Every author has a characteristic and
unique style. It is interesting to analyze how each author approaches the different
problematics and personal feelings and struggles that their characters have to deal
with all throughout their novels. The
secret agent and Saturday night
Sunday morning both address the issues of anarchy, masculinity, femininity
and heterosexual relationships but in different time periods. The secret agent is a pre-war work while
on the other hand, Saturday night Sunday
morning is a post-war novel, which makes it interesting to compare and contrast
the character’s attitude and their beliefs in relation to these topics in both
novels. It is also interesting to analyze how the personal issues faced by the
characters intersect with the contemporary issues that society was facing
during the time period in which the novel takes place.
Anarchy is a recurring theme in
both the secret agent and Saturday night Sunday morning. In Saturday night and Sunday morning, young
factory worker Arthur Seaton faces against his own unimportant and monotonous
labor, as well as against an industrialized and estranging society. Arthur is
portrayed as more of an idealist than a materialist; a young rebel. He is a wounded
dreamer who hides his discontent in greediness and by how sensualist he is.
When he walks by the factory that he works at, he thought to himself: “With
the wages…you could go on a ten-day binge and get rid of all you’d saved.
Because it was no use saving your money year after year. A mug’s game, since
the value of it got less and less and you never knew when the Yanks were going
to do something daft like dropping the H-bomb on Moscow” (Sillitoe, pg.
23). He does not seem to be materialistic because he does not spend his hard-earned
money in anything besides in buying alcohol or on being with both Winnie and
Breda, which by the way were married. On the other hand, Conrad’s interest in
terrorists shown by the portrayal of rebels and anarchists who gather around
Verloc. The rebels tend to be insensitive people, who feel stripped of their
heritage or people that suffer by having pretty mediocre, monotone and boring
a rebel, always a rebel. You can’t help being one. You can’t deny that. And
it’s best to be a rebel so as to show ’em it don’t pay to try to do you down.
Factories and labor exchanges and insurance offices keep us alive and kicking –
so they say – but they’re booby-traps and will suck you under like sinking-sands
if you’re not careful” (Saturday night and Sunday morning,). Adolph
Verloc, the leader of the group, is a skeptical man without any political beliefs
who sees espionage and debate about anarchy as an easy way to make a living.
Another recurring theme in both novels is the
portrayal of Heterosexual relationships and infidelity. In Saturday night and Sunday morning, Arthur is not able to have a
stable relationship. When he falls down the stairs and is awakened by Brenda,
he immediately wanted to be with her regardless of the fact that she was
married to Jack, one of his coworkers. Arthur is actually good friend with Jack
which makes the situation even worse. The readers can see how close they are
when he goes home with Brenda, knowing that jack is not going to be there, and they
are woken up by her children who call him “uncle”. Even when he gets her
pregnant, he says that is all her fault and that she is trying to guilt trip
him into helping her. Brenda
even tells Arthur at one point, “You never know the difference between right
and wrong”. You will think that the guy who was sleeping with a married woman
would have been the one to pay for what he did, but in fact the one that ended
up paying for their mistake was Brenda. Not only she ended up pregnant and
eventually has to induced a miscarriage, but also, she puts in jeopardy her
marriage with jack. When he gets
bored of all the Brenda drama, he goes for her sister Winnie. He is aware that
Winnie is also married but he is not even phased by it. Basically, he helped
Brenda into bed after having an abortion of his own baby and then goes to a bar
and manage to go home with her sister Winnie. He sees his affair with Winnie as the solution to all his
problems by saying: “Never had an evening begun so badly and ended so well”.
Also, just because he is having an affair with Winnie does not mean that he
stopped having an affair with Brenda. He kept seeing both of them at the same
time until Bill’s return. After his return, he also starts seeing Doreen, a young
worker that still lives with her parents. After he got beaten up, is when he starts
realizing that he might have been wrong and started seeing Doreen as the
solution for his problems and even tell her that he wants to live with her.