The character of Big Brother looms large over the world of George Orwell’s 1984. His name is synonymous with power, and everything in society is measured in relation to him. However, Big Brother never appears in the novel, except on posters and on telescreens. The reason for his absence is quite simple; he doesn’t exist. Yet, the effects of Big Brother’s nonbeing are both far-reaching and powerful.

Big Brother serves many functions. Members of the Party must always feel oppressed and unworthy in order for the totalitarian state to work. Since there is no religion in Oceania (as religion would give rise to morality and a higher authority), Big Brother fills the role of the superior being who is subjugating the populace. For the Party to function, it doesn’t matter if people love Big Brother or hate him. As the prime focus of either love or hate, Big Brother is always the most important factor in the life of a Party member. His absence makes him seem more mysterious, powerful, and godlike. Big Brother is locked in an eternal battle with another nonexistent creation of the Party, Emmanuel Goldstein. Like Orwell’s world’s three remaining superstates, Big Brother and Goldstein will never stop fighting, and neither of them will be victorious. Because both fictitious leaders are apolitical and equally loathsome, following one is no better than following the other.

Big Brother’s absence allows him to be right in all circumstances. Whenever he releases statements, such as prediction of crop yields, the Ministry of Truth later changes them to reflect the truth. Since the only record of his statements is on government records, Big Brother will never be wrong. Since changing one’s mind is seen as a sign of weakness, Big Brother remains always formidable and strong. In addition, Big Brother, as the embodiment of the Party, will never die. Since he does not exist, he is, in the doublethink world of 1984, the only person who truly does exist.

Contrary to common sense, Big Brother’s nonexistence gives him the appearance of being omnipresent. The telescreens, the posters with the eyes that seem to follow you, the slogan "Big Brother is watching you" — all of these are more effective propaganda tools than any kind of actual presence would be. Since it is easier to feel strong emotions toward a human being than toward an organization, Big Brother was created in order to give a human face to the faceless Party.

Another high school paper noded.