How does racism play a part in 1984?and also a quote by any chance? thanks

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afarpajian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Racism in itself does not actually play a significant part in the action of the novel. Orwell wrote at a time before Britain became the basically multiracial society it is today, and he did not anticpate the demographic changes that were to take place in the years after his death. What does form an important theme in 1984 is class conflict, which is depicted as an exaggerated version of what existed in Britain during Orwell's lifetime and which he had written about in many essays, his earlier novels and more extensively in his memoirs Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier. In 1984 discrimination against working-class people has reached the point where the Party openly preaches that 'the proles are not human beings'.

Though Orwell throughout his life, chiefly because of his experiences living in colonial Burma (where he served as a police officer), was very much aware of the racist attitudes of that time, the subject of racism is explicitly brought up in 1984 only inĀ  'Goldstein's Book', which purports to be a counter-revolutionary manifesto but was actually written by a Party committee including O'Brien. In describing the 'disputed territories' that lie between the superstates of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, the book observes that 'the inhabitants of these areas [equatorial Africa, the Middle East, Southern India, etc.] reduced more or less openly to the status of slaves, pass continually from conqueror to conqueror, and are expended like so much coal or oil in the race to turn our more armaments', etc. etc. In other words Orwell is envisioning a similar or even worse oppression of nonwhite people than existed in his own time. Yet the point is also made that the Party does not discriminate against non-Europeans and that those of any race are permitted to rise to the highest levels in the Party ranks. This is ironic, to say the least.