Discuss the play Look back in Anger in light of Jimmy, the angry young man.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Jimmy, the angry young man of Look Back in Anger (1958) by John Osborne, is angry because of death, and because of helplessness in the face of death. He states that he became angry while watching at his father's deathbed for many long months. He tells Allison that she needs the death of a child to give her humanity. His anger is renewed by watching Hugh's mother's death. The first thing he does in relation to Allison when she comes to the apartment after her miscarriage (which occurred while she was staying at her father's home) is berate her for not sending flowers to Hugh's mother's funeral, which was over several months ago. At each instance of death Jimmy explodes and becomes seemingly more angry.

In the Act I remark he angrily makes to Allison stating that the death of a child might make her into a human being defines Jimmy's idea of a human being and explains why he is always railing against the inertia of the working classes and of superior social classes: He defines a human being as someone who is torn and angry at death and at one's helplessness in the face of death (remember that mild comedies and mysteries and such easy-going plays filled London's West End during the more than ten years following World War II, in some ways the ultimate symbol of death). When Allison goes to the apartment after her miscarriage, she is ill and crushed because she was helpless to protect the life of her unborn child. Perhaps this allows Jimmy to see her as a human being now. If so, it may be that she will become angry or it may be that he will feel he now has a world of his own and become civil, which is the more unlikely of the two.

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