Root Cause of Anger of Jimmy in Look Book in Anger

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Monotony of Routine Life

      When the play opens, the inmates of the flat are soen reading news papers protruding their legs. The room is clouded with smoke of pipe. The lady is seen ironing wearing a men’s shirt. Jimmy is the first one to speak: “Why do I do this every Sunday? Even the book reviews seem to be the same as last weeks. Different books—same reviews”. The very first speech of Jimmy reveals his irritant nature, his annoyance. The whole atmosphere presents a picture of boredom. Jimmy is angry because nothing changes; he complains about the routine life that he is leading; same scenes, same news papers, even the book reviews are same. Nothing really changes and nothing care change either. That is the horror of Sundays. Even after Alison leaves, Helena occupies her place in the household, taking over her duty over the ironing board and even wearing an old shirt of Jimmy. Jimmy a working class intellectual still has a hostage from the upper class to wait on him. Hence even after Alison walks out of his life things does not change really, but remains as ever.

Jimmy’s Dissatisfaction With Everything

      Jimmy speaks in a discontented and restless manner as soon as the play opens. He is dissatisfied with the news papers for their sameness, dissatisfied with his wife for being noisy and with his friend Cliff for being ignorant. Jimmy’s boredom is behind his outbursts. As a result of his outbursts, others suffer especially his wife Alison who has to bear his grudges. Like any other unhappy person, Jimmy makes others suffer. In spite the monotony of routine life, he wants to stay alive. Cliff keeps telling him to shut up, Alison pleads to have a little mercy. But Jimmy decides that neither will he shut up nor will they have any peace. He wants Alison and Cliff to react to his outbursts, to retaliate to his verbal onslaught and to participate in the discussions, failing which he gets more irritated, more annoyed. He keeps provoking Alison to retaliate vehemently. To make her respond to his criticism he keeps attacking her family members in abusive language. Except for the occasional pleas telling him to stop in short sentences, Alison hardly retaliates. Her silent posture enrages him further and he says that Alison can twist one’s arm with her silence. Her silence and lack of defensive attitude repulses him.

Jimmy Hates Interference

      Interference in what Jimmy detests whether it comes from his mother-in-law, the iron, Helena, or the Church bells. The most plausible reason for his resentment of the middle class, and more particularly Alison’s mother is the interference of her in his and Alison’s life. Alison had married Jimmy much against her parents’ wishes. Alison’s mother tried her best to prevent the marriage. In his words that lady would not hesitate to “cheat, lie, bully and blackmail” to protect her innocent daughter from the clutches of a ruffian like Jimmy. She had threatened him, hired detectives to enquire about him. This interference on the part of Alison enrages Jimmy so much that he cannot forgive her for that even after four years have passed since his marriage. He attacks the lady in a strongly worded rhetoric speech. His choice of words to describe Alison’s mother bringsforth the extent of his hatred for her.

      He complains about Alison’s ironing of clothes and says that the sound of iron interferes in his listening to a radio concert.

      He considers Helena to be one of his “natural enemy” and expresses his resentment at the mere mention of her name. He is forced to accept her as a guest inspite of his strong disapproval. He accuses Alison of coming under Helena’s influence. He considers Alison’s going to the Church as an act of defiance and blames Helena of interfering with their lives.

      He even hates the sounds of the Church bells which interferes with his belief. It vaguely reminds of the spiritual world in which he does not believe in.

Jimmy’s War on The Middle Class

      Unable to secure a suitable job for himself inspite of his good academic qualification, he feels the upper class had denied him his dues because of his humble origin. Again Alison’s mother’s opposition to his marrying Alison also made him regard the upper class as his enemies. He declared a never-ending war on the middle class. As Alison tells Helena, he regards her as an “hostage” of the every camp i.e. the middle class against whom he is waging a ceaseless war.

      He opposes the class-distraction of which he found himself to be a victim condemning Alison’s mother he says that “There is no limit to what the middle-aged-mummy will do in the holy crusade against ruffians like me”. He describes the protests of Alison’s mother against his marriage as the bellowing of a “rhinoceros in labor—enough to make, every male rhino for miles turn white, and pledge himself to celibacy”. So strong is his hatred for his mother-in-law that he refers to her as an “old bitch” and wished her death. When that old woman dies, he says that, the worms in her grave will suffer from indigestion and bellyache after eating her flesh. His criticism of Alison’s mother is so unpalatable that Helena feels sick after listening to it.

Jimmy’s Demand of Complete Allegiance

      According to a critic Jimmy Porter’s problem is not the vicious injustice and hypocrisy of the social order: it is his suppressed awareness of the insoluble psychological paradox caused by his desperate, overriding need to possess a women’s completed unquestioning love and his simultaneous constitutional inability to get along with anyone. Alison tells Helena that Jimmy expects one to be “pretty liberal” about allegiance. He demands complete loyalty not only for himself and all that he believes in, his past, present and future. He demands and expects Alison to be loyal to all the people he admired or loved. He expects Alison to be loyal to those whom she has never known or never met—his father who died when he was a child and the other woman that he has loved. He is distressed to get the news of Mrs. Tanner’s illness and expects Alison to react as himself. Alison’s refusal to go with him to see the lady offends him. He later complains to her for not sending flowers for Mrs. Tanner’s funeral.

Coherence in Jimmy’s Anger

      On a closer look Jimmy’s anger reveals that the war that he declares has two aspects: in one aspect he focuses his wrath on Alison—a “hostage of the enemy class, and on the broader aspect he attacks the English establishment which does not change. He complains about the routine Sunday life and wants a change. Alison brings out the contrast between Jimmy and her father when she says “you’re hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is same. And neither of you can face it. Something has gone wrong somewhere hasn’t it?”

      Nothing has changed in the English society. In 1956 when the play was written, the conservatives under Eden came back to power. The political change did not bring about a positive change and both the conservative or the labour party served the purposes of the English upper class. In this society Jimmy sees “the wrong people going hungry, the wrong people loved, the wrong people dying”. He finds men like himself educated beyond their working class background yet conscious of class allegiance, possessed by a ‘burning virility of mind and spirit’, find themselves at war with the world for the injustice against them.

      Jimmy wages his war against the “old gang”, which is as Hugh says “Dane Alison’s nob”. He wanted the ‘hostage’ to submit to his class culture and disown her hateful past. He demanded her unconditional surrender and her inability annoys him all the more.

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