Comparing “1984,” “The Long Watch,” and “The Ones who walk away from Omelas”
In “1984,” Orwell portrays Winston’s secret struggle to undermine the totalitarian rule of Big Brother and the Party in Oceania. The different government agencies, such as the Thought Police and Ministry of Love, exercise unrestricted totalitarian rule over people. Winston actively seeks to join the rebellion and acquire the freedoms undermined by the Party. On the other hand, Heinlein’s brief narrative, “The Long Watch,” depicts a contrasting struggle championed by Dahlquist against the power hungry Colonel Towers and the Patrol. In his struggle to prevent the total domination of the world by the Patrol, Dahlquist chooses to sacrifice his life. Le Guin’s “The Ones who walk away from Omelas,” illustrates a communal form of injustice tolerated for the benefit of the entire city but necessitating the inhumane imprisonment of a child. He portrays the ambiguity of human morality and the individual struggle to determine right from wrong. The authors address social change and power in different ways, reflective of their individual perceptions. Hence, in each narrative, the author illustrates the individual’s role in effecting social change and the conditions under which such change becomes possible.
In “1984,” Orwell uses Winston to portray a single individual’s attempt to take action against a powerful government, culminating in his failure and subjugation. His individual efforts failed tremendously due to the overarching power of the Party to control every aspect of social life in Oceania. Orwell uses Winston’s deeply seated hatred of the Party to portray his views on power and social change. Winston’s actions show that even in the direst of situations ...
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...ahlquist’s sacrifice highlights Heinlein’s belief, that the same self-sacrificing impulse that Winston had, might facilitate positive social change. Contrastingly, Le Guin highlights the continued anomalies in human morality where society willingly sacrifices its morals to meet selfish needs. Overall, people’s capacity to effect social change is relative to the prevailing social conditions, their ability to impact critical aspects of the prevailing conflict and their capacity to accept self-sacrifice as morally justifiable. Consequently, moral ambiguity prevails.
Heinlein, Robert. The Long Watch. Archives of the N.Y. Times. BaeneBooks.com 17 June 2009. Web. 29 April 2014.
Le Guin, Ursula. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Rohan Academic Computing. Rohan.sdsu.edu n.d. Web. 29 April 2014.
Orwell, George. 1984. London: Penguin Books, 2008. Print.
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