Saturday: Theme of Seclusion

9 Nov

Seclusion is a dominant theme in Saturday. It comes up in various aspects of the novel.



The first aspect of isolation is Perowne’s mode of transportations: his car. It is quite ironic that a car, a utility that allows people to travel far and meet other people, is a symbol of isolation. However, Perowne is constantly dividing himself from the aesthetic qualities of London as he moves with his car. During a scene, the narration starts to focus on the car’s radio as Perowne travels to a destination, instead of the city of London. This might be a point that Ian McEwan was trying to make. It is possible that our present day technologies do seclude us from noticing the aesthetic and simply urban qualities of a city. We are capped in a bubble that is our car, sheltering ourselves from nature. Essentially, we are isolated from the world around us when in a car. As the novel continues, Perowne is eventually forced out of his car when he hits into Baxter. The car had initially sheltered him from urban life. However, when forced to confront Baxter, Perowne had to move out of his car, where he exposed his vulnerability to the exterior environment that was once secluded to him.

As the confrontation between Baxter and Perowne progressed, one could see that Baxter had the physical advantage, as he had two other guys willing to support his argument violently. Perowne, who had been isolated from an urban environment, tried to apply his background in neuroscience to help is case in the fight. As we can see, urban street quarrels are rarely ever solved with medical science. In fact, Perowne appears to come off as snobbish and arrogant during the scene, establishing himself as a “doctor” with very formal English. In addition, Perowne actually began to instigate Baxter, which led to the eventual violent outbreak that left Perowne on the receiving end. Due to his seclusion to the urban environment, Perowne was unable to successfully deal with the argument.

Perowne use of neuroscience during social situations shows his constant engagement in his work. In a way, Perowne is secluded within his job as a neuroscience. He is constantly describing people in terms of their neurological state rather than regular social conventions. In fact, his use of neuroscience in his confrontation with Baxter was quite naive. As Perowne is always stuck within his work, he tends to be separated from an understanding of social acceptability.

Perowne’s sport of squash further establishes the theme of isolation. Squash is not a team sport. It is confined within four walls, with only a back glass wall. It is a sport that is one vs. one. It requires no communication. It is just a symbol of seclusion that further contributes to Perowne’s unwillingness to escape isolation.

To sum it up, the theme of seclusion is evident throughout the novel, Saturday. It seems to be a direct characteristic of Perowne, who seems to be isolated within his mind.


One Response to “Saturday: Theme of Seclusion”

  1. Matthew Alin November 10, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    I think you point out a theme that is very vital to our understanding of the novel. The idea of seclusion is central to our understanding of the novel because it creates a characterization of the characters especially Perowne. I think you analysis is apt because it displays the truth about Perowne as a character who struggles with gaining an understanding with the society around him. Without the theme of seclusion readers fail to get the feeling that Perowne feels which means readers would be more detached from the novel.

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