Down And Out In Paris And London

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Down And Out In Paris And London Summary

Down and Out in Paris and London is a documentary of the life of lower class people in Paris and London. Orwell shows the social conditions of the so-called plongeurs (they are cheap and unqualified workers in restaurants, hotels etc.) in Paris, and of the tramps in London. By joining these people, and living amongst them, Orwell generates a very realistic view. It was even more than that, Orwell wasn’t only living amongst them for these months, he was even one of them.

The book consists of 38 chapters. The first 25 chapters are about Orwell’s experience as a plongeur in Paris, and the last chapters describe his experience as a tramp in England. Orwell?s narration starts in the Rue Du Coq D?Or, a street in one of the slums in Paris. This was a very busy street and many foreigners lived there in very cheap hotels. Despite the dirt and the social problems, there were also some respectable French people living in this quarter, most of them owned tiny shops and bistros.

Orwell earned his living by giving English lessons occasionally. The money he earned with the lessons wasn’t enough, and one month before his savings came to an end, he started looking for a job. He intended to become a tour guide or something similar, but a piece of bad luck prevented this, a young Italian robbed nearly all Orwell?s savings. This was the time when Orwell’s real poverty began. From this time on Orwell had to live on six francs a day.

Orwell describes, ?Poverty isn’t the way we expect it to be. We, who have never experienced real poverty, think that it must be terrible, it isn’t, it happens to be squalid and boring.? Another problem is that you don’t dare admit that you are poor; you have to pretend that you are living quite well. You have to waste valuable money on things you can’t afford, just to make people think that you are well off. These lies are expensive lies. He also says that poverty, and in consequence, hunger degrades a man to “a belly with some additional organs.?

In my editorial opinion, the over all theme of this book is how the human spirit will survive. When we are at our darkest hour, I believe the brain races; it races for a solution to the current problem. Regardless of the problem at hand, the human spirit searches and searches every resource available until a solution makes itself known. This is what Orwell went through to survive. Sometimes Orwell found solutions very easily like selling his clothes or turning his shirt inside out to get a job. Other times Orwell took a while to find a solution to survive, like when he thought of the idea to find his Russian friend Borris. Borris and Orwell continued to search for jobs and eventually began to eat once they found one. The point is the theme is inherent through out the whole book; man will do whatever it takes to survive.

This book took place during a time of the Industrial Revolution. Even though the book did not go into the revolution itself, it did explain what the cities were like during the revolution and how the people lived in relation to the over crowding of cities. We learned about the Industrial Revolution in class and this book is in direct correlation with it. The Industrial Revolution created a way of living because of the overcrowding and the prospects for jobs. Job seekers came to the city in hopes of a better life when in fact they sometimes ended up like Orwell had in this book.

Orwell basically came to the conclusion that poverty is not fun at all. In fact poverty is boring because half of the time you do not have the energy to get out and do something about your current state and the other half is spent actually going out and relentlessly trying to obtain money or a steady means to obtain money. Orwell took us on an adventure through, what seemed to be, the worst parts of Paris and London. I believe that Orwell did a good job showing us how the human spirit will find a way to survive even in our darkest hours.


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