, he thought – he now had a clear view of the Inner Party announcer on the platform and the woman with him. Winston rubbed his shoulder where he'd taken the most damage jostling through the crowd. He mentally scolded himself for the waste of effort; it was pointless – the same two faces could be seen even more clearly on all the telescreens surrounding Victory Square, not to mention all over Oceania, including the one in his own flat, where he'd seen the program twice a week for a month. He couldn't explain why he had wanted so desperately to be here to see the show in person for once.
How could you resist? Winston silently began to explain to himself. Big Brother is so wonderful, it's natural to want to hear him honored in person. The words are so great that the distance just became unbearable. You're closer here – closer to the words, his greatness, his love and care for us all... He knew the words that were about to be said almost verbatim, but he still waited for the program to continue with his heart pounding in anticipation. How he longed to hear them again, the words of comfort and reassurance!
The woman had been strolling back and forth across the platform, waving welcomingly to the crowd. She finally stopped and walked to take her place in the center next to the Inner Party announcer, just as she always did. Winston laughed at his enthusiasm again. He saw the same short, brown hair, blue overalls, and scarlet sash around her hips that he saw on the telescreens in the flat, at work, and in the cafe – being here made no difference. No, wait... he could see something different, this close, something he'd never noticed before – a thin scar across her forehead. He had no time to think about it before the announcer continued:
"Prior to the Revolution, Julia's life, like yours, like any comrade's, would have been a strenuous, terrible life of hardship, poverty, injustice, and despair, each day faced with the unlikelihood that you would serve it. But her life, your life, everyone's life, is better, thanks to the Party."
"Thanks to Big Brother!" the woman named Julia exclaimed, beaming, like always.
The crowd, including Winston, cheered and applauded, like always. The announcer let them show their joy and gratitude for a bit before raising his hand for quiet. The sounds of cheering halted in the same instant that the music started.
The announcer began, his words accompanied on the telescreens by appropriate images from Julia's life, overlaid with the current image of the woman onstage: "At age 8, Julia first joined the Spies and began her training in identifying and exposing the thought-criminals that threaten Oceania. Before the Revolution, her childhood would have been wasted in dangerous, fruitless ownlife with no sense of duty, playing games that promoted a tendency towards useless individual happiness instead of useful service."
"Big Brother made my childhood happy, safe, useful, and fulfilling," Julia said, her smile beaming ever brighter.
"At age 12, the Party's promotion of sports for Youth allowed Julia to become captain of her school hockey team. Before the Revolution, she would have spent her adolescent years learning how to practice thoughtcrime. Thanks to Big Brother, all her mental and physical energies were channeled into healthy recreational activities that kept her body and mind in the optimal condition to serve the Party."
"I never could have done it without Big Brother," Julia boasted.
"At age 15, the Party's sports programs allowed Julia to win her second gymnastics trophy. Before the Revolution, she wouldn't have been able even to dream of such an opportunity."
"Big Brother provided the resources and incentive that made all the victories possible!" said Julia, practically bursting with excited gratitude, as always.
"At age 16, Julia began attending the Party's sex talks that protected her from developing a tendency towards ownlife and thoughtcrime. Before the Revolution, she never would have learned that the only purpose of the sexual act is to produce children for the Party and would have become a slave to the use of her body for individual pleasure."
"Big Brother set me free to use my body for my duty to the Party," Julia said solemnly, her hand on her chest, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, as always.
The announcer smiled at her sympathetically and allowed her a brief moment to collect herself before continuing: "At age 17, the Party made Julia a troop leader in the Spies, increasing her capacity to serve the Party. Before the Revolution, her devotion to the Party would have been divided with concern for her future – where she would live, how she would support herself, how she would work, whom she would marry. Big Brother removed all these concerns, leaving her free to serve the Party with all her being."
"Big Brother has always taken care of me. I always have been and always will be grateful for the freedom to serve him," said Julia, bending her right elbow to raise a fist.
When Julia dropped her arm again, the announcer went on: "At age 19, the Party appointed Julia as secretary to the Airstrip One branch of the Youth League by identifying her strongest abilities and where they were most needed. Before the Revolution, no one would have made this decision for her. The Youth League provided a place where her energy and ability could be used for a good cause."
"Big Brother planned my future perfectly." Julia's voice sounded softer at this point, with her eyes closed and her head tilted slightly back in ecstasy. Winston knew he was right to come here – he shared her rapture now like he never had through the telescreen.
"At age 20, Julia joined the Junior Anti-Sex League, taking a vow of eternal chastity and joining the campaign to free all comrades – especially women – from bondage to the sexual act by promoting artsem. Before the Revolution, Julia would have been enslaved to a husband, owed him part of the loyalty, duty, and love owned by Big Brother, had to be concerned with running a home on her own without the supervision of the Party, had to raise children with no Party doctrines or guidance to rely on. The Party protected her from the chains of husband, home, and family, leaving her free to serve her comrades and Big Brother."
"Abolish the orgasm!" Julia yelled, thrusting her arms in the air. "Artsem for all! Freedom for all women!" The crowd joined her in her chant, the women the loudest, seeking and finding relief from the horror at life before the Revolution in a gratitude for their saviors – the Party, Big Brother, the work of the Junior Anti-Sex League – so strong that it was impossible to contain.
It was Julia who calmed the crowd this time, as always. Winston didn't know he'd been shouting and waving as wildly as everyone else until they stopped. What a joy it was to lose that irrational sense of separate self so completely! He wished it could have lasted forever. No, that was foolish – he was as eager to hear the rest of the program as Julia was, as everyone was.
They quickly got their wish: "At age 21, the Party assigned Julia to her permanent job in the Fiction Department in the Ministry of Truth. Before the Revolution, the quest for a job one needed to have to support oneself was unpredictably long, and working at a job was precarious – it could be lost for lack of skill, ability, or effort. Thanks to the Party, Julia never had to worry about taking care of herself – Big Brother assigned her work right away, feeds her, houses her, and supports her in every aspect of her life. Everything is taken care of."
Julia couldn't possibly have added anything now, even if she had been expected to – she was almost swooning with pleasure at the glorious words. Some in the crowd actually did collapse to their knees; Winston felt the urge to join them and hope it wasn't wrong that he was able to resist it. No, he wanted to hear the rest, it was his duty to control himself as long as possible.
The announcer cleared his throat and said, more seriously than he had spoken before, "At age 26, Julia was ensnared by thoughtcrime." (There were gasps and shudders throughout the crowd, from people who had heard it all before but still couldn't reconcile themselves to the reality of something so unreal.) "Every one of the Party's blessings in her life was almost ruined, a life so well-lived, of duty and service so faithfully performed, in which so many hopes and efforts were invested, almost wasted over a perverse craving for ownlife." (Julia hung her head; few in the live audience could ever bear to look at her at this point, and Winston was intrigued to discover he was one of the few that could.) "But thanks to the Party's timely intervention, she was taken to the Ministry of Love and cured. And here are the results of a lifetime of dependence on Big Brother and the Party – results that could not have been possible before the Revolution."
Julia took two steps closer to the edge of the platform and raised both her arms above her head. There was no cheering yet (the shock, horror, and subsequent relief were still too powerful), but after several deep breaths, Julia managed to say, "Before the Revolution, life was unbearable, especially for women. Ownlife was rampant, comrades bent under the burdens of independence, a perverse individual pleasure taken in the sexual act for its own sake with no sense of duty to the Party..." She shuddered as she clutched the edges of the sash around her waist, reminding herself that such times were over and she was free, free, truly free of such degradation. She raised her head and said, smiling again, "Comrades, do you realize how fortunate we are? How well Big Brother takes care of us? How much each of his plans have provided for our land? Where Oceania would be without him? Where would we be without Big Brother, without the Party's doctrines, plans, and policies? We are nothing without them! They are everything! They are our life force and saving grace! They have set you free! They have set me free! I am no useless woman – I am a useful Party comrade, empowered by the Party to serve Big Brother, free from the disgraceful chains of husband, home, and children! The days of women's servitude are over! There are no more wives, no more mistresses, no more brides – we rely on no men, we serve no men, we rely on Big Brother, we serve Big Brother!" In one swift movement, she pulled the sash from around her waist and waved it above her head like a banner. "We are the Brides of Big Brother!"
"The Brides of Big Brother! The Brides of Big Brother!" Every woman in the square, even those without a scarlet banner to wave, took up the chant, joined by every woman before a telescreen anywhere in Oceania. Julia continued to repeat the words softly even when she fell to her knees and the women's voices were drowned by the applause and cheering of the men. As she rose back to her feet, she raised her head, when she just happened to be facing Winston's direction. Their lines of sight overlapped so that they found themselves passively locking eyes.
Winston couldn't understand what happened next. It abruptly crossed his mind that he had seen her before, not on her program but face to face, interacted, talked, and worked with her. He suddenly had a vision of her in front of a stove, toasting bread, pouring a cup of coffee, and adding sugar (he couldn't recognize the place where this was happening at all). He somehow knew that the Party had not issued her these things, that she had bought them and brought them here on her own, and that she found joy instead of shame in this brazenly insulting act of independence.
Where could such an image possibly come from? It made no sense! Julia was a good party member, pure in word and deed, whose joy came from Party banners, processions, slogans, and games, as it should, not from black market dealings! Winston closed his eyes and shook his head – it made no sense! Why should he see that? It wasn't real! Disappear! What appeared in its place, however, was even more unreal – now she was sitting down, eating a piece of bread smeared with something he was sure he'd never seen before, let alone eaten (something the Party didn't provide, he was positive) yet his mind knew was called jam. She was talking (was she addressing him?), and it was all blasphemies about how much she hated the Party, what strategies she used to break their regulations, how they lied and made people suffer! The woman of this vision hated Big Brother and all his plans, the Party and all their programs! Why would Winston's mind cast her in the form of this Julia before him today? The Julia of his memory would have hated all the Party programs that had governed her life and wanted nothing more than to escape them!
It was the most horrifying false memory Winston had ever experienced. He opened his eyes and allowed the sight of the square to fill his vision, to block the false memory out. He didn't dare look up at the woman on the platform again; he couldn't remember why, but he knew he mustn't. There was no reason to look at her now, of course – the show was over for today. Every telescreen was now filled with the magnificent visage of Big Brother. Winston breathed a deep sigh of relief at the sight. He thought something had upset him, he couldn't remember what, but it didn't matter – all was well now. He had no worries. No one did.
Never fear, Winston told himself. Big Brother is taking care of you.