There are two reasons why Martin Eden is feeling uncomfortable at the beginning of this great autobiographical novel.
Firstly, he is a working class man who has ended up in a setting that is far out of his comfort zone. Having rescued the wealthy Arthur Morse from a group of muggers, he is invited to Morse's home. Here, Eden, who could be described as an "uncouth sailor", finds himself surrounded by opulence and luxury, complete with an impressive collection of paintings and books completely foreign to his world.
Over and above feeling like a fish out of water, Eden's feelings of discomfort are escalated by the presence of Morse's sister Ruth, who is described as pale and possessing of ethereal beauty. Her grace and style give him a heightened awareness of his appearance and mannerisms, both typical of a sailor. His clumsy gait, coarse manner of speaking and lack of education become suddenly problematic in the light of his strong feelings for Ruth. This infatuation with Ruth becomes a...
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