A Non-Human Existence

A Non-Human Existence

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Winston defines being human as having feelings, following sensory pleasures, and staying true to those two types of emotions because, “only feelings matter”(146). He also asserts that before the Party when people had individual relationships and “members of a family stood by one another” they were human (26). Winston’s deadened senses as well as his social disconnection, and the lack of import in his daily life after he leaves the Ministry of Love indicate that he has not achieved his goal of staying human.
Winston is very desensitized after he leaves the Ministry of Love, making him inhuman. In the Chestnut Tree Café Winston “took up his glass and sniffed it”(262). This action shows that he has lost the ability to be sensitive to smell. When Winston picks flowers for Julia, he notices “their faint sickly scent”, but when he sniffs his gin he doesn’t register any scent, he just “sniffed”(104, 262). Also Winston describes his gin as becoming “more horrible with every mouthful”(262). Although Winston registers and considers the taste of the gin, he doesn’t take pleasure in the taste, and doesn’t drink something he could enjoy more. One part of being human is following sensory pleasures and Winston is clearly not basing his meals or actions on pleasure.
Also, Winston’s extreme social disconnection proves that he is no longer human. Winston reflects, “no one cared what he did any longer”(262). Before his time in the Ministry of Love, people surrounded Winston all day long. He was forced to wake, stretch and go to work. He ate, worked, and talked to others. But now, “no whistle woke him, no telescreen admonished him” so his life is completely without even these connections. For example, In the Chestnut Tree Café, Winston sits alone at a table where no one else will ever sit. Winston wishes for social connection, but can’t find it, as he is no longer human. So instead, Winston reaches out for the closest thing he can when “as though for reassurance he looked up at the imperturbable face”(263). Some people may say that this action shows that Winston is still human because he is looking and longing for social connection. However, during work when Winston is faced with the chance to connect with other people, he and the others instead end up “looking at one another with extinct eyes”(263). Winston cannot connect to anyone else, through telescreens, work, or even just everyday life.

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Another factor indicating Winston’s loss of humanity is the absence of importance in his daily life. As Winston reflects on his daily life, he thinks about how “no one cared what he did any longer” (262). This indifference everyone shows Winston not only keeps him from having social connection, it also makes his day-to-day activities insignificant. Being able to do anything takes away the meaning of everything Winston does. Also, Winston’s work is similarly unimportant, as “he had been appointed to a sub-committee of a sub-committee” (262). Previously, Winston loved his job, and it gave him a purpose. However, after he leaves the Ministry of Love, Winston’s job is so insignificant in the society it no longer gives him any purpose. In fact, “what it was they were reporting on he never definitely found out”(263). Humans need a reason to live, and before he was imprisoned Winston’s reason was his work. Now that his work is unimportant, he has no purpose in life and no reason to live. This is why even when the group Winston works with “settled down to their work almost eagerly… the life would go out of them”(263). When there is absolutely no importance, no significance, in one’s work it is impossible to be excited about it. And without purpose, a human life is not human.
One might argue that Winston’s humanity is still intact, as evidenced by his addiction to gin. Addiction is a human weakness, to which only humans fall prey. However, Winston’s relationship with gin is thus described: “it had become the element he swam in. It was his life, his death”(262). Humans are the only beings who eat and drink for taste. Winston is therefore not drinking because he’s human, he’s drinking because he relies on it, much like a fish relies on water. So although addiction is a human weakness, Winston’s need for gin is far from human. It is not something he takes pleasure from; it is something he needs for survival.
Winston’s reflections about his work reveal that he has lost his senses, his connection to the social world, and the everyday importance of his life. His losses make him inhuman. Therefore, Winston does not achieve his goal of staying human, and the Party wins.

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