The Lonely Londoners

by

Sam Selvon

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Galahad (Henry Oliver) Character Analysis

A high-spirited Trinidadian man who comes to London seeking economic opportunity. Having heard about the financial prosperity England can offer, Galahad is eager to start his new life when he hops off the train at Waterloo Station, where Moses meets him. Although the two men are strangers, they have a mutual friend who has put them in touch, and Moses agrees to show Galahad what it’s like to live in London. At first, Galahad’s optimism and naivety when it comes to living in this foreign city agitate Moses, who periodically tells the young man to “take it easy.” Nonetheless, Galahad is determined to find his own way, informing Moses that he doesn’t need advice. “It has a kind of fellar who does never like people to think that they unaccustomed to anything, or that they are strangers in a place, or that they don’t know where they are going,” the narrator notes, asserting that this is the mentality Galahad adopts when he arrives in London. However, when Galahad ventures outside on his own, he’s struck by the overwhelming enormity of the city and finally relents, allowing himself to ask Moses for guidance. Like Moses, he wants to work hard for his money rather than living solely off welfare checks. He retains this attitude throughout the novel, holding onto his optimism and strong work ethic four years later when even Moses begins to doubt the idea that an immigrant in London can attain upward mobility or financial stability by working hard in respectable jobs. Despite the fact that Galahad is often desperate and poor (he even kills a pigeon at one point in order to eat), he refuses to believe that returning to Trinidad will help his situation, explaining to Moses that he has “no prospects back home.”

Galahad (Henry Oliver) Quotes in The Lonely Londoners

The The Lonely Londoners quotes below are all either spoken by Galahad (Henry Oliver) or refer to Galahad (Henry Oliver). 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:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Longman edition of The Lonely Londoners published in 1989.
Section 1 Quotes

For the old Waterloo is a place of arrival and departure, is a place where you see people crying goodbye and kissing welcome, and he hardly have time to sit down on a bench before this feeling of nostalgia hit him and he was surprise. It have some fellars who in Brit’n long, and yet they can’t get away from the habit of going Waterloo whenever a boat-train coming in with passengers from the West Indies. They like to see the familiar faces, they like to watch their countrymen coming off the train, and sometimes they might spot somebody they know[…].

But Moses, he never in this sort of slackness: the thought never occur to him to go to Waterloo just to see who coming up from the West Indies. Still, the station is that sort of place where you have a soft feeling. It was here that Moses did land when he come to London[…]. Perhaps he was thinking is time to go back to the tropics, that’s why he feeling sort of lonely and miserable.

Related Characters: Moses, Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 2 Quotes

It ain’t have no s— over here like “both of we is Trinidadians and we must help out one another.” You going to meet a lot of fellars from home who don’t even want to talk to you, because they have matters on the mind. So the sooner you get settled the better for you. London not like Port of Spain. Don’t ask plenty questions, and you will find out a lot. I don’t usually talk to fellars like this, but I take a fancy for you, my blood take you.

Related Characters: Moses (speaker), Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

It have a kind of fellar who does never like people to think that they unaccustomed to anything, or that they are strangers in a place, or that they don’t know where they going. They would never ask you how to get to Linden Gardens or if number 49 does go down High Street Ken. From the very beginning they out to give you the impression that they hep, that they on the ball, that nobody could tie them up.

Related Characters: Moses, Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

It ain’t have no place in the world that exactly like a place where a lot of men get together to look for work and draw money from the Welfare State while they ain’t working. Is a kind of place where hate and disgust and avarice and malice and sympathy and sorrow and pity all mix up. Is a place where everyone is your enemy and your friend. Even when you go to draw a little national assistance it don’t be so bad, because when you reach that stage is because you touch bottom. But in the world today, a job is all the security a man have. A job mean place to sleep, food to eat, cigarette to smoke. And even though it have the Welfare State in the background, when a man out of work he like a fish out of water gasping for breath. It have some men, if they lose their job it like the world end, and when two-three weeks go by and they still ain’t working, they get so desperate they would do anything.

Related Characters: Moses, Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 7 Quotes

Jesus Christ, when he say “Charing Cross,” when he realize that is he, Sir Galahad, who going there, near that place that everybody in the world know about (it even have the name in the dictionary) he feel like a new man. It didn’t matter about the woman he going to meet, just to say he was going there made him feel big and important, and even if he was just going to coast a lime, to stand up and watch the white people, still, it would have been something.

Related Characters: Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

Though it used to have times when he lay down there on the bed in the basement room in the Water, and all the experiences like that come to him, and he say “Lord, what it is we people do in this world that we have to suffer so? What it is we want that the white people and them find it so hard to give? A little work, a little food, a little place to sleep. We not asking for the sun, or the moon. We only want to get by, we don’t even want to get on.” And Galahad would take his hand from under the blanket […]. And Galahad watch the colour of his hand, and talk to it, saying, “Colour, is you that causing all this, you know. Why the hell you can’t be blue, or red or green, if you can’t be white? You know is you that cause a lot of misery in the world. Is not me, you know, is you! I ain’t do anything to infuriate the people and them, is you! Look at you, you so black and innocent, and this time so you causing misery all over the world!”

Related Characters: Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 11 Quotes

Sometimes I look back on all the years I spend in Brit’n, […] and I surprise that so many years gone by. Looking at things in general life really hard for the boys in London. This is a lonely miserable city, if it was that we didn’t get together now and then to talk about things back home, we would suffer like hell. Here is not like home where you have friends all about. In the beginning you would think that is a good thing, that nobody minding your business, but after a while you want to get in company, you want to go to somebody house and eat a meal, you want to go on excursion to the sea, you want to go and play football and cricket. Nobody in London does really accept you. They tolerate you, yes, but you can’t go in their house and eat or sit down and talk. It ain’t have no sort of family life for us here.

Related Characters: Moses (speaker), Galahad (Henry Oliver)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
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Galahad (Henry Oliver) Character Timeline in The Lonely Londoners

The timeline below shows where the character Galahad (Henry Oliver) appears in The Lonely Londoners. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...that he had to get out of bed and leave his warm apartment to meet Henry Oliver, a man who isn’t even a family member or friend, but rather somebody a... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
While waiting for Henry on the platform, Moses experiences a strange feeling of nostalgia and homesickness, one he’s never... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
While Tolroy’s family poses for the photograph, Moses waits for Henry. When the young man finally appears on the platform, he’s wearing nothing but an “old... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
Moses can’t fathom the fact that Henry hasn’t packed anything except a toothbrush, and he’s even more astounded to learn that the... (full context)
Section 2
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
On the underground train, Galahad pesters Moses with questions about London. “Take it easy,” Moses says. “You can’t learn everything... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...fancy for you.” Before going to bed, Moses finally lets himself speak nostalgically, reminiscing with Galahad about people they both know in Trinidad. When Galahad falls asleep in the chair, Moses... (full context)
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Galahad gets ready for the day, combing his hair in the mirror and stretching his limbs.... (full context)
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Moses knows Galahad will never heed his advice to return to Trinidad, so he gives him practical suggestions... (full context)
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Before Galahad makes his way to the employment office, he mentions that he heard some men talking... (full context)
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Moses tells Galahad he’s happy to hear that the young man won’t “ants on the State,” saying, “I... (full context)
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Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Slowly making his way through the mayhem, Galahad feels a burst of loneliness and fear, forgetting “all the brave words” he uttered to... (full context)
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Immigration and Community Theme Icon
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At the employment office, Galahad is struck by the number of available jobs, but he’s also immediately taken aback by... (full context)
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Moses teaches Galahad how to fill out the necessary forms, explaining that the top of his paper will... (full context)
Section 3
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Upward Mobility Theme Icon
...all of which he obtains by lying about his nonexistent allowance. In a conversation with Galahad about Cap, Moses says, “Is fellars like that who muddy the water for a lot... (full context)
Section 7
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
When summer arrives, Galahad is cold. “I don’t know why I hot in the winter and cold in the... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Because Galahad works the nightshift, he walks through the streets tired and dirty every morning, passing people... (full context)
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Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Regarding Galahad’s interaction with the white woman and her child on the sidewalk, the narrator writes: “If... (full context)
Section 8
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...of people congregated around a soapbox, where various speakers stand up and critique the government. Galahad is also impressed by this spectacle—so impressed that he can’t believe the police don’t do... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Ever since Big City tricked Galahad into going onto the soapbox, Galahad claims he’ll beat him up the next time their... (full context)
Section 9
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Romance and Sex Theme Icon
...park,” the narrator writes. And although there are bad experiences mixed in with the good, Galahad especially loves London in these moments, “when the sweetness of summer get in him” and... (full context)
Section 10
Racism Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...yourselves, and make me ashamed of myself.” As Harris rushes away, Big City appears, and Galahad taunts him into going over and asking the young white woman’s friend to dance. After... (full context)
Section 11
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Upward Mobility Theme Icon
One winter, Galahad—along with many other immigrant workers—loses his job. Luckily for him, he doesn’t get cold and... (full context)
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Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
Having escaped the park with the pigeon, Galahad goes to Moses’s apartment and tells him he’s bought a bird and asks him to... (full context)
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Having eaten a good meal of pigeon and rice, Moses and Galahad speak nostalgically about Trinidad, sharing funny stories about people they both know. After some time,... (full context)
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Upward Mobility Theme Icon
Galahad tries to lighten the mood, but Moses rejects his optimism, saying that he sometimes wakes... (full context)
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Galahad insists that he doesn’t want to return to Trinidad. Moses, on the other hand, confesses... (full context)
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Romance and Sex Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
...talk.” He then scoffs at the way English people party and celebrate holidays, and when Galahad says he likes when white women kiss him at the turn of the New Year—because... (full context)
Section 12
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
The narrator assures readers that Galahad isn’t the only immigrant to have captured and eaten a pigeon in London. In fact,... (full context)