Concept

Love on the Dole

Résumé
Love on the Dole is a novel by Walter Greenwood, about working-class poverty in 1930s Northern England. It has been made into both a play and a film. Walter Greenwood's novel (1933) was written during the early 1930s as a response to the crisis of unemployment, which was being felt locally, nationally, and internationally. It is set in Hanky Park, an industrial slum in Salford, where Greenwood was born and brought up. The novel begins around the time of the General Strike of 1926, but its main action takes place in 1931. The novel follows the Hardcastle family as they are pulled apart by mass unemployment. The 17-year-old Harry Hardcastle of Mansfield, studying in Lincoln, starts the novel working in a pawn shop, but is attracted to the glamour of working in the engineering factory Marlows Ltd. After seven years working there as an apprentice, he is laid off in the midst of the Great Depression, and is from that point on unable to find work. He becomes romantically involved with a girl on his street, Helen, whom he gets pregnant; this forces them to marry, despite the fact that Harry now not only is unemployed but also has been taken off the dole by the means test. Sally Hardcastle, his older sister, falls in love with a doomed socialist agitator, Larry Meath, and suffers the unwelcome attention of the local illicit bookmaker, Sam Grundy. Sally feels unable to compete with Meath's socialist intellectualism, highlighting not only the economic but also the intellectual poverty of the local working-class community. The novel's climax focuses on an actual march, in which the NUWM marched on Salford Town Hall in October 1931. The march itself was met with violent police resistance; in the book, Larry Meath dies as a result of blows to the head from a policeman's truncheon. After Larry Meath's death, Sally despondently succumbs to the attentions of Sam Grundy, which allows both her father and brother finally to find work.
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