BookTalkII — Part 3 — The Little People


Warning:  BookTalkII assumes an audience that has already read George Orwell’s 1984, and attempts to compare the classic dystopian nightmare against both the novel 1Q84, written by Haruki Murakami, and V for Vendetta, a graphic novel by Alan Moore.  Broken into twelve parts, each part of the BookTalk will focus on a chronologically new section of 1Q84 and V for Vendetta while considering the entire narrative of 1984.  See the BookTalkII main page for more details and links to all twelve parts.

Spoiler Alert:  This part covers the end of Book One of V for Vendetta and the end of Book One of 1Q84 (up to page 387).

Much like a thought-crime, the seed was planted and it took on a life of its own.  After breaking through the first eighteen chapters, right about page 295, the book took on a life of its own.  By this point the reader will be compelled to read, probably to preserve some sort of balance.  The gravitational whirlpool of 1Q84 pulls in the audience at speeds that blur the vision.  Even if you know what’s next, you can see it like a clear target, you will exhaust yourself attempting to reach it.

The Professor stared at his hands for a time, then looked up and said, “George Orwell introduced the dictator ‘Big Brother’ in his novel 1984, as I’m sure you know.  The book was an allegorical treatment of Stalinism, of course.  And ever since then, the term Big Brother has functioned as a social icon.  That was Orwell’s great accomplishment.  But now, in the real year 1984, Big Brother is all too famous, and all too obvious.  If Big Brother were to appear before us now, we’d point to him and say, ‘Watch out!  He’s Big Brother!’  There’s no longer any place for a Big Brother in this real world of ours.  Instead, these so-called Little People have come on the scene.  Interesting verbal contrast, don’t you think?”

Whether the Little People are the voices in our head or the plethora of characters and reiterations of story sequels, they are surely the product of meta-narratives.  Whether we are in post-post-modern times or arguably meta-modern times, it is easy to see self-referential stories breaking the 4th wall and doing more with the concept of self-awareness.  Ultimately, this convoluted thinking produces variety and it is through this variety that we can see the downfall of Big Brother.  Haruki Murakami applies globalization to the 1984 landscape and yields an ironic inversion.  The Little People stand for the fracturing times in which we find our selves of the new millennium dwelling.

Carl Jung is referenced often throughout 1Q84.  Talk of shadow and light, and other archetypal imagery frame the highway of the plot like roadside billboard advertising.  The collective unconsciousness may have a special place for the Little People as well, even though it is not commonly seen as an archetype.  Throughout time and spanning various cultures around the globe, the Little People have been a part of mythology; they might not have the same weight as giants or gods but they have a place however small it is, much like the moon.

What literary device the moon is?  When you’re first introduced to Aomame, you might think that “green pea” could serve as an allusion to all sorts of things, one namely as a beacon for envy.  With the use of two moons, and the second one being smaller and mossy green, you get even more literary value wrapped into this symbol.  The protagonists are the moons and readers will have to grow to appreciate the moons as much as the lead characters will grow together.  At the end of Book 1 of 1984 and really the start of Book 2, the worlds of Winston and Julia collide.  Book 2 of 1984 opens with a love note and sails through a love tunnel for most of the middle.  1Q84 tugs on your expectations, knowing that a romantic point of view seen through only one lens cannot exist if we are giving up the autonomy of the narrative to characters other than Big Brother.  As one of the Little People, Aomame has the power to show us her take; she provides the story Julia did not share with Orwell.  Nope, a unified narrative written by Big Brother will not occur when there are independent protagonists claiming their own chapters.

V for Vendetta touts a grass roots movement of the little people, even though they may not be regarded as especially magical as the capitalized Little People of 1Q84.  V believes in the little fish organizing to take on the big fish, even though the movement for popular sovereignty is ghostwritten by a singular man just as 1Q84 is initially penned by one author to start.  The difference between a benevolent king and a cruel dictator is in how the power distribution is defined.  As much as the founding author wills his creation into being, the Little People set to work in bringing it to life.  Alan Moore wields a team of animators and publishers to get his work into a reader’s hands, just as Haruki Murakami wields at least two different English translators and countless editors to publish internationally.

V for Vacuum
V for Vacuum

Lunacy stems from the strange reactions some people have before the moon.  The classic lunatic is insane because of the moon or is as irrational as the phases of the moon, waxing and waning in intensity.  Brilliantly, 1Q84 captures the cry of loneliness and the dark paranoia that can conceal it, not by telling one man’s story.  The idea that people could suffer alone, while still together is essential to 1984, even though readers really only see this through the eyes of one man, Winston.  And as much as V for Vendetta amplifies the whistle-blower’s call for solidarity and a passion for popular sovereignty, V still acts more like a director sticking to the script. Readers should delight in 1Q84’s awkward evolution of telling this dystopian tale through songs of multiple characters, each distinct in their own right.  The Little People each strike different tones like how a multi-stringed lute adds complexity and depth, creating rich chords of harmony.


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