Style and Technique
Sillitoe’s use of the first-person narrative form establishes the story’s tone of gritty realism, which was a strong characteristic of the upsurge of regional literature in the 1950’s and 1960’s—a movement in which Sillitoe played a leading role.
Born and brought up in the industrial, mid-England city of Nottingham, Sillitoe is one of the few contemporary British writers with a solidly working-class upbringing and work experience. His reproduction of the local patterns of speech is therefore very authentic.
He uses two styles of vernacular in this story: The pithy, working-class slang and idiom of Tony’s direct narrative is a little more self-conscious than the broad Nottingham dialect in which Tony recounts his bantering conversations with neighbors and friends.
The idiomatic narrative style that Sillitoe has given to Tony is very economical. Ideas are encapsulated in a few choice words, and each sentence is taut with meaning. Tony is able to share his assumptions about life with the reader by using crisp, vivid similes that are culled from his own experiences but have universal nuances.
The use of Tony as narrator also enables Sillitoe to present him from two points of view—as Tony sees himself in the very specific context of his own experiences and comprehensions, and as he appears in the broader and more generalized context that Sillitoe, through occasional small nudges, invites the reader to provide.