At a glance:
- Author: Alan Sillitoe
- First Published: 1958
- Type of Work: Novel
- Type of Plot: Psychological realism
- Time of Work: The 1950’s
- Setting: Nottingham, England
- Genres: Long fiction, Psychological fiction, Novel
- Subjects: 1950's, Factories, Self-discovery, Alienation, England or English people, Adultery, Youth, Ethics
- Locales: Europe, England, Nottingham, England, United Kingdom
Arthur Seaton, a lathe operator in a bicycle factory in Nottingham, England. The blond, muscular twenty-one-year-old fights to remain independent of society, employers, and marriage. He dates married women—first Brenda, then Winnie—and engages in boisterous drinking bouts. After a beating by Winnie’s soldier husband, he settles for the single Doreen, deciding that he need not reject all that life offers to remain independent.
Brenda, Jack’s wife and Arthur’s lover. A young mother of two, she is bored with Jack and finds romance and excitement with Arthur. She is part of the dangerous “Saturday Night” life of the first half of the novel. After having an abortion, and after Arthur, discovered by Jack, has been beaten, she fades from the action.
Doreen Greatton, a factory worker. Nineteen years old and single, she is eager to be married but seeks to curb Arthur’s excesses. She represents marriage and settling down to Arthur in the “Sunday Morning” half of the novel. She fails to get him past every pub but has won commitment from Arthur at the end.
Winnie, nicknamed “Gyp,” Brenda’s sister. She is livelier and more reckless than her older sister. She, too, has an affair with Arthur. Her husband, Bill, is a soldier stationed in Germany. He returns on leave with a friend and, tipped off to the affair by Jack, beats Arthur. By dating Winnie, Arthur hastens an end to the dangerous life that he is finding to be a strain.
Jack, Brenda’s husband and Arthur’s foreman at the factory. He is steady but dull. Rather than confront Arthur, he betrays him to Bill, Winnie’s husband.
Aunt Ada, Arthur’s widowed aunt, a large, boisterous, and nurturing mother figure whose house teems with family at Christmas. Following his beating by Winnie’s husband, Arthur becomes withdrawn and cautious. It is in her house, under her vital influence, that Arthur breaks out of his withdrawal and returns to life, but with new attitudes.
Maloff, Saul. “The Eccentricity of Alan Sillitoe,” in Contemporary British Novelists, 1965. Edited by Charles Shapiro.
Osgerby, J. R. “Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning,” in Renaissance and Modern Essays, 1966. Edited by George Richard Hibbard.
Penner, Allen R. Alan Sillitoe, 1972.
Staples, Hugh B. “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Alan Sillitoe and the White Goddess,” in Modern Fiction Studies. X (Summer, 1964), pp. 171-181.
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