The novel Saturday by Ian Mc Ewan does not appear to contain anything extraordinary element in it in the beginning. The novel revolves around the life of Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon, who seems to be happy with his life and family. The novel is about how Perowne spends his Saturday and how the small insignificant parts of the days, which we tend to avoid, make our whole life.
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His family includes his wife, Rosalind, a newspaper lawyer, whom he loves, his daughter Daisy, who is a poet, and a son who is a very talented blues musician. Even though life Perowne is somewhat perfect, his thoughts reflect a kind of discomfort and confusion regarding the political situation of the country. Though Perowne is a surgeon by profession, his thoughts seem to be that of a deep thinker and philosopher.
Mc Ewan describes Perowne as “a habitual observer of his moods; he wonders about this sustained, distorting euphoria” (Ewan 5). The novel takes place on February 15, 2003, the day a protest was held in London against the Iraq invasion. The political situation is sensed by the reader at the very beginning of the novel. Perowne has his whole day planned as it is his day off from work.
Perowne has his whole routine in mind, i.e., playing squash, visiting his mother who is suffering from dementia, fixing dinner for his family, but as he performs these chores, he comes face to face with some hard realities. On his way to the game, Perowne has a little accident and encounters Baxter, a young man who appears to be dangerous at first, but soon he realizes that Baxter is suffering from the Huntington’s chorea and is somehow able to avoid the situation. It is this incident which keeps him thinking all day about his own life.
Perowne has a habit to medically explain everything that is happening in his life, and it is because of this habit that he was able to tot detect something was wrong with Baxter. On his way to the squash game, the reader realizes that there is a big protest going on in the street, and this is when one comes to know about the political views of Perowne. He is confused about whether the country should go forward with the war or not because he seems to understand both sides of the argument.
He knows through a client that it is better to overthrow Saddam Hussein but knowing the consequences of war, Perowne is not sure about the situation. One can tell that he is a very rational person who likes to analyze situations scientifically and understand the deeper meaning in them. It is this ability of his that makes him realize that even though his life is perfect and in control in his world, he has no control over the outside situation.
Though it is never fully disclosed in the novel, a fear of terrorism is detected through out the day. When Perowne sees the plane on fire when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he cannot help but think that it is a terrorist attack. Moreover, he is unconsciously worried that the impeding war may threaten his and his family’s freedom.
As Greer explains that “its this fear of terror that has overtaken the Western world since 9/11, that thousands of happy lives, if not more, could be snuffed out in moments during this war with Islamists” (Greer). It is this very fear that makes him uncomfortable despite having a perfect life and family.
Ewan, Ian Mc. Saturday. Anchor Books, 2006.
Greer, W. R. “A Day in the Life.” 2010. Reviews of Books. Web.