The Road to Wigan Pier

Orwell, George
Publisher:  Penguin
Year Published:  1937
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6540

George Orwell's investigation of an English working class community in the 1930s.

The Road to Wigan Pier is a study of industrial England in the 1930s. George Orwell looks at the lives of working class citizens in his investigation of Lancashire and Yorkshire. His own experiences of living among the poor lead into an essay on the possibilities of improving the future with socialism.

The mining community of Wigan Pier shows the worst in working conditions and the treatment of the lower class. Orwell lived in boarding houses with the impoverished miners to pursue his investigative journalism. The first part of the book documents their daily lives working in the coal mines and living in packed boarding houses. The treatment of these third class citizens is harsh and unjustified, and their lives are bleak.

The second part of the book is an essay on the causes of such terrible living conditions. The British class system is blamed, as well as capitalism. Then there is an examination of the failures of socialism. Orwell argues that it is not any particular problems in socialism that prevent its success, but the way in which it is presented. No one can deny the simple idea of common decency and fair share, according to Orwell, but they dislike socialist advocates for more complex emotional reasons.

This book is a stab at the class hierarchy as a result of capitalism and greed. It reveals the every day struggles of the poor and their squalid living conditions. Orwell makes a good argument that socialism is the obvious solution to this problem, and outlines the reasons for its failures to date.

[Abstract by Mia Manns]

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