Perowne's Saturday Character Analysis

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Sympathizing with the Bad Guy

Ian McEwans Saturday is a novel set in London, shortly after the 9/11-attacks happened. The outline of the novel seems to be fairly standard: there is a protagonist, Henry Perowne, an “intelligent though at times obtuse character” (Thrailkill 176), and an antagonist, Baxter. (Brillenburg Wurth and Rigney 172). The novel completely revolves around one particular day, namely February 15, a Saturday; Henry Perownes only day off. While preparing for what is expected to be an ordinary Saturday, Perowne has an encounter with Baxter, creating many unexpected twists. Baxter, an unemployed, lower-class sick man, compared to the wealthy neurosurgeon Perowne, would be expected to be the character hardest to sympathize
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A close reading of the passage in which the two men meet illustrates this comprehensively. When Baxter makes his first appearance in Perowne’s Saturday, he is introduced as follows: “The only person in the world he [Perowne] hates is sitting in the car behind him” (82). From the beginning on, it is made very clear that the relationship between Perowne and…show more content…
As most people are not medically trained, these assumptions he is making are of little meaning to them. Perowne might appear to be arrogant, as if he wants to impress with his knowledge. Also, to confront Baxter with his disease in front of his friends, while he makes it clear that it is a sensitive topic, does not do anything good for Perowne’s character. As mentioned before, Henry Perowne is a man who likes to be in control, to have power. “Every moment of Henry’s awareness involves competition for control, for authority, for possession” (Root 75). Multiple instances show how Perowne considers himself to be better than Baxter, or at least part of a better social class, based on the few facts he knows about him. This is once again very lively portrayed in the first scene the two men meet. Before the accident happens, Perowne saw Baxter and his friends Nigel and Nark rushing out of some sort of strip club. “As far as he’s aware, lap-dancing is a lawful pursuit. But if he’d seen the three men hurrying, even furtively, from the Wellcome Trust or the British Library he might already have stepped from his car” (83). Perowne thinks about this when he is

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