The Coral Paperweight Winston Smith Purchases

The Coral Paperweight Winston Smith Purchases

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The coral paperweight Winston Smith purchases at Mr. Charrington’s junk shop serves as a dominant symbol in George Orwell’s 1984. At first, the coral paperweight simply acts as a useless object but eventually comes to represent a multitude of themes, characters, and relationships. The coral paperweight primarily symbolizes Winston’s past yet comes to foreshadow his future.
Winston spends most of his time dwelling on the past, specifically trying to recall how society lived before Big Brother. Mr. Charrington’s junk shop is an indulging destination for Winston because being surrounded by memorabilia helps him connect with the past in a way his mind cannot. The first relic Winston purchases from the junk shop is a diary. “He had seen it lying in the window… and had been stricken immediately by an overwhelming desire to possess it” (Orwell 8). Winston uses the diary to commit thoughtcrime. The second antique Winston acquires from the junk shop is a coral paperweight. “It was a heavy lump of glass, curved on one side, flat on the other. At the heart of it… there was a pink, convoluted object” (Orwell 105). From “The Summary and Analysis of 1984” on CliffNotes, “This is the first time in the novel that Winston actively reaches out to the past, to his curiosity and obsession with memory and history, and it is this action that seals his fate”.
Although Winston has no use for the paperweight, he likes the idea of owning something beautiful. In Oceania, under the rule of Big Brother, there is no room for excessive items. “All items citizens can buy are means necessary for existence,” Peter Bornedal writes in “The Destruction of the Individual in 1984”. Over time, the coral paperweight comes to represent something far more than beauty. The ...


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...holding on to that belief. Winston became too comfortable in the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop and convinced himself he and Julia were just as safe as the coral was. “This sanctuary, like every other form of rebellion, [was] temporary. It is significant that [the paperweight] shatters since the Party is ultimately victorious in bringing Winston to their side,” Ricardo Aguirre writes in “Key Themes and Symbols in 1984”. Wayne Roberts concludes that, “It can be seen how the paperweight had become tied to Winston and Julia’s world”. The lovers once believed they were similar to the coral, protected by the glass, yet “Their world [was] crumbling around them as they [were] being arrested”. In an instant… Winston’s individuality was captured and suppressed, the romantic bond between Winston and Julia was ripped apart, and the hope for yesterday’s return was shattered.

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