Alan Sillitoe: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
Alan Sillitoe's novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, a sensational success when first published in 1958, is nowadays widely considered as a modern classic. Being one of the most impressing descriptions of the English working class milieu through presenting realistic, close-to-life characters, it occurs as fascinating as ever since it was first sold in British bookshops. Understanding this important piece of world literature however means understanding its protagonist Arthur Seaton.
Arthur Seaton is 23 years old at the beginning of the novel and due to his youth pre-sented as someone who cares about nothing but his own fun and pleasure. Working all day at a lathe in one of Nottingham's many factories does not satisfy him and drives him to the pubs of his environment where he spends Friday and Saturday nights looking for superficial satisfaction. Although his affairs with married women have become a major topic of local gossip, Arthur focuses on himself and does not care much about the others.
For the interpretation of the novel, we must point out that Arthur's excessive lifestyle (containing violent struggles, illegal sex and a lot of drinking) is not only adolescent van-dalism but also an act of rebellion. Being an intelligent young man reflecting on every-thing, Arthur has come to his own particular view on the world. He does not consider himself a part of it, but a stranger who is forced to fight against it. We must emphasise however that Arthur's rebellion is not directed against governments or the capitalistic sys-tem but only against the typical working class way of life he cannot accept for himself. Ar-thur was born into the working class milieu and now has to live under its conditions. Never would he question that fact, nor protest against the capitalist forces that keep him down. Arthur's rebellion is not political at all, he just refuses to be put into any pattern, to live the way his parents did and always underlines that he does not wish to be allied to anyone in any way.