Picking up the action in Room 101. First paragraph is from the book:
The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then - no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment - one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats.
He was suddenly struck with a curiosity so powerful that he nearly forgot where he was. What was Julia’s worst thing in the world? What hidden fear, known only to O’Brien, stalked her hidden thoughts? Winston remembered his love like a hazy, half-forgotten dream slipping back into memory. With ferocious affection he imagined her alone and afraid in the same chair he was now in. He imagined throwing himself between her and some huge, dark, dreadful thing.
The rats were right before his eyes. The wire pressed into his cheek, and the cage snapped into place. O’Brien had only to depress the lever. Winston saw the end. If he waited a few seconds it would all be over.
He clenched up his will and resolved to wait a few seconds. He imagined that by waiting he might somehow protect his beloved from that same dreadful thing.
A few seconds passed. The door of the cage tremored and lifted a centimeter or two, and then stopped. One rat shuffled madly trying to get through the narrow space while the old one stared at him with malevolent eyes, but to Winston the world froze in place. Moment after moment the worst thing in the world was about to happen.
O’Brien broke the impasse by casually releasing the lever, snapping the cage door back shut, as if something had occurred to him that he wanted to say before causing the dreadful thing. “You are,” he said, “perhaps -
Winston shut out the words and closed his eyes. Why wouldn’t the dreadful thing happen? Then he realized – this was the worst thing in the world! This was Big Brother’s greatest and final claim to his loyalty! If this was not enough to make him love Big Brother, nothing would be. It was a dangerous thing for his tormentors to give him this final choice, for beyond it they were powerless. This was an act of desperation on their part.
In Winston’s mind he and O’Brien switched places. They were weak and he was powerful. He was doing the worst thing in the world to O’Brien. They needed him to love Big Brother. They needed him to agree with them, while he needed nothing from them.
He opened his eyes, and everything fell away from him: the rats, the walls of Room 101, the halls of the Ministry of Love, the bunkers, buildings, guns, tanks and floating fortresses, the secret police with minds like machines, the careful beetle-like men crawling through the Ministry of Truth, and men like O’Brien with their calculated madness. Every inch of it was a cruel façade over the face of the universe, obscuring all real meaning and value. It dropped away, and he was left with himself. He was free. The fear and hatred that had animated him so long were gone.
He loved Julia.