What are some examples of social division in 1984?

Asked on by jadetyler

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter Seven is the section of this novel that you would benefit from re-reading. This is when we are introduced to the complex social heirarchy that forms the world of Oceania. The Proles, it becomes very clear, are presented as being very different from Party members, which we could equate to being the middle class. They are presented as having very limited lives:

Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds.

Yet, at the same time, they are spared the kind of intrusion and lack of liberty that Party members are subject to precisely because of their limited lives and lack of interest in ideas or ideology:

They were beneath suspicion. As the Party slogan put it: "Proles and animals are free."

The Proles therefore represent the biggest example of social division in the novel through their very different treatment compared to the way that Party members such as Winston Smith are treated.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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For another example of social division, take a look at Part Two, Chapter Eight. In this chapter, Winston and Julia visit O'Brien in his apartment, and this scene demonstrates the social division between Party members. O'Brien, for instance, is an Inner Party member, which means that he is higher up the social and political scale than ordinary Party members like Winston and Julia.

His apartment illustrates this social division. O'Brien lives in a separate part of town, for example, in an apartment which exudes "richness" and "spaciousness." He also has a servant, drinks wine, and can turn the telescreen off when he wants to.

Compare this with Victory Mansions, where Winston lives, and the social division is clear. Victory Mansions is a crumbling, dilapidated, and miserable place to live, where the elevators rarely work and the smell of "boiled cabbage" dominates.

This social division is important because it shows that the Party is not inclusive but is really self-interested. It protects and nurtures those in power, while those below are left in a state of poverty. By maintaining this social division, ordinary Party members are easier to control and dominate since they the lack the resources to ever challenge the status quo.

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