In 1984, O'Brien expects Winston to know what Room 101 is.

I know that Room 101 is more torture, but why would O'Brien expect Winston to know that?

‘What is in Room 101?’
The expression on O’Brien’s face did not change. He answered drily: ‘You know what is in Room 101, Winston. Everyone knows what is in Room 101.’

And later:

"You asked me once," said O'Brien, "what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."


2 Answers 2


Initially, Winston has no idea what room 101 is. However, because Winston realizes how people would rather die than go to room 101, O'Brien expects Winston to think the worst possible torture appartus was contained within the room. For each person, this worst form of torture would be different, and so for Winston, O'Brien expected Winston to believe room 101 was filled with rats.

Although Orwell paints Winston as not knowing what is in room 101, I'd say that subconsciously at least, Winston knew what he would meet in room 101 (even if he didn't say it out loud to O'Brien).


Because "everyone knows what is in Room 101"; ie: every person is aware of his or her own worst fear. I don't imagine that O'Brien expected Winston to actually, literally know what was in the room, but that he was toying with him just a bit, playing a bit of a word game.

  • Everyone has a worst fear. However, they may not be aware of what it is. The threat of being placed in that environment which promises to live up to the description would be very effective, regardless. Commented May 29, 2021 at 3:10

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