Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 398
The Lonely Londoners is about the ambivalence and isolation that West Indian immigrants feel in London in the years after World War II. The book begins with a character named Moses going to fetch a new immigrant named Henry (nicknamed "Galahad"), who has just arrived in London. As he sees Henry try to adapt to life in London, Moses reflects on his own alienation.
As Galahad comes to understand what his life is like in London, he understands that his color literally colors his experience. He thinks:
"And Galahad watch the colour of his hand, and talk to it, saying, ‘Colour, is you that causing all this, you know. Why the hell you can’t be blue, or red or green, if you can’t be white? You know is you that cause a lot of misery in the world. Is not me, you know, is you! I ain’t do anything to infuriate the people and them, is you! Look at you, you so black and innocent, and this time so you causing misery all over the world!" (77).
Galahad realizes that his color will distance him from the world around him, and he feels alienated even by his own racial identity.
As a result of their color, the immigrants Moses comes to know in London are distanced from the life of England. Their connection to the city comes mainly from trying to date white women and from a connection they feel to the history of the place, mainly due to recognizing the names of neighborhoods and streets. For example, Galahad thinks:
"Jesus Christ, when he say 'Charing Cross,' when he realise that it is he, Sir Galahad, who going there, near that place that everybody in the world know about … he feel like a new man … Galahad feel like a king living in London."
Galahad's connection to the world around him is superficial, but he feels the immigrant's awe of the great place names he has heard in the past. He feels that he is living like a king simply by passing through Charing Cross, but he has no real entry into the real heart of London.
In the end, characters like Moses and Galahad remain ambivalent about their surroundings. Moses considers returning home but knows he can not make a living in the West Indies. He is forever suspended between worlds, a victim of colonialism.
Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count:...
(The entire section contains 594 words.)
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