Relationships, Love and Death in Graham Greene's Stories

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Greene's notion of life as a moral drama is reflected in his treatment of death and dying in the novels. His main characters usually meet sudden and violent ends, but their aftermaths or deaths are almost always accompanied by hints of hope. Through his treatment of his characters' deaths, he makes known the nature of that great gap he finds between the actuality of life in the world, with its disappointments and limitations, and the possibility of infinite life. Greene's characteristic methods of describing death emphasize its ambiguity. He intensifies the focus of his narrative on the person for whom death is imminent. For example, at end of the short story Brother we come across a setting of danger, damage and death, typical of Greene. The context of the story is Paris during WW1. A café proprietor is afraid when six communists enter his coffee shop asking for drinks. Two of them, a man and a young lady do not speak throughout the whole account but sit in a corner of the café. The young man is severely wounded and intimacy between him and the young lady misleads the proprietor into believing them lovers but later he learns they are in fact brother and sister. In contrast to the owner is the billiard player who seems oblivious to the danger around him. The billiard game, parallel to the events, makes sense when, in the end the communists (red) that initially meant danger, in fact, suggested safety corresponding with the billiard player who plays on the red ball to place it in the safe of the billiard table. The final twist in the story is the fact that the owner finds the young man dead in the cellar after the shoot out. Even worse, the young man is found in deepest and darkest part of the café. In spi... ... middle of paper ... ...mes are again marriage, love and lust. The issue is however, presented in a more challenging and provocative situation. The final stage of the work is the effect of the strange experience on the couple. Mrs. Carter, as expected, shows interest in wanting to know more. Mr. Carter, on the other hand, opts to be dismissive. The end of this account is rather tragic. Mrs. Carter is implacable in her desire and while she screams in what is supposed to suggest orgasmic passion and afterwards talks excitedly, ironically Mr. Carter feels he has betrayed that night. In some cases, the characters' own viewpoint is more pessimistic than that of the people who knew him. The question posed and left unanswered concerns the character's ability to love, and Greene's message is always the same: it is our human capacity to love which both leads us into sin and redeems us.
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