"The Sinner is often the Saint" - In order to come to terms with this
paradox the reader must be aware of the definitions of the words
'sinner' and 'saint'. As it is understood today, a 'saint' is one who
transgresses God's known will. Greene uses the character of Scobie in
his novel 'The Heart of the Matter' to explore the paradox in the
above statement. However, once the reader is quite aware of these
definitions, it can be said that Scobie is a mixture of both, and this
concept is implied implicitly through the paradox itself.
The initial introduction of Scobie in the novel, is presented by other
characters, which produces an emphasis on the importance of how others
"â€¦If I had a wife like that, I'd sleep with niggers tooâ€¦Poor old
This introduction immediately suggests that others feel that he does
not deserve his situation (in this case the situation of his
marriage), thus highlighting his 'saintliness'. The other characters
in the novel look unto him as 'Scobie the Just' and feel that he is
trustworthy, honest and respectable. Yusef the notorious Syrian in the
novel is among these characters. Greene uses vulgar and harsh imagery
to surround him, and to parallel the crudeness and wickedness that
lies within the character:
"Just over the window there was a defective gutter which emptied
itself like a tapâ€¦the murmur and the gush. Scobie lit a cigarette,
Although he is seen as the embodiment of evil, he does not fail to
recognise the good in Scobie, and is desperate for his friendship:
... middle of paper ...
... view is further explored it becomes obvious that Scobie is merely
'human', due to the fact that the motive behind his 'sins' was moral,
and mainly for the benefit of others. It is because of this that the
reader may presume that in Scobie's case, the good overrides the evil.
Evidence to support this idea can be seen at the very end of the
novel, by examining the dialogue between Father Rank and Louise
"The Church knows all the rules but it doesn't know what goes on in a
single human heart."
1 George Orwell - "The Sanctified Sinner"
2 P. O'Prey - "A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene"
3 William Du Bous - "The Heart of the Matter" Book Review (1948) -
4 Graham Greene - "A Sort of Life"
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