The Lonely Londoners

by

Sam Selvon

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The Lonely Londoners: Section 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Before long, Tolroy helps his family settle in London, managing to secure rooms for them in the same boarding house in which he himself lives. While Tanty and Ma get situated, Agnes and Lewis decide to live in a nearby house, and Tolroy aids Lewis in securing a job in the same factory as Moses. The narrator notes that Lewis is a curious and highly gullible person, somebody who asks constant questions. This temperament soon annoys Moses, who has to work with Lewis during the nightshift. When Lewis asks, “Moses, you think is true that it have fellars does go round by you when you out working and –– your wife?”, Moses decides to mess with him, saying that this is indeed “a regular thing in London.” This cuts straight to Lewis’s core, since the woman he dated before Agnes apparently cheated on him.
Moses’s interaction with Lewis during the nightshift—in which he tricks Lewis—shows a different side of his personality, as he takes delight in messing around with a friend. This stands in contrast to his otherwise generous and thoughtful disposition, but it’s worth noting that his lie grows out of annoyance at Lewis’s incessant need to constantly ask questions about life in London. In the same way that Moses tells Galahad to “take it easy” when the young man first arrives and wants to know everything about the city, Moses clearly wants Lewis to ease up a bit, resolving to teach him a lesson about believing everything he hears about life in London.
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When Moses tricks Lewis into thinking that wives frequently sleep with other men while their husbands are on the nightshift, Lewis goes to the foreman and tells him he doesn’t feel well and that he needs to go home. Upon reaching his apartment, he immediately beats Agnes, even though she’s alone and doesn’t know why he’s suddenly abusing her. From this point on, Lewis spends his nights worrying and analyzing his situation, telling Moses, “I know who it is, you know. Is a fellar who does pass round by the house with a motorcycle.” He also continues to beat Agnes, who sometimes flees to Tolroy’s house to take shelter with Tanty and Ma, though she always comes back the next day. “Why don’t you leave that man for good?” Tanty asks, but Agnes continually returns to Lewis.
Having traveled from Jamaica to seek out prosperity in London, Lewis and Agnes’s marriage undergoes a significant strain, as Lewis seemingly channels his feelings of insecurity into his relationship with Agnes, taking out on her his own discomfort with existing in an unfamiliar environment. Indeed, what seems to torment him the most is the idea that he has no way of knowing whether or not Agnes is remaining faithful to him in this new context. This uncertainty drives him mad, and he unfortunately lashes out at Agnes as a result.
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Lewis finally beats Agnes so hard that she leaves him for good. Suddenly full of remorse, he rushes to Tolroy’s apartment and asks Tanty where his wife is, but the old woman refuses to tell him. Not long thereafter, Lewis learns that Agnes has pressed charges against him. At this point, Moses advises him to refrain from going to see Agnes in person after obtaining her address from the court summons. Instead, he suggests that Lewis write a letter of apology—a letter to which Agnes never responds. Despite his initial sadness, though, it’s only about a month before Lewis acclimates to his new life as an unmarried man, taking up with a new woman and forgetting his old wife. 
It is perhaps because he feels sorry for having tricked Lewis that Moses tries to help him by offering advice regarding how best to respond to Agnes’s court summons. This is in line with how he usually operates within his group of friends, as he once again becomes the voice of reason and a guide. On another note, the fact that Lewis quickly moves on after Agnes leaves him is yet another example of how the men in The Lonely Londoners are—for the most part—rather unfeeling when it comes to romance.
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