The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim — for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives — is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.

My question is that I don't understand the meaning of the sentence in which to be more than is used.

  • Just a hint, try to read that part as "to be conscious [of...] more (often) than intermittently".
    – oerkelens
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 7:42
  • To be more than is not an analysable unit in this sentence. More than goes with intermittently: "more than intermittently". It's an example of litotes Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 7:52
  • Simplifying: "They are too bored to be aware of anything outside their lives." Or "They are too busy with daily tasks to be aware of anything outside their lives more than occasionally". Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 7:59
  • This is quite advanced writing, arguably to the point of being deliberately impenetrable. It is safe to say you don't understand way more than just the one bit you quoted, and that's okay, but I would certainly suggest picking less convoluted reading material and then slowly working your way up. The constructions used here are all rather basic, it's just that they are stacked up like matryoshkas, and for no good reason that I can see.
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 12:16
  • 1
    @katiekeel oh that's a great call. Didn't recognize it at all. But this reads to me not like the book proper, but that Goldstein book within the book, the one O'Brien gave to Smith when they visited him in the Ministry. That went on and on like this for like ten pages, and yeah it was utterly impenetrable on purpose, so in a way my point still stands. I always struggled with that chapter as a kid. Easily the only boring bit in the entire book, and completely irrelevant to the plot. So kudos to Shahzad, but even if he doesn't understand a single word in that chapter, he loses nothing.
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


In plainer words:

The Low, because they are so poor and have to work so hard, do not have the time or ability to think of anything except working and trying to make a living.

In the very little time they have to think about other things, they think about abolishing class distinctions and creating an equal society.

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