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A look at Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving & Brandade with a C S Lewis twist
It is always interesting to consider how different writers handle the way different human beings react to their position or their conflict with the world. One of the things that Sartre said was that human beings are condemned to freedom. by this he meant we do not choose to be born, we are thrown into this world whether we like it or not with the capacity to choose the direction we take, although some are able to choose better than others.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning introduces Arthur Seaton who exemplifies so much about post war British youth. No doff your cap to your betters for Arthur, because Arthur has no betters. His truculence is typical, and he's truculent with everything. Arthur, unlike his father's generation, sees authority as something to oppose, to manipulate to your own ends, because if you don't do it to them they'll do it to you. The same truculence extends to women, they are to be used, part of a 'good time', the rest, as Arthur says, 'is propaganda'.
Similarly Vic Brown in A Kind of Loving sees love in an idealised way, and mixes the ideas of love and sex in his own head. He has achieved professional status as a draughstman, and now wants the girl to go with it. Ingrid fulfills his dreams, or so he thinks. She is the model pushed out by contemporary mores. Vic, like Arthur, learns the hard way that maybe contemporary mores are a little like propaganda.
Both Arthur Seaton & Vic Brown, one could argue, are both intentionally or otherwise members of their own commonality, in C S Lewis terms, their own ring. Arthur's truculence is always seen as 'agin everything', but is it? It isn't against truculence to the mores of his own immediate contemporaries, like Bert his cousin, who to a greater or lesser extent expouses similar beliefs and ideas to Arthur.
Brandade, Bitter Beer And Bumptiousness takes another look. Bob has similar influences to Arthur and Vic. Weekend finds him in the glitzy cheap glamour of the pub or the disco or the working men's club. He can neck a few pints can Bob, and enjoys it too, until the time when 'Get it down it'll make y'feel good' turns to 'Get it up you'll feel better'. Bob and his mates keep an eye on the girls, their ideal formed by glossy models on the front page of magazines, slick chicks who inhabit the world of popular music, sophisticated lasses who've been to the Sorbonne and keep Rolling Stones records behind the settee. This is Bob's ring. Another ring of some importance to Bob and his mate Stewart is the one to do with his work. It's not just to do with engineering expertise, although that has a big part, but it's also to do with that cameraderie, the brotherhood of the worker. This can be to do with initiation ceremonies, like giving a raw youngster a cast iron component that is boiling hot because it's right off a machine. Or about swaggering down the street with others from the factory, wolf whistling the girls, making a lot of noise, advertising the fact that they'd knocked about a bit and seen a thing or two. These rings are about belonging, about feeling secure, about laughing and crying together, about feeling that life without these rings is difficult, maybe impossible, to contemplate.
Bob begins his first continental holiday saturated in the values of these rings. He is one with his mates. they are the leering lotharios of Sidney Street Club. Bob is pursuing Natalie. She's every young guy's dream, or at least a young guy in Bob's rings. She's all curves, lips and eyelashes, and makes Bob's coitals boil like chip fat. And she has a good office job to boot, all that the popular media puts forward as female perfection, chocolate box filled with exotic concoctions.
Then Bob meets Faye. Well, to say he meets Faye is a misnomer, he is the subject of a bottom pinching incident instigated by Faye, she is mischief, muscles and rowdy, with steel in her eye which says don't tangle with me without permission or a bunch of fives awaits. Bob feels even more disapprobation when he finds out she has been romantically entangled with one of the town toughs. She seems to be the nemesis to the values of his rings.
They meet again, Bob and Faye, in the camp tennis tournament, and an amazing thing happens, their mutual antithesis begins to turn, first to a sort of respect, then to something more. Faye, who knows little of Natalie and cares even less, is deceived into a dangerous situation. She steps forward to solve the mess that Natalie has got herself into. Faye's bulging muscles and brusque adversarial manner come in handy to extricate Natalie from a tricky situation. Bob is captivated, not just by Faye's muscles but by her empathy and intellect. His notion of the inner ring is shattered, or perhaps modified to a notion of interlocking rings. All three of our characters, Arthur Seaton ,Vic Brown and Bob, have seen their rings widened, but probably Bob has stepped outside, at least for some of the time.