Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Question of Upbringing - post III

The world that Powell is painting is obviously one surrounded by the high fences of the British class system. But there is a fondness that you start to feel towards the main character Jenkins that keeps you reading. Where it could have been possible to turn you off this is more of a comfortable story rather than a reminder of your own middle class limitations. Even when Jenkins starts university it is never explicitly said to begin with where he is although it is clearly Oxford or Cambridge.

At the same time as painting a picture of the state of the minor aristocracy this is also a rites of passage story with Jenkins discovering feelings of love. He convinces himself that he has fallen in love with Peter Templer’s sister Jean and then likewise falls in love again with Suzette on his trip to France.

Having described Stringham, Templer the scene moves to France and staying in the same guesthouse trying to improve his French is Widmerpool. The consequences of his father’s death have impacted his situation and he shares a flat with his mother in Victoria and is aiming to become a lawyer.

Before he leaves France there is a chance for Jenkins to mistake a woman he wanted to declare his love to and the humour is unexpected and all the more enjoyable because of it.

Then he returns to go to University and after a matter of weeks Stringham joins him there and the older friends share their college life.

More tomorrow…

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