The Lonely Londoners focuses on the lives of West-Indians during the period of post war II London. It describes the experiences of West Indian immigrants who newly arrived in England. The West Indians were the first non-white immigrants to settle in Britain after World War II. Most of them immigrated to Britain with a perception that Britain was their mother country, hence they were relaxed and became less prepare to face the hostility and resentment of the whites.
The West Indians migrated to Britain for several reasons. During this period many immigrants of black and Asian origins encountered discrimination that took place in several areas such as employment, housing, access to goods and services, and the widespread application of differences in skin color in public places. Most of them were seeking better living standards for themselves and their families. Some migrated to search for jobs and make savings and to return to their original homelands. Some West Indians were recruited as workers since Britain lacked labor force, whereas other were returning soldiers were recruited to fight in the World War II.
Initially, the immigrants thought that London was a good place due to their perception that the roads were paved with Gold, however, they found that life was unbearable than they thought. The living standards in London was quite expensive to the Western-Indian immigrants with lot of racial discrimination. The whites considered themselves to be in a higher social status that the immigrants. However, migrating in Britain was open to people from various places in the world because of a policy that was put in place to allow citizens from other colonies to settle in Britain. The West-Indian immigrants describes London to be a dark and depressing place and very cold.
The most recurring theme in the novel focuses on the upward mobility. Immigration to Britain was marked with various difficulties and experiences, the whites never welcomed the blacks due to differences in skin color. For instance, the West Indians found it difficult to get good jobs despite the fact that there was a shortage of labor in Britain. Most West Indians were forced to accept jobs they were overqualified to do, and obtained less wages or salaries than the white. The West Indians also experienced problems in obtaining suitable places to stay because few of them had money. Most of the West Indians were forced to look for cheaper accommodation to rent near their places of work which was mainly in poor localities in the inner cities. In addition, due to racial segregation, the West Indians were not allowed to rent better houses even if they could afford it. In some circumstances, the landlords would refuse to let their houses to be rented by blacks. Due to differences in skin color Western-Indians were regarded as outsiders hence; they were forced to isolate themselves in group identity.
This was due to discrimination based on the principle of congregation and segregation. Thus, the lives of West-Indian immigrants were marked with self hate, disappointments and struggle for survival. In the novel, Moses, the chief protagonist describes London as isolated city that is divided up in little world, according to his views, the inhabitants stayed where they belong and were not aware of the experiences of other people except from the news from newspapers (Samwel 68). The West-Indians struggled to survive due to the failure to achieve the intended promise. According to Moses, life in London as an immigrant is has no achievements since there is no development made by the immigrants, as they have no improvements in their living standards, have no place at all. However, the Londoners are described to have pride despite the social disadvantages and failures that characterize their lives.
Racial discrimination was quite rampant in Britain , the blacks were insulted with signs placed on house windows. Therefore, many West Indians had no options but to rent houses in most rundown locations where they were subjected to violence. In most places, including London, mobs of white people attacked the West Indians in the streets by destroying their property. However, since the West Indians were invited to Britain, they also had a feeling that Britain was their home, therefore their never deserved to be humiliated by the whites. Discrimination made the West Indians to experience shock in which they were not prepared for. Hence, some West Indians returned to their homeland in West Indies whereas some remained in Britain despite the difficulties that they underwent.
After the World War II, there was a massive immigration to UK; most Caribbean’s who were recruited in the armed forces retired home but found very disappointing situations. There were no jobs; hence the means of survival was very difficult since living standards that they expected from their homelands were lower. However, there were no restrictions in immigration to Britain. There was a differential incorporation of West Indians in UK due to the concept of black assimilation which was later followed by the acceptance. This led to class system in which the blacks were allowed to take the role of second class citizens. According to Kathleen (, the issue was a differential incorporation of the blacks in the respectable working white class, in the form of an informal segregation in the subordinate class culture. On the other hand, the West Indians there were a strategy to separate the West Indians from the mainstream society. This made the West-Indians to form a colony society which was a defensive and corporate response to segregation. This led to racism since the black community also turned it upon themselves. The issue of a colony society led to the growth of internal cultural cohesiveness and unity among the blacks.
In the current situation, the experiences of immigrants in UK are determined by the local social and economic conditions that are important determinants of relations that exist between new immigrants and the host population. The historical experience in settlement by immigrants in UK and the current ethnic composition are important in the determination of the capacity of neighborhood to accommodate new immigrants and to enhance a positive settlement experience as compared to the historical settlement experiences by the West Indians. Currently the settlement experience of new immigrants in UK varies considerably between ethnic and cultural grouping. In addition, there is a tension that exists between immigration policy and other policies that the government has employed in order to improve the living standards of immigrants living in deprived and poor neighborhoods. A problem occurs with the media that has negatively portrayed the new immigrants hence, may result into local tensions and contribute to hostility towards new immigrants by the host populations.
According to Kathleen (58) currently, the range of available employment opportunities has changed drastically to new immigrants. This has been caused by restructuring in the industrial sector that has reduced the availability of opportunities in the industrial town and cities. However, the rate if immigration has increased and the immigrants have established new patterns of settlement that includes the economic immigrant populations that have been drawn to areas with a wider range of employment opportunities such as London. Other immigrants have also opted to move to small towns with and rural areas that are depend on agrarian economy.
New immigrants in UK today are characterized by a far more diverse population when compared to the immigrants in post war period (Chris 93). The present contemporary immigrants are characterized by small numbers of individuals from a large ethnic or cultural background emigrating from their homelands due to a number of reasons such as escape from persecutions, political influences, and search for jobs or to stay near to their family members. However, the experiences of new immigrants have not changed since poverty and hostility from host populations still influence the move by new immigrants to prefer less popular inner city neighborhoods to stay.
Currently, new immigrants in UK arrive at a time when public policy increasingly takes into account the residential segregation of the minority immigrants at the neighborhood level as an issue to be solved; this has led contributed to further action to be taken to restrict residential segregation and increase integration (Community Cohesion Panel 67). This has led to isolated settlement patterns for some immigrants, particularly workers. Most immigrants have talked about improved safety and comfort hat has been achieved from living close to people from the same ethnic or cultural background. In addition, there has been resource availability from organizations that are managed by these clustered communities to assist in reducing the social and economic problems that the new immigrants may encounter regardless of their socio-economic status. Furthermore, population clustering has enabled the new immigrants to be able to attain culturally sensitive services such as religious and recreational facilities and services. It has also enable immigrants to secure some degree of power and be influential in politics. In conclusion, the current experiences of new immigrants in UK have been characterized with improvement in the socio-economic and political aspects to satisfy the immigrant’s material needs.