The loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
One the Sillitoe's best-known and one of the most appreciated short stories, and it gives the title to the 1959 collection.
According to the plot we come to know that a seventeen - year - old boy, known simply as "Smith", is born into a working - class family, and lives by theft, Bulgar and other tricks. He is caught by the police whilst breaking into a bakery and sent to borstal, where he is supposed to become a reformed character. The borstal is ruled by an authoritarian governor, who nevertheless believes in enlightened methods and chooses Smith as a long distance runner in the competition organized each year as a part of the rehabilitation system. Smith accepts, finding a form of freedom in the few hours spent out of the borstal, which permit him to think about his condition , his own life and life in general, working out a personal philosophy of people and such moral values of honesty and integrity, which are the opposite of those followed by the hated Establishment. He devices a special strategy to humiliate the governor, who would gain only personal satisfaction and encouragement for his methods by an expected victory. Smith decides to take part in the competition, but, at the end, to let another runner overtake him just before the tape . In this way he will have the pleasure of witnessing the governor's humiliation. He follows his plan, remaining true to his beliefs, in spite of his personal defeat and the governor's punishment.