Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
In this story’s opening scene, Arthur Seaton is described as having immersed himself in “the best and bingiest glad-time of the week,” Saturday night. One of “the fifty-two holidays . . . of the year,” this night is noteworthy in Arthur’s life only because he has consumed eleven pints of beer and seven small gins in a drinking contest with a sailor at the White Horse Club. Although he wins the contest, he ends his binge by falling down a flight of stairs in the club and lying unconscious at the bottom until he is awakened by Brenda, who is his lover and the wife of one of his coworkers at the bicycle factory. He accompanies her to her home (her husband, Jack, is out of town until Sunday), where he spends the night in bed with her. They are awakened in the morning by one of Brenda’s two children, who jumps up onto the bed to play with “Uncle Arthur.” Although Arthur experiences brief moments of regret over cuckolding Jack (“It’s a rotten trick, he argued to himself, to play on your mate”), such moments are easily subsumed by Arthur’s amoral view of life as a “jungle,” wherein self-interest counts most—especially during his weekend “holidays,” which, although brief, are hedges against “Black Mondays” and the “treadmill” of his factory work.
The novel’s first chapter may be seen as illustrative of the entire novel’s organization, insofar as the chapter begins during a Saturday night and ends the following...
(The entire section is 1118 words.)
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