1984 is a dystopian novel that tells the story of Winston Smith as he deals with an oppressive, totalitarian regime. Orwell draws an extreme picture of an individual’s struggle with an oppressive society and that individual’s willingness to risk his own life for freedom.
Thinking through the novel’s various themes including social responsibility, nationalism, and surveillance is a difficult task for some students. In order to support them, you can ask students to read a real-world account or a fictional short story that includes themes similar to those in 1984. Adding a supplementary text to the novel helps students more fully understand the themes and make meaningful connections between the texts. Twelfth graders can connect Winston Smith’s actions under government control to Henry David Thoreau’s ideas on democracy and individual responsibility. Ninth-grade students compare the historical events of the women’s suffrage movement to Winston Smith’s oppression.
- Newsbound: You Are Being Tracked (Grades 9-10; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
- TED Talk: Government Surveillance (Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.7)
- The Shock Machine (Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1)
- Mira Slovak, Cold War Defector (Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.5)
- Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice (Grade 7; CCSS.RI.7.9; CCSS.W.7.1)
- Loyang: The Emperor's City (Grade 8; CCSS.RH.6-8.4; CCSS.WHST.6-8.1)
- Women's Right to the Suffrage (Grade 9; CCSS.RI.9-10.9; CCSS.W.9-10.1)
- Whiskey Rebellion Proclamation and The Whiskey Rebellion (Grade 10; CCSS.RH.9-10.1; CCSS.WHST.9-10.1)
- All Together Now, to Each His Own Sync (Grade 11; CCSS.RI.11-12.2; CCSS.W.11-12.1)
- Excerpt from Civil Disobedience (Grade 12; CCSS.RI.11-12.9; CCSS.W.11-12.1)
- Conflict and Dominance: How do conflict and the struggle for dominance affect the human spirit?
- Character and Risk: When are tempting rewards worth the risk?
- Technology and Impact: What problems has technology helped us solve and what new problems has the introduction of technology created?
- Social Responsibility: How do individuals stand up and take responsibility for changing their societies?
- Point of View (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.6)
- Point of View (Grades 6-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.6)
- Ideas Across Texts (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.3)
- Ideas Across Texts (Grades 6-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.3)
- Central Ideas (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.2)
- Central Ideas (Grades 6-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.2)
- Author's Purpose (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.6)
- Author's Purpose (Grades 6-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.6)