Brighton Rock - Catholicism

  • Created by: A.Walker
  • Created on: 06-05-19 15:52
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  • Catholicism in Brighton Rock
    • At the heart of Brighton Rock by Graham Greene is the unconventional love story of Pinkie and Rose, whose shared Catholic faith shapes, illuminates, devoutly (if imperfectly) Catholic, Pinkie focuses more on Hell and damnation, whereas Rose focuses more on Heaven and redemption.
      • Ida Arnold, meanwhile—intent on making the brutal Pinkie answer for his crimes—believes most in common superstition, and in her own sense of right and wrong. These warring belief systems, when pitted against one another, prove explosive and deadly. In the end, although Pinkie himself dies a terrible death, it is Pinkie’s vision of damnation that triumphs.
    • On their first date, Pinkie and Rose discover that they’re both “Romans.” Their rearing in the Catholic faith becomes a touchstone for them, something they have in common that binds them from the beginning, but their unique perspectives on the way God works in the world could not be more different. Pinkie’s Catholicism is one of damnation and flames and torments. Rose has hope. She believes in Heaven and forgiveness and it is her steadfast, optimistic belief that allows her to fall in love with Pinkie and eventually become his wife.
      • Rose: is hope, heaven, forgiveness, angelic, innocence.
      • Pinkie: is loss of hope, damnation, flames, torment, mortal sin.
      • Rose and Pinkie’s Catholicism contrasts directly with Ida Arnold’s free-wheeling spiritualism and her belief in herself as an agent of justice. Convinced that “poor old Fred” Hale has been killed by Pinkie and his gang, she makes it her mission to solve the case on her own, not necessarily because she cares deeply for Fred (she only knew him for a few hours; also, his name is really Charles), but because doing so sounds fun to her, like "a bit of life."
        • Ida doesn’t believe in God. Instead, she turns to her Ouija board for guidance when she’s in need of guidance. Although, she usually knows her mind. To Ida, the world is a very simple place. There are good people and there are bad people; the good people should be saved and praised, the bad brought to justice and summarily punished.
          • This is where her views and actions overlap with those of Pinkie. Her overly simplistic view of human nature shares much in common with the strictest tenets of Catholic doctrine which suggest that hell is reserved for sinners and heaven for those who repent.
    • Pinkie’s faith has been formed by his upbringing, of which Greene gives only glimpses. Those glimpses, though, are telling. Pinkie remembers his childhood in the downtrodden Brighton housing project of Paradise Piece primarily as a series of Saturday nights during which his father would mount his mother and both parents would forget they even had a son. On such nights, Pinkie felt dead, invisible. When he returns to the home of his youth, it has collapsed completely.
      • It looks like a bomb has fallen on it. In reality, it was always cheap, shabbily built, and poorly maintained, barely fit for human habitation. Pinkie’s belief in a God bent on punishment makes sense when taken in this context, as does his inherent inability to love. Pinkie’s God is vindictive and ruthless; Pinkie is a reservoir of hate, much of it aimed at himself.
        • He models his behavior as the head of a crime syndicate on that malicious God, reflexively turning to murder to solve his problems: “He trailed the clouds of his own glory after him: hell lay about him in his infancy. He was ready for more deaths.”
    • Rose’s homelife is equally bleak, but her faith takes her in a different direction. Born to a mother and father prone to black moods and having spent her first fifteen years in a dirty and depressing basement room, she looks to God to provide an escape.
      • Later, when it’s Pinkie who frees her from the ******* of a joyless poverty, he becomes her god. She enters in to what she considers mortal sin by marrying him in a fake ceremony and even sleeps with him out of wedlock. If Pinkie is damned, she is ready to be damned also. She places all of her faith in him.
        • Pinkie’s Catholicism is fatalistic. Convinced that he has been damned since birth, he kills and kills again because hell isn’t going to get any hotter. Rose’s faith is all about redemption, and therefore it makes sense that she would fall in love with Pinkie, who is more in need of redemption than anyone. Ida’s faith in the occult and her unshakable confidence in herself invest her with a frightening amount of power.
          • Dallow tells Ida that she’s the reason Pinkie and Rose end up on the cliff above the sea, locked into a suicide pact, and he is, to a certain extent, right. It is the combination of Ida’s life philosophy of an eye for an eye, Pinkie’s morbid fascination with death and damnation, and Rose’s guileless belief in a merciful God, that results in the kind of blood bath Pinkie had anticipated all along.


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