The Road to Wigan Pier Themes

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Unemployment and Poverty

The book's commissioned purpose was to illustrate the conditions obtaining in Northern England for the unemployed. During the 1930s England—indeed the world—was suffering from prolonged economic depression and unemployment was rampant. Officially, two millions of people were unemployed though Orwell suggests that six millions would be closer to the truth. Beyond the unemployed, Orwell notes that between ten and twenty millions were working but receiving a less-than-subsistence wage for their labor. This economic paradigm resulted in many millions of people living on the national dole—welfare—for years or decades at a time. Needless to say, the dole amounts were based upon calculation of the minimum amount a person required to stay alive. Thus, vast segments of English society were living at a subsistence level, facing starvation and malnourishment on a daily basis. Part I of the book focuses nearly...

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This section contains 646 words
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Buy The Road to Wigan Pier Study Guide
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