Unlike the conventional novel, The Lonely Londoners has no protagonist. Moses Aleotta, to whom readers are initially introduced, has a certain status, but this derives not from his social position, his special resources, or his extraordinary experiences. It derives instead from the length of time he has been in London. Seniority gives Moses an authority and significance in the eyes of the group that has formed around him. In the eyes of newcomers, Moses is a vital mentor, guide, and informant. Such a view makes Moses increasingly conscious of the human cost of his immigrant status, as revealed in his rather embittered and nostalgic conversation with the younger, fresher Galahad toward the end of the novel. Although none of the characters is immune from the loneliness of the novel’s title, it is Moses who is the most complete embodiment of unsensational, unsentimental isolation.
Galahad, on the contrary, makes a much more obvious effort to enter English society in his pursuit of white women. His date with Dolly, however, is not exactly what either partner expects; Galahad is somewhat disappointed by the girl’s grade of culture, while she is unaccustomed to his standard of hospitality. The conflicts that are gently implied in this episode are repeated in various ways throughout the novel. They are most obviously in evidence in the area of sexual relations, but they also exist between West Indian family members, as in the case of Tolroy’s brother and sister-in-law, and between members of the West Indian community generally, as the pretentious behavior of the impresario Harris demonstrates. These remain conflicts without issue. Dolly appears and disappears. What she is...
(The entire section is 693 words.)