Identity in Orwell’s ‘Coming up for Air’
A discussion on how notions of identity affect this reader’s understanding of `Coming up for Air`.
This paper examines the significance of identity for the suburban working man in Britain in the years leading up to the Second World War as depicted by Orwell. The paper discusses how buried in the suburbs, George Bowling works in the same manner that everyone on his road does, earning the same pay and he is unmistakeable for what he is. However, the paper shows how within this attitude of immersion, the occasional unexpected ‘shock’ permeates his outer layer and exposes his own aesthetic imperative. The paper describes the threats to his identity in terms of the home and also in a commercial sense.
`Reading George Orwell’s Coming up for Air it becomes apparent that George Bowling is experiencing an England that is in the grip of change. Orwell portrays a country on the brink of war and all the uncertainty that such a situation creates. Strangely however, as much as this is a novel of change it is a study of permanence. While Bowling is more tuned in to the changes that war will bring he is also resigned to the fact that his lot will remain as miserable it has ever been. Whereas modernist writers such as Baudelaire explored the ‘newness’ of the modern era, in 1938, Bowling has already been compartmentalised and is conforming to the ‘rules’ of modern life.`