Opening Lines: 1984 by George Orwell

This is the blog where we dissect the opening sentences of popular works of fiction. Few people outside of the writing community know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into crafting the perfect Opening Line; and for that reason, I want to bring attention to the incredible work that a writer puts into these first few words. Today we will examine George Orwell’s 1984.


First, let’s look at the blurb:

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .

Now, let’s examine his Opening Line:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

While this opening doesn’t quite address the Who, When, and Where questions, it still leaves us wondering What and Why.

It is true that military time encompasses a 24-hour time set, but typically clocks that strike only go to twelve. This is what makes this line so brilliant.

What is going on here?

Why are the clocks striking thirteen, a number that doesn’t appear on these kinds of clocks?

There is a tone being set here, and thirteen, considered unlucky by most, is at the forefront of what is to come.

And to find out exactly what is to come, click the Barnes & Noble link.

Watch the VLOG!

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