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ALLAN SILLITOE

Alan Sillitoe (4 March 1928 25 April 2010) was an English writer and one of the so-called "angry
young men" of the 1950s. He disliked the label, as did most of the other writers to whom it was
applied. He is best known for his debut novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and early short
story The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, both of which were adapted into films.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning


The novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is split into two unequal parts: the bulk of the book,
Saturday Night, and the much smaller second part, Sunday Morning.

Saturday Night
Saturday Night begins in a working man's club in Nottingham. Arthur Seaton is 21 years old, and
enjoying a night out with Brenda, the wife of a colleague at work. Challenged to a drinking contest,
Arthur defeats "Loudmouth" before falling down the stairs drunk. Brenda takes him home with her
and they spend the night together. Arthur enjoys breakfast with Brenda before her husband Jack
gets home from a weekend at the races.
Arthur works at a lathe at a bicycle factory with his friend Jack. Arthur keeps his mind occupied
during the mundane and repetitive work through a mental collage of imagined fantasies, and
memories of the past. He earns a good wage of 14 pounds a week, and Robboe, his superior, fears
he may get in trouble for letting Arthur earn so much. Soon Arthur hears the news that Jack has
been switched to nights, which pleases Arthur as he can now spend more time with Jack's wife. At
the same time, Arthur carries on with Brenda's sister Winnie.
During another night out at the pub, Arthur meets Doreen, a young unmarried girl with whom he
begins a relatively innocent courtship all the while keeping Brenda and Winnie a secret.
However, although Jack is oblivious to his wife's infidelity, Winnie's husband Bill catches on and
Arthur's actions catch up with him when Bill and an accomplice jump Arthur one night, leaving him
beaten and bed-ridden for days.

Sunday Morning
Sunday Morning follows the course of events after Arthur's assault. When Doreen comes to check
up on him, Arthur finally comes clean about his affairs with Brenda and Winnie. Doreen stays in a
relationship with Arthur despite his dishonesty; Brenda and Winnie disappear from the story. By the
end of the novel, Arthur and Doreen have made plans to marry.

The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner


When he is caught by the police for robbing a bakery, Smith is sentenced to be confined in Ruxton
Towers in Essex, a borstal (prison school) for delinquent youths. Taken there in handcuffs and
detained in bleak and highly restrictive circumstances, he seeks solace in long-distance running,
attracting the notice of the school's authorities for his physical prowess. Long-distance running
offers Smith a welcome distraction from the brutal drudgery of the Borstal regime and he is offered
a light workload for his last six months at Borstal, if he wins in an important cross-country
competition against a prestigious public school. For Ruxton Towers to win the cross-country race
would be a major PR boost for the establishment, and Smith has an obvious incentive to co-
operate.
However, when the day of the race arrives Smith throws victory away: after speeding ahead of the
other runners he deliberately stops running a few metres short of the finishing line, even though he
is well ahead and could easily win. Seconds tick by as Smith stands there, in full view of the amazed
race spectators who shout at him to finish the race. However, he deliberately lets the other runners
pass him and cross the finishing line, thereby losing the race in a defiant gesture aimed against his
Borstal captors, and the repressive forces that they represent. In deliberately losing the race, Smith
demonstrates his free spirit and independence. The response of the Borstal authorities to Smith's
action is heavy-handed. With the prospect of a light workload gone, Smith resigns himself to the
drudgery of the soul-destroying manual labour he is forced to do. However, looking back on his
actions he has no regrets. This helps show independence in his life as he breaks away from the
thoughts of the borstal.