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Caretaker, The

davies aston tramp pinter

a play by Harold Pinter, performed and published in 1960. The drama that first brought Pinter substantial recognition and success involves the subtly shifting relationships of three characters. A former mental patient, Aston, rescues the tramp Davies from a brawl and brings him back to the junk-filled London attic which he inhabits, but which is actually owned by his brother Mick, a jobbing builder. As the play proceeds, the paranoid, shiftless Davies switches his allegiance from his benefactor. Aston, to the stronger Mick, who purports to be offering him a job as a caretaker and work as a painter and decorator. The latter's motives, as often in Pinter, are somewhat inscrutable; but it would seem that he outwits the tramp by luring him into making both false claims for himself and insulting remarks about Aston. By the end, both brothers have rejected Davies, and he is left with nothing but the forlorn hope of one day getting to Sidcup, a place where he improbably expects to find the solution to all his problems. The play's complexities are not easily summarized, but it has been well described by John Arden as concerning ‘the unexpected strength of family ties against an intruder’. It is notable for its charged atmosphere, for clipped, plain dialogue that says little but implies much, as well as for its richly humorous yet sympathetic characterization of the tramp Davies.

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