For this work we shall explore the author Arthur Hailey and three of his novels Hotel, Airport, and In High Places. Even though Hailey is not considered to be a classic author, his books are renowned bestsellers. What has caused these novels to engage so many readers?
Partly it is the realistic and accurate description of the settings where his stories take place. He spent a lot of time researching each of the books in factories, hospitals, airports, etc. His aim was to observe and record as much detail as possible from different settings and to use these findings in the stories. We will observe in detail these settings, which are actually the main ‘heros’of his novels. These settings strongly influence the actions and behaviours of the characters who are connected to them.
Hailey belongs to the group of authors who are known for realism in their works. He wrote novels which decribe real life in big companies or enterprises. Readers find themselves in settings which are described in such detail that they learn much about the operations and conditions in for example: a hotel, an airport, the American car industry, a broadcasting company or when drawn into a political scene.
Hailey belongs to a group of writers who wrote so called ‘profession‘ novels. He wrote eleven novels, each of them has a different setting. He is occupied mainly with places which affect our daily lives, like hospital care, banking, the média, politics, the hotel industry, aviation and others. The location plays the main role in his novels, the plots and the characters are simple, added almost to compliment the story rather than play an integral part.
Having read all his novels choosing just three of them was not easy. The chosen reflect the diversity of settings concerning three essentially different topics; the accommodation, services and boarding in hotels; the staff, security, and responsibility in airlines; and, the cold war, politics, a government and its members with all their ambitions and intrigues.
Hailey’s novels rank highly amongst so called ‘relaxation literature‘ and they are often termed as non-fiction or sociological novels. His books are intended for a wide sphere of readers; for this reason and their popularity they were translated into many languages and sold in large quantities all over the world. The commercial success of his works is a result of a skilful mix of fiction and a fact.
1 ARTHUR HAILEY
Arthur Hailey was an international author in every sense. He was British by birth, Canadian by nationality, and finally, an American resident. His novels are published in all major languages.Throughout the world he has an enthusiastic following of readers.
Arthur Hailey was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1920. Since childhood he was an enthusiastic reader who preferred reading at home or visiting the library to playing with other children outside. He dreamed of becoming a reporter, his mother was ambitious for him succeed, but his father discouraged him. He was not very good at maths, but he was talented and liked writing stories.
When he was fourteen he had to leave school because his parents did not have enough money to pay for his futher education. He started to work as a messanger boy in a real estate agency and his wage was only five shillings a week. At the same time he attended evening classes where he learned shorthand and typing. All the time he enjoyed writing different genres, for example, poetry, essays, one-act plays, stories but nothing was published.
When the World War II broke out, young Hailey was mobilized and he spent the war as a flight lieutenant of Royal Air Force in the Middle and Far East and in 1947 he moved to Canada. At first he tried his luck as an estate agent there, later as an editor of a business paper and as a sales and advertisment director. From 1965 to 1969 he lived in California and then he moved to the Bahamas to avoid Canadian and U.S. income taxes, which were claiming 90% of his income.
In 1944 he married to Joan Fischwick, an English girl, who worked at the Embassy. He had three sons with his wife but their marriage was not happy. The family suffered from Arthur’s obsession with writing and in 1949 it broke up.
He met his second wife in Canada and in 1951 they married. They were constantly on the move – Canada, California, London, New York, Hollywood and at last, Hailey made his home in Lyford Cay, an exclusive residential resort on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. He lived there with his second wife Sheila (who wrote about her marriage in the book, I Married a Best-Seller in 1978)and with their three children – Jane, Steven and Diane.
In the last years of his life he suffered from health problems, underwent two heart operations; one month before his death he had a stroke, his next stroke was probably the cause of his death. He died on November 24, 2004.
Hailey did not write academic literature but his descriptions are highly realistic and he did extensive research into the settings of his stories. His works are often classified as non-fiction or sociological novels. He also used a multi-plot technique, changing scenes just as the suspense in the story reached its peak. The environment, described in great detail, becomes the main ‘hero‘ of the prose. These two traits make his works ideal for films, such as for The Airport (1968).
His literary fame began in 1956 when his adventure story Flight into Danger was published and made into a film. He wrote this book together with J. Castle, the plane expert. Finally, the story satiated readers’ longing for modern adventure reading. His debut novel can be summarised by the film style strapline; an emergency on a board a plane of Transcanadian Airlines drags each reader into the thrilling action in such a way that the reader literally spends the moments of extreme danger with his heroes.
In 1959 the first bestseller The Final Diagnosis appeared. In this novel Hailey showed himself to be an artful author who knows his readers demands - the posibility to candidly and secretly penetrate - at least in spirit with the writer – the gateway to workplaces full of excitement, perhaps full of secrets.
This novel of American hospital life appeared in fifteen languages, another novel, In High Places, was translated into five languages. The both novels were selected by the Literary Guild. Hailey’s plays have been performed throughout the world on television, and many of his stories have been made into successful motion pictures.
During the writing of Hotel, the author spent many months in New Orleans studying hotel operations at first hand.
A hailmark of any Hailey story is painstaking research into the background he is writing about. Before beginning Airport he spent almost a year criss-crossing North America and Europe, interviewing hundreds of airport and airline officials, air traffic controllers, pilots, and others. One such interview took him to the little Northern California town of St. Helena, nestled in the beautiful Napa Valley wine producting region. He fell in love with the place and lived there with his family for some time.
Critics often dismissed Hailey’s success as the result of a formulaic style in which he centered a crisis on an ordinary character, then inflated the suspense by hopping among multiple related plotlines. However, he was so popular with readers that his books were guaranteed to become bestsellers.
Hailey can be also considered as a founder of so called the professional novel. Each of his books describes a setting in details and these details spring from intimate knowledge which Hailey aquired by dint of research.
He would spend about one year researching a subject, followed by six months reviewing his notes, and finally, about 18 months writing the book. This aggressive style of research – tracking rebel guerrillas in the Peruvian jungle at age 67 for The Evening News (1990), or reading 27 books on the hotel industry for Hotel –gave his novels a realism that appealed to readers, even though some critics complained that he used it to mask a lack of literary talent.
His books have often reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and more than 170 million copies have been sold worlwide in 40 languages. Many have been made into movies and Hotel was made into a long-running television series. Airport became a blockbuster movie with stunning visual effects.
Each of his novels has a different industrial or commercial setting and includes, in addition to dramatic human conflict, carefully researched information about the way that particular environment and its systems function and how these affect the social interaction of inhabitants.
His first work Runway Zero- Eight (1958) describes events which happen on board a plane. Both pilots are unable to fly, because they go into a coma caused by food poisoning. It seems that the plane is going to crash, but one of the passengers (an ex-pilot) manages to save the plane with all the crew and passengers when he eventually lands it.
To write the novel The Final Diagnosis (1959), it took only nine months. Hailey wanted to capture work in a big American hospital truthfully and for this reason he attended an amputation and a heart surgery. He also listened to radiologists, pathologists, spoke to nurses, internists and also observed a childbirth. For this reason he was able to describe performances and relationships so convincingly.
His most favourite book, In High Places (1960), describes the climate of the Cold War in North America. The topic concerns the international politics of governments, parliaments and diplomats, at the time when Cold War was at its heigh. Canada wanted to join the USA because of the rising power of the Soviet Union. The author points out the politics which were honourable on one hand were, also, on the other, dirty. As a reader you become emotionaly involved with the plight of a young captive on a ship who demands entry on the Canadian coast.
The novel Hotel (1965) is concerned with the hotel industry and civil law. The author captures five busy days in one typical gigantic hotel and uses his ability to create an exciting plot which culminates in a dramatic denouement.
The story Airport (1968) became a film of the same name. The text quickly transports the reader to an imaginary international airport in Illinois at the time when the whole country is tormented by heavy snowstorm. The work of employees is difficult on a daily basis and here they have to solve yet more problems with a cynical psychopath who intends to detonate a bomb on board one of the planes.
The plot of the next novel Wheels (1971) takes place in Detroit and put us not only into the operations of the automobile industry and motor shows, but also into organized crime. The author describes inhumane conditions of employees in the factory and also worries of their superiors who work hard to keep up with competitions.
In the novel The Moneychangers (1975) Hailey took aim at American finance. It is a story about a big bank which is one day powerful and successful, and the next day is on the verge of bankruptcy, due to avariciousness of some employees.
Different deceptions and dirty tricks of big companies are depicted in the novel Overload (1979). It deals with the power crisis in California, and mainly with the overloading of power stations.
Strong Medicine (1984) is from pharmaceutical industry. We can take a rare glance into the world of medical production. The author takes us down a difficult path that leads to finding of an effective medicine and depicts the fight between ethics and profit. He also records some tragic errors in this area.
The novel The Evening News (1990) was, of his novels, ma favourite. We get into the world of an American broadcasting studio and we learn something about lives of newscasters and journalists. In this book Hailey points out possible terrorist acts which come from poorer countries, in this case Peru. A terrorist group, called Sendero Luminoso kidnaps the family of one newscaster and demands the broadcasting of materials pertaining to their group, otherwise the family will die.
His last novel Detective (1997) brings us to Miami and describes the work of a Miami police chief who reveals a series of murders and tries to help a condemmed man to prove that he is innocent of these brutal crimes.
In general terms, all his books can be considered blockbusters, regardless of whether they are concerned with political, medical or criminal topics. However, there is one thing which could discourage an audience from reading the whole book. Hailey tries to familiarize readers with each character within the first fifty pages. He often begins with a notable character like a president and ends with a totally unimportant person, for example, a market gardener. With so many names and characters, it is often hard to realize who is who and readers often have to return on preceding pages..
2 Work and the working environment in the realistic novel
Hailey’s works belong to the literary movement which is called realism. Realism arises in France in the second half of 19th century, when it gains the upper hand over romantism. But this transition was not smooth. In works of some romantic authors, like Stendhal or Pushkin we find realistic elements, its formation is related to social changes – when stormy revolution became settled, the life become more steady and authors focus on reality instead of looking for ideals. For this reason, realistic works are mostly situated in the author’s time.
Compared to the romantic hero, who is contrary to his surroundings, the characters of realistic novels are influenced by the milieu and mainly by the time and circumstances that determine their fate. For this reason, the realistic hero changes and develops in the course of novel, he or she is not exceptional, on the contrary, he or she is an average person. The characters often come from the lower classes and the used language corresponds to this status. Authors do not hesitate to use for depiction of setting and character, slang or argot, but not in everything only in the direct speach of the characters.
The author himself usually does not identify with the characters, mostly depicts the story independently, objectively, with many details. However, it does not mean that he does not evaluate them. From their actions and characteristic we can see the authors‘ opinion of characters and the period in which they lived. This opinion is mostly critical and condemns contemporary conditions, and it is for this reason that this movement is also called critical realism (lat. realis = subject, real).
After the first phase of realism there the theory of realism was formed and fundamental demands of this movement were set. The first element is verity of depiction which demands the art should capture the reality, the subject or the phenomenon most accurately. At the same time the subject has to be depicted in relation to its surroundings. Thus what represents an inaccurate depiction is neither true nor beautiful. The fundamental demand of realism is to depict the historical fidelity and describe the real past.
The authors in an effort to capture the story truthfully, will describe characters typical for a certain setting, time and this element is called typicality. Typification proves to be when an author creates a hero, a hero of realistic work emerged either according to a concrete, living character or usually in the such a way that the author choices some real persons who lives in the same time and place and then he creates from them a hero. Also the location is standardized, the author observes exactly the setting where the story is to be set. In the works where a setting is not done, typical and fundamental features are stressed. The next demand is popularity, the characters are as much heroes as the readers because realism does not suppose a high education, it stressed the side of comprehensibility.
Usually the author tries to take a stand on a problem, he condemns the fact which he considered to be wrong and, contrary, he praises it for what he considered to be moral. This last demand is called social involution.
Realism is artificially divided into descriptive and critical. Descriptive realism describes a phenomenon or a story without author’s effort to stress involution. Critical realism stresses the side of involution and implies a possible resolution to a situation, in reality it is never possible to determine which realism it is. We can assign here also the psychology of the character. The characters work themselves way to realism progressively, the characters are watched for a prolonged period, it is several months or years if necessary. The novel nearly always captures a longer period.
Realism started to appear in all countries in the works of different authors. In French literature, romanticism and realism developed in parallel, at first whole a range of authors wrote in the spirit of romantism, then they changed it to realism. The result is a fact that we can find a lot of romantic attitudes in realistic works.
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) is considered as the founder of French realism. He came to Paris as a young countryman and at first he wrote below-average adventurous novels to make a living. His main work was the extensive cycle of novels Human Comedy. In 97 novels he tried to capture, according to his own words, all life situations and characters of people of that time. He really managed to comprise all social classes in them, from the lowest via townspeople, who got to wealth and power in that time, to declining aristocracy. The individual novels are not completely separated, or characters often appear in several of the stories.
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) occupied with human passions and feelings unlike Balzac who focused on the society. In the psychological novel Madame Bovary he worked out a story of country doctor’s wife who, inspired by romantic reading, expects life and marriage to conform to certain patterns, but her longing for an exciting life is in vain, her illusions fade out and finally, she solves her problems by commiting suicide.
Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) is a master of short stories and novels, in his works there predominates description and narration. His social-critical novel Bel Ami describes increase of a young journalist who builds his career by using women and finally, he gets into Parisian noble circles.
Emile Zola (1840-1902) is the founder of naturalism which is sometimes considered as a separate art movement. Naturalism replenishes realism by forceful impressionistic depiction of human poverty. His first naturalistic novel is Thérése Raquin.
The development of English realism is understandable when we put it in comparison with the development of England in that time. Ideals of bourgeois society asserted themselves and in England, for this reason, there predominates a rational view of the world which relates with a practical life. English realism had an influence on the development of this movement in Europe.
A predecessor of realism was Daniel Defoe (1660-1731). His novel Robinson Crusoe is a celebration of human activity and creativity, the typical feature of the hero is the fact that he gets to perfection by permanent repetition of activities.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is the most important English realistic writer. He projects his own experience from his childhood into his novels. Because his parents ended up in prison for debtors he had to slave as a worker in a factory from the age of 12. For this reason he often occupied with fates of homeless children who have to struggle through the life – Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit or Great Expectations.
We can also add to the realists Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) who uses in her works autobiography and Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865) who created the so called ‘labour novel‘. In her masterpiece Mary Barton she reflected in a traditional love plot actual problems of a class struggle and she depicted unbearable suffering of Manchester workers in the lean forties with considerable realistic illustrative nature.
Among Russian realists we can classify Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852), Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883), and Anton Chekhov (1860-1904). They all criticised bad conditions of people and revealed the failings of the czarist system.
Not only in Europe but also in the USA comes about a rise of realism in the nineteenth century and there were a lot of writers who tried to capture reality not only in their country but also from abroad.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the gold rush in California (starting in 1848); the Civil War (1861-1865) which almost split the North from the South over the issue of slavery; and the first assassination of an American president, Abraham Lincoln, in office (1865). After the Civil War, the South was in ruins while the North economically prospered. Aid from the North brought cooperation and reconciliation between the two areas.
The U.S Civil War between the industrial North and the agricultural, slave-owning South was a watershed in American history. The innocent optimism of the young democratic nation gave way. Before the war idealism championed human rights, especially the abolition of slavery; after the war, Americans increasingly idealised progress and the self-made man. Business boomed after the war. War production had boosted industry in the North, and given it prestige and political clout.
The new intercontinental system inaugurated in 1869, and the transcontinental telegraph, which began operating in 1861, gave industry access to materials, markets and communications. In 1860, most Americans lived on farms or in small villages, but by 1919 half of the population was concentrated in about twelve cities.
By the end of the century, the US not only extended across to the west coast, but had also gained a number of strategically located colonies, which helped establish its position as an influential world power.
As the United States expanded westward, Americans became curious about people in all parts of the country. Writers satisfied this curiosity with colourful description of local customs, manners, speech, and dress.
Some authors specialized in humorous ‘tall tales‘ about exaggerated heroes and incidents. These became known as literary comedians. Some literary comedians appealed to a national audience and forsook the sectional characterizations of earlier humorists. The nature of their humour shifted from character portryal to verbal devices such as poor grammar, bad spelling, and slang.
Other writers, called local colorists, wrote more serious poems, stories, and novels about various regions. They took over to some extent the task of portraying sectional groups that had been abandoned by writers of the new humour. Their works laid the foundations for the realistic movement that dominated American literature during the 1900s.
In time, practically every corner of the United States had been portrayed in local-color fiction. The aim of some of these writers was to portray realistically the lives of various sections and thereby to promote understanding in a united nation.
Already before the turn of the century, more and more writers were creating realistic stories. These included Mark Twain, as well as William Dean Howells (1837-1920) who formulated the first theory for American realism. He set the tone for American realism by defining its aims as ‘nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material‘, that is, the truthful portrayal of ordinary facets of life, with some limitations. He had many followers and in his time realism became the mainstream of American literature.
Some realists, however, did not just portray the average and the ordinary, but concentrated on the extremes: crime, violence, profanity, slum conditions, and the lowest aspects of human society. They often showed their characters as victimes of social conditions. These writers become known as naturalists. Naturalism was a more advanced stage of realism. The naturalists were influenced by the French naturalist writer, Émile Zola, and believed, based on modern science, that people are not really free, but rather their lives, opinions, and morality are controlled by social, economic, and psychological causes. American naturalists include Frank Norris, Jack London, and Hamlin Garland.
Many other authors produced forceful, often brutal, stories and novels into the 1900s. for example, Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) was among those who led the way toward powerful realistic and naturalistic writing. His well-known work is An American Tragedy (1925), based on a true murder case in 1906. in the Studs Lonigan series, James T. Farrell (1904-1979) drew a dark picture of life on Chicago’s south side. John O’Hara (1905-1970) specialized in realistic descriptions of upper middle class life in such novels as From the Terrace and Ten North Frederick. Henry Miller (1891-1980) wrote his best-known novels, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, during the 1930s, though they were banned in the US until the 1960s. The particularly shocking book was the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair where he describes appalling conditions in a Chicago slaughterhouse.
Problems of urbanization and industrializon appeared. Farmers too saw themselves struggling against the money interests of the East, the so-called robber barons like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. The ideal American of the post-Civil War period became the millionaire. From 1860 to 1914 the USA was transformed from a small young agricultural ex-colony to a huge, modern industrial nation.
Characteristic American novels of the period – Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Jack London’s Martin Eden, and later Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy depicts the damage of economic forces and alienation on the weak or vulnerable individuals. Survivors, like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn endure through inner strength involving kindness, flexibility and, above all, individuality.
Jack London (1876-1916), a poor, self-taught worker from California, the naturalist Jack London was catapulted from poverty to fame by his first collection of stories The Son of the Wolf, set largely in the Klondike region of Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. Other of his best-sellers, including The Call of the Wild and The Sea-Wolf made him the highest paid writer in the United States of his time.
The autobiographical novel Martin Eden depicts the inner stress of the American dream as London experienced them during his meteoric rise from obscure poverty to wealth and fame. Eden, an impoverished but intelligent and hard working sailor and laborer, is determined to become a writer. Eventually his writing makes him rich and well-known but Eden realises that women he loves cares only for his money and fame. His despair over her inability to love causes him to love faith in human nature. He also suffers from class alienation, for he no longer belongs to the working class, while he rejects the materialistic values of the wealthy whom he worked hard to join. He sails for the South Pacific and commits suicide by jumping into the sea. Like many of the best novels of that time, Martin Eden was not a success story.
We can not omit Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) and his book Death in the Afternoon where he tries to descibe bullfighting knowledgeably and as well grippingly.
3 TRENDS IN THE POST-WAR NOVEL
Novels written since World War II are diverse and varied. There were writers with philosophical and religious orientations, others captured changes in a society. This partially characterized the works of C. P. Snow and Anthony Powell, who wrote multi-volume stories over many years.
Doris Lessing and two other writers addressed the problems of colonialism. J. F. Farrell traced a part of the history and the decline of the British Empire. Joyce Cary wrote four novels set in West Africa and dealing with the confrontation between the tribunal culture and the British administration, and one dealing with the decline of the Empire.
Themes of 20th-century novelists also include events in various parts of the world, the struggle against fascism, and the Cold War. Among significant writers of that time we can rank James Aldridge, who was best at politico-psychological novels; and Arthur Hailey, who wrote realistic sociological novels.
Other writers of interest include J. R. R. Tolkien, a fantasy writer; Roald Dahl, known for children’s books and shocking stories; and James Herriot, a veterinarian, who recorded many of his professional experiences in books. Younger prose writers, born after the war, that have become well known are Salman Rushdie, who combines realism with fantasy; Martin Amis with satirical and serious topics; and Ian McEwan, who deals with sexual and political issues.
Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow of Leicester (1905-1980), had as his life’s twin ambitions scientific achievements and high social standing. At the same time, he was irresistibly drawn to literary creation. Eventually he received public recognition in both fields.
Snow’s concept of life and the world was overall rational, materialistic, and atheistic. In his serious works, he adopted humanistic attitudes and strong ethical emphases. His first works were in the style of the detective novel and also science fiction in the spirit of H. G. Wells. Later he become more a follower of Galsworthy and the critical realists of the 19th century. He was opposed to literary experiments.
Snow’s style is slow, systematic, as well as highly descriptive and precise. His subjects capture the reader’s attention with close views into scientific, financial, and political spheres usually inaccessible to ordinary people. During the war, he devoted himself to scientific work in defence of Britain, and then continued in public offices, reaching high levels of responsibility, as well as acquiring nobility titles. At the same time, he continued writing, including in his storyteller, Lewis Eliot, autobiographical elements.
Anthony Powell (1905-2000) started writing a 12-volume series, A Dance to the Music of Time, after World War II. In these series he starts with depicting of student lives and ends after the stormy 60s. These individual volumes were published between 1951 and 1976. He wrote in a calm, refined manner, with a touch of irony and a sense for the funny side of people and situations.
In the series, Powell describes what he considers the changing nature of the English upper-middle class following World War II. The novels are written in the first person by Nicholas Jenkins, the storyteller of C.P. Snow.
James Gordon Farrell (1935-1979) wrote an excellent historical novel about India, called The Siege of Krishnapur (1973). It pitures the first phase of an anti-British uprising of Indian soldiers conscripted into the colonial army in 1857. Farrell appears to have been inspired by Foester’s A Passage to India with its ironical and symbolical realism.
The themes of decline and fall of the British Empire enabled Farrell to use his unique gifts of storytelling and original imagination. His works are historically accurate and combine Dickensian multiplicity of characters, exaggerated comedy, and rich symbolism.
James Aldridge (b.1918) came to England from Australia where his English parents had settled. He worked as a news reporter and travelled around the world witnessing many of the battlegrounds of World War II. This is reflected in his works. The plot often concentrates on actual political problems and the inner psychological conflicts of his heroes. One of his main themes is life choices. Aldridge also contributed to the anti-colonialist novel. The genre that he had most success with was the politico-psychological novel with a broad international background.
Arthur Hailey (1920-2004) wrote relaxation literature in which he used realistically descriptive methods, and did extensive research into the settings of his stories. His works can be considered as non-fiction or sociological novels. He also used a multi plot technique, changing scenes just where a story was the most suspenseful. The environment, described in great detail, becomes the main “hero“ of the prose. These two traits make his works ideal for film-making, such as for The Airport.
He is considered as a founder of so called profession novel. Commercial success of his works is a result of his skilful connection of fiction and facts and the extensive research gives to his books realism which has effect on readers.
How is profession novel different from other genres? It is a fact that Anglo-Saxon literature always considered the setting as a decisive part of novel organization. However, it always served and supported the plot and to a great extent exemplified the psychological aspects of characters. The profession novel shifted the focus on the setting itself, emphasized a variety of its aspects and often reduced the plot to the minimum of standartized actions and motives. The professin novel can be also defined as a novel about a human activity but not about a human soul.
I have chosen the author just for the descriptions of different settings because readers can get interesting information about operations in such companies which are attractive for all people and they can get a picture of real state of affairs. I am not a literal critic so I can not evaluate Hailey’s work in its artistic respect, but I think that what he scrimped on the plot he made it up on the describtions of the settings. Some critics say that Hailey tried to hide a lack of talent by writing mainly about the settings because his plots do not have enough big depth. However, after a busy day I would rather reach out for such a genre than to plough through Joyce’s Ulysses.
‘A rip-snorting story.‘
Here are some comments by reviewers from coast to coast which evaluate this book as one of the most hypnotically readable novels of the decade.
‘Instant readability…It catches the reader by his lapels and holds him through the last crowded page…Thoroughly satisfying…The kind of novel that may bring back the book that is for reading.‘ – CHICAGO TRIBUNE
‘A sure thing…A pure gloss finish, the recurring crescendo effect of a cliff-hanger…Mr. Hailey is a pro, no mistake about it – so much so that he convinced this reader that singing into a hotel is akin to singing into one of the most active volcanos.‘ – NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
‘A great story…An enthralling book…Will amaze and delight the reader.‘ – CLEVELAND PRESS
‘Compulsively readable.‘ – DAILY EXPRESS
‘Traveller, pray lodge in this unworthy house. The bath is ready. A peaceful room awaits you. Come in! Come in!‘
Translation of a sign at the doorway of an inn,
4.1 American notion of a hotel implies a way of life
The appelation hotel is taken from the French, where it emerged from medieval naming of public houses. Public houses are the predecesors of hotels. The hotel as an individual institution for travellers accommodation appeared for the first time at the turn of 18th and 19th century. The development of the hotel industry in Europe is evident mainly in the countries with favourable conditions for trade development and tourism, as e.g. in France, the Great Britain, Switzerland and Germany.
In 1829 there emerged a hotel in the USA with porters, in-house flush toilets, and where keys were given to guests and so on. The first personal lifts appeared in hotels in 1859. In 1882 guests are dazzled by electrical light for the first time. In 1907 there opened a hotel where each of 300 rooms was equipped with its own bath, radio etc.
At first, some entrepreneurs started to open restaurants and when they were lucky they were financially successful. For example, Howard Johnson (now a famous hotel company) opened his first restaurant in 1925. In 1950 he started by opening his own hotels and in 1961 he had eighty-eight hotels and six hundred and five restaurants.
After the World war II, the development of the airline business brought the stormy development of the tourist industry and tourism. An example of the effect of this development is a formation of hotel chains. During the forties, Intercontinental, the affiliated firm of the company Pan American Airways, starts to operate on the market in Latin America and it becomes the first big international hotel chain.
In the seventies hotels start to provide an increased protection and comfort for women who travel alone. Since 1976 the rooms become a centre of entertainment. By the end of the eighties, a revolutionary development in information technology brought the second impulse towards further globalization.
However, hotel chains do not want to unite. The reason being is that each hotel chain has its own view of qualitative aspect of the services provided by it. For example, the aim of official unified classification of accommodation facilities is influencing the quality and development provided by restaurants and accommodation services. It is possible to characterize hotel industry as an integral part of tourist industry services. It is subject to the construction, management and organization of hotels and big hotel chains, security of its operation and providing of hotel services. Lately, they often speak about the hotel industry.
The term hotel is used for wide range of accommodation facilities. Generally, it is possible to classify hotels into three groups; airport hotels which are near airports, commercial hotels which are placed mainly in business and administrative zone of towns or cities and convention hotels which are situated in towns, often near city conference centres.
The globalization which manifests itself by growth of possibilities and their attainability has influenced fundamentally also utilization of free time, ways of travelling and demand for unified services. The development of the hotel industry, hotel operation and a building of accommodation facility like this anticipates or reacts to the development of tourist industry.
In last decades came a dramatic growth in hotel capacity. Of course, it brought a growth of competition with itself and afterwards a narrow interconnection of independent subjects, which might use competitive relations rationally to benefit of all competitors.
Other elements of the integration process of the world hotel industry are investment activities. So far the number of networks, chains and their extent has broadened, also the specialization of line of business has increased. Particular hotels becoming part of international chains.
The concentration of hotel industry we can distinguish in three levels: either as a concentration in limited geographical space or within one national economy or as a group of supranational range. Although the original territory of hotel gathering into chains is America, today impact of this trend is worldwide. A range of European or Asian networks have emerged and they not only compete with the original American ones but they have also expanded into these markets.
The connecting of hotels into certain groups is dated into the period after 1946. The pioneer is considered the franchising chain Inter Continental which was founded by the company Panamerican.
The development of world growth of hotel industry is to a large extent determined by development of hotel industry in the USA Hotel chains expand on new markets. They increase the number of hotels and beds by consolidation in particular destinations. They use the same trademark, the same marketing devices and unified way of management. Today, independent hotels in the USA comprise only 25-30% of market. Fifty years earlier, it was 90%.
The globalization of the hotel industry is characterized by conflict against providing individual services. Although statistics show that people will travel more frequently at the same time they will expect more security. For this reason, global trademarks will be of great importance. However, a global trademark comprises of a promise which each enterpriser has to realize. It is not enough to put a promise into signed contracts and to think that the business relation is solved by this. It is sure that the signed contracts can solve the legal basis, however the relations of business partners stand on mutual confidence and respect. Nowadays, an investor does not decide only about that where to invest his money but often about his name, because the trademark is in global competition the thing which differs from others.
The individual service is inseparable part of trademark policy. Hotel chains can offer the same services for all guests, while independent hotels are able to provide individual services. That all speak in favour of small independent hotels when a hotel of an international trademark stands in immediate proximity. Hotel chains have power and opportunities for investment into design, operation and production of services F B (Food Beverage). This fact is logically accompanied by demand of higher growth of rentability of all accommodation organizations. The existing idea, that certain resorts in hotels can not be abolished, is quickly disappearing. The pressure of investors on return is merciless. The global tendence is a narrower connection of investor interests and hotel management. Perhaps, this reality can be a certain small opportunity for individual hoteliers who have the independence of financial decision making in their hands.
4.2 The location and the prospects of the St. Gregory
The fictional hotel St. Gregory is in New Orleans in the state of Louisiana. It ranks among independent hotels and also it is the largest hotel in the city. The hotel takes place in the French Quarter which belongs to the best parts of the city. This quarter is bustling and full of people day and night, in the evenings they can spend their free time in late bars, bistros, jazz halls and stript joints which are opened till daybreak.
It is summer and the city is sweltering in heat and humidity, producing tensions all around. The air conditioning in the hotel is running at full power, however, it is unable to make the building and rooms cooler. There is a danger that such overloaded mechanism should stop working, which would endanger the hotel operation.
The hotel is inefficient in many ways and in recent years it has coasted under the shadow of its former glories. Currently, too, the hotel is facing a financial crisis which might force drastic transitions whether its proprietor is in favor or not. The hotel does not have a firm management, there is not an effective chain of command, with the result that department heads in some cases gained quite extraordinary powers. A good observer can notice minor failings just in the lobby:
‘Small signs, but significant: a newspaper left in a chair and uncollected; a half-dozen cigarette butts in a sand urn by the elevators; a button missing from a bell-boy’s uniform; two burned-out light bulbs in the chandelier above. At the St. Charles Avenue entrance a uniformed doorman gossiped with a news vendor, a tide of guests and others breaking around them. Closer at hand an elderly assistant manager sat brooding at his desk, eyes down.‘ (Hailey, Arthur. Hotel. New York: A Bantam Book, 1965, p.84)
The hotel was built up from an original simple building into a building which now takes up the whole block. It has fifteen floors, four lifts and the rooms of different prices and services. It is natural, that such tall hotels have also the thirtieth floor, but the hotels pretend that this floor does not exist and they call it either twelfth or fourteenth floor.
The lifts are in bad contitions, the chief engineer often warned the management about this state, but money for engineering was over-drawn so the people had to believe and pray so that the lifts endure. But in the case of the St. Gregory, wishes and prayers fell on deaf ears, one lift fell down and the results were catastrophic. When such accident happens, only at that time the people realize what they missed and what lesson they have to draw.
The largest and most elaborate suite is the Presidential Suite which was known familiarly as ‘the brasshouse‘. This suite is used for accommodation of important guests, including presidents and royality. It is favoured by them because it respects guests‘ privacy, including indiscretions, if any. The entrance to this suite is possible through a double padded leather doors which are decorated with gold fleur-de-lis and a mother-of-pearl doorbell. The whole suite is functionally and luxuriously equipped:
‘While speaking they had moved from the corridor into the hallway of the suite, a tastefully appointed rectangle with deep broadloom, two upholstered chairs, and a telephone side table beneath a Morris Henry Hobbs engraving of old New Orleans. The double doorway to the corridor formed one end of the rectangle. At the other end, the door to the large living room was partially open. On the right and left were two other doorways, one to the self-contained kitchen and another to an office-cum-bed-sitting room, at present used by the Croydons‘ secretary. The two main, connecting bedrooms of the suite were accessible both through the kitchen and living room, an arrangement contrived so that a surreptitious bedroom visitor could be spirited in and out by the kitchen if need arose.‘ (Hailey, 10)
On the other hand, each hotel has rooms that can not provide as much comfort as the suite and it is the same with the St. Gregory. In each hotel they have at least one so called ha-ha-room, which is never rented until everything else is full. The St. Gregory, also has such a room, it is next to the service elevator, and all the hotel pipes meet there. For this reason, the room was noisy and unbearably hot and the guests complained about it and demanded to change it. However, when there was no way around it, a guest had no option but to be content of leave.
The owner himself lives in his luxury private six-room suite on the hotel’s fifteenth floor. Beside other things, his home was equipped with a private barber parlour where it was also possible to find a steam cabinet, a sunken Japanese –style bath and a big built-in aquarium with tropical fish.
For many years the hotel used to have an excellent reputation but now it is behind the times. This situation is caused partly by bad rules which are strictly observed, and partly by the attitudes of employees to their work. The hotel is in debt and the owner is not able to pay mortgage so there is a danger that he will lose it, and what is more, this independent hotel will then become part of impersonal hotel chains.
Such big hotels had profits derived mainly from different congresses and conferences which comprise of a great number of participants and in fact were the props of hotel incomes. But lately some congresses, mainly trade union ones, cancelled theirs bookings because St. Gregory has kept the policy of discrimination and segregation. It seems that the relentless attitude brings the hotel to ruin.
The hotel refused to accommodate a very famous and highly regarded black dentist, even though his reservation was confirmed. The participants of the dentist congress were indignant and they wanted to leave the hotel, which would cause big financial losses for the hotel. However, the owner did not budge an inch and continued with his policy of segregation.
4.3 Everyday duties, and everyday worries
As with each big conglomerate, the hotel has to wrestle with many daily problems which are neccessary to solve flexibly and decidedly. This situation requires a management which is able to be in charge of such a company. But in this case it is not so easy because the owner does not like new ideas and he does not like changing deep-roted things. All his staff are subordinated to him and even his deputy manager has only restricted authority.
The hotel is full of guests both ordinary and prominent people, there are two conventions moving in and a heavy influx of other guests, so it is no wonder that difficulties pour in. Suddenly, a lot of problems accumulate and everybody at hand has solve the problems quickly, discreetly and to the guests’satisfaction and not to upset the course of the hotel:
‘We’ve a complaint from the eleventh floor about some sort of sex orgy; on the ninth the Duchess of Croydon claims her Duke has been insulted by a room- service waiter; there is a report of somebody moaning horribly in 1439; and I’ve the night manager off sick, with the other two house officers otherwise engaged.‘ (Hailey, 2)
Life in a hotel starts very early, and has very short night. About five a.m., night cleaning parties finish their work after eight hard hours. They had to clean public rooms, lower stairways, kitchen areas and the main lobby, other rooms are cleaned during a day. After such cleaning the floors gleam, wood and metalwork shine and everything smells pleasantly of fresh wax. Not all cleaners were reliable and honest, some of them are often very imaginative when they want to get some extra money:
‘One cleaner, old Meg Yetmein, who had worked nearly thirty years in the hotel, walked awkwardly, though anyone noticing might have taken her clumsy gait for tiredness. The real reason, however, was a three-pound sirloin steak taped securely to the inside of her thigh. Half an hour ago, choosing an unsupervised few minutes, Mag had snatched the steak from a kitchen refrigerator. From long experience she knew exactly where to look, and afterward how to conceal her prize in an old polishing rag en route to the women’s toilet. There, safe behind a bolted door, she brought out an adhesive bandage and fixed the steak in place. The hour or so’s cold, clammy discomfort was well worth the knowledge that she could walk serenely past the house detective who guarded the staff entrance and suspiciously checked outgoing packages or bulging pockets. The procedure – of her own devising – was foolproof, as she had proven many times before.‘ (Hailey, 57-58)
Two floors above, switch-board operators start the first morning wake-up calls and from now to seven a.m., they will wake up other guests in quarter hour intervals. After seven o’clock the tempo will increase. The peak is usually about 7:45, about two hundred guests demand this service.
Two floors below street level there is an engineering control room. The third-class stationary engineer walks around this room each hour to check if the mechanism is in operation. He has to check the hot-water systém if the time-controlled thermostat is doing its job. It is necessary to have enough warm water because eight hundred or more might decide to take morning baths or showers at the same time. This worker also controls the massive air conditioners and according to needs he switch on or off individual compressors.
Sometimes, during the night or day an interruption in the city power supply can occur. In this case the engineer switches over to emergency power, supplied by the hotel generators which performs efficiently. It takes some minutes before the generators start to work at full power which causes all electric clocks to be about some minutes slow. To reset each clock takes a maintenance man most of the following day.
Not far from the engineering station, there is a waste incinerator in a torrid, odorous room. It is a place where one man sorts all waste from the hotel, earns little money but has to work in horrible conditions during the whole night:
‘Few people in the hotel, including staff, had ever seen Booker T.‘s domain, and those who did declared it was like an evangelist’s idea of hell. But Booker T., who looked not unlike an amiable devil himself – with luminous eyes and flashing teeth in a sweet-shining black face – enjoyed his work, including the incinerator’s heat.‘ (Hailey, 59-60)
This man, even though is badly paid, saves the hotel’s much money. In each hotel the management has to solve problems with waste, because hurrying waiters or busboys often throw out leftovers together with dishes or cutlery into the bins. A hotel loses a considerable sum of money this way, because between the waste it is possible to find bottles, glasses, knives, forks, spoons, silver soup turrens and guest’s valuables which they often demand or require compensations.
The next place where workers start very early is the kitchen. The first are helpers, they have to prepare for the cooks who start to make more than thousand breakfasts and then about two thousand lunches. The workers move quickly between simmering cauldrons, mammoth pipes, ovens and fridges. At the kitchen fry section, a multiple deep-fryer was warming up and was waiting to fry several hundreds portions of fried, southern style chicken.
The laundry is also a bustling steamy province. They start early to wash about twenty-five thousand pieces of linen and clothes – towels, bed sheets, waiters‘ and kitchen whites, greasy coveralls from engineers, etc. This laundry was placed in an elderly two-story building of its own and it was connected to the main St. Gregory structure by a wide basement tunnel. Lately, the workers had to solve a problem with tablecloths which were scribbled on by businessmen, who did some figuring out, using ball-point pens, on them. It was not possible to wash it by routine handling so the best spotter has to work all day with the carbon tetrachloride to remove these scribles. The manageress was rightly exasperated:
‘Would the bastards do it at home?‘ Mrs. Schulder snapped at the male night worker who had separated the offending tablecloths from a larger pile of ordinarily dirty ones. ‘By God! –if they did, their wives’d kick their arses from here to craptown. Plenty of times I’ve told those jerk head waiters to watch out and put a stop to it, but what do they care?‘ Her voice dropped in contemptuous mimicry. ‘Yessir, yessir, I’ll kiss you on both cheeks, sir. By all means write on the cloth, sir, and here’s another ball-point pen, sir. As long as I get a great fat tip, who cares about the goddam laundry?‘ (Hailey,62)
And so it went , though the entity of the hotel- in service departments, offices, carpenters‘ shop, bakery, printing plant, housekeeping, plumbing, purchasing, design and decorating, storekeeping, garage, TV repair and others.
4.4 The employees
Such a big organization employs many people as chambermaids, maintenance staff, cooks, helpers in the kitchen, boiler tenders, chairwomen, bellboys, accountants waitres and so on. All these employees have a duty to perform their work to guests‘ satisfaction. Most of them carry out their duties conscientiously but there are also such employees who mainly look after their own profits, they follow they own rules, and do not carry out their duties. For instance, they accommodate some guests secretly and send them girls, and this earns them a handsome sum of money. If they are asked to do something extra, they are even cheeky. Some of them even use or abuse employees who have inferiour status, or they hire people who will serve their intentions. For example, old graying men were the right men for being porters:
‘Someone who had to struggle and grunt a bit with heavy luggage was likely to earn bigger tips than a youngster who swung bags as if they contained nothing more then balsa wood. One old-timer, who actually was strong and wiry as a mule, had a way of setting bags down, putting a hand over his heart, then picking them up with a shake of his head an carrying on. The performance seldom earned less than a dollar from conscience-stricken guests who were convinced the old man would have a coronary around the next corner. What they did not know was that ten per cent of their tip would find its way into Herbie Chandler’s pocket, plus the flat two dollars daily which Chandler exacted from each bellboy as the price of retaining his job.‘ (Hailey, 4-5)
Also some barmen get their money’s worth. They thought out a plenty of ways how to steal from their employer – by pouring short measure to get one extra drink from each used bottle, by brinking their own purchased liquor into the bar, so an inventory check does not show a shortage or they do not enter every sale into the cash register. So such proceeds with a considerable profit going into barman’s pocket.
Among these side rackets is the one called ‘the liquor butt hustle‘, which exists in many hotels. The guests who were drinking alcohol in their rooms alone or with friends usually left unvacant bottles on dressing tables. They did not want to take them along because the bottles would leak in their baggage or they wanted to avoid airline excess baggage charges. Some inventive employees find out how to enrich themselves with these half-empty bottles. They collected all these bottles and poured the same marks into one bottle and then they sold them to the bars which were near St.Gregory.
The man who looks after all arrivals and departures is the bell captain. His post is placed centrally in the lobby, beside one of the fluted concrete columns which extendes to the heavily ornamented ceiling above. He also keeps order there and observes if there appear such people that could endanger the guests or cause some troubles.
Each hotel has his own doctor who looks after guests if they need his help or medical treatment. The doctor is accommodated in the hotel for free in return for his availability. It can happen that a guest becomes seriously ill, it is necessary to transport him or her to a hospital. But some patients can protest against placing in a hospital and in this case the hotel can offer a nurse to them, even though it is not very cheap and these patients have to pay all expenses. This servise is sometimes only a token of goodwill in some good hotels, where restaurant services and assistances are provided if a guest requires or needs them. It is sad, that many hotels have forgotten these services, because the best hotels started with the policy, guests come first and then profits.
The management of the hotel is responsible for reservations. All hotels regularly accept more reservations than they have free rooms. They gamble on the assumption that some people who made reservations would not arrive, so the problem resolved itself into guessing the true percentage of non-arrivals. Most times, experience and luck allowed the hotel to come out exactly, with all rooms occupied which was the ideal situation. Sometimes an estimate was wrong and in this case the hotel was seriously in trouble:
‘The most miserable moment in any hotel manager’s life was explaining to indignant would-be guests, who held confirmed reservations, that no accommodation was available. He was miserable both as a fellow human being and also because he was despondently aware that never again – if they could help it – would the people he was turning away ever come back to his hotel.‘ (Hailey,71)
If some situations occured, the hotels aid each other regardless of previous rivalry. This was, however, the last possibility, and the hotels had recourse to it only in extremes.
The further indispensable person in the hotel is a credit manager. Every day he checks the accounts of every guest in the hotel and supervises if the guests have enough money. He pays attention mainly to such a sort of people who check-in and after some minuts they order a bottle of liquor charged. The guests who order a bottle of liquor after arriving automatically arouse the credit managers suspicion. Most new arrivals, who want a drink quickly, order a mixed drink from the bar in the lobby. But the guests who order a bottle immediately, they often become drunk, and might not intend to pay or maybe can not pay. So the credit manager sends a maid to the room to check on the guest and his luggage. If she finds resonable luggage and good clothes everything is all right. Sometimes solid and respectable citiziens rent a hotel room for getting drunk and if they can pay and do not bother anyone, that is their own business. But if there is not adequate luggage or other signs of substance the credit manager turns up himself:
‘His approach would be discreet and friendly. If the guest showed ability to pay, or agreed to put a cash deposit on his bill, their parting would be cordial. However, if his earlier suspicions were confirmed, the credit manager could be tough and ruthless, with the guest evicted before a big bill could be run up.‘ (Hailey, 76-77)
Most hotels, even the exalted ones, did not také care about the morals of those who stay in their rooms because failing that they would lose a great deal of business. They concern was to focus themselves mind on one question – could a guest pay?
4.5 Services and troubles
The hotel provides other services as well as accommodation. There are some large halls which can be used for different activities like congresses, conventions, lectures or balls. Often when balls are put on, sometimes a famous singer is invited.
If the hotel is honoured by accommodation of eminent people, there is a habit to prepare a basket of fresh fruit and flowers which is a standard salutation of hotels to visiting VIPs. It is also necessary to put the suites right – polished furniture, spotless and correctly folded linen in bedrooms and bathrooms, dry and shining basins and baths, scoured toilet seats, gleaming mirrors and windows, all lights work.
The indispensable things were the Gideon Bibles which must not miss in each room,even though, sometimes they served for other purposes than for praying. The first pages of the Bibles were dotted with call girl’s phone numbers and experienced travellers knew where to seek that kind of information.
Some guests can extract extraordinary preparations and if they draw the Reservations in advance, the hotel is able to accommodate them well. The carpenters rearrange a bed and the Housekeeping provides special sheets and blankets.
A further service would be washing and ironing clothes. In many hotels the washed clothes are delivered to their owner by two different man who earn double tips. One of them collects the dirty clothes in the morning and the second brings them back. In both cases they get tips. They are called in hotel jargon as Bailey and Barnum:
‘The little man chuckled. ‘You work in a hotel, and don’t know the Barnum and Baily dodge?‘
Christina shook her head.
‘It’s a simple thing, miss. Hotel valets work in pairs, but the one who picks up a suite is never the one who delivers it back. They figure it that way, so mostly they get tipped twice. Afterward they pool the tips and divvy up.‘
‘I can see how it works,“ Christine said. ‘But I’ve never thought about it.‘
‘Nor do most others. Which is why it costs them a double tip for the same service.‘ Albert Wells rubbed his sparrow-beak nose ruminatively. ‘With me it’s a kind of game – to see how many hotels there are where the same thing happens.‘ (Hailey, 212)
Between the guests we can find people who are always satisfied with any services, they never complain and always pay their bills. And because these guests never protest, some employees think that they can give them the worst rooms in the hotel and the worst seats in the dining room which no one else would have. If the management finds out this reality, the employee is punished hard, because it is necessary to curry favour with such guests and not to drive them away.
A strictly enforced Louisiana law forbade animals in hotel rooms, however, when sometimes nobility brough their dogs along, the management made a concession and the presence of dogs was not noticed officially on condition that they were smuggled in and out by a rear door. But the nobility very rarely kept this unwritten rule so some dog lovers demanded to know why they own pets were refused.
Sometimes, the management has to resolve very unpleasant situations, for example, a rape or an attempt rape, thievery, injuries and so on. In these cases it is necessary to act quickly and discreetly in order to the hotel reputation was not injured..
In one of the rooms, a girl from a noble family was nearly raped. She took part in a party in this room because she wanted to kill time and she did not want to celebrate her birthday alone. But the things developed into a nightmare. Her so called friends from noble families wanted to have a great time and they did not také their friendship and her fear into consideration at all. Finally, it did not come to a rape thanks to an intervention of a young black man who passed the room by chance and he overheard a call for help. Here comes about a paradox. The black boy who risks his life to help a white girl is immediately accused for attempted rape when he is found in the crime scene. And what is more interesting, it is the fact that he was just accused by the hotel management even though he brought up in the hotel and there had never been any complaints about him. When the mistake was clarified, the managment apologized to him and wanted to call the police but the black boy objected:
‘I’d have to be a witness. An‘ let me tell you, Mr. McDermott, no court in this sovereign State of Louisiana is gonna take a nigger boy’s word in a white rape case, attempted or otherwise. No, sir, not when four upstanding young white gentlemen say the nigger boy is lying. Not even if Miss Preyscott supports the nigger boy, which I doubt her pappy’d let her, considering what all the newspapers and such might make of it.‘(Hailey, 40)
The further abuses which make life unpleasant for the management and the guests are thieveries. In big hotels work professional thieves who leave nothing to chance. These thieves stay in the same hotel as their victimes and check-in under the names which are somehow known. They get hotels keys by different tricks and then towards morning they begin their work. Unsuspicious and sleeping guests wake up in the morning and find out that they were robbed. In most cases the thieves are not caught so the hotel has to pay a certain sum to a damaged guest.
The most important parts of a hotel belong to the kitchen. In our story is the kitchen also the place which needs urgent changes. The chef is an old man who also does not like new ideas and in an effort to save money he buys cheap dishes. So it happens that the cheap things wear down or flaked and this deterioration occurs during one of the meals. When the guests start to complain about disgusting food but it is too late to remedy the problem. The guests leave disgusted and the management can be sure that these guests never come again and what is more, they will discuss their but experience to other people.
If the management wanted to solve the problems with the chefs, they have to follow a protocol as proscribed and traditional as that of any royal household. In the kitchen, the chef de cuisine, or in the chef’s absence the sous-chef, was undisputed king. It was unthinkable to enter the kitchen without invitation.
The kitchen is the busiest place in the hotel. A lot of employees try to satisfy all guests‘ demands. The cooks in starched white clothes, their assistants and helpers are everywhere. In steam and wawes of heat, some helpers strive with heavy trays, pans and cauldrons while others push trolleys full of meals, the waiters and waitresses run around with trays high above their heads.
On steam tables the cooks are portioning and preparing meals for today’s menu, in the soup section, giant cauldrons are full of different soups, some specialist cooks are preparing special orders, others canapés and hot hors-d’oeuvres, pastry chefs desserts. This everything requires perfect organization, nothing can be forgotten or overlooked.
To each congress hall belongs its own kitchen. The meals for congress‘ participants were prepared here but always there was a problem with the number of meals. Not every participant used hotel service so sometimes happened that meals either were reduntant or missed. In the first case it was not such a catastrophe, the reduntant meals could be sold in others restaurants, but in the second time it was known that reaction to a crisis would show just how good or bad their organization was.
To prepare, for example, one hundred and seventy extra meals is enormously difficult task for any kitchen. Every worker had to increase the speed, it had to be drawn from the supplies which were prepared for next day.
The special ritual takes place when the congress participants are served with the dessert called ‘bombe aux marrons, cherries flambées.‘ It would be served with ceremony, the lights dimmed and the flaming trays held high. The waiters were lining up before the service door and waited for an instruction:
‘As André Lemieux nodded, the head waiter’s arm swept down.
The cooks with tapers ran down the line of trays, igniting them. The double service doors were flung back and fastened. Outside, on cue, an electrician dimmed the lights. The music of an orchestra diminished, then abruptly stopped. Among guests in the great hall, a hum of conversation died.
Suddenly, beyond the diners, a spotlight sprang on, framing the doorway from the kitchen. There was a second’s silence, then a fanfare of trumpets. As it ended, orchestra and organ swung together, fortissimo, into the opening bars of The Saints. In time to the music, the procession of waiters, with flaming trays, marched out.
Oh, when the Saints; Oh, when the Saints; Oh, when the Saints go marching in….From the kitchen, waiter after waiter, in trim blue uniform, marched out in step. For this moment, every last man had been impressed. Some, in moments only, would return to complete their work in the other banquet hall. Now, in semidarkness, their flames reared up like beacons….Oh, when the Saints; Oh, when the Saints; Oh, when the Saints go marching in… From the diners, a spontaneous burst of applause, changing to handclapping in time with the music as waiters encircled the room. For the hotel, a commitment had been met as planned. No one outside the kitchen could know that minutes earlier a crisis had been encountered and overcome.‘ (Hailey, 315-316)
The focus of the book is really a description of hotel operation, the characters are like something marginal. Without employees and guests the hotel would not work and for this reason Hailey involves here wide range of important and unimportant characters to create some kind of a plot. The plot is very easy, the main hero is a man who tries to remedy his previous misconduct by dutiful work and has to resolve relationship problems with two women. His novels are also called catastrophic because in each his novel some people die or they are at least physically or mentally marked.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
from High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922-1941)
sometime Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force
This is a fictional story – fast paced, exciting, richly textured with memorable characters.
Arthur Hailey has employed the same multi plot technique which he used in Hotel. And, as usual, he has written an engrossing, enjoyable tale, packed with little-known and fascinating information: How, for example, smugglers trip themselves up with Customs; how to get free drinks on economy flights; the way in which stewardess pregnancy programs work; what is an airport ‘Conga Line‘; how much an airline will pay on the spot for a damaged luggage claim; and why airport insurance booths are hated by airline pilots… but the true hero of this novel is the airport itself – viewed through the eyes of a master storyteller.
The inspiration for writing Airport was the real event from Denver, Colorado, that happened at the beginning of the sixties. A young man insured his mother, who flew to Alaska to see her daughter, for nearly 40 000 dollars. He put 20 packets of dynamite into one of her luggage, set the bomb and the plane crashed 32 miles from Denver.
In the time when Hailey wrote this novel, aviation was not as developed, or commercial as it is now. Since that time a lot of new services have improved, futher modern and highly frequented airports have been built as travelling has accelerated. New kinds of planes have been constructed, for example Concords, which were able to cover a large distance in incredibly short time. Also a number of plane owners is increasing so the airports have to be prepared to accept these customers.
The USA has a very well-developed system of airlines. The plane owners have a possibility to find enough small and big airports. Some of the biggest airports as Kennedy International Airport and International Airport Orlando are usually very busy and they are not the right option for a private planes. Most of private pilots use smaller airports as John Wayne Airport or International Airport Louisville.
For the passengers who travel in giant airplanes, there is about 160 different airlines. Some of these airlines offer lower prices of flights and even they can offer favourable prices or bonus points. It means that careful choice of airlines can save a lot of money, but the demand is big and plane tickets are quickly sold out.
Most of airlines offer as domestic as international flights, most of them also try to work according to the strictest world standarts. It means that they try to hold the highest level of technological progress and, as well, equipment of airports.
Since 11. September 2001, most of airports have abided relatively strict safety measures. These measures are for the safety of all passengers and not designed – as some have accused – for the purpose of discrimination.
5.1 The Place and the Weather
The Airport is an account of the events which happen at a fictional airport during one day. The airport is called Lincoln International Airport, and it is considered to be the aviation crossroad of the world and it is situated in the state of Illinois.
It is winter and in this part of the country it is just raging one of the meanest and roughest snow storms in half a dozen years. This storm complicates not only lives of employees‘ of the airport but also passengeres‘ lives. In such a storm other airports close their air terminals but Lincoln International Airport resists, even though it is not possible to abide by regular flight schedule because of heavy snowfall, poor visibility and strong wind.
What is more, one of the runways, just the best one in the terminal, is out of use because a big plane of Mexican Airlines went a bit off the flight path and sank into drenched soil nearly this runway. The passengers had to get off the plane in this snowstorm and buses transported them to the main building to wait than the plane gets on the runway again. The passengers are exasperated but the plane sank too deep, so whole load including passengers had to be unloaded from the plane to reduce the load which naturally takes some time.
Air Traffic Control had to reassess all operating mode and restrict arrivals from the nearest airports like Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Denver. There were twenty planes which were crowded above the airport and they were waiting for permission to land. Some of them were running out of fuel and on the ground a double number of planes was waiting for instructions to take off. The planes, which has just landed, had to wait in a holding area which pilots called the penalty box until gate positions became vacant.
The airport had five runways together. The longest and widest runway was just the runway three zero which was blocked by the Aéreo-Mexican jet. It was nearly two miles long and wide as a small block of houses. The others runways were shorter and narrower by about half a mile.
Since the storm began, the runways were being permanently cleaned, vacuumed, brushed and sanded because there existed strict rules for using runways. The maximum permitted extent was half an inch of slush or three inches of powder snow for jet planes. Bigger amount would be drawn by engines and a flight could be endangered. Passengers never saw this work because no plane could use a fresh cleared runway until the surface was inspected and declared safe.
On the runways, were so called ramp lice everywhere, as airport men called the vehicles which surrounded airplanes on the ground. Because of poor visibility, the drivers had to be especially carreful not to collide. Today, it was neccessary to also use vehicles to remove the snow from aircraft wings. These cherry pickers-trucks had high, maneuverable platforms at the end of steel, articulated arms. On the platforms, groups of service crews tried to clear snow from wings and then they sprayed glycol to retard ice formation. Because the platforms were exposed the snowstorm the men themselves were snow-covered and chilled to the bone.
Everywhere there was plenty of snow, snowploughs are unequal in the remove of snow and people from the maintainance are on their last legs. They are overworked to the limits even though everybody was allowed to take a nap in turns in hostels which were built just for these emergencies. The permanent number of workers is supplemented by auxiliary hands – carpenters, electritians, officers, police and so on.
‘The auxiliaries were pulled from their regular airport duties and paid time-and-a-half until the snow emergency was over. But they knew what was expected, having rehearsed snow maneuvers, like weekend soldiers, on runways and taxi strips during summer anf fall. It sometimes amused outsiders to see snow removal groups, plow blades down, blowers roaring, on a hot, sunny day. But if any expressed surprise at the extent of preparation, Mel Bakersfeld would remain them that removing snow from the airport’s operating area was equal to clearing seven hundred miles of highway.‘ (Hailey, Arthur. Airport. New York: Doubleday Company, Inc., 1970. p. 7)
Their work is managed by a man who also does this work only in the case of emergency. Otherwise, he works in a planning department but now he is sitting at the Snow Desk and sweating . This Snow Desk is in operation only in winter, the rest of the year it is deserted. During this period, it is a hive of activity and people work hard to maintain the airport in working.
The parking supervisor had to resist to irrate complaints from marooned car owners for several hours. They did not want to understand the complicated situation and demanded their rights.
‘People were asking: didn’t whoever ran the airport know it was snowing? And if they did, why didn’t someone get on the ball and move the stuff so a man could drive his car anywhere at any time, as was his democratic right?‘ (Hailey, 13)
5.2 The departure lounge
Thousands of passangers were jammed in the main concourse and everything was in chaos. Some flights were cancelled and some postponed. A food truck, loaded with dinners for one airline was lost somewhere in the snowstorm and it caused a further delay. In the waiting rooms, all seats were engaged, bagage, in piles, was everywhere, newspaper stands and inquiry offices were enclosed by a crowd. Queues of waiting passengers were extended in front of the airline windows, sellers of plane tickets were reinforced by further colleagues who had to stay overtime.
The snowstorm caused not only delay but also transfers to other flights. The sellers tried to satisfy all passangers even though it required a lot of patience and self-control. Some passengers did not want to take a difficult situation which came up into account, they insisted on their flights and they were rude and vulgar to the sellers.
Some of them even imposed the condition that they want to fly on a plane which will show the same film as that advertised on the cancelled flight. Then it is no wonder that some of the sellers had a nervous breakdowns and reacted in different ways:
‘He wanted to know what movie was showing on the flight. I found that out, and he said he’d seen it. He got nasty again. The movie he’d wanted to see was on the first flight which was canceled. He said, could I get him another flight which was showing the same movie as the first one? All the time, there were other passengers; they were pressing up against the counter. Some were making remarks out loud about how slow I was. Well, when he said that about the movie, that was when I…“ the girl hesitated. “I guess something snapped.
Tanya prompted, ‘That was when you threw the timetable?‘
Patsy Smith nodded miserably. She looked as if she were going to cry again. ‘Yes. I don’t know what got into me, Mrs. Livingston… I threw it right over the counter. I told him he could fix his own flight.‘
All I can say,‘ Tanya said, ‘is that I hope you hit him.‘ (Hailey, 21-22)
The main passanger terminal was brightly lit with air conditioning. It was built of gleaming glass and chrome, it was impressively spacious and next to crowded halls there were elegant waiting areas. The passanger could choose from wide choice of services, for example, six specialty restaurants ranged from a gourment dining room with gold-edged china and matching prices to stalls with hot dogs, the same number of bars and toilets. Each visitor who was waiting for his flight could do the shopping, rent a room with a bed, take a steam bath with massage, or have his hair cut, or iron his clothes, and even to die and have his or her funeral arranged by a funeral home.
Since the main terminal looked opulently it could seem that everything at the airport is working all right. Nearly nobody knew that whole systém of runways is inadequate and therefore hazardous. But there was not enough money for building or repairing runways so the work of the air traffic controllers was formidable.
‘Even a year previously, runways and taxiways were barely sufficient; now, they were dangerously overtaxed. In normally busy periods, on two main runways, a takeoff or landing occurred every thirty seconds. The Meadowood situation, and the consideration the airport showed to community residents, made it necessary, at peak periods, to use an alternative runway which bisected one of the other two. As a result, aircraft took off and landed on converging courses, and there were moments when air traffic controllers held their breath and prayed.‘ (Hailey, 61)
5.3 The warehouse
The warehouses of all airlines are full of goods and different things, and supervisors are walking around the goods restlessly because some sorts of the goods went bad quickly, and for this reason it was necessery to transport them immediately on a placed demand and if possible in fresh condition. These goods included – flowers for New England, cheese for Alaska, frozen peas for Iceland, live lobsters for England and France etc. Some goods needed an immediate transport:
‘Causing special anxiety in American Airlines Freight was a shipment of several thousand turkey poults, hatched in incubators only hours earlier. The precise hatching-shipping schedule-like a complex order of battle-was set up weeks ago, before the turkey eggs were laid. It called for delivery of the live birds on the West Coast within forty-eight hours of birth, the limit of the tiny creatures‘ existence without their first food or water. Normally, the arrangement provided a near-hundred percent survival. Significant also – if the poults were fed en route, they would stink, and so would the airplane conveying them, for days afterward. Already the poults‘ schedule was out of joint by several hours. But an airplane had been diverted from passenger to freight service, and tonight the fledgling turkeys would have priority over everything else traveling, human VIPs included.‘(Hailey, 4)
5.4 The community of Meadowood
As if the airport did not have enough problems with the snowstorm, other problems arise. Near the airport there is a village which permanently sends letters of complaint to the airport management because of excessive noise. Although the airport had been established long before the community, Meadowood’s residents complained incessantly and bitterly about noise from aircraft overhead. When the residents wanted to build their houses right here, the management of the airport discouraged them but they ignored its arguments and got their way. The management had to negotiate with residents and after long negotiations the airport had conceded that jet takeoffs and landing directly over Meadowood would be made only when essential in special circumstances.
And what is more, it was agreed that planes taking off towards Meadowood would almost at once after becoming airborne follow noise abatement procedures. The pilots protested against these regulations and considered the procedures dangerous. However, the airlines had ordered the pilots to conform because they were aware of the public furor and their corporate images.
But the residents of Meadowood were not satisfied, their leaders did not stop complaining and according to last rumors they were going to také legal action again the airport.
Today’s weather was a further pretext for spoiling the work of airport management. Because the runway zero three was out of use, the planes had to fly just above the community. The phones rang after each takeoff and the sitation is inbearable:
‘I suppose you’ve told the people who’ve called that we’ve a special situation- the storm, a runway out of use.‘
‘We explain. But nobody’s interested. They just want the airplanes to stop coming over. Some of ‘em say that problems or not, pilots are still supposed to use noise abatement procedures, but tonight thea aren’t doing it.‘
‘Good God!- if I was a pilot neither would I.‘ How could anyone of reasonable intelligence, Mel wondered, expect a pilot, in tonight’s violent weather, to chop back his power immediately after takeoff, and then go into a steeply banked turn on instruments-which was what noice abatement procedures called for.
‘I wouldn’t either,‘ the tower chief said. ‘Though I guess it depends on your point of view. If I lived in Meadowood, maybe I’d feel the way they do.‘ (Hailey, 11)
5.5 Air Traffic Control
The radar room was placed in the control tower, one floor down from glass tower cab from which air traffic control directed movement of planes on the ground and in the nearest airspace. The radar department cooperated with the nearest air traffic controls of regional centres. These regional centres were usually many miles away from an airport and they directed main airways and traffic coming on and off them.
In the radar room there were not any windows. Every day and every night ten radar controllers and supervisors worked in perpetual semidarkness under dim moonglow lights. Around them, there were on all walls tightly packed equipment – radarscopes, controls, radio communications panels. The controllers usually worked only in shirts because the temperature in this room was maintained at twenty-one degrees to protect delicate electronic devices. A bright white shirt was a uniform for all controllors even thought nobody knew why they wear them; there was no rule for wearing it.
In the radar room calmness predominated. However, under this calmness there was a constant nervous strain. Tonight, the strain was added to by a storm, during past few minutes it still intensified, because there was an extraordinary number of planes on the screen.
The flat screen, which became the centre of attention, was a horizontal glass circle, the size of a bicycle tire. Its surface was dark green and green points of light showed all planes in the air within a forty-mile radius.
‘As the aircraft moved, so did the points of light. Beside each light was a small plastic marker, identifying it. The markers were known colloquially as ‘shrimp boats‘ and controllers moved them by hand as aicraft progressed and their positions on the screen changed. As more aircraft appeared, they were identified by voice radio and similarly tagged. New radar systems dispensed with shrimp boats; instead, identifying letter-number codes-including altitude-appeared directly on the radar screen. But the newer method was not yet in wide use and, like all new systems, had bugs which needed elimination.‘(Hailey, 74)
All controllors in the dark, tightly packed radar room were sweating and especially tonight. Even thought a controllor is nervous, his voice had to be firm and clear without hints of pressures and tension. Especially tonight, the pilots were swamped with work, the planes were tossed by storm, and flew solely on instruments, the visibility outside the cockpits was nil so demands on their skills were multiplied. Most pilots were in the air extra time because of heavy traffic and they would have to stay even longer in the air.
The conrollors tried hard to maintain his concentration, to retain a picture about his sector and about each plane in it. It required constant memorizing of identification marks, positions and types of aircraft, speeds, altitudes, sequence of landing etc. Even in quiter times the controllor worked in unceasing mental strain.
‘Tonight, the storm was taxing celebral effort to its limit. A controller’s nightmare was to ‘lose the picture,‘ a situation where an overtaxed brain rebelled and everything went blank. It happened occasionally, even to the best.‘ (Hailey, 78)
The work of controllers required to concentrate firmly – consiously and deliberately, and everybody managed it because they had to, otherwise they could not do this work. The other demand was a controlled, studied calmness at all times on duty. The two requirements, which were contrary to human nature, exhausted the controllers mentally and finally, brought them some inconveniences. Many controllers suffered from gastric ulcers but they were hiding this disease because they would lose their jobs. Other diaseses which affected the controllers were hypertension, heart attacks, tachycardia, psychiatric breakdowns, plus some lesser ailments.
There were also other effects. Some controllers were mean and irascible at home or they had fits of rage what was a natural reaction to suppressed emotions at work. Irregular hours of sleeping and working disturbed their household and it is no wonder that there were a lot of broken marriages and divorces.
Air traffic emergencies occured several times a day at any major airport as at Lincoln International. They could happened in any kind of weather, on the clearest day or during a storm like tonight’s. Usually, only few people knew about such cases because it was nearly always possible to solve them safely. Even the pilots in the air were rarely said the reason of different delays or abrupt instructions to turn this way or that. Ground emergency staff like crash crews, ambulance attendants and police were always on alert as well as the airport management. There were three categories of declared alarm:
‘Category one was the most serious, but was rarely invoked, since it signaled an actual crash. Category two was notification of imminent danger to life, or physical damage. Category three, as now, was a general warning to airport emergency facilities to stand by; they might be needed, or they might not. For controllers, however, any type of emergency involved additional pressures and aftereffects.‘ (Hailey, 81)
Controllers had to keep regular breaks and they spent them in a locker room what was a small room with one window, some metal lockers and in the middle there was a wooden bench. On a notice board held an untidy collection of official bulletins and notices from airport social groups. They could be here for short time to have a snack or lunch or for a relax.
The work of controllers was so exacting that the doctors who treated them gave a report to relevant authorities of airlines and they urged Congress to allow air traffic controlers to retire at age fifty, or after twenty years of service. After more than twenty years, the controllers are exhausted and potentially unsafe. There can come out the situation when something inside them – psychical, mental, or oftentimes both – inevitably breaks down. But Congress ignored the warning and refused the bill.
And what is more, the wages of controllers also did not correspond to their effort. They were together with pilots the most skillful specialists but pilots earned thirty thousand dollars a year while a senior controller reached his ceiling at ten thousand.
After each landing, a special car called, a honey wagon comes quickly to a plane to pick up a smelly four-hundred gallon load of contents pumped out from aircraft toilets. This load was ejected into a shredding macine in a special building which other airport employees avoided like the plague, and then was pumped to city sewers.
Most times the procedure worked easily, except the cases, when passangers reported looses of different items – pursues,wallets, dentures, even shoes which were dropped accidentally into the toilet. It happened once or twice a day and in this case the load had to be sifted while everybody prayed the missing item could be found very quickly.
Even without incidents, the sanitary crew would have a busy night because the worse weather the bigger demand for toilets on the ground and in the air. The airport sanitary supervisors received weather forecasts each hour and according to them they plan if it is necessary to provide extra cleaning and increased supplies.
The air mail is the most widespread and the fastest in the world. The airport post office watches on airline schedules a minute-to-minute. They know exactly where their mailbags are and if delays occurrs, postal employees quickly switch mail from one airline to another as was in the case of the stranded jet. So the mail from Aéreo Mexican will be faster to the destination than the passengers.
In the departure lounge there were some booths where passengers could také out air trip insurance. These insurance booths and insurance policy vending machines were a thorn in some pilots‘ side and they wanted to make the management abolish them. They thought that airport insurance vending was a ridiculous, archaic hangover from flying’s early days and that the booths were insult to comercial aviation which was considered to be the safest means of transport.
The air trip insurances were accessible nearly for everybody because they were cheap and each man could také out life insurance promising vast sums for few dolars. What is more, these transactions are under fast way and an official hardly has enough time to reveal potential mentally disturbed people. These possibilities directly played into the hands of psychopats, madmen, conscienceless mass killers. For these reasons, pilots insisted on cancellation of the booths at airports with it that traveller can get insurances in insurances companies or in travel agents where officers had more time for consideration of contracts.
‘The important thing about all these insurance policies is that they go through channels. The applications are handled by experienced people; a day or so elapses between an application and the issuance of the policy. Because of this, there is a far better chance of the psychotic, the maniac, the unbalanced individual being noticed, his intentions questioned.
Another thing to remember-an insane or unbalanced person is a creature of impulse. Where flight insurance in concerned, this impulse is catered to by the quickie, no-questions-asked policies available from airport vending machines and at insurance counters.‘ (Hailey, 170)
In this story, this offender is a man who went bankrupt, he is mentally ill and he wants to sustain his family by a mad action, not only by self-destruction but also by sacrifice of passengers’life. And just this man used the service of booths, he waited for the last moment before departure and demanded a policy for seventy hundred dollars. How was his suprised when a girl in a booth wrote out to him an amount policy of three hundred dollars.
5.7 Preparation of a flight and a flight
The plane which is mentioned in this story is a Boeing 707-320 B, Intercontinental Jetliner with four Pratt & Whitney turbofan jet engines, providing a cruising speed of six hundred and five miles per hour. It could fly six thousand miles at maximum weight what is straight line distance from Iceland to Hong Kong. It carried a hundred and ninety-nine passengers and twenty-five thousand U.S.gallons of fuel, Trans America Airlines payed for it six and a half million dollars.
When there was a problem with a plane, it was immediately moved into a hangar after landing where a crew of mechanics was waiting to find and fix the trouble. The inspection had to be careful, nothing could be done in a sloppy or oversighed manner, because one mistake, and passengers‘ lives would be endangered.
Such an inspection cost a lot of money and moreover, when a plane stood in a hangar it did not earn and caused financial looses. But airlines had to come to terms with these loosses in pursuit of high safety standards.
Aircraft mechanics took a close interest in the operational flights of planes they serviced. They observed the repaired plane and were delighted when the plane functioned well, as it usually happened. After reparing, an air test was required and then the plane was prepared for a flight.
As soon as the plane was at its gate, a plenty of workers bustled in and around it. At first it was necessary to transport food on the board. The first class section got six extra meals, economy section had the same number of meals as passengers. The first class passengers could have a second dinner if they asked for it, economy passengers could not.
‘Despite the exact count, a last-minute passenger would always get a meal. Spare meals –including Kosher meals – were available in lockers near the departure gate. If an unexpected passenger went aboard as doors were closing, his food try was passed in after him.‘ (Hailey, 189)
The next important item was liquor. The first-class passengers could drink to their heart content, but tourist passengers had to pay a dollar a drink. If the stewardesses could not make change her instructions were to give the passenger his or her drink free. Some regular traveller from tourist classes abused it and had free drinks for years.
Not only food and drinks were delivered to the plane, also blankets, pillows, airsick bags, nappies, Gideon Bibles, trays, newspapers etc. All these things were expendable so passengers often left the plane enriched with anything portable. Airlines never checked the things, what was missing was replaced without questions.
Some problems occured with baggage the pasenger never knew if he or she ever find his or her suitcases. Despite inovation and modernization of these services, sometimes it happened that baggage was lost.
‘Baggage handling-airlines conceded privately-was the least efficient part of air travel. In an age where human ingenuity could place a capsule the size of a houseboat in outer space, it was a fact that an airline passenger’s bag could not be counted on to arrive safely at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, or Minneapolis-St. Paul, or even at the same time as the passenger. An astounding amount of airline baggage-at least one bag in every hundred-went to wrong destinations, was delayed, or lost entirely.‘ (Hailey, 191)
In a corner of a control centre was the load control desk, where there worked a man who had to count exactly the whole load. The load is considered everything that is put inside – passengers, baggage, mail, goods, fuel etc. The weight of the load had to be divided equally in the whole plane. The plane has to be balanced to be stable in the air.
The pilot has two jobs on a plane, not only does he fly it, but also maintaince. He checks and supervision on land and in flight. During the flight and also before takeoff he has to check fuel flow, the temperature of oil, engines, turbines, hydraulic systém, speed, course etc. the pilot also has to communicate with air traffic controls, in some planes are all these activities divided berween two pilots, nowadays, also automatic pilots help with flying. The official language of pilots on international level is English. Beginning pilots have to deal with a pilot training and fly adequate number of hours to become a full-blown pilot. Such training is time and fiscally consuming.
The stewardesses and male crew members – captains, first and second officers, were, without exception, high-caliber people. They all achieved their positions after tough, exacting process of elimination in which the less talented failed. The few, who remained were the best and the brightest. They all were considered as perceptive personalities with a zest for life and the abilities to appreciate one another.
Stewardesses appeared on board a plane in the thirties. American company Boeing and Swiss Airline insist that just they were the first who employed stewardesses. Now, we hardly can imagine a flight without them.
The stewardesses in the story lived in a group of three-story apartment blocks which were close to the airport, known as Stewardess Row for flying crews. A lot of stewardesses from all airlines based at Lincoln International Airport maintained apartments here. Two or three girls usually shared one apartment, sometimes there lived only one stewardess. Such apartment was called stewardess nests.
These nests were often places where lively parties took place and sometimes they were a scene of love-affairs between stewardesses and male flying crews.
‘Taken as a whole, the stewardess nests were neither more nor less freewheeling than other apartments occupied by single girls elsewhere. The difference was that most of what transpired in the way of swinging, amoral activities, involved airline personnel.‘ (Hailey, 47)
Pilots were divided into pilots who flew either domestic operations or international operations. Pilots who did not have enough experience and an adequate number of flown hours could fly only domestic operations. If a pilot wanted to be an international captain he had to make two flights over an overseas route with a regular line captain who had instructor’s qualifications. After this two flights he has to pass a final check by a senior supervisory captain before being accepted for international command.
All pilots of all airlines had to undergo an aerial scrutiny of ability and flying habits once in six months. These checks took place on ordinary scheduled flights and the passengers could recognize it only when they noticed the presence of two four-striper captains.
Captains controlled each other carefully, the tests, both regular and special were usually strict and exacting, the pilots themselves desired it.
‘Too much was at state-public safety and high professional standarts- for any mutual back-scratching, or for weaknesses to be overlooked. A captain being checked was aware that he must measure up to required standards in all respects. Failure to do so would mean an automatic adverse report which, if serious enough, could lead to an even tougher session with the airline’s chief pilot, with the testee’s job in jeopardy.‘ (Hailey, 50-51)
Pilots and stewardesses had to wear ordered uniforms of that airline where they belong to but they were not always satisfied. For example regulation shirts were an irritant to pilots of all airlines. The official shirts were supplied by company, they cost nine dollars, were made of material of dubious quality and what was more they often fitted badly. Although it was contrary to the rules, it was possible to buy much better and cheaper shirts, with the difference in appearance scarcely noticable. Most pilots bought the unofficial shirts and wore them, naturally, if they were caught by a supervisor they had to change them.
Stewardesses found out how to enrich themselves with the supplies of airlines. They carried at home small bottles of liquor which passangers did not want, or they boarded a plane with personal hand baggage which was partially empty and they put surplus food, which was always of highest quality, into this space. Stewardesses also learned that after each flight, nobody checked removable cabin equipment. One reason was that airlines did not have any time and the second it was cheaper to accept some looses than make a fuss about them. And so many stewardesses managed to acquire home furnishings like blankets, pillows, towels, glasses, silverware etc. in surprising quantity.
A problem came about, when a stewardess became pregnant. It is necessary to remaind that fathers were nearly always members of crews. In this case, airlines founded a Tree-Point Pregnancy Program. No airlines wanted to lose stewardesses for any reason because their training was expensive so a qualified stewardess represented a big investment. And another thing, it was hard to find the right girls with good looks, style and personality.
If the pregnant stewardess did not plan to be married she could return to her job when her pregnancy was over and her airline was delighted to have her back. She received official leave of absence and personnel departments helped her to arrange a medical care or a stay in a sanatorium. In return for all this, the airline asked three assurances from the stewardess:
‘First, the girl must keep the airline personnel department informed of her whereabouts at all times during her pregnancy.
Second, she must agree that her baby be surrendered for adoption immediately after birth. The girl would never know the baby’s adoptive parents; thus, the child would pass out of her life entirely. However, the airline guaranteed that proper adoption procedures would be followed, with the baby being placed in a good home.
Third-at the outset of the three-point program the stewardess must inform the airline of the name of the child’s father. When she had done so, a representative from Personnel-experienced in such situations-promptly sought out the father with the objective of obtaining financial support for the girl. What the personnel man tried to obtain was a promise, in writing, of enough money to cover medical and nursing home expenses and, if possible, some or all the stewardess’s lost wages. Airlines preferred such arrangements to be amiable and discreet.‘ (Hailey, 122)
In the hangars of airlines, there were rooms for both the crew and the stewardesses. On a notice board hanged a schedule which was made out monthly. It showed the dates on which captains and first and second officers would fly, in the stewardesses‘ room hanged a similar board. Each pilot or stewardess could choose the route he wanted to fly, but those who were most senior got first job.
Just before departure, stewardesses finished last preparations and pilots studied weather forecast and flight plans.
Perhaps, in each means of transport we can find a stow-away and it is the same with planes. In our plane, such a stow-away is a little old lady who looked as a fairytale grandmother. She got in different planes by using a lot of tricks and lies and the employees of airports were always taken in by her. The old lady flew to New York to see her daughter and she used different airlines for her intentions. But her favourite airline was Trans America because its staff always behaved politely to her. She stayed with her daughter for two weeks and then she goes to the airline and confesses to her action. The airline sent her home in its plane and with all services at its own expense.
All airlines knew that it happens very often. A stow-away just boards a plane and waits for a takeoff. If the stow-aways do not travel by the first class where was easy to identify passengers and if they flight was not fully occupied, there was less probability that they would be revealed. It is true that stewardesses counted the passengers but usually they did not search for a stowaway because the flight would be delayed and it would cause complaints of passengers and captains. So airlines assumed responsibility for stowaways and took them on the place where they started.
‘There had been stowaways, Tanya recalled reading somewhere, as long ago as 700 B.C., on ships of the Phoenicians which plied the eastern Mediterranean. At that time, the penalty for those who were caught was excruciating death-disembowelment of adult stowaways, while children were burned alive on sacrificial stones.
Since then, penalties had abated, but stowaways had not.
Tanya wondered if anyone, outside a limited circle of airline employees, realized how much of a stowaway epidemic there had been since jet airplanes increased the tempo and pressures of passenger aviation. Probably not. Airlines worked hard to keep the whole subject under wraps, fearing that if the facts became known, their contingent of non-paying riders would be greater still. But there were people who realized how simple it all could be, including the little old lady from San Diego.‘ (Hailey, 148)
In this story mainly inanimate things like weather, the place, the equipment, the aeronautical engineering, the airport spaces, runways etc., play a fundamental role. The plot is only minimal illustration of their functioning. Readers learn a lot about the air-traffic control and they are allowed to take a look behind the scenes. The main hero is again a fair man who tries to keep the airport in operation despite of unfavourable conditions. He is honest and moral and even though he likes one colleague he can not decide if he should enter into relation with her. Author captures here to a some extend immediate feelings of the employees which work on such positions where one small mistake can cause the death of people. Otherwise, he depicts here common problems which occur everyday, he again uses catastrophic scenario, it comes after an explosion on board of the best plane and the lives of some passengers are lost or endangered.
6 In High Places
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thy high places.
The Lament of David
The fate of two great nations hangs in the balance in this exciting and topical story. Arthur Hailey’s own favourite book.
The novel In High Places was published in the Czech Republic in 1992 for the first time. This book could not come out during the totalitarian power of the communists in our country. Actually, the author describes here a danger of war which could be set in the fifties of the last century by the Soviet Union which longed for world rule. The domestic censorship could not allow the book to come out because for us, the Soviet Union was our example and a peace protector.
In contrast to Airport, Hotel and The Evening News where are endangered limited community of individuals, in In High Places the author focus on the whole democratic world which is endangered. And in this situation, we can follow a political fight between an imaginary party in power and a Canadian prime minister on the one hand and an opposition party on the other hand. The thrill is completed by a story of a captive on a merchant ship, who demands admission on Canadian coast.
Everything is fictitious but heavily informed and mimiced through observation, including a political scene with its soft intrigues, plots and meanness. What is politically good and beneficial does not have to either virtuous or honest. It is one of revealing realities that it is not true that politcs can be totally clean and honest.
This book is fiction but it has a special position. It is a play with fire, it is different than when a hotel or an airport is burning. It is a bomb prepared for an explosion. It is the matter of world health, which perhaps, can never be cured completely and forever.
Of sorts, today, the High Places are actually a historical novel, even though it concernes the recent history. It is a fiction of that time. The contract about unification was never concluded. The war which was about to happen did not take place, fortunately. When the book came out for the first time it was different, the book warned in that time, today it documents in what danger our world was.
Hailey introduces high political places of a fictitious country, government and characters to us. However, wives of politicians, lovers, secretaries or political leaders as if they are the spitting image of present politicians.
Various things changed in the world, even in fictional Canada. It is an anticipation of the Carribean crisis which arose shortly after the first publishing of the book. It is from the time when a dollar counted for much, when Canadian representants were the people with incredible low incomes, when in this social model there was not enough money for the hats of prime minister’s wife. In the customs of Canadian airports, there was the same bureaucratic strictness as in Immigration Office, and if it is to their profit they are ready to give up their humanity and a common sense to pursue their personal or party interests.
The characters in this book are interesting and credible even though they give the impression of being a bit historical. But if we want to understand also the danger in which we lived behind the scene, then the book answers a lot of unspoken questions.
Canada is for many people a country which is situated far from our homeland and we know and learn about it only little from medias. It is well known that Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with a high per capita income. The living standard is very high and I know a few people who moved there and they are very satisfied. But to get visa there was not easy, the applicants had to be convenient for its strict demands. However, hardly anybody knows what system of government is there and what role Canada played and plays on the international scene.
It is necessary to mention that Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, as head of state and the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The country is a parliamentary democracy with a federal systém of parliamentary government and strong democratic traditions. The present governor is Michaëlle Jean and the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Michaëlle Jean has served as Governor General since September 27, 2005; Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has been Prime Minister since February 6, 2006.
The federal parliament is made up of the Queen (represented by the Governor General) and two houses. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, are chosen by the Prime Minister and formally appointed by the Governor General.
Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended border, co-operate on military campaigns and exercises, and are each other’s largest trading partners. Canada has neverthless maintained an independent foreign policy, most notably maintaining full relations with Cuba and declining to participate in the Iraq War. Canada also maintains historic ties to the United Kingdom and France and to other former British and French colonies through Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie (French-Speaking Countries).
Canada is noted for having a strong and positive relationship with the Netherlands which Canada helped liberate during World War II, and the Dutch government traditionally gives tulips, a symbol of the Netherlands, to Canada each year in resembrance of Canada’s contribution to its liberation.
Canada currently employs a professional, volunteer military force which comprises the army, navy, and air force. Strong attachement to the British Empire and Commonwealth in English Canada led to major participation in British military efforts in the Second Boer War, the First World War, and the Second World War. Since then, Canada has been an advocate for multilateralism, making efforts to resolve global issues in collaboration with other nations. Canada joined the United Nations in 1945 and became a founding member of NATO in 1949. During the Cold War, Canada was a major contributor to UN forces in the Korean War and founded the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in cooperation with the United States to defend against aerial attacks from the Soviet Union.
Canada has played a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Lester B. Pearson eased tensions by proposing the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. Canada has since served in 50 peacekeeping missions, including every UN peacekeeping effort until 1989 and has since maintained forces in international missions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.
Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990; Canada hosted the OAS General Assembly in Windsor, Ontario, in June 2000 and the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
Since 2001, Canada has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force. Canada and the U.S. continue to integrate state and provincial agencies to strengthen security long the Canada – United States border through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has participated in three major relief efforts in recent years; the two-hundred members team has been deployed in relief operations after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Kashmir earthquake in October 2005.
In February 2007, Canada, Italy, Britain, Norway, and Russia announced their funding commitments to launch a $1.5 billion project to help develop vaccines they said could save millions of lives in poor nations, and called on others to join them. In August 2007, Canadian sovereignty in Artic waters was challenged following a Russian expedition that planted a Russian flag at the seabed at the North Pole. Canada has considered that area to be sovereign territory since 1925.
6.2 The Cold War
Soon after the World War Second it came to a tension between the United States and the Soviet Union called ‘the cold war‘. It was caused by the fact that the Soviet Union did not restore democracy, but imposed Communist dictatorship in Eastern Europe. The Truman Doctrine, proclaimed by President Truman, tried to check the spread of socialist and Communist movements by giving aid to anti-socialist regimes.
In April 1949 the West European countries together with the U.S.A. and Canada formed an alliance with a permanent military organization called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries countered by the Warsaw Pact Alliance.
Hopes for peaceful cooperation between the Communist and non-communist powers were raised by the Geneva summit conference in 1955. Unfortunatelly, the American, Soviet, British, and French heads of state failed to agree on methods of achieving either disarmament or the reunification of Germany. To minimize the dangers of surprise attack and to halt arms development, President Eisenhower proposed that the Soviet Union and the United States permit mutual aerial observatin of military installations. The Soviet leaders rejected this plan as an invasion of national sovereignty. It was only agreed on exchanging Soviet and American technicians, intellectuals, and performing artists.
In 1959 it came to another crisis when Fidel Castro overthrew the government of Cuban dictator Batista. Americans welcomed this change, but their sympathy evaporated, when Castro failed to hold free elections, placed the press under strict censorship, and sentenced to death a number of his political enemies. Foreign owned property was expropriated in many cases without compensation. When the Soviet Union began to support Castro, the United States condemned Soviet interference in the western hemisphere. And a war was about to happen.
6.3 The plot and setting
For this fiction, the author chose Canada and its fictional government which tries to save the world from a nuclear war which would be a destruction of the entire mankind. The story takes place in the sixtieth of the last century when the cold war culminated and the world balanced over the chasm of the most destructive war.
The story starts in the Christmas time when people are looking forward to calm holiday days, they buy presents to make their relatives and friends happy, although they do not have an idea what a hard decision their Prime Minister has to make during these days.
The biggest enemy of the USA and the entire democratic world, the Soviet Union starts to obtain a great power in the military sphere what causes American government considerable worries. The government tries to win Canada over to create such a strong coalition which could resist to a potential military attack. It is necessary to convience Canada to this step, it seems that nothing is in the way, however, the American government does not take into account the hard and intransigent Canadian Prime Minister.
Three important events go on in the same time, even though, at first, they do not have any connections. Later it proves that these three events gave the ruling party a hard time and checked out its power and cohesiveness. These three events are – a reception in Government House, a top secret phone call between the President of the United States and the Canadian Prime Minister, and anchoring the Liberian ship Vastervik in Vancouver.
In the days which are just before Christmas, nearly all companies and offices give parties to say a goodbye to the year which is ending. It is the same with the high places. Her Majesty’s Governor General organizes an official reception at the Ottawa residence for the Members of Parliament and Ministers which are accompanied by their wives.
The Prime Minister and his wife are welcomed by a Mountie in a scarlet uniform and when they enter Government house a youngish lieutenant of the Royal Canadian Navy in aide’s gold-trimmed uniform goes towards to them to introduce them:
‘They were led from the high pillared entrance hall up a rich red-carpeted marble stairway, through a wide, tapestried corridor and into the Long Drawing Room where small receptions such as tonight’s were usually held. A big, elongated, shoe-box shaped room, high ceilinged, with crossbeams plastered over, it had the intimacy of a hotel lobby, though with rather more comfort. So far, however, the invitingly grouped chairs and settees, upholstered in soft shades of turquoise and daffodil yellow, were unoccupied, the sixty or so guests standing, chatting in informal knots. From above their heads, a full-lenght portrait of the Queen stared unsmilingly across the room at window draperies, now drawn, of rich gold brocade.‘ (Hailey, Arthur. In High Places. London: Pan Books Ltd., 1970. p.12-13)
The residence is luxuriously equipped because it represents Her Majesty and the British monarchy. Governor General is the highest official in the Dominion of Canada. To become the Governor General is the highest honour the country can award. There is a lot of ceremonials, guards of honour everywhere, cheering crowds, artillery salutes and so on. The General Governor rates twenty-one guns as many as the Queen.
The food which is served at this occasion can be compared to the royal table. In the residence kitchen is employed a chef famed for his culinary skills. He is so good that once, a wife of other important statesman wanted to poach him from Otawa to their country, what nearly causes an international incident. Today’s table can boast the best delicaties:
‘Beluga Malossol caviar, oysters Malpeque, pâté maison, lobster aspic, Winnipeg smoked gold-eye, foie gras Mignonette, cold roast prime ribs, galantine of capon, hickory-smoked turkey, Virginia ham.‘ (Hailey, 18)
The fact that Canada belongs to the British monarchy worries not only common people but also high placed officials. They reflect about it how long the cult of kings, queens and a royal representative would last in Canada. They wanted the country to break away from the British monarchy just as, years before, it had freed of British Parliament influence. It seemed that the royal opulences as quaint protocols, gilt coaches, court lackeys and gold dinner services are an anachronist of that time, and cancelling of ceremonies would save time and money:
‘Already a good deal of ceremony associated with the throne seemed mildly funny, like a good-natured charade. When the day came, as it would, when people began to laugh out loud, then decay would have begun in earnest. Or perhaps, before that, some backstairs royal scandal would erupt and the crumbling come swiftly, in Britain as well as Canada.‘ (Hailey, 16)
But England did not want to allow Canada to free from its dominion. The Queen herself forced the Parliament to be different from the USA and suggested to restore titles which Canada tried to rid of since 1933. To use titles like Sir, Lord or Lady was unimaginable in this time.
The reception is taking place in a nice and friendly atmosphere, only two man racked their brains how to cover up information leak about the Prime Minister’s journey to Washington. It is necessary to obtain some time before the information about the negotiations in the White House could not get out, so that the Prime Minister could win favor with the Government and the people.
The inconvience which disrupted and actually finished the reception was a quarrel between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Citizienship and Immigration. The Minister became drunk and belligerent and provoked the Prime Minister and some other Ministers to quarrel.Which does not belong to such places as was Government house. He also offended the Governor General and so it was high time to march him out. But it was not so easy, because, according to the protocol, nobody could leave until the Governor General did. In an effort to avoid furher scandals, the Governor General left and initially nice reception fell through.
The subject of the quarrel were some problems which came about in connection with granting the entry permit to Canada. The immigration was a subject which had more than once shaked other governments‘ authority. Sometimes it was hard to keep the situation within acceptable bounds, and the people reacted in unpredictable ways, when offered heartbreaking stories about rejected immigrants.
Canada was still a promised land for many people and each government had to regulate the influx of population with extreme caution:
‘Too many immigrants from one source, too few from another, could be sufficient to change the balance of power within a generation. In a way, the Prime Minister thought, we have our own apartheid policy, though fortunately the barriers of race and colour are set up discreetly and put into effect beyond our borders, in Canadian embassies and consulates overseas. And definite as they are, at home we can pretend they do not exist.‘ (Hailey, 25)
Some people welcomed the immigrants, others refused. For example, the employers who needed further new labour forces, called for immigration, the others were afraid of flooding the country with undesirable people. The officials who worked in Immigration Office had to follow strict laws which were passed by Parliament and they were expected to observe them to the smallest detail. There were pre-established criteria which immigrants had to fulfil. If they did not comply with them, they were not allowed to entre to the country.
6.4 The Prime Minister and his Cabinet
The Prime Minister becomes the party leader and therefore needs the trust of the majoriry of the House of Representative. The Governor General formally appoints the government and the Prime Minister. However, according to the conventions he respects a prime minister election. The Prime Minister has extensive political power, especially in the area of the appointment of further high officials.
The Prime Minister has the official residence at his disposal for his term of office. It is a big stone mansion with the view of the River Ottawa and the Gatineau Hills on one side and on the other side the Quebec shoreline. He lived here with his wife and a steward and a girl who looked after all their needs.
The house had some floors and halls and a big comfortable living room with upholstered sofas, Empire armchairs, a fireplace and heavy grey drapes. Even though the Prime Minister made decisions about the nation’s destiny, he recieved less in salary and allowance than an American congressman. What is more, he had to use his own car with an inadequate allowance, so his family had to cut down on their demands. It is paradox, that Canada belonged to the richest countries in the world and neverthless, it paid its leaders meanly.
When a Prime Minister finished with his function, he did not have any money saved and received in retirement only about three thousand dollars a year from a contributory pension scheme. For this reason, Prime Ministers accepted the office in old age:
‘One result for the nation in the past had been that Prime Ministers tended to cling to office in old age. Others retired to penury and the charity of friends. Cabinet Ministers and MP’s fared even less well. It’s a remarkable thing, Howden thought, that so many of us stay honest.‘ (Hailey, 36-37)
The Members of Cabinet do not have easy life. When the Prime Minister takes it into his head to call an extraordinary meeting, they have to be available at whichever hour or day, whether is it Christmas or not, politics takes priority. The meetings take place in the Privy Council chamber. The room has high ceiling, on the floor there is a beige carpet, in the middle of the room is standing a big oval table with twenty-four carved-oak and red-leather chairs. It was the scene of most decisions affecting Canadian history since Confederation. Only the most important decisions were made here as is the case now. The Prime Minister has to convience his Ministers of the necessity to join the USA and to face their common enemy – the Soviet Union. The conversation is not easy because Canada was always proud of its independent sovereignty and now this would change. Finally, the Cabinet understands that there is not other way.
The other place where the history of Canada is made, is the Rideau Club on Wellington Street in Ottawa. It is possible to see Parliament Hill through the windows of this club , and the building is guarded at its doorway by a bronze statue of Queen Victoria. The Membership of the Rideau Club is mainly Ottawa’s political elite – cabinet ministers, judges, senators, diplomats, military chiefs of staff, top civil servants, some trusted journalists and the few ordinary Members of Parliament who can affort high fees:
‘The Rideau Club of Ottawa (as its members sometimes point out) is so exclusive and discreet that not even its name appears outside the building. A pedestrian passing by would never know what place it was unless he were told, and, if curious, he might take it for a private, though somewhat seedy, mansion.
Within the club, above a pillared entrance hall and broad divided stairway, the atmosphere is just as rarefied. There is no rule about silence, but most times of the day a sepulchral hush prevails and newer members tend to speak in whispers.‘ (Hailey, 103)
Some Ministers were quite well off, for example, the mentioned Minister of Citizienship and Immigration had the most luxurious personal office suite of all offices in Ottawa. A well-upholstered throne, a deep grey carpet, pale grey drapes, a comfortable mixture of English period furniture, everything was perfectly harmonized and visitors were invariably impressed.
However, just this Ministry nearly brought the government to ruin. The Immigratin law which was strictly followed was a one done law and some verdicts outraged the public and it seemed that the government is going to lose favour with the public. But it showed that the government and mainly its leader were stronger than ever and that they are able to manage all uneasy tasks.
6.5 Vastervik and its stowaway
On the Canadian West coast there anchored a lot of ships which loaded or unloaded their cargo. One of the many ships, which docked in Vancouver harbour just before Christmas, was the ship called Vastervik. There was nothing interesting about this ship, perhaps only that the crew had among them a stowaway. It would not be also something new, because, from time to time, a stowaway appeared on a ship and such a man was treated according to the laws of the sea. The stowaways did not have to work but they could do so voluntarily, although without pay. If they worked or not, they had to get the same rations as the ship’s crew.
The ship itself was past its prime. Three officials who came to check the cargo and the crew were surprised that the ship is still able to sail and even to carry a cargo:
‘Viewed from the dockside, even in darkness, the Vastervik had seemed a haggard ship. Now, at close quarters, the signs of age and accumulated neglect were even more startling. Faded paintwork had great patches of rust extending over superstructure, doors, and bulkheads. Elsewhere the last remnants of painting hung down in peeled strips. From a solitary light bulb above the gangway a layer of grime was visible on the deck under their feet and near by were several open boxes of what appeared to be garbage. A short distance forward a steel ventilator had corroded and broken from its housing. Probably unrepairable, it had been lashed uselessly to the deck.‘ (Hailey, 55)
Although, it seemed that the ship can hardly remain on the surface, the captain’s cabin was always cosy and perfectly tidy. Its mahogany panelling polished and brasswork gleaming, on a white linen cloth there was gleaming silverware. The whole time, the Vastervik anchored by Canada, the captain himself was wearing a brown serge suit only his the old fashioned carpet slippers on his feet spoiled overall impression.
What was special about the stowaway on Vastervik, how was he different from other stowaways? He was a tramp without identity and documents, and for this reason, no country wanted to give to him an admission. All his hopes became attached to Canada which was considered to be the most liberal country in the world. This man worked hard on the ship and the captain sometimes gave to him some money in order to buy necessary things. He also ate with the crew so when the ship was on the wide seas his life was not very different from others sailors. His hopes died when three official came on the ship, one was a customs officer, the second a shipping company agent and the last, the most important for him – a man from the Canadian Immigration. His request to be allowed in Canada was strictly denied, he was ordered to stay locked in a small room which was horrible, and in such conditions he was found by two journalists who were interested in his life, and they wanted to help him:
‘Moving to the doorway Dan saw a small figure sitting up sleepily in a metal bunk. Then he looked at the scene behind.
My God! he thought. Does a man live here?
It was a metal box – a cube approximately six feet square. Long ago the walls had been painted a drab ochre but now much of the paint had gone, with rust replacing it. Both paint and rust were covered with a film of moisture, disturbed only where heavier water droplets coursed down-ward. Occupying the lenght of one wall and most of the width inside was the single metal bunk. Above it was a small shelf about a foot long and six inches wide. Bellow the bunk was an iron pail. And that was all.
There was no window or porthole, only a vent of sorts near the top of one wall. And the air was foul.‘ (Hailey, 56)
But this involuntary prison was not so bad, when we can compare it with orders which were issued by other countries, when they found out who he was. For example, in England they jailed the stowaway while his ship was in a port, in the USA they chained him to his bed. Canada did neither, pretending that he does not exist, even though, according to Canadian laws the people who are on board the ships in Canadian waters, are subject to Canadian law.
The article about the boy without identity and a native country which was published in Vancouver Post flew round the world and caused different reactions. All leading newspapers printed a commentary to the topic and the Moscow Pravda quoted the incident as an example of ‘capitalist hypocrisy‘. Some people felt sorry for him, they sent him some money or food, others cursed and damned officialdom and bureaucratic inhumanity. The government felt that this situation could cause a loss of voters and favour of people, it wanted to solve this case quickly and calmly. The opposition, on the contrary, wanted to exploit it for all it is worth.
A young lawyer, who had graduated recently, was asked by the opposition to take charge of this case. He tried to use all the legal possibilities and dodges to help the homeless to start his new life, because the Immigration office refused to také stowaway’s request into account. He collected some arguments and was going to serve his case to the Supreme Court as an application for habeas corpus. The judge accepted the case and gave the order ‘Nisi‘ what meant that the stowaway has to be brought before a court and questioned.
However, after examination Duval was declared, according to some paragraphs, as a member of the prohibited class which do not fulfil the conditions of the Immigration Regulations. The verdict was returned, the young lawyer was shocked and disgusted and Duval terribly disappointed. The lawyer charged the whole society:
‘Detained and deported…paragraph (t) of Section 5…Subsections 1, 3, and 8 of Section 18. Alan Maitland thought: we clothe our barbarisms in politeness and call them civilized. We are Pontius Pilates who delude ourselves we are a Christian country. We allow in a hundred tubercular immigrants and beat our breast in smug self-righteousness, ignoring millions more, broken by a war from which Canada grew rich. By selective immigration, denying visas, we sentence families and children to misery and sometimes death, then avert our eyes and nostrils that we shall not see or smell. We break, turn down, a single human being, rationalizing our shame. And whatever we do, for whichever hypocrisy, there is a law or regulation…paragraph (t) of Section 5…Subsection 1, 3, and 8 of Section 18.‘ (Hailey, 306)
After this inauspicious verdict the young lawyer started the case with greater vigour. He and his colleague tried to find in the Legal Library a precedent which could help the unhappy stowaway. In such places are stored cases which were judged many years ago, and it was necessary to find the right files which could restore the case. It is nearly always possible to find a loophole which can reverse the verdict. And so it happened, in the case of the young stowaway, that he got permission to stay in Canada for a certain time.
6.6 The summit meeting in Washington
This summit took place in Washington in the presence of only four people – the US President, The Prime Minister of Canada and two Ministers of Defence. How it was said, the meeting concerned the question of unification of the two countries to be prepared for a potential Soviet strike. But to agree on a mutual compromise was not easy. Neither country wanted to lose anything from their positions and securities, the negoatiations were hard, however, finally they came to an agreement. The Americans wanted to save the most fertile areas for both countries, so Canada demanded Aljaska from the Americans for providing its area as a war field with the aim of building up a new agriculture there. During the negotiations which were stormy and emotional, there were also some insults and verbal attacks. It seemed that they part on bad terms, but at last they both acceded to demands of the other country. They realized that they needed each other if they wanted to survive.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife and some Ministers to Washington. He liked having all the Ministers and other guests at the airoport before his departure to different places or countries. Since his first term in office he had allowed it to be known that he liked welcoming ceremonials as well as formal partings:
‘Among cabinet members the process had become known familiarly as ‘the line-up‘. Occasionally there was mild grumbling and, once, word of it had reached James Howden’s ears. But his own attitude – defined to Brian Richardson, who had reported the complaints – was that the occasions were a demonstration of party and government solidarity, and the party director agreed.‘ (Hailey, 195)
For flying to different places, the Prime Minister used the VIP plane, maintained by the Goverment for official flights. It was divided into three parts. The first part was a conventional forward section for staff, the second - the centre cabin, more comfortable for ministers and their deputies. The next part was a comfortably upholstered drawing-room, decorated in pastel shades of blue with a small and cozy bedroom. In the rearmost suite, which was designed originally for the Queen and her husband, were two deep soft seats, and now they were prepared for the Prime Minister and his wife.
In Washington, the Canadian were the only guests in the President’s spacious guest house which had for the Prime Minister a special charm and different feelings came upon him:
‘The Prime Minister surveyed the long, gracious library. With its overstuffed sofas and chairs, big Chippendale table, and the book-lined walls, it seemed a gentle backwater of coolness and quiet. It was here in this room, he thought, that Lincoln had once rested and talked; that in later years the Trumans spent their leisure during the White House remodelling; here, in the library, that King Saud of Arabia slept guarded by his own soldiers, scimitar-armed; here that de Gaulle had prepared to huff, Adenauer to charm, and Khrushchev to bluster…and so many others. He wondered if he himself would be remembered in that long procession. And if so, with what verdict.‘ (Hailey, 233-234)
The negotiations in the White House turned out well for Canada so the Prime Minister left Washington with the sense of a great triumph and importance. For this reason, the hostile welcome at the airport in Ottawa was as rude awakening. The reason – the stowaway on the good ship Vastervik. The Prime Minister’s arrival was awaited by plenty of people, but not by people who wanted to cheerfully welcome him. These people were exasperated and demanded a residence permission for the stowaway. Over their heads there were placards with following signs:
‘IMMIGRATION DEPT: CANADA’S GESTAPO!
LET DUVAL IN, HE DESERVES A BREAK!
CHANGE FIENDISH IMMIGRATION LAWS!
JESUS CHRIST WOULD BE TURNED AWAY HERE!
CANADA NEEDS DUVAL, NOT HOWDEN!
THIS HEARTLESS GOVERNMENT MUST GO!‘ (Hailey, 270-271)
This happened just at the time when he needed the full support of all the people to bring his grandiose work to a successful conclusion. He would, however, not be Hailey’s hero if he did not have to cope with all problems.
In this, his favourite novel, the setting also plays a main role, but in this case it is not the same like as in Hotel or in Airport. While in these two novels Hailey describes buildings, devices, services, operations of big giants which people use for their business or holidays, In High Places focuses, rather, on a political setting even though descriptions of a ship and dwellings where characters live also appear. Readers learn about different practices and tricks which people in high places use and how they have to deal with their conscience. The longing for power is strong so much, so that sometimes the honest man also has to do a dirty trick and then justify it, everything what was done was in favour of the state.
The title of this thesis is The Treatment of Settings Novels by Arthur Hailey. Hailey is a representative of the so called sociological fiction which is characterized by intimate knowledge of the chosen setting: where the dramatic stories of people working in mammoth companies which deeply influence the lives of the main characters.
Hailey’s ‘heroes‘ in his novels are just the settings, which he describes as if they really existed so credibly. The author was able to use all his knowledge, observations and feelings in his novels in a such way that all his works became bestsellers even though they are closer to pulp fiction than classic literature.
The settings in the three chosen novels Hotel, Airport and In High Places differ in many ways, but they also have something in common. What joins them is a simple plot which occurs in all his novels. Readers can initially find it difficult to become involved in the first chapters, because effort required to orientate the roles of the characters. There is also perhaps too much of the of information, and it takes some time before readers learn who is who.
Critics often blamed him for paying significant attention to describing of settings, but not of characters, usually common people who get into exceptional situations. According to the critics his characters were sometimes schematic and they were not developed enough.
The main characters are more or less good people with personal problems, however, they are devoted to their mission in life. The stories themselves are complicated but at the end there is denouement.
In Hotel he depicts five days in a renowned hotel in New Orleans, as if from the views of the guests, the management and also rival companies.
The attractive setting of Airport draw readers into the action at the time when the airport is caught in a crisis caused by a heavy snowstorm and one of their best planes with many passengers on the board is endangered by a psychopath who wants to denote a bomb.
In the novel In High Places the author captures a dramatic action conflict at the time when the Cold War culminates. With great knowledge of the setting, he describes the actions of governments, parliaments and diplomats.
In conclusion, all Hailey’s books are interesting, fast paced, and thrilling, but are not driven by a strong interpersonal story line.
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