Down and Out in Paris and London


George Orwell

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Down and Out in Paris and London: Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Orwell’s time as a tramp comes to an end. He parts ways with Paddy and secures a two-pound loan from B., living on that money until his work with the “tame imbecile” can begin. He hears later that Paddy is dead, but he’s not sure he can trust such information. The latest on Bozo is that he’s in jail for begging. Orwell concludes his story with the lessons he’s learned living on the fringes of poverty. He will never again think of tramps as drunks or blackguards. Nor will he expect gratitude from the beggar when he gives him a penny. Likewise, he will not subscribe to the Salvation Army or be surprised when a man is out of work and he will not, under any circumstances, patronize a “smart” restaurant. He realizes that these conclusions will not change the world, but for him, it is a start.
Orwell has been changed by his time in the suburbs of poverty. He has learned life-long lessons about the poor and how they came to be that way, but even so, his casual mentions of Paddy’s possible death and Bozo’s incarceration suggest that a certain distance still exists between him and the grimmer realities that truly poor men face every day. Still, Orwell has intimate knowledge of what many men in his class choose to ignore: the fact that the poor do not deserve their fate. He admits that this book is limited in its scope, but his newfound understanding is at least a beginning at bridging a gap in society’s understanding of the poor.
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