Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Madison from New York City, NY. Madison Wonders, “What was George Orwell’s purpose of writing 1984?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Madison!

Do you look over your shoulder for Big Brother? Do you notice doublespeak everywhere you look? Maybe you’re a bit wary of artificial intelligence (AI). If so, you may have read a certain literary classic that seems to get more popular with age. What are we talking about? The dystopian novel “1984,” of course!

“1984” was written by author George Orwell and first printed in 1949. Orwell often included current events and political movements in his books. The lasting legacy of “1984” is very powerful. Many people today see connections between the fictional tale and the modern world.

The novel follows its main character, Winston, as he goes about life in the dystopian future. His world is ruled by The Party, the governing body of the state Oceania. The Party rewrites history and demands total allegiance. It also constantly watches its citizens.

What similarities do people draw between “1984” and the real world? One example is surveillance. In the book, The Party spies on citizens using telescreens. These are like TVs, but they’re two-way. Members of The Party could be watching at any time. This makes it unlikely for people to get away with even minor crimes.

Many people link this to recent actions of the National Security Agency (NSA). In 2013, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA for collecting data on private U.S. citizens. The NSA has also been guilty of unwarranted wiretapping. Some think this is similar to the actions of The Party.

Much of today’s technology is also similar to that of “1984.” One example is AI. In Orwell’s novel, Winston uses a device called telespeak to do his work as a copywriter. He spoke into the machine, which then typed his words for him. People compare this to the voice-to-text option available on many devices today. 

Another similarity is the versificator. In “1984,” this was a machine that created music and literature. For many, the link between this device and today’s AI technology is obvious. An AI musical album was even released as recently as 2017.

Are we living in “1984”? Not quite! As many people have pointed out, in the world of “1984,” we wouldn’t be able to read “1984.” The Party wouldn’t have allowed such literature. Still, others point to the fact that “1984” and other books are sometimes banned from some schools and libraries. 

Have you ever read a fictional book that reminded you of the real world? Books can take us to amazing places! They can also help us learn a lot about the real people and places around us. If you can, take time to read a book with your family today.

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1

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