The Quintessential Rebel
In Allan Sillitoes The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner, we are introduced to Smith, a man with his own standards, beliefs, values, and battles. As we are taken through the story of a period of his live, we come to understand what Smith really stands for. He is a diehard rebel that is destined to always stick to his beliefs, and is willing to sacrifice all in a battle against his greatest enemy and opressor, society.
Throughout the book Smith gives us a chance to get to know him. He willingly shares his thoughts with the reader, and often times his thoughts develop as he is telling his story giving us an up-close look at the inner workings of Smiths mind and personality. Smith belongs to a group of people he calls the Out-Laws. It is the underprivileged lower class poor street criminals. Crime runs in Smiths family, and being born into poverty he nether sees, nor is even willing to contemplate a life without crime. At a point he hints on having some communist views, and perhaps suggests that his father had communist friends, if he wasnt one himself. Fatally inflicted by cancer, Smiths father died a painful death. We later find out that it was Smith who found his father breathless in a pool of his own blood, and to this day has a great deal of respect for him. The first time Smiths family gets a taste of a financially comfortable life is when the factory his father worked in gave them a lump of cash upon his fathers death. a wad of crisp blue-back fivers aint a sight of good (Sillitoe, 20) says Smith as the one break his family got was only due to his fathers death. Smith is not money hungry, he steels simply to get by. He knows exactly where he stands in the world- in direct opposition of the In-laws, the pig-faced snotty-nosed dukes and ladies”(Sillitoe, 8). He realizes that he is a poor nobody, a petty criminal, an outcast of society.
Smith by nature is a rebel. He puts himself and his fellow Out-laws in direct opposition of the rest; for him its us versus them. As we are getting to know Smith, he is spending his time in a Borstal after having been caught for a bakery robbery. He has no regrets about doing what he did in the bakery shop, and has a big enough heart to be happy for his accomplice, Mike for getting off. I was glad though that Mike got away with it, and I only hope he always will ( Sillitoe, 23). He is without a doubt a good man. He considers himself so but by his own standards.I am honest, that Ive never been anything else but honest, (Sillitoe, 15). He is honest to himself and is true to who he is and always be. Needless to say society does not view the thief as a good and honest man, to which Smith is not in the least bit surprised. He knows that the two worlds, the In-laws and the Out-laws, will never see eye to eye, and that is why is willing to rebel the best he can. Its war between me and them (Sillitoe, 16), says Smith, firmly sticking to his side of the tracks.
While at the Borstal Smith is made a long distance runner in Governors hopes to finally win the Borstal Blue Ribbon Prize Cup with the use of Smiths ability to run. The imprisoned Out-law realizes that he is greatly outnumbered in his rebellious war. It is him, backed by a number of inactive others, against all of ruling society. He realizes that to those who keep him captive he means nothing more then a race horse with a high chance of winning. He trains daily in undermining conditions, but has no complaints. The Governor promises him a worry-free remainder of his sentence if he wins the All England Borstal race, and is to be released an honest man. If it is honesty the Governor wants, then that is what Smith is planning on delivering, but in his own terms. Im not going to win because the only way Id see I came in first would be if winning meant that I was going to escape the coppers after doing the biggest bank job of my life, (Sillitoe, 45). Alone, in a greatly disadvantaged position, Smith is willing to give up all promised luxuries and instead be punished for the sake of his rebellion. He is prepared to defy his opposition the only way he can, but hell be getting them where it hurts. Perfectly capable of winning the race Smith purposely looses, depriving the Governor of his long desired Blue Ribbon Prize Cup.
Smith may not be a very educated man. He may not have even considered possible alternatives for his life: it might be possible to do such a thing, run for money (Sillitoe, 39). He simply and faithfully stands by the position in life that hed been granted, the only thing he knows. A good and honest man in his own perception of the world, Smith is ready to sacrifice all rather then conforming the his greatest enemy- society. At the end of the book Smith mentions that he entrusted his story into the hands of a friend, that would attempt to get it published in the event that he gets caught in his greatest robbery yet. This goes only to suggest that Smith does get caught, inevitably loosing his self-proclaimed rebellious war. But for a true rebel, it was the war itself that counts.
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