Every author has a characteristic andunique style. It is interesting to analyze how each author approaches the differentproblematics and personal feelings and struggles that their characters have to dealwith all throughout their novels. Thesecret agent and Saturday nightSunday morning both address the issues of anarchy, masculinity, femininityand heterosexual relationships but in different time periods. The secret agent is a pre-war work whileon the other hand, Saturday night Sundaymorning is a post-war novel, which makes it interesting to compare and contrastthe character’s attitude and their beliefs in relation to these topics in bothnovels. It is also interesting to analyze how the personal issues faced by thecharacters intersect with the contemporary issues that society was facingduring the time period in which the novel takes place.
Anarchy is a recurring theme inboth the secret agent and Saturday night Sunday morning. In Saturday night and Sunday morning, youngfactory worker Arthur Seaton faces against his own unimportant and monotonouslabor, as well as against an industrialized and estranging society. Arthur isportrayed as more of an idealist than a materialist; a young rebel. He is a woundeddreamer 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: “Withthe 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, sincethe value of it got less and less and you never knew when the Yanks were goingto 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-earnedmoney in anything besides in buying alcohol or on being with both Winnie andBreda, which by the way were married. On the other hand, Conrad’s interest interrorists shown by the portrayal of rebels and anarchists who gather aroundVerloc.
The rebels tend to be insensitive people, who feel stripped of theirheritage or people that suffer by having pretty mediocre, monotone and boringlives. “Oncea rebel, always a rebel. You can’t help being one. You can’t deny that. Andit’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-sandsif you’re not careful” (Saturday night and Sunday morning,).
AdolphVerloc, the leader of the group, is a skeptical man without any political beliefswho sees espionage and debate about anarchy as an easy way to make a living. Another recurring theme in both novels is theportrayal of Heterosexual relationships and infidelity. In Saturday night and Sunday morning, Arthur is not able to have astable 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 wasmarried to Jack, one of his coworkers. Arthur is actually good friend with Jackwhich makes the situation even worse. The readers can see how close they arewhen he goes home with Brenda, knowing that jack is not going to be there, and theyare woken up by her children who call him “uncle”.
Even when he gets herpregnant, he says that is all her fault and that she is trying to guilt triphim into helping her. Brendaeven tells Arthur at one point, “You never know the difference between rightand wrong”. You will think that the guy who was sleeping with a married womanwould have been the one to pay for what he did, but in fact the one that endedup paying for their mistake was Brenda.
Not only she ended up pregnant andeventually has to induced a miscarriage, but also, she puts in jeopardy hermarriage with jack. When he getsbored of all the Brenda drama, he goes for her sister Winnie. He is aware thatWinnie is also married but he is not even phased by it. Basically, he helpedBrenda into bed after having an abortion of his own baby and then goes to a barand manage to go home with her sister Winnie. He sees his affair with Winnie as the solution to all hisproblems 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 hestopped having an affair with Brenda. He kept seeing both of them at the sametime until Bill’s return. After his return, he also starts seeing Doreen, a youngworker that still lives with her parents. After he got beaten up, is when he startsrealizing that he might have been wrong and started seeing Doreen as thesolution for his problems and even tell her that he wants to live with her.