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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

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Submitted By knudrygaard
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An essay on two excerpts from Allan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of The Long-distance Runner

The Loneliness of The Long-distance Runner

Sometimes we all feel the need of escape. Now and then, when life seems unfair and difficult to manage, a temptation of leaving everything behind and set off to somewhere far away, can strike even the most responsible . Some say it’s impossible to run away from the past and deny your background. In ‘The Loneliness of The Long-distance runner’ a young boy is stuck in a life, which is infected by his tragic family history and a culture that maintains his inability to stop breaking the law. Without any prospects of a brighter future, Smith mentally escapes his life by practicing long-distance running.

Through this 1st person narrative we get an insight to the life of a young boy, who is brought up in a British working class home. We only learn his last name ‘Smith’, a typical working class name, which emphasises that he represents a member of the average working class family. Still his family belongs to the lower part of the working class, owing to the fact that Smith’s mother solely supports him and his five siblings. This is most clearly shown by Smith’s flashback, where he describes the way his mother carelessly spends the insurance money, they receive in relation to his father’s death. As Smith experiences the enriching effect the money has on the family, he wants to withhold their ‘wealthy’ lifestyle. When unable to get a job, he turns to law-breaking ways of purchasing money.

From the story’s subjective point of view, it clearly shows that Smith’s life has not been easy. This is suggested by his character’s way of keeping distance to anything remotely emotional. When mentioning his father’s death, he preserves a sense of irony. For instance he states, what a pity it is that his father did not benefit from the insurance…...

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