In George J. Lennard’s, “John le Carre” critical assessment of the ending of Little Drummer Girl, he claims that “Charlie can not continue to act in the theater of the real...she can no longer return to the romantic fluff of Western middle class society.” Charlie’s last line in the novel, the theater of the real, are “I am dead” (pp.659), which confirms Lennard’s statement. Charlie, an actress, by nature and craft is a coerced into a scheme to infiltrate a terrorist ring, against her convictions. By playing upon Charlie’s insecurities and her need for acceptance, this scheme forms a kind of moral ambiguity and uncertainness inside Charlie. When it ends, her world is shattered, and she becomes “dead” in a figurative sense.
The theater of the real forces Charlie to give a performance of a lifetime as her own life is at stake. In the beginning Charlie, willing and naive, accepts the script given to her by Joseph. Joseph himself, trains Charlie how to act in this scheme, much like an acting coach trains an inexperienced theatrical student. Along the way, Joseph gives her important pieces of advice such as “stay with the logic of the fiction...weaken and you will ruin the operation...we’ll repair [any] damage (pp. 468), advice which Charlie does not closely follow. In a world that will be turn upside down for Charlie, Joseph is her one remaining constant.
The people Charlie comes in contact with can be best described as characters or actors in fiction as well. The characters names change almost as frequently as Charlie’s views of her situation. The changing names give way to the belief that the characters, under disguise, can not really be held responsible for their actions as they are in costume. As the novel progresses, Charlie also changes costumes much like a chameleon changes with its environment. When Charlie’s character is the Israelites, she is sympathetic to them; likewise, when she is with the Palestinians, she takes on their beliefs, which in it self creates a chaos and provides substance to the theme of moral ambiguity in le Carre’s novel.
Charlie begins her journey into moral ambiguity with the death of Michel, a Palestinian terrorist. Following her script carefully, Charlie infiltrates the terrorist ring, convincing them that she was Michel’s lover. Charli...
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... [into the real] is futile” (pp. 600). And so, Charlie enters back into the world of the real changed and alone, even “dead” because she is unable to ever be the same.
Charlie’s character deals with concerns of terrorism, the persuasive power of love and the moral ambiguity on both sides of the fence. Perhaps her most important discovery is when she realizes the cost of violence to those who preform it. Although Charlie is clearly the protagonist of the novel, she makes an important discover which seems to eliminate the conflict of moral ambiguity: there is good and evil in everyone. This lesson affects Charlie in ways the writers of her script never could have known. Like the writers of a good novel, she has already begun to miss the character she has fallen in love with– herself. Charlie now, neither belongs in the theater of the real no in the real world– she will no longer fit in either as she once did, Making her “dead” to herself and everyone who once knew her Le Carre leaves us with an image of Charlie preforming works of art in a theater for a real audience. Significantly because Charlie’s ambiguity of herself can best be seen by playing the characters of others.
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