1984 comes to life through AP English class


Photo: Rebecca Ball

The novel 1984, written by author George Orwell, comes to life at Fairmont High School through a project assigned in AP English courses.

By Rebecca Ball, Editor-in-chief

In 1944, George Orwell created a novel as message to his fellow peers that Totalitarianism would be America’s downfall. During Orwell’s time, World War II was booming and Communism had struck its course. Neighbors began to turn on neighbors in fear of the country becoming invaded by Communists.

However, by fearing Communism they began to abandon their Democratic roots. There began to be a specific way for everyone to live, and by not following these rules of you were considered the enemy.

At this time Orwell believed that even if Hitler’s regime was destroyed, they would still be left with the aftermath of Totalitarianism that he feared would take over.

Orwell wrote letters during his life in the 1940s explaining his reasoning behind 1984. He said, “I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers of the type of De Gaul.”

Now, as we look to the current timeline, The United States is full of freedom of expression and liberty. But, there’s still the fear of Communism regaining its strength once again.

To show what life would be like with a Totalitarianism structure, Fairmont Advanced Placement English teachers Ryan Lamb, Kelsey Mann and Emily Bruzzese, are bringing the novel to life inside the classroom and hallways.

Emily Bruzzese, Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition teacher, as well as creator of the school’s version of the game, elaborated on her process of the game’s creation,“I don’t remember where the original idea came from, but I was looking for a way to have students better understand what life was like in Orwell’s 1984. When I found this game, I tweaked it to suit my purposes,” she said.

Fortunately for Advanced Placement English students this game created an introduction to their quarter three theme: Dystopia and Rebellion.

“Once we expanded the theme of Dystopia to encompass quarter three, it was a great way to introduce the quarter theme. By having students experience a tiny fraction of what it is like to live in a stifling society, we hope they have a richer, deeper understanding and study of the greater ideas we cover,” Bruzzese said.

Ryan Lamb, Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition teacher knows that the game can bring out the emotions in people, but it’s all just a part of the game.

“I’ll add that this game brings feelings of paranoia and suspicion to the forefront and opens up discussions about surveillance, privacy, personal reliability and free thought that continue to be relevant decades after 1984,” Lamb said. “It’s interesting to see how easy it is to follow arbitrary rules.”

The game creates a fun and anxious atmosphere that brings all three classes together in unity over fear of “Big Brother”.

However, even though the game creates an introduction into the curriculum, students still have to deal with the emotions that the game brings about.

Junior, Kennedy DeDario was a ‘Thought Police’ for Bruzzese. DeDario had mixed emotions about the game, but mainly felt stressed during the week of the game.

“It was strict, nerve racking, but fun,” she said. “I felt that the game was more stressful if you were a ‘Thought Police’, because we had to constantly follow the rules and be an example for everyone else, and at the same time report students, even our friends.”

When asked about advice for future game members, DeDario believed to be the most successful you need to follow the rules, but not take it too seriously at the same time.

“Follow the rules no matter what even if you are a ‘Thought Police’, but don’t stress out,” DeDario said.  

There have been rumors going around the school that the 1984 game will be canceled next year. However, DeDario believes that the game should continue being apart of the curriculum.

“I think that they should keep the game. It taught me to appreciate my society and the little things that we are allowed to do everyday,” DeDario said.