Analysis of chapter 26 in George Orwell's 'Down and out in Paris and London'

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Chapter 26

In chapter 26 of Orwell’s ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, Orwell describes his morning a short time after his return to England. A recurring theme up to this chapter is one of his personal disconnection with the English ‘tramps’, while in Paris he sought to exemplify and explain himself to be one of the ‘down and out’ people, throughout his time in England, he constantly seeks to separate himself from the dregs of society. He explains that he ‘did not care to ask B’, the manner in which he says this implies a haute, and posh undertone, and through this casual remark, skilfully admits to his current financial situation, while still managing to remain a form of control over the situation, implying that it was a choice rather than a necessity.

        While referring to himself in a manor that distinguishes himself from the lowest class of England, Orwell appears to refer to other tramps in an innocently derogative manor, as he refers to a ‘wizened old Irishman, obviously a tramp’, acknowledging his superior years, yet describing him as simply a tramp, with no previous information other than his location, being ‘the pigpens in Romton market-place’. From this we can see that Orwell himself is doing exactly what he himself wished to avoid by writing the book, he judges, and believes he knows a character without any prior knowledge, he sees a man in a pigpen, and refers to him as a tramp, yet although he himself is throughout the book in less than sanitary places, refuses to acknowledge himself as anything less than a normal human being.

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        Language of the characters is used strongly throughout the chapter, providing a stark contrast between Orwell and the tramp, while Orwell refers to tobacco as simply tobacco; the tramp names it ‘baccy’. This amusing exchange of words of what is obviously a clash of cultures continues when the tramp says ‘Dey don’t give you skilly in Romton’, and Orwell simply replies ‘What is skilly?’ This acknowledgement of his naivety in the world of poverty in Britain seems, at this point to not raise him above the ‘subhuman’ level of the tramps, but his apparent helplessness without the tramps knowledge renders ...

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