One of the key aspects of 1984 is life before the Party took power and controlled everything, and this life is most accurately reflected in the Proles and their ability to live in a carefree way. The glass paperweight in 1984 becomes a vital link to the past for Winston Smith. In fact, this paperweight, that Winston buys in an antique store in a Prole district, comes to symbolise his attempt to reconnect with the past. This becomes incredibly important in the novel, where we see that the party is able to dominate people's thoughts with their own "truth" by a campaign of relentless propaganda. In this novel, it becomes almost impossible for people to challenge the party if they accept the party's version of the "truth" - that the party arose as a reaction to decadent capitalism and life was much harsher before than it was now. Winston Smith, therefore, engages in a battle to recover his own memories and make sense of the world that he is in by connecting to the past, and the paperweight is symbolic of this struggle, for, as Winston tells Julia, it is a piece of history that the party has forgotten to alter. It is highly significant therefore that when the Thought Police catch Winston at last, the paperweight falls to the floor and shatters.
The paperweight could also said to be a symbol of happiness or escapism outside of the world of this novel. In Part 2 Chapter 4, the chapter ends with Winston looking at the paperweight and imagining that he and Julia are inside, able to float free without having to worry about the party. This chapter clearly shows that Winston wishes that his relationship with Julia could be like a relationship from "before" - freer and easier without having to worry about clandestine meetings. The paperweight therefore represents safety and shelter, a representation that will later be shattered.