In the book 1984 by George Orwell, how is a person's class determined in the twentieth century?
It is clear that in the world of this novel class is something that is determined by birth alone. It is well worth tracing the Proles through the novel and comparing and contrasting them to party members, such as Winston Smith. The Party teaches that the Proles are inherently inferior, something that O'Brien confirms by calling them "animals", and that they must be kept away from Party members and Party life.
They have a very definite pattern of life that is encouraged and promoted by the Party. For example, "Pornosec" and the lottery, which are deliberately propogated by the Party, even though we are told that the prizes that Proles are said to win on the lottery are mostly imaginary. Their pattern of life is described as:
They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds.
However, despite the shallow nature of their lives Smith comes to realise that they are much freer than he will ever be, both in terms of the lack of surveilance they undergo from the Thought Police and also from their ability to express emotions. The Proles can feel emotions, and Smith realises that this is something he has to relearn from them. It is also perhaps telling that Julia and Winston fantasise about changing their identities and living as Proles so they can live together undetected.