Adolescence in 1970s Britain: Examining the effects of conflict in contemporary culture in The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe
Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club primarily focuses on the lives of three young schoolboys growing up in 1970s Birmingham during emerging youth culture and civil unrest. Utilising the contextual factors of the backdrop, Coe presents the subtle implications this conflict has in the development of the main characters in the narrative as the characters move toward adolescence. The consequences of political unrest and extremist ideology emerging in Britain play a clear role in the irreversible shaping of each character’s disposition and social status within society, as their community echoes the conflict in the greater macrocosm of culture across the country. The aim of this article is to present Coe’s use of contextual factors to portray the impact of both explicit conflict and underlying issues in the maturation of characters in the novel. To this end, issues centred on racism, xenophobia and social progressivism are to be discussed and analysed throughout the argument to determine the true extent of how conflict shapes the lives of the youth as they come of age.