Does McEwan's Saturday have any connection to Dickens' Hard Times?
Dicken's Hard Times addresses utilitarianism of Bentham's type, and the protagonist, Gradgrind, is a materialist with a son and a daughter. He refused to expose his children to "fancy" - the the work of the imagination.
I think that one of the most striking similarities between both works is the depiction of individuals who lack affect in terms of their interactions with other people. In Dickens' work, Gradgrind represents this himself and is confronted with the results of his teachings in his son and daughter's emotional inability to connect with other people in a meaningful manner. For McEwan, Baxter is shown to lack any sort of affect for the people in the Perowne home. In both works, characters who lack a sense of affect and compassion towards other people are featured. In some respects, McEwan's world of violence and sadistic brutality is a logical extension of Dickens' characterization of Gradgrind who devalues any emotional sensibility being taught to his children. Baxter is the logical result of a system of Gradgrind teaching. In this, another connection is evident. McEwan's world shown in Saturday is one in which wealth and established success do not equate with happiness or security, as evidenced in the novel's end. Gradgrind is the embodiment of this, as is the fate of his children in Hard Times, an ending in which material success and the driving for it is no guarantee of emotional happiness.