The Lonely Londoners

by

Sam Selvon

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The Lonely Londoners: Section 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“Oh what a time it is when summer come to the city and all them girls throw away heavy winter coat and wearing light summer frocks so you could see the legs and shapes that was hiding away,” writes the narrator, opening a long stream-of-consciousness sentence that touches upon the sexually intoxicating qualities of summertime in London, when Moses and his friends cruise through Hyde Park looking to have sexual encounters. This time of year makes up for the harsh winter, when “a kind of grey nasty colour does come to the sky” and causes everybody to feel “miserable and cold.” In the summer, though, there are many parties and good times, all of which keep Londoners moving through the bleak months. 
This section, which focuses heavily on London’s wheeling seasons, ultimately emphasizes the passage of time. The happiness that summer brings is what keeps people like Moses from leaving London in the winter, a phenomenon that explains Moses’s previous feeling of stasis, and his disappointment that he’s been in England for so long and has nothing to show for it. Indeed, it seems the sexual excitement that summer ushers in attracts him like a magnet, discouraging him from leaving to return to Trinidad.
Themes
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
One evening, Moses meets a white woman in the park and brings her back to his apartment, where they start having sex. Suddenly, she begins to “moan and gasp and wriggle and twist up [her] body like a piece of wire,” which puts Moses on edge because he knows that “if anything happen to the woman and the police find her in his [apartment],” he wouldn’t “stand a chance.” At this moment, Daniel rings the doorbell and Moses tells him what’s happened. He then asks Daniel to wait a moment and runs inside to tell the woman to put her clothes back on, but by the time Daniel enters, she seems completely fine, as if nothing has happened. Agreeing to take her home, Moses boards a bus with this woman, rides it for a moment, and then hops off, successfully abandoning her before making his way home.
When the woman in Moses’s apartment starts having this strange reaction, a sudden element of fear enters into what was otherwise a casual and harmless sexual interaction. Faced with the prospect of a white woman dying in his apartment, Moses has to confront the dangerous implications of being a black man who engages in interracial sexual relationships. Although he can enjoy a certain sense of equality in his sexual relationships with white women, he is unfortunately still subject to society’s prejudices and discriminations, which would undoubtedly hold him accountable for any trouble that befell this woman.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
One night, a white man approaches Moses in the park and tells him that he’s just the man he’s been looking for. Confused, Moses follows him to a blonde woman standing under a tree, who looks at him and shakes her head. The man then leads Moses to another blonde woman and makes his offer, saying that he’ll pay Moses to have sex with her. Moses agrees, and afterwards, the man proposes that they do the entire ordeal again sometime, a proposal Moses readily accepts. “The things that does happen in this London people wouldn’t believe when you tell them,” writes the narrator; “some ballad happen in the city that people would bawl if they hear.”
It’s important to keep in mind that this entire section is narrated as a single stream-of-consciousness sentence, one that dips in and out of dialogue and poetic observation, mingling Moses’s thoughts with the narrator’s words, a celebration of the sexual freedom running rampant through Hyde Park. This narrative technique itself embodies the kind of freedom and wildness represented by Hyde Park, a place where white and black people can come together in ways that would otherwise upset London’s racial divide, making high society whites “bawl” upon hearing the ways in which sexual congress transcends the “old English diplomacy” that normally keeps blacks and whites separated.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
The narrator continues to catalogue the myriad sexual exploits that take place in Hyde Park during the summer, addressing the fact that white women often derive great thrills from sleeping with black men. The narrator asserts that these kinds of English women don’t want black men to put on fake British accents—instead, they want them to “live up to the films and stories they hear about black people living primitive in the jungles of the world.” Even white men, it seems, take pleasure in going against their own racist society by inviting black men to parties, thinking that “they can’t get big thrills unless they have a black man in the company.” In keeping with this, whenever Moses attends one of these parties, somebody always presses five pounds into his hand and tells him, “That was a jolly good show.”
Although the white people who populate Hyde Park in the summer are willing to interact with black people in ways that go against what’s considered normal, their embrace of Moses and his friends does nothing to transcend racist stereotypes. In fact, when white women want their black lovers to “live up to the films and stories,” they fetishize their partners’ blackness, turning their race into a spectacle. Similarly, when Moses attends a party where white men treat him like an entertainer, his blackness is tokenized. Because fetishization and tokenization are dehumanizing, it’s easy to see that the sense of freedom swirling through Hyde Park in the summertime is more complicated and fraught than it might appear at first.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
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One time, the narrator says, a Jamaican man goes home with a white woman who, in the throes of passion, calls him a “black bastard.” Although she thinks this is a compliment, he immediately stops and beats her until she leaves. “These things happen in the blazing summer under the trees in the 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 he determines to never leave Britain.
After relating this troubling story about a white woman grotesquely fetishizing her lover’s blackness, the narrator quickly moves on, writing off the incident by remarking that “these things happen in the blazing summer.” Life in London for black immigrants is a constant combination of excitement and sorrow, of celebration and insult. Nonetheless, characters like Galahad look past such unfortunate encounters, managing to savor the “sweetness of summer.”
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
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