Silletoe Essay

Submitted By TonyMcConnell
Words: 2870
Pages: 12

'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning', perhaps Silliteos' most popular work, concentrates on Arthur Seaton, a working class man whose hedonistic lifestyle is a direct reflection of the dispondency and dissillusionment suffered by the common people of Nottingham during early to mid-20th Century. The community values that he holds do not allow him the freedom to be a responsible young man, and is a prisoner to the depressive and downcasting industrial epoch that held many aspiring adults in a state of poise, 'always waiting for something better'. How does Silletoe convey the theme of social climate in the Midlands and to what extent is the soul of the city ingrained into the book's protagonist? Discuss emphasising the use language, imagery and historical and cultural perspectives in your response.

Seaton is an invaluable portrait of mid-20th century working class Nottingham although as a character he forms a part of a social system that rates to his him as disposable. His life revolves around his unfulfilling work, the pub and his exploration of elicit relationships. He is an emotionally cold character but is also sympathetic: Silletoe excuses his apparent lack of ambition and moral virtue by presenting him as a decidedly frustrated character: his temper, like his personality, is presented as constantly simmering without actually reaching a point of boiling over and, Silletoe uses landscape (the Meadows, Raleigh factory) to suggest a bleak existence: he writes the scenes of Seaton's fumbled attempts at romance as the character's method of escape and he explains the Nottingham attitude as one that is efficient in terms of labour but without encouragement in terms of the cultural identity of the young man in the 1950s.

Arthur is a man by age, but in terms of emtional maturity, he lacks. He lives, as the title suggests, for his weekly drinking binge and fills the space in between with a nostalgic resusiation of his national service while spinning metal on his lathe in the Raleigh factory. His is a prodict of the working class background that has raised itself only marginally above the Victorian slovenliness that saw many over-popoulated households consumpted with disease and over-cramping; his family are employed and proud to be so, they keep the home alive with within the bounds of family love, but outside of the home, Seaton does carry the same level of moral commitment during his drunken misadventures and ill-fated relationships with a married woman.

How much of Seaton's behaviour is a result of the social climate? Sillitoe writes the character as educated to a basic degree: at fifteen he starts work for Raleigh as a bicycle courier, he then joins the army and returns to the same company as a turner, he turns circles of metal in the "...slow turning Big Wheel of the year..."1 while resisitng the oppression of the, "...carborundum wheel...(when he spouted it in Latin)..."2: his existence is circular, restrictive of change and by viscious entreaty, it does not offer escape. He is a deluded character, without question, he stakes his masculinity on the ability to compete in drinking games or by showing enough dutch courage to buy a man a drink after he has just had sex with his wife and yet: "...I'm just too lucky for this world, Arthur told himself as he set his lathe going, too lucky..."3. The 'Victorian work ethos' presents a system of values that redeems the sinner as long as he has got a job, and so Arthur is able to continue his life without reckoning or repercussion, slowly drowning himself with an opiate like, weekend intoxication: alcohol becomes, not his excuse but the reason for his existence and eventual immoral fall into backstreet abortion baths and bawdy baited brawls.

The social climate would not allow much more for a low-income urban family who drew from gossip and rumour for their entertainment and played on each other's gullibility in order to keep their minds sharp when the community atmosphere