Down and Out in Paris and London

by

George Orwell

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George Orwell Character Analysis

Orwell is the narrator of Down and Out in Paris and London. In his twenties, Orwell is a writer and sometimes English tutor who, after a series of setbacks, finds himself in an impoverished state. While living in poverty, Orwell works several grueling restaurant jobs in Paris before moving to London in search of work. There, he spends several months unemployed and staying in charitable lodging houses. Throughout these experiences, Orwell discovers the daily humiliations and inconveniences of poverty, as well as the laws and societal norms that keep the poor in a continual state of financial ruin. Unlike many of the people he profiles in the book, Orwell is an educated aristocrat who is not trapped in poverty by birth or circumstance. Rather, he has chosen to live in the “suburbs of poverty” so he might write about his experiences and advocate for a more equitable society. He ultimately concludes that the only difference between rich and poor people is how much money they have, and he argues that wealthier people should be compassionate to the poor and should invest more in helping poor people out of poverty.

George Orwell Quotes in Down and Out in Paris and London

The Down and Out in Paris and London quotes below are all either spoken by George Orwell or refer to George Orwell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty as Prison Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of Down and Out in Paris and London published in 1972.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Poverty forces them from ordinary standards of behavior, just as money frees people from work.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3  Quotes

You have thought so much about poverty—it is the thing you have feared all your life, the thing you knew would happen to you sooner or later; and it is all

so utterly and prosaically different. You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily complicated. You thought it would be terrible; it is merely squalid and boring. It is the peculiar lowness of poverty that you discover first; the shifts that it puts you to the complicated meanness, the crust-wiping.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker), A Young Italian Compositor
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

You discover boredom and mean complications and the beginnings of hunger, but you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty: the fact that it annihilates the future.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Never worry, mon ami. Nothing is easier to get than money.

Related Characters: Boris (speaker), George Orwell
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Appearance—appearance is everything, mon ami. Give me a new suit and I will borrow a thousand francs by dinner-time.

Related Characters: Boris (speaker), George Orwell, The Patron
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.

Related Characters: Boris (speaker), George Orwell, The Patron
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

To a certain extent he is even dirty because he is an artist, for food, to look smart, needs dirty treatment.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

Everywhere in the service quarters dirt festered—a secret vein of dirt running through the great, garish hotel like intestines through a man’s body.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

There was—it is hard to express it—a sort of heavy contentment, the contentment a well-fed beast might feel, in a life which was so simple.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

Most of my Saturday nights went in this way. On the whole, the two hours when one was perfectly and wildly happy seemed worth the subsequent headache. For many men in the quarter, unmarried and with no future to think of, the weekly drinking-bout was the one thing that made life worth living.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

If plongeurs thought at all, they would long ago have formed a union and gone on strike for better treatment. But they do not think, because they have no leisure for it; their life has made slaves of them.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

People have a way of taking it for granted that all work is done for a sound purpose. They see somebody else doing a disagreeable job, and think that they have solved things by saying that the job is necessary.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

Foreseeing some dismal Marxian Utopia as the alternative, the educated man prefers to keep things as they are. Possibly he does not like his fellow-rich very much, but he supposes that even the vulgarest of them are less inimical to his pleasures, more his kind of people, than the poor, and that he had better stand by them. It is this fear of a supposedly dangerous mob that makes nearly all intelligent people conservative in their opinion.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

Dirt is a great respecter of persons; it lets you alone when you are well dressed, but as soon as your collar is gone, it flies towards you from all directions.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

The fact is that the Salvation Army are so in the habit of thinking themselves a charitable body, that they cannot even run a lodging house without it stinking of charity.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker), Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

Another thing to remember is to keep your money covered up, except perhaps a penny in the hat. People won’t give you anything if they see you got a bob or two already.

Related Characters: Bozo (speaker), George Orwell, Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

The stars are a free show; it don’t cost anything to use your eyes.

Related Characters: Bozo (speaker), George Orwell, Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except ‘Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it’? Money has become the grand test of virtue…A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a business man, getting his living, like other businessmen, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 33 Quotes

An educated man can put up with enforced idleness, which is one of the worst evils of poverty. But a man like Paddy, with no means of filling up time, is as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain. That is why it is such nonsense to pretend that those who have ‘come down in the world’ are to be pitied above all others. The man who really merits pity is the man who has been down from the start, and faces poverty with a blank, resourceless mind.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker), Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker), Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

A man receiving charity practically always hates his benefactor—it is a fixed characteristic of human nature; and, when he has fifty or a hundred others to back him, he will show it.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker), Paddy Jacques
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

Still I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.

Related Characters: George Orwell (speaker)
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:
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Down and Out in Paris and London PDF

George Orwell Character Timeline in Down and Out in Paris and London

The timeline below shows where the character George Orwell appears in Down and Out in Paris and London. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...on the wallpaper. Other lodgers on the narrow, squalid street jump into the fight. George Orwell, the narrator of this memoir of poverty, paints a picture of the neighborhood, a typical... (full context)
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Orwell’s hotel, the Hotel des Trois Moineaux, is owned by Madame F and her husband, decent... (full context)
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The people who live with Orwell at the Hotel des Trois Moineaux are, for the most part, a floating group of... (full context)
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Henri, a mostly mute sewer worker, is another eccentric who resides at the hotel. Orwell tells Henri’s story to illustrate the typical life trajectory of a man whose bad luck... (full context)
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Orwell’s subject is poverty. He hopes to sketch a full and layered portrait of poor people... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Orwell introduces the reader to the bistro at the foot of the Hotel des Trois Moineaux.... (full context)
Chapter 3 
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Orwell has lived in the Latin Quarter for a little more than a year and a... (full context)
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Orwell begins to describe what it means to live on six francs a day. It means... (full context)
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Orwell’s six francs a day existence lasts three weeks and acquaints him with poverty’s silver lining.... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Orwell, dismissed early by one of his English tutoring pupils and cheated by another, finds himself... (full context)
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Orwell lies to Madame F. about having the money for rent. Later, in a stroke of... (full context)
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With his rent paid, Orwell knows he must find stable work of some kind. He remembers his friend, Boris, a... (full context)
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Before going in search of Boris, Orwell describes his friend’s two dominant traits: a love of war and militaristic things, and a... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Orwell imagines a new life for himself as a waiter. In a fit of optimism, he... (full context)
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Orwell, realizing his friend is practically starving, buys a loaf of bread and gives it to... (full context)
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Orwell suggests they go looking for work now, and Boris agrees. Boris manages to make himself... (full context)
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...but it’s closed. Boris says they should consider turning to crime, but both he and Orwell reject the idea because, as foreigners, they would be easily apprehended. They return to Orwell’s... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Orwell and Boris try in vain to find work. Boris tries hard to hide his limp,... (full context)
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Then Orwell answers a letter he receives from an agency about giving English lessons to an Italian... (full context)
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Orwell and Boris live in squalor together, pooling their money to buy food, bickering over coffee,... (full context)
Chapter 7
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With his money dwindling to nothing, Orwell borrows a pole and goes fishing on the Seine. The fish, though, won’t bite, having... (full context)
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On the third day without food, Orwell goes to see Boris, hoping to share his two francs, but Boris is furious and... (full context)
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Orwell agrees to the plan, but it fails when a picky pawnshop clerk refuses to purchase... (full context)
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...one where the old man was laughed at when trying to sell his woolen pants, Orwell gets 50 francs for the overcoats. Orwell assumes it’s a mistake. The pawn shop clerk... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Thanks to his Russian connections in Paris, Boris hears of another opportunity for him and Orwell to make money. Many Russians are living in Paris in exile, including a number of... (full context)
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...is that they seek out a group of Bolshevik newspapermen who run a communist weekly. Orwell, a writer, might find employment with them writing pieces on British politics. Orwell is leery... (full context)
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The publisher scolds Orwell for not bringing a load of washing with him as a cover. Boris, the publisher,... (full context)
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The mail, however, brings nothing, and when Orwell and Boris return to the secret society headquarters to investigate, the men are gone. Orwell... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Orwell and Boris get ready to pay a visit to the new Russian restaurant. Boris talks... (full context)
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...site of an inn once patronized by Charlemagne. He decorates the walls with erotic art. Orwell thinks the patron is dishonest and incapable, but Boris, as usual, is optimistic. He’s confident... (full context)
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Orwell spends two bad days lying in bed, depressed and hungry, convinced the Auberge de Jehan... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The Hotel X is an odd, labyrinthine place that reminds Orwell—who was hired primarily because he speaks English—of the lower levels of a ship. Orwell’s job... (full context)
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A waiter, grown friendly when he sees Orwell is a hard worker, invites Orwell to dine with him upstairs and hear of his... (full context)
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When Boris hears of this, he is furious and tells Orwell to go back to Hotel X and beg for his job back. He also says... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Orwell settles in to his job at Hotel X where he works mostly eleven-hour days, and... (full context)
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...between 12 and 2 p.m. The basement staff gets ten minutes for lunch, and when Orwell and his fellow plongeurs and waiters aren’t fetching meals from hot-tempered cooks, they are sweeping... (full context)
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Drinking forms a large part of hotel worker life. Orwell discovers the yin and yang of this when he gets drunk with his co-workers one... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Orwell’s best days at the hotel are those he spends working with Valenti, a kind, handsome... (full context)
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The divide between the dining room where the guests eat and the scullery where Orwell works is immense. The dining room is all elegance and flowers and spotless tablecloths, whereas... (full context)
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Nonetheless, it’s a silly, brainless job and Orwell wonders at people who spend the bulk of their working lives in hotels. The woman... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Orwell is ordered by the chef du personnel to shave off his mustache. It seems an... (full context)
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...thieves. The Armenian doorkeeper, who gives out wages, regularly pockets a portion of people’s pay. Orwell doesn’t discover this habit until his last week at Hotel X, and he is only... (full context)
Chapter 14
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As Orwell gets more accustomed to the tenor of his days at Hotel X, he discovers that... (full context)
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...Nice, telling the story as if he were among the guests instead of serving. Never, Orwell argues, feel sorry for a waiter. They are simply biding their time until they achieve... (full context)
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...Americans. One, from Pittsburgh, eats the same meal every night—Grape Nuts, scrambled eggs, and cocoa. Orwell suggests that perhaps people with such poor taste should be cheated. (full context)
Chapter 15
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Valenti tells Orwell the story of the five days when he went without food. His story is remarkably... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Orwell and Boris pay a visit to the Auberge de Jehan Cottard to see if it... (full context)
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The plongeur, says Orwell, knows only boulot, drinks, and sleep, and sleep is the most important of the three.... (full context)
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Thanks to Mario, Orwell finally has a cure for bugs. He spreads pepper thickly over his bed and they... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Now that Orwell has money, he is able to spend Saturday nights at the bistro at the foot... (full context)
Chapter 19
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After Orwell has been working at Hotel X for a little over a month, Boris persuades him... (full context)
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Orwell and the rest of the staff go to work at the Auberge, painting and staining... (full context)
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...brought in to finish the Auberge do shoddy work. On the night prior to opening, Orwell and Boris work hard to clean all the crockery and silverware, while Jules loafs and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Everyone at the Auberge works 17-18 hour days, and Orwell begins to long for his former job at the Hotel X. He feels this especially... (full context)
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...at the kitchen’s inadequate gas stoves. After lunch and in advance of the dinner hour, Orwell does his best to wash an army’s worth of dirty dishes without the benefit of... (full context)
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...contrast, stands around smoking and looking gentlemanly. It’s his only job. Late in the evening, Orwell and the cook have their dinner, and at closing time Orwell does a hurried job... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Exhausted from two weeks of work at the Auberge, Orwell writes to B., a friend in London, asking him if he can help Orwell find... (full context)
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...for once in an attempt to serve a good meal. It’s around this time that Orwell hears back from his friend about a job in London looking after a disabled man,... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Orwell asks why men—many of whom are college educated—succumb to a life of drudgery. Finally freed... (full context)
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...for plongeurs. What, after all, is the point of luxurious restaurants? Are they, indeed, necessary? Orwell argues not, partly because the so-called luxuries offered at smart hotels and restaurants are often... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Freed from his work as a plongeur, Orwell spends his time prior to traveling to London sleeping, drinking beer at the Auberge, and... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Orwell, on passage to England, befriends a newlywed pair of Romanians and entertains them with stories... (full context)
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Orwell spends the night out-of-doors wandering the city, and the next day he decides to try... (full context)
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Orwell finds a bed for the night in a home for single gentlemen. It is a... (full context)
Chapter 25
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The next day Orwell finds a more desirable lodging house in Pennyfields. The beds are cleaner and the conditions... (full context)
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Orwell finds London cleaner and blander than France. There is not as much drunkenness or quarreling,... (full context)
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With his own money dwindling, Orwell goes in search of cheaper housing and finds it in Bow. The house is much... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Growing destitute, Orwell decides to go in search of someone who might know something about the nearest casual... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Orwell’s first night in a casual ward is uncomfortable and stifling. All the lodgers are required... (full context)
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...they’re stripped naked and the sight of their underfed, ravaged bodies is ugly and pathetic. Orwell panics for a moment upon seeing that his cellmate’s chest is covered in a red... (full context)
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Orwell pairs up with Paddy Jacques, a melancholy Irishman, and the two set out to make... (full context)
Chapter 28
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In Orwell’s opinion, Paddy Jacques is a typical English tramp of his time—ignorant and determined to remain... (full context)
Chapter 29
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For Orwell and Paddy, another day means another casual ward. The Edbury spike is notable only for... (full context)
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Eventually, Orwell and Paddy end up at a Salvation Army shelter, which Orwell contends is gloomier than... (full context)
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...men and order them to go to bed, which they do in a dormitory-like room. Orwell and Paddy get hardly any sleep thanks to a man near them who calls out... (full context)
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That morning, Orwell goes to visit his friend B. and asks for a pound—B. gives him two. Orwell... (full context)
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That night, Orwell has a short conversation with an Etonian (an alumnus of the prestigious Eton boarding school)... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Orwell and Paddy go in search of Paddy’s friend Bozo, a pavement artist. They find him... (full context)
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Orwell is intrigued by Bozo and he returns to the Embankment later on that night. Bozo... (full context)
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...life of a screever must be even harder than here. Bozo is an exceptional man, Orwell decides. (full context)
Chapter 31
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At Bozo’s lodging house, Orwell meets a number of interesting characters, including a friend of Bozo’s who writes letters to... (full context)
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Orwell discovers at this juncture that, like in hotel and restaurant work, there is a hierarchy... (full context)
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...skill or hock their wares in order to not be prosecuted. Is there a difference, Orwell wonders, between beggars and other ordinary “working” men? Contrary to popular opinion, which would set... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Orwell ponders the ever-changing nature of language, particularly when it comes to swear words and slang.... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Orwell and Paddy try for jobs as sandwich men but they find a long line of... (full context)
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While Orwell and Paddy lounge in a lodging house, a slumming party, or group of well-off people... (full context)
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With the loan from B. dwindling to nothing, Orwell and Paddy go to a church near King’s Cross Station that offers free tea to... (full context)
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Able to afford exactly one more night’s lodging (thanks to Paddy’s petty thievery), Paddy and Orwell travel to the Embankment where a clergyman is said to distribute meal tickets to tramps... (full context)
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Back at the lodging house, Orwell and Paddy loaf around. After a while, Bozo shows up, a little short of the... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Orwell and Paddy set out for a spike that is sixteen miles away. Having spent the... (full context)
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...Scottish outlaw who, in reality, was put to death for his crimes, but, according to Orwell’s fellow tramps, escaped unharmed to America. The latter story is representative of a typical tramp... (full context)
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The spike opens, and Orwell hears, courtesy of William and Fred, the same song a dozen times in the next... (full context)
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Orwell and Paddy set out for another spike. Again, they arrive before it opens, so Paddy... (full context)
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Orwell relates a story about a working man who finds himself in a remote village without... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Orwell and Paddy and a number of other tramps, including Bill, Fred, William, and a woman... (full context)
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...of the tramps are fated to stay there all day, bored out of their minds, Orwell is lucky. The Tramp Major gives a few select men odd jobs, including Orwell, who... (full context)
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Orwell returns to the spike and that prison-like room to find most of his fellow tramps... (full context)
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Orwell spends another miserable night in a spike. Barn-like and stinking of chamber pot, the room... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Orwell dispels some common misconceptions about tramps. The first myth is that tramps are inherently dangerous... (full context)
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Indeed, according to Orwell, most of the stereotypes surrounding tramps do not hold up to even the most shallow... (full context)
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Orwell argues that anyone who suggests that a tramp deserves his fate has obviously not stopped... (full context)
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Using three examples of as proof, Orwell argues that, while female tramps do exist, they are greatly outnumbered by men. Tramps, in... (full context)
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Another evil of the tramp’s life is, Orwell suggests, enforced idleness. Tramps who stay in casual wards are basically locked up all night... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Orwell writes of the sleeping accommodations open to London tramps. His first option is sleeping in... (full context)
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...boxes with a tarp for a cover. The worst aspect of the coffin, according to Orwell, are the bugs, which one cannot escape. (full context)
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...night’s sleep is impossible to come by in such places. This needn’t be the case, Orwell argues. Many of the owners of lodging houses are able to grow wealthy on the... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Orwell’s time as a tramp comes to an end. He parts ways with Paddy and secures... (full context)