chapter  4
16 Pages

Language and Social Class in Arnold Wesker’s Roots

Arnold Wesker’s Roots, first presented in 1959, is generally considered to be the most popular play in what has become known as The Wesker Trilogy (Wilcher 1991: 31; Adler 1979: 429; Worth 1972:20; Leeming and Trussler 1971: 55; Latham 1965: 192; Findlater 1960: 236). The action revolves around Beatie Bryant, a young woman who grew up in rural Norfolk but who has been working and living in London for several years. She returns to her family home for a visit ahead of her urban intellectual boyfriend Ronnie, who is scheduled to come and meet the Bryants in two weeks’ time. Beatie is all eager anticipation about the visit, and speaks of little else besides Ronnie. Indeed, she has the habit of quoting Ronnie, so accurately that ‘we see a picture of him through her’ (Wesker 1959/1976: 88).1 However, neither the family nor the audience of Roots ever meet Ronnie in person. Instead of showing up as promised to meet her family, Ronnie sends a letter explaining to Beatie why he has decided to leave her.