09 Dec Chapters 6: The Truth and 7: The Shining Light
This pair of chapters has a focus on the role of religion and the organised church in the life of the working classes. Chapter 6 opens with a wide ranging lunchtime debate in which all the men air their views – Sawkins is typically silly, Crass is angry, Slyme is supercilious and Owen is shocked at their hypocrisy and gullibility. Owen sets out the causes of poverty as he sees it, beginning with ‘landlordism’. He shows how so much of the community resources are owned by an undeserving few, and uses the prospect of a privatised air system to illustrate the unfairness of this system. Just as he begins to convince them, the lunch-hour is over and they must return to work.
As though to illustrate the arguments Owen just made, the bosses Hunter and Rushton come to the house and unilaterally cut the pay rate. They send Newman away, for being too slow and careful with his work.
In Chapter 7 we see Owen’s son Frankie being introduced to Sunday School by his new friends, where we witness extraordinary hypocrisy and greed from the pulpit.
Owen begins work on the drawing room and, for the first time, the apprentice Bert is learning skills and enjoying his work. Crass is jealous and bitter about Owen’s talents. Most men go to the pub after work, but Slyme is a temperance Methodist and he doesn’t approve of drinking. He’s lodging with the Eastons now, and he helps Ruth with the baby while Easton gets drunk with Crass. She is not pleased to see him when he finally gets home.