I would like to know what "who spoke and lived in denial, destined" means in the following sentences:
The bus was waiting for more people to arrive. I sat by the window, the orange wool curtains drawn to block out the sun, rereading Quo Vadis. I cared less about the religious part than about the love story, the heroic turns, the bravery of opposition. This is how I lived back then – through books. I locked myself into their stories, dreamt of their characters at night, pretended to be them. They were my armour against the hard edges of reality. I carried them with me wherever I went, like a talisman in my pocket, thinking of them as almost more real than the people around me, who spoke and lived in denial, destined, I thought, to never do anything worth recounting.
In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he went to the agricultural camp (which was mandatory for college graduation). Back then, Ludwik lived inside books.
In this part, I wonder what "in denial" means. Does it perhaps mean that they pretended to have not noticed contradictions in this socialist regime...? And I would also like to know how "destined" is connected to the previous part. Would it be alright to read it to be connected to "lived," as in "who lived destined"?
I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)