Thursday, 27 February 2014

Killer Sea



Seafarers young and old, intertwined and 
owned, for all eternity, by the killer sea



Killer Sea is the story of a young diver with a death wish who journeys through the South East Asian oil fields, finding a harsh and hostile world of survival and endurance amid a cast of cutthroat bastards and glorious sinners. It’s also a journey of self-discovery, a young man finding his real place in the world. It’s all here, the secrets of offshore oil drilling in South East Asia revealed: prostitution and drug dealing; oil company corruption and cover ups; back stabbing and murder; typhoons and shipwrecks; and last – but far from least – the danger of deep-sea diving.



Review

A thoroughly enjoyable read … I like the voice established, and I think it’s likely to engage readers. Among the greatest strengths of the narrative voice, and a crucial aspect of maintaining it, is a straightness, honesty, and down-to-earth quality. Part of the ‘straightness’ of the voice is an implicit (and, given the events narrated, actual) wealth of experience that conduces to a slightly disenchanted, clear perspective on all manner of events, horrific and otherwise. In light of the characteristics of the narrative, and the extremity of the events narrated, a simple, literal description conveys the intensity of these moments.


I found the main character, Andrew, sympathetic – the register of the story is about survival, endurance, and getting through in a callous and cut-throat world, in which case a certain hardness and callousness of character is necessary. Which is not to say that there are no instances of community or friendship in the novel; there obviously are, but the broader context in which they occur is a harsh and hostile one. To put it briefly, I think Andrew and the other central characters are sufficiently sympathetic to engage the reader and keep them engaged.

First Editing: Editorial Review (abridged)




 Extracts


The Baby Diver

The van moved along Paser Ridge, the mud splashing under its tires, the driver not bothering to dodge the potholes as it rumbled towards the Petro-Corp office. When it stopped, the kid in the backseat got out, stepping on a discarded Coke can and wiping the sweat from his hands, unkempt and skinny in summer shorts and thongs. Not yet used to the sun and humidity, he walked half-sheepishly into the office.
Balikpapan, in east Kalimantan, had never been anything more than an important oil town. Motor scooters struggled through the mud and people sat outside their ramshackle huts, becalmed, needing a brisk gale to shift them. Although secluded in the solemn hush of the Meddassar Strait, Balikpapan had not escaped the commercial world: its shabby kampongs, Hungry Jacks, and mosques open to the sea.
In a high-ceiled room with a slow-turning fan, he met Mr Adriano, a Petro-Corp rep, dark and lean with a pencil-thin moustache, who led him into his office.
Mr Adriano sat behind his desk. The blinds behind him were closed. ‘Please sit,’ he said. ‘You have your passport?’
Andrew handed it to him. He knew the game.
‘Not many stamps.’ Mr Adriano flicked through it, his tongue licking his bottom lip.
‘It’s a new passport.’
‘Have you much experience?’
‘Ocean Advance – six months; Demonco – five …’
‘So, Mr Andrew, you done mixed-gas diving?’
Andrew nodded. Everyone he’d spoken to since he’d gone for the job had asked him this.
Mr Adriano smiled. ‘You see, very strict offshore. Must have gas. Air diving will finish soon. Deeper inspections ahead. Other divers, no gas and had to go. Petro-Corp quite strict.’
Andrew kept nodding. He knew the game: bullshit anyone you like, but not the other divers offshore.
‘Mr Tom will drive you to the jetty and a fast-boat will take you to the Labybird, Field 85, Attaka. Let’s go.’ Mr Adriano smiled nervously as he stood from his desk.
Andrew followed the driver outside, back to the van, feeling trapped in the heavy humidity.
He loafed on a seat for two hours down by the jetty, in front of the wooden shacks built on sticks over the inlet and the longboats nestled under the filthy grey. More crew flocked onto the jetty. When the fast-boat arrived, Andrew stepped into it and it cast off and headed quickly out to sea. Oil platforms dotted the horizon, their flare-booms burning incandescently against the giant dome of the sky. The fast-boat made the rounds, dropping crew off at most of the platforms. It would be another four hours before Andrew reached the Ladybird, fifty miles offshore, and he grew more tense with every passing minute.




The Oil Client

The Fat Man sat cumbersome on a frail chair behind his desk, fiddling with a pen, his red cheeks inflating every time he breathed. He had no neck – just a big head on big shoulders. He smiled at most people who walked into his office, whether they made money for him or not. His obesity – 340 pounds of mostly fat – not only intimidated his rivals but also complemented his lofty position and winner-take-all philosophy in the oilfield.
His real name was Matthew Joseph Horn. He was from Texas, and had previously run a fleet of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. After spending three years in prison for tax evasion, he travelled to Indonesia and set up a shipping company with Indonesian drug lords. The shipping company was their ideal money-laundering outfit, sinking profits from drugs, prostitution, and gambling among the millions of dollars won and lost in the Indonesian oilfields. Contacts among the drug lords won him a position with Petro-Corp, a major American oil company, where he could manage oilfields, and open links with other drug lords in Bangkok and Taiwan.
His eyes, magnified behind big wide spectacles, gazed out his office window at the rusty container vans and I-beams stacked in the sun-baked yard outside. Petro-Corp’s logo – a seagull above a derrick tower – was painted on the side of each van.
He had just finished checking the contract on his desk, for a new pipeline in Attaka, and was now lazily smoking a cigar, watching a small Indonesian man in the yard outside. He threw the cigar into the blue marble ashtray on his desk and cursed silently, watching the man slink out of the yard and out of sight.
He hung around the yard often, Horn thought, that little Indonesian man: always pestering his staff, complaining about his daughter being sick, his farmland and water supplies contaminated, his kids unable to swim in the river, and blaming it all on the refinery. Last week he killed some of his own chickens, dumped them outside the front gate, and blamed that on the refinery too.




The Unwanted Child

They knew that one day she would come back, and dreaded that moment. They lived in a kampong down a hot, dusty street. Every day they prayed and sacrificed a bit of food and water to scare away evil spirits. When they saw Ruanne’s frail figure approach, they shut their windows and door. ‘Go away, witch!’ they cried. ‘The Devil has bought her back to us.’ To them, Ruanne was a mistake. They had never wanted her when she was born, and they refused to accept her now.
Ruanne stopped about twenty metres in front of her parents’ hut, her eyelids fluttering in the blistering heat, ignoring the sting from her mother’s words. She had heard them all before.
Her mother, with swelling breasts and a round face with large lips that were crinkled and cracked, stuck her head out the window. ‘Go away little devil!’ she cried. ‘We hate you!’
It was bad enough listening to her mother ranting, but when she opened the front door and threw all Ruanne’s clothes and childhood toys outside, then set them on fire in the middle of the street, it made the situation intolerable.
Ruanne dropped her bag, then went on looking at all her things burning. Her blood boiled and tears swelled in her eyes. ‘Oh, I see!’ she yelled. ‘It is easy for you to slander my name, see if I care, but how dare you destroy all my things!’
Her throat began to constrict and she found it difficult to breath. She walked forward, raised her fists and continued shouting, cursing her mother.
Other people emerged from their huts.
‘We should offer the poor little girl some help,’ a man with a crooked leg said.
‘Yes,’ his wife replied. ‘The sooner we show her some pity, the sooner the fuss will be over.’
Ruanne stopped in front of the fire, took out the clothes she had knitted for her parents and dumped them on the crackling flames. ‘I wanted to make you happy!’ she cried. ‘But it’s too late now. I’ll never pray for you again!’
Her mother, with fists like mallets resting on her rounded hips, slipped back inside the hut.
A small group stood behind Ruanne. She turned and saw them. As she walked through the kampong, away from her parents’ hut, the throngs of people followed her. ‘You poor little girl,’ the man with the crooked leg said. ‘You are so unhappy.’
Ruanne turned and looked at him, the rage still burning in her eyes. ‘My home was there,’ she said. ‘Now I will have to find a new place in the world.’



The Baby in Tiny White Tennis Shoes

Biff Bailey, the supervisor, was the only one who spoke, his cheeks puffy and red, thin strands of hair glued with sea-spray to one side of his face. ‘Just think of it as filling up bags of shit,’ he explained. ‘If that doesn’t work, then think of them as your friends, and you’re helping them to the surface.’
Simon agreed and bathed his face under fresh water, combed his hair back, then put on his diving hat, all the time a nervous energy running through him because this was his moment to perform. From portside, he heard a compressor in need of overhaul, and with it a clear Welsh tenor coming through the comms – Biff singing: ‘Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!’
Simon stepped off the barge and after he hit the water, he looked around, sensing the darkness, feeling the downline before moving on. Far below the barge, tiny specks of light came from the surface like stars listening to his thoughts; then, not far away, he saw the dull glow of a light stick and followed it down. After his first glimpse of the plane wreckage, dark and soundless, he took a sack from the downline and entered it.
He came to a woman strapped in her seat: her face grey-green, eyes staring madly at him, and holding a baby with tiny white tennis shoes in her lap. The fish had already taken its eyes. Simon moved around on the right side of them and stopped over another body: a man with a business suit that had shrunk in the water and was now too tight for him, and a tie strangling his neck, with patches of hair on his skull and his mouth partly opened in a loose kind of grin. Much of the flesh had already been eaten away.
Simon fell back and for a minute he looked around to where they were sitting, his nerves and muscles unable to relax. A faint voice came through the comms, but he didn’t answer it. Then he unclipped the safety belt from a body next to a window, freeing it from the fish and crabs and the current’s indignity, and let it float above him.
‘Come on, buddy,’ he said, ‘you’re stupid being stuck down here. I’ll put you in this sack and send you to the top.’




The Water Rat

Lifeless. Like a fish out of water. White eyes, dilated, staring at him in the dark. Blood dripping from his mouth. Blood dripping from his ears. His face glossy, white, and cold. Mucus hung in drabs from his nose.
‘Rick, how many fingers am I holding up? How many fingers?’ Carl, the system’s tech, questioned the stricken diver, his voice echoing inside the chamber.
‘Uuh, dunno.’
Carl knelt beside him, his feet soaked in bodily waste that flooded the floor of the decompression chamber. The stench overpowered him.
Rick closed his eyes and mumbled like a child, frail and sick. Carl removed his O2 bib and asked: ‘What day is it?’
Rick groaned, rolled his eyes, and sprayed the system’s tech with vomit.
‘Wake up! Wake up!’ Carl slapped Rick’s face and shook his shoulders.
Rick opened his eyes but, feeling distance, never looked at him.
‘Wake up, you bloody bastard!’
‘Wh – where am I?’ Rick wobbled his head.
The system’s tech placed the 02 bib back over Rick’s mouth. Rick lay there quietly, gripping Carl’s arm, watching the light from the porthole move magically through the air.
‘How many fingers am I holding up?’
Rick dropped his eyes sadly like a child who didn’t know why he was being punished. He could sense the man protesting his condition, but he could not understand it. All he could think about was water.




The Mercenary

Andrew felt a tap on his shoulder; he turned, snarling, flashing his knife. Stanley crouched beside him: his eyes deep and focused.
‘He’s in there, isn’t he?’ Stanley whispered; his nose seemed sharper and his long hair hung over one side of his face. ‘There isn’t anything you should do.’
‘Go away,’ Andrew said. ‘I’ve got him, like I said I would.’
‘You don’t know what you’re doing – look at your hands, they’re shaking.’
Andrew lowered his eyes and stared at them. He felt his throat seize.
‘Little boy, you know nothing about fighting with knives. Reilly knows – he loves to fight.’
‘And you?’ Andrew stared at Stanley.
‘I know about killing,’ he said. ‘Shit, I’ve killed almost everything under the sun. I’ve wiped out whole villages. You’re scared. I can see that in your eyes. If you show fear, you’re already a dead man. Reilly will sense that fear – and kill you quick.’
Andrew stood his ground, the fire in his eyes still burning. ‘Do you think I can’t fight him by myself? I want to see his blood.’
‘Now Andrew, don’t argue with me. I’m your only help. Give me your knife and leave it to me.’
‘But Stanley – it’s not your problem.’
‘It is now.’
Andrew hesitated, tightening his grip on his knife.
‘Let’s not waste any more time,’ Stanley said, his hand extended. ‘War is my game. Give me your knife.’
His cold stare with those dark serpent eyes made Andrew shudder. He handed him the knife.




The Fifteen-year-old Prostitute

Noi sat in the rain, beside the old banyan tree, among the wet flowers and grass. She stared into nothingness, her dark hair hanging over her shoulders, her shrivelled-looking body wrapped in a faded hospital gown.
The rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Suddenly the hospital, the fields, and the outline of the jungle became eerie with soft and beautiful light. But the recollection of cold thoughts forbade her to embrace them.
She heard the bell from the hospital, meaning food was ready. Only this time she wouldn’t come. She wanted to attach herself to some memory, to some remote vision she had been dreaming of – something romantic and tender, some silly, silly dream.
Within a short time, there were many people outside the hospital: patients dallying on the grass; nurses laughing and talking, sitting around a table shrouded in cigarette smoke. The sunlight sharpened and refined them. From a distance they looked so clean, but their voices sounded louder, more hostile.
Noi shut her eyes and imagined them laughing at her, calling her disgusting names. Her mouth was dry. She trembled, clutching the grass as if thorns grew through her flesh. A trickle of sweat seeped down her spine. She felt the sting from the bite marks on her breasts.








Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Character Study: O'Brien (1984)


 Character Study: O’Brien (1984)


Richard Burton as O'Brien in  Nineteen Eighty-Four (Virgin Films)


Dominant character traits: large/strong/formidable, authoritarian/stern

Secondary character traits: thoughtful/studious, brutal/threatening

Individuality: O’Brien fiddling awkwardly with his spectacles on his nose



Introduction

1984 is a literary novel (first published, 1949) by George Orwell and is about a totalitarian state in the future. O’Brien, a complex main character, is an important member of the Inner Party of this state. This essay will examine personality traits, both Dominant and Secondary, and Individuality for O’Brien. Features used for this analysis range from Static (Posture, Body, Face and so on) to more active, Dynamic features such as Speech and Action. Individuality is an aspect of O’Brien’s character that makes him stand out from other characters. In this instance, it is his gesture of fiddling with his spectacles on his nose. O’Brien occurs in seven main scenes. (Note: O’Brien occurs in two or three other scenes, one including a dream, but they too insignificant for the purpose of this essay). First, we will study traits and features of each main scene, then examine two tables and two bar charts that combine the information for deeper analysis.


SCENE 1: THE HALL

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE – large/strong/formidable (x2)
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE + METAPHOR - strong
BODY (NECK) large/strong/formidable
FACE – old/worn/coarse, serious, brutal
GESTURE+OBJECT – individuality (x2)
MANNER - charming
MANNER - courteous
FACE - large
POSTURE – serious
BODY (CHEST) large/strong/formidable
THOUGHT – intelligent/calculating

The first aspect to note is Orwell’s heavy reliance of Physical Appearance and Body to bring O’Brien to life. O’Brien is a ‘large, burly man’ with a ‘formidable appearance’. Also, his appearance is combined with Metaphor to highlight his formidability, as in his ‘prize-fighter’s physique’. Parts of the Body highlight his size and strength, for example: his ‘thick neck’ and ‘powerful chest’.  

Face and Manner highlight the contrast in O’Brien’s personality. For example, O’Brien has a ‘heavy’ and ‘brutal’ face, whereas he has ‘a certain charm of manner’ and a courteous or ‘urbane manner’.   

Individuality occurs twice in this scene. First: ‘He had taken off his spectacles and was in the act of resettling them on his nose with his characteristic gesture’; and then: ‘He had a trick of resettling his spectacles on his nose’.


SCENE 2: THE CORRIDOR

TOUCH + HAND - friendly
SPEECH - grave, courteous
GESTURE + OBJECT - individuality, friendly
ACTION - absent-minded/indifferent/vague

First, Touch combines with Hand to highlight O’Brien’s friendliness, as we see O’Brien ‘laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston’s arm’.

Through Speech, we see O’Brien is both courteous and grave, as in: ‘He began speaking with the peculiar grave courtesy that differentiated him from the majority of Inner Party members’.

In addition, Individuality and his friendly trait become evident: ‘With the curious, disarming friendliness … he resettled his spectacles on his nose’.

Then Action, which becomes more predominant in later scenes, plays a small part here, highlighting  O’Brien’s vague/absent-minded trait, as in:Somewhat absentmindedly O’Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered notebook and a gold ink-pencil’.


SCENE 3: O’BRIEN’S STUDY

POSTURE + LOCATION (ROOM) + OBJECTS (CARPET, TABLE, LAMP, PAPERS) – serious, studious
LACK OF SIGHT – indifferent
ACTION (STUDYING) – studious, observant
FACE – large/formidable, intelligent
POSTURE – studious
ACTION – calculating
GAIT + LACK OF SOUND – calm
FACIAL EXPRESSION – grave/solemn  (x2)
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE – large/strong (‘solid’)
FACIAL EXPRESSION - expressionless
ACTION (WAITING) – stern
FACIAL EXPRESSION (SMILE) – sarcastic (x2)
GESTURE + OBJECT - individuality
EXPOSITION – studious/busy
SPEECH (TONE) - emotionless
POSTURE – calculating
EYES – calculating
SPEECH (VOLUME, TONE) – calm/gentle, emotionless
SPEECH (TONE) - calculating
ACTION – vague/ indifferent/absent-minded
GAIT – calculating
GAIT – thoughtful
GAIT - graceful
BODY - large
GESTURE - graceful
MANNER – graceful, confident, sarcastic
SPEECH (TONE) – good-natured/friendly
BODY (SHOULDERS) + FACE - formidable
FACE – expressionless, ugly
THOUGHT – intelligent/calculating
SPEECH (TONE) – good-natured/friendly
SPEECH (TONE) – grave/solemn
ACTION - calculating
SPEECH (TONE) – grave, courteous
TOUCH – strong
THOUGHT – studious/busy

First, O’Brien is sitting in his study, which is littered with numerous objects like paper and a reading lamp. This Location and these Objects connate his scholarly personality. His Posture also alludes to this intellectual trait, or intense focus, as in: ‘For perhaps twenty seconds he sat without stirring’.

However, Speech is the most common feature in this scene. It highlights his vague/ expressionless trait, as in: ‘He began asking his questions in a low, expressionless voice’; and he speaks ‘impassively’.

Facial Expression, dominant in this scene, highlights O’Brien’s sarcastic trait. For example, he has a ‘faint smile’ and breaks ‘into what might have been the beginnings of a smile’. 

Moreover, we see his serious/grave trait, as in: ‘His face grew solemn again’ and his ‘expression was grimmer than usual’.

O’Brien’s Gait conveys his calculating and thoughtful aspects. He ‘deliberately … came towards them’ and ‘began to pace slowly to and fro, as though he could think better standing’. It also expresses his grace, as in: ‘there was a remarkable grace in his movements’.

Touch provides an example of O’Brien’s power and strength: ‘His powerful grip crushed the bones of Winston’s palm’.

Manner/impression highlight O’Brien’s strength, confidence and understanding, as in: ‘More even than of strength, he gave an impression of confidence and of … understanding’.

O’Brien’s calculating trait comes through Winston’s Thoughts about him: ‘There was no stratagem that he was not equal to, no danger that he could not foresee’. Then O’Brien’s busy/scholarly trait is conveyed by Winston’s Thought: ‘Within thirty seconds, it occurred to him, O’Brien would be back at his interrupted and important work on behalf of the Party’.


SCENE 4: WINSTON’S CELL

THOUGHT - authoritarian
SIGHT – grave/sad
FACE – old/worn/coarse
GESTURE – brutal
ACTION brutal
SPEECH (WORD CHOICE) – brutal (x5)
SPEECH (WORD CHOICE) – polite
GESTURE + OBJECT – individuality (x2)
GAIT – thoughtful (x2)
SPEECH (TONE) – gentle, patient
MANNER + SIMILE – authoritarian (x2)
GESTURE – authoritarian (x4)
SIGHT - calculating
MANNER – authoritarian/stern
FACIAL EXPRESSION (smile) – good-natured (x3)
FACIAL EXPRESSION (smile) – sarcastic (x2)
OBJECT (SPECTACLES) - sarcastic
MANNER - stern
THOUGHT - thoughtful
FACE – large, stern
TOUCH – kind/friendly (x2)
THOUGHT - protector
SPEECH – calm/gentle (x2)
FACE – large, ugly, intelligent
THOUGHT - understanding
FACE – large, ugly, intense
FACE – large, ugly
EYES – mad/intense
SPEECH – vague/indifferent (x2)
FACE – mad/intense
GAIT – large, graceful, thoughtful
THOUGHT - calculating
SPEECH - stern
FACIAL EXPRESSION – vague/expressionless

O’Brien’s Speech dominates this scene. It conveys his brutal nature: ‘I have it in my power to inflict pain on you at any moment’ he says to Winston; ‘Nothing will remain of you, not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain’; and: ‘Everything will be dead inside you’. There is contrast in O’Brien’s character because, on the other hand, ‘his voice was gentle and patient’.

Touch also conveys his gentle nature: ‘O’Brien laid a hand reassuringly, almost kindly, on [Winton]’ and ‘[Winston] was sitting up with O’Brien’s arm round his shoulders’.

Orwell relies heavily on Face in this scene to convey O’Brien’s character. Winston looks at O’Brien’s ‘lined face, so ugly and so intelligent’. Moreover, his face is ‘hideously ugly’ and filled with lunatic intensity’.

Gesture is important in this scene. It highlights O’Brien’s authoritarian trait, as in: ‘O’Brien stopped [the doctor] with a movement of the hand’ and: ‘He paused and signed to the man in the white coat’. Manner and Simile combine to highlight this authoritarian trait, for example: ‘He had the air of a doctor, a teacher, even a priest’.

Facial Expression conveys his sarcasm: ‘There was a trace of amusement in O’Brien’s face’ and ‘O’Brien smiled slightly’.

Individuality occurs twice in this scene, that is: ‘He resettled his spectacles’ and ‘he resettled his spectacles on his nose’.


SCENE 5: WINSTON’S CELL

FACE – mad/intense
THOUGHT – intelligent (x2)
THOUGHT – mad/intense
ACTION – brutal (x2)
FACE – old/worn, strong, brutal, intelligent, mad/intense
SPEECH (ABOUT FACE, BODY) – old/worn
GAIT - thoughtful
GESTURE – authoritarian (x2)
SPEECH (TONE) - indifferent
FACIAL EXPRESSION (SMILE) - sarcastic
MANNER + SIMILE - authoritarian
SPEECH - brutal
SPEECH (ABOUT FACE) – old/worn
ACTION - authoritarian
TOUCH – kind/friendly
SIGHT – thoughtful

The most common feature for analysis in this scene is Face. We see O’Brien has a mad/intense personality: ‘The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into O’Brien’s face’. Also, his Face is ‘strong and fleshy and brutal … full of intelligence and a sort of controlled passion’. But O’Brien’s Face is old and ragged: ‘There were pouches under the eyes, the skin sagged from the cheekbones’. O’Brien’s Face is used by Orwell to show that the human body deteriorates, but the State will remain strong forever. This is evident through O’Brien’s speech: ‘my face is old and tired … I am not even able to prevent the decay of my own body’, but not so the State.

As in the previous scene, Speech portrays O’Brien as ruthless and brutal: ‘Imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.’

O’Brien’s brutal trait is supported by Action, for example: ‘A pang of pain had shot through [Winton’s] body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five’ and: ‘A twinge of pain shot through Winston’s jaw. O’Brien had wrenched the loose tooth out by the roots’.

Thought displays O’Brien’s intelligence, for instance: ‘How intelligent, [Winston] thought, how intelligent!’ and: ‘What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself?’

Gesture shows O’Brien to be authoritarian: ‘O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand’ and ‘O’Brien made a small impatient gesture’.

Gait displays O’Brien’s thoughtful trait. He regularly paces himself up and down because he is a deep thinker, that is: ‘He turned away from the bed and began strolling up and down again, one hand in his pocket’.

In addition, Sight shows O’Brien’s thoughtful trait: ‘[He] looked down at [Winston] thoughtfully’.


SCENE 6: WINSTON’S CELL

SOUND + GAIT– threatening/brutal
SPEECH (WORD CHOICE/IMPERATIVES) - authoritarian
SPEECH (TONE) - gentle
ACTION – authoritarian (x2)
HANDS – strong
SIGHT - observant

Sound is used to reinforce O’Brien’s brutal/threatening nature, especially when it is combined with Gait: that is, Winston hears ‘a heavy tramp of boots’ and the door opens ‘with a clang’ as ‘O’Brien [walks] into the cell’.

Speech, through the use of Imperatives, highlights O’Brien’s authoritarian nature; that is, he sets commands for Winston: ‘Get up … Come here … Stand up straighter. Look me in the face.’ On the other hand, O’Brien’s Speech Tone conveys his gentle nature: ‘[O’Brien] went on in a gentler tone’.

Action also reinforces O’Brien’s authoritarian nature, for example: ‘He released Winston with a little push towards the guards’.

O’Brien’s Hands signify his strength, for example: O’Brien took Winston’s shoulders between his strong hands’.


SCENE 7: ROOM 101

SPEECH (TONE) – authoritarian (x2)
SIGHT + SIMILE – thoughtful
SIGHT + METAPHOR - thoughtful
SPEECH – brutal/threatening (x2)
ACTION brutal/threatening

First, Speech signifies O’Brien’s authoritarian trait, as in: ‘When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected’.

Sight, combined with Simile, highlights his thoughtful nature: ‘He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience.’

This Simile turns to Metaphor to highlight the same thoughtful trait, as O’Brien is still addressing his invisible audience’.

As in previous scenes, Speech highlights his brutality, for example: ‘In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it’.

Then we have the brutal/threatening Action of O’Brien moving the rat cage ‘less than a metre from Winston’s face’.


Features that highlight Character Traits and Individuality for O’Brien in 1984


Features
S1
S2
S3
S4
S5
S6
S7
Total

Gesture+object (individuality)
2
1
1
2



6
*
Physical appearance
3

1




4
*
Body
2

2




4
*
Manner/impression
2

1
3
1


7
*
Face
2

3
6
4


15
*
Posture
1

3




4

Thought
1

2
5
3


11
*
Hand

1



1

2

Touch

1
1
2
1


5

Speech

1
7
12
3
2
4
29
*
Location


1




1

Sight


1
2
1
1
2
7

Facial expression


5
6
1


12

Gesture


1
5
2


8

Action

1
4
2
3
2
1
13

Eyes


1
1



2

Gait


4
3

1

8
*
Object


1
1



2
*
Exposition


1




1

Sound


1


1

1

Simile/metaphor
1


2
1

2
6

Total
14
5
41
52
19
8
9


NB: * Static features


This table displays literary features used for analyzing the character of O’Brien in 1984 (Orwell, 1949). Features can be Static and Dynamic, plus other writing techniques such as Sound and Simile/metaphor. S1 and S2 refer to scenes one and two and so on. There are seven scenes.
For a bird’s eye point-of-view, Speech is the most common feature (29). This is nearly double the second highest feature, which is Face (15).
From a closer perspective, Face is nearly as common as Action (15 and 13 respectively). The only other features that occur in double numbers are Thought and Facial Expression: they are almost as common (11 and 12 in that order). Gait is reasonably high with eight occurrences. Also worthy of mention are Sight, Gesture, and Manner/impression (seven occurrences each), and, to a lesser extent, Simile/metaphor (six) and Touch (five). In more specific detail, both Speech and Action are the most consistent features, occurring in six out of seven scenes. To continue, Static features like Physical Appearance, Body, and Posture are only evident in the first two or three scenes (four occurrences each). Individuality – a feature which makes O’Brien’s character unique – occurs only in the first four scenes (for a total of six occurrences). However, there is nothing subtle about this literary technique: it occurs twice in the first and fourth scenes. Orwell is hammering O’Brien’s Individuality into the reader’s head like a cannonade.



       Character Traits and Individuality for O’Brien in 1984

Character Traits + Individuality
S1
S2
S3S4S5S6S7
Total
Individuality
2
1
1
2



4
Good-natured/charming/friendly/kind
1
2
3
5
1


12
Large/strong/formidable
6

5
5
1
1

18
Authoritarian/stern


1
11
3
3
2
20
Intelligent/calculating
1

7
1
3


12
Grave/solemn/serious/sad
2
1
5
1



9
Courteous
1
1
1




3
Indifferent/vague/expressionless/absent-minded

1
6
3
1


11
Observant


1


1

2
Calm/gentle


2
3

1

6
Thoughtful/studious/busy


6
4
2

2
14
Old/worn/coarse/ugly
1

1
4
3


9
Brutal/threatening
1


7
4
1
2
15
Patient



1



1
Protector



1



1
Mad/intense



5
3


8
Graceful


3
1



4
Confident


1




1
Understanding



1



1
Sarcastic


3
3
1


7
Total
15
6
46
58
22
7
6




This table examines the occurrences of Character personality and uniqueness (or Individuality) for O’Brien in the novel 1984. Some traits have been merged together for convenience, such as Charming/friendly and Old/ugly. S1 and S2 are the number of scenes: there are seven main scenes.
In general, O’Brien shows a wide range of contrasting traits. For example, his Kind/friendly and Courteous traits are predominant earlier on, whereas his Authoritarian and Brutal/threatening traits are more evident in the mid to later scenes.
In more specific detail, the most important traits are Authoritarian/stern (20), followed by Large/strong/formidable (18); in contrast; the least common traits are Patient, Protector, Confident, and Understanding (one occurrence each). Looking closer at the table, other significantly high traits are Brutal/threatening (15 occurrences) and Thoughtful/studious (14). Moreover, O’Brien’s Intelligent/calculating trait occurs as many times as his Good-natured/charming trait (12). This is slightly higher than his Indifferent/vague trait (11). O’Brien’s Mad/intense trait occurs twice as many times as his Graceful trait (eight and four times respectively). To continue, Individuality occurs only in the first four scenes and not in any later scene, but it is still predominant when it does happen, occurring twice in scenes one and four. It is also interesting to note that no trait is consistent throughout every scene. This highlights O’Brien’s complexity. The most consistent are Friendly, Authoritarian, Indifference, and Brutality, which all occur in five out of seven scenes. 






The two bar charts display Static and Dynamic features used for analyzing the character of O’Brien in 1984 (Orwell, published in 1949). The y-axis shows the number of features and the x-axis shows the number of main scenes that O’Brien appears in. There are seven main scenes. The numbers at the top of each column show the number of features for that scene.
Overall, Static features are significant in the first four scenes (except S2), but are less prevalent in the later scenes, whereas Dynamic features dominant the middle scenes and are still important in the final scenes, although they are insignificant in the earlier scenes.
This means the writer relies heavily on Static features like physical appearance, body, face, posture, manners and so on to highlight character traits at the beginning of the novel, but relies on more active, Dynamic traits like action, walking (or gait), eye movement, observation (or sight), speech, facial expressions, hand gestures and thought from the middle to late scenes.
Looking closer at the Static features, there are ten Static features in the first scene alone, double the total number of Static features in the last three scenes (five). In addition, Static features are still prevalent in the middle scenes: S3 with 12 and S4 with 10 respectively. Significantly, there are no Static features in the final scene.
From a closer perspective of the second graph, scene seven has slightly more Dynamic features than scene six (seven and six in that order), and the total for these last two scenes is more than three times the total for the first two scenes (13 and four alternatively). Moreover, scene one has the least number of Dynamic features (one), followed by scene two (with three).