English (Novels)

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Relationships (Lies of Silence)

Dillon and the IRA: Dillon first comes into contact with the IRA when they hold him at gunpoint in his own house one night. He feels angry and bitter towards them. When he meets the priest later on, he is disgusted and refuses to accept his offer not to inform. At the insistence of Andrea and for the sake of peace he decides not to inform. However, he makes this decision too late. The IRA shoot him at the conclusion of the novel.

Dillon and Andrea: They are very much in love. For a great deal of the novel, Dillon is divided between his loyalty to Andrea and protecting Moira from the IRA. In addition, their relationship suffers after the incident with the IRA. Dillon is clearly confused about whether to inform or not. This creates much tension between Dillon and Andrea. She is clearly in love with him and stands by him right through to the end and.

Dillon and Moira: Although Dillon is married to Moira, he is not in love with her. She realises this and is angry. Their already tense and strained relationship worsens when she discovers about his affair with Andrea. Moira reacts in a rebellious and aggressive manner when the IRA holds she and Michael hostage. On their release, Moira decides to give interviews to the media and exposes the IRA. She is hurt by the way she has been treated and in some way wants to gain her revenge on Dillon.

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Heroes, Heroines and Villains

Hero: Michael Dillon is from the middle class area of Belfast. He hopes to move to London. He is manager of the Clarence Hotel in Belfast. He is married to a woman called Moira although he is love with another woman. He shows courage in informing the police about the bomb in the car. However, he is an indecisive character.

Villain: The IRA is seen as a hostile and negative presence in the novel. Dillon and his wife are held to ransom by the IRA while they force him to plant a bomb in the car park outside the Clarence Hotel. Their representative is a priest who pleads with Michael to withhold information about one of the IRA men called Kev, his nephew. The IRA carry out their revenge on Dillon by shooting him because they fear that he will testify against Kev.

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Story (Beginning)

This story takes place in Northern Ireland, where there is war going on between the Protestants (UDA) and the Catholics (IRA).

Michael Dillon, a hotel manager, is already married to Moira for three years but is bored to death. He doesn’t really love Moira (anymore) and only got married to her because of her good looks. He has a job he doesn’t really appreciate and he lives in a country he hates, even though it’s his own country. The only good thing in his life at the moment is the young woman he’s having an affair with; Andrea Baxter from the BBC. One night when Dillon and Andrea are together they decide they want to move to England together. Andrea has been asked to go there for her job and she wants Dillon to come. Dillon will ask for a transfer to a hotel in England or find another job.

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Story (Beginning)

But that night when he is lying in bed next to Moira, thinking about how he will tell his future ex-wife about the whole thing the following day, the IRA burst into the house. The next morning Dillon is forced to drive to work, park his car with a bomb in it in the garage under the hotel. The IRA want to kill a representant of the UDA, Allun Pottinger, who is making a speech in the hotel that morning. If Dillon doesn’t do things as instructed, Moira will be killed. At the last minute, after parking his car, Dillon runs in a shop and calls the police. The police come and stop the bomb. Luckily Moira isn’t killed because the IRA left the house as soon as Dillon left; telling Moira not to move, an order which she obeyed.

When the IRA were in the house that previous night, one of them called Kev lifted his mask to scratch his face. In the mirror, Dillon saw his face. So the danger is clear now; the IRA will probably be after Dillon and try to kill him so that he cannot identify the so-called Kev if the police get hold of him.

Deceiving Moira, Dillon moves to London with Andrea a little while later. Dillon gets a transfer and goes to work at another hotel in London.

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Story (Ending)

The IRA find Dillon's new adress by asking people at the hotel in Ireland Dillon used to work for. One day, not so long after he moved, a priest from the IRA comes to Dillon and pleads him not to identify the IRA man, (Kev) that Dillon saw, for the police (the police has arrested a man who looked like the one Dillon recognized). Dillon gets mad at the man and says that no matter what, he will do everything to help the police. The priest then warns him to be careful because it will soon go wrong…

When he comes home he tells Andrea all about it. She wants him to tell the police that he will not identify Kev because then the IRA will get mad and try to kill Dillon. After a long discussion he agrees and promises her to call the police to say he will not help them in identifying Kev. But it is already to late: the priest told the IRA what Dillon told him.

The next day, when Andrea is out, he is about to call the police when two men without masks burst in and raise their revolvers. They don’t need masks, because this time…there will be no witnesses…!!!

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Brighton Rock: why is the title apt? (1)

Brighton is (or was, in Britain, until recent times) very closely associated in the public mind with the sticks of rock sold there, and would have been so even more in the 1930s, when the rock would have been seen as a semi-luxury. Greene chooses it for his title, both because of its connection with the circumstances of Hale's death, and because of its use, by Ida, as a simile to explain the unchanging nature of the human heart. We do not learn at once how Hale died. We know that Pinkie and his gang believe they have killed him, yet are puzzled by the different conclusion of the coroner. Much later (p. 162) Cubitt hints to Ida about the killing: "I can't see a piece of Brighton rock without..." (without distress, evidently, at recalling his part in the killing; Ida presses him for more information, but he gives none). The mystery is resolved in the following chapter, where Pinkie sees a kind of diabolical leading of Rose, as she inadvertently retraces his steps on the day of Hale's death.

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Brighton Rock: why is the title apt? (2)

The covered walk which Rose takes (in bad weather) because it is sheltered has been chosen, earlier, by Pinkie for discretion. When she reaches the kiosk where the killing took place, Pinkie asks Rose whether she wants winkles or rock "as if something important really depended on the answer". When she replies, "I'd like a stick of Brighton rock" he believes that "only the devil...could have made her answer like that". We learn that some rock is for sale cheaply because it has been broken (in the kiosk) by "some clumsy fools" (Pinkie and his gang, with Hale). He knows, before he turns around, that "the promenade" will be "shut out behind the rows of Brighton rock" (p. 178). Evidently, this place was chosen for the killing of Hale because few, if any, holiday-makers would see the men on the covered walk, and no-one would see the murder. (It is not clear whether the shop-assistant would be in the kiosk but unaware of what was happening or out, though her remark suggests that the murder may have occurred when the kiosk was unattended; Pinkie evidently knows every detail of the place.)

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Brighton Rock: why is the title apt? (3)

The principal reason for Greene's choice of title, though, is that Brighton rock provides Ida with a topical but simple analogy to human nature. In response to Rose's statement that people change, Ida retorts: "Oh, no they don't....I've never changed. It's like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down. That's human nature". (p. 198) In the case of Pinkie, Ida would appear to be correct. But whether Greene wishes us to endorse this view in every case is debatable; Pinkie, after all, is confronted with the possibility of change, but is unable to achieve it. This view is essentially pessimistic, suggesting that the only good people are those who are good to begin with. In the eternal context (in which Ida has no real belief) this would mean that the capacity of the individual to respond to God's mercy (and thus damnation and salvation) are determined in advance by God's will. Crudely, whether one is saved or damned, in terms of Ida's simile, depends on what God has written on one's character or soul

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BR:The narrative viewpoint

Before considering this, it may be worth thinking generally about the idea of viewpoint in fiction. Conventionally, writers use first or third person narration for different effects: the one gives a more partial and subjective view, while the other allows more objective or shifting viewpoint. However, by regulating the reader's access to the thoughts of the imagined characters or by making judgements about them, the author may massage the reader's sensibilities and attitudes. Comments may also be provided by way of explanation, to clarify what would otherwise seem puzzling or to elicit sympathy for otherwise repellent characters.

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BR: The narrative viewpoint (2)

In Brighton Rock Greene limits the reader's view to scenes in which Pinkie, Ida and Rose appear, save for the opening, in which we follow Hale, and a brief episode in which Dallow is prominent. We are granted access to the thoughts of these characters, to their feelings about others, with the author's explanatory comment sometimes, seeing the story, as it were, through their eyes. One way of understanding this better would be to consider those characters to whom we are not given this kind of insight. Good examples would be Colleoni or Kite: both exert a great influence on Pinkie but their own outlook is not important to the novel, so much as the way that Pinkie sees them, and this is how they are presented to the reader; like Pinkie, we judge Colleoni by how he appears and what he says, while Kite is known only by a series of recollections, some general, some (such as their first meeting ) more vivid and precise. In episodes in which more than one of the principals is present Greene will often present the story through the eyes of one only. Occasionally, as in the set-piece description of the race day (Part four, Ch. 1; p. 99) Greene will adopt a neutral, impersonal view, not at all mediated by the subjective response of a character, but merely detailing what was to be seen and heard.

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BR:The narrative viewpoint (3)

One result of Greene's subjective limiting of viewpoint to that of Pinkie or of Ida, is to reinforce the idea of their mutual incomprehension: neither can make sense of the other's world; neither attempts understanding. Thus, when Ida appeals to Rose, she speaks in terms of worldly common sense, and cannot see why the younger woman is unmoved.

An episode which shows well how Greene selects a partial viewpoint is the account of Pinkie's visit to the races with Spicer, at which both are attacked by Colleoni's men. We read what Spicer says, but see him through Pinkie's reactions, as when he blows "gaseous malted breath towards the bookies". Comments such as "It was as easy as shelling peas" are clearly not those of the author, but an indication of Pinkie's thoughts. Pinkie squeezes Spicer's arm, but there is no account of Spicer's pain or irritation; when the attack occurs, Spicer is seen and heard from afar, but Pinkie's pain is presented directly; although the surprise is said to be worse than the pain "at first", the account of the attack is graphic: we read the word "pain" repeatedly, as also references to razors and to slashing (of knuckles, twice, and of cheeks). Here, the reader is concerned with Pinkie's pain alone; Spicer is out of sight figuratively, as well as literally.

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This is not a novel in which "rounded" characters are depicted in the round: in fact, Greene is preoccupied with a limited range of human characteristics. What we learn of Pinkie is what has made him as he is (his revulsion at his parental home and his parents' ugly ritual of sex, his ****** at school and his Catholicism) and his present doomed struggle for advancement in the Brighton underworld. This could be seen to bring what is important (Pinkie's evil) into sharper relief, and to omit everyday detail suggestive of humanity; but the poverty of Pinkie's past and present experience, the absence of happy childhood recollection, might indicate that there is nothing else to say about Pinkie, that simple hostility has driven out complexity of character. Where Pinkie eschews experience, Ida is game for anything, especially modest material luxuries. Where Pinkie is alienated by his singularity and hostility to God and man, Ida is the epitome of the insider. She is a stereotype of decent humanity at its best, eating, drinking and making merry but consoling the weak and seeking justice she believes "Fred" has been denied. Her idea of right and wrong is far less profound and potent than Pinkie's sense of Good and Evil, but she is confident she is in the right, and inexorable in doing what she sees as her duty. There is some irony in the reader's awareness that this mixture of superstition and agnosticism should be the unwitting instrument of divine retribution for Pinkie.

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BR: Characterisation

Rose is more impoverished of character and experience even than Pinkie, so that he appears to her as glamorous. She, too, seems motivated by a single idea, that of loyalty to Pinkie, and resists Ida's arguments with sullen perversity. Her commitment to Pinkie is an act of faith which she justifies by the will power with which she sustains it; she does not know him really, as appears (p. 195) as she attempts to explain her marriage to her friend, Maisie.

The depiction of complex characters, showing development over time, is a legitimate purpose for a novelist, but in Brighton Rock we meet characters who are not complex and who do not undergo much development, in the short time which the principal narrative occupies. What Greene is interested in is the states of mind of Pinkie and Ida, and the nature of their conflict.

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BR: Heaven and hell

Pinkie accepts the Roman Catholic teaching about heaven and hell, but in a rather perverted way. There may be heaven though he can form no idea of it; but he has a vivid idea of hell: "Of course there's Hell. Flames and damnation." (p. 52) Initially, Pinkie believes that hell awaits him after death, and there is no point in troubling about it beforehand: "Hell - it's just there. You don't need to think of it - not before you die" (p. 91) But his remark to Rose immediately prior to this ("I don't take any stock in religion") is not convincing. It is probably true, however, at this point, that Pinkie believes he can use his position as Kite's successor to gain status and influence, though it is not clear to the reader how he can achieve these, as Pinkie lacks imagination; his refusal to meet Colleoni's terms seems foolish. What Pinkie wants immediately is to obliterate his past in Paradise Piece, with the knowledge of his parents' sexual habits, and to escape from the room at Frank's, where strategic planning is made impossible by the interruptions of the other gang members and Judy. An idea of controlling the race track, resisting Colleoni and doing what he needs to, in order to silence Rose is Pinkie's vision of worldly success. The reader notes, first that the celibate, ascetic Pinkie is unfitted to enjoy the fruits of this success, other than the prestige it might bring; second, that Ida, effortlessly, achieves what is denied Pinkie: he is refused a room at the hotel on his wedding-night, while Ida uses the "unlucky" Hale's tip to pay her way in Brighton, and her charm to hitch a lift to the races in a luxury sports car.

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BR: Heaven and hell

What Pinkie comes to realize about his original view of things is that it is mistaken, and that hell is all around us. In trying to silence Rose, he finds himself committing a sin more serious than murder (the corruption of an immortal soul). He also sees how the squalid domestic routines and the sexual relations he has hitherto sought to escape have now trapped him; the only way out is to arrange Rose's death. Pinkie sees this most vividly when he takes his bride back to Frank's place: Now it was as if he was damned already and there was nothing more to fear ever again. The ugly bell chattered, the long wire humming in the hall, and the bare globe burnt above the bed - the girl, the washstand, the sooty window, the blank shape of a chimney, a voice whispered, " I love you, Pinkie". This was hell then; it wasn't anything to worry about; it was just his own familiar room. (p. 182)

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BR: Heaven and hell

Later, when he visits Prewitt (Part Seven, Ch. 3), this is articulated most clearly. Pinkie's fear of settled domesticity is alarmingly embodied in Prewitt's household. Prewitt is successful enough (or has been) to own a house and to employ a servant. But his house is near the railway line, "shaken by shunting engines" while soot settles "continuously on the glass and brass plate". The party wall is so thin, there is non-stop noise from the neighbour's radio. The wife in the basement and the girl with "grey underground skin" suggest the hell just beneath this world. Prewitt tells Pinkie that the Boy's danger of conviction is to be preferred to his own living death: "The worst that can happen to you is you'll hang. But I can rot". Finally, Prewitt tells Pinkie of Mephistopheles' words to Faustus: "Why, this is Hell, nor are we out of it" repeating the phrase soon afterwards. Pinkie would not be familiar with Marlowe's play, but the quotation expresses an idea to which his own thoughts have been tending. The reader sees that Pinkie is like Faustus: he has tried to make a deal, accepting his own damnation, in return for some advantage in this world. Like Faustus, he finds that the worldly gain is illusory and unsatisfying. We see further how Pinkie becomes aware more and more of a loss of control. When he confronts Hale, he is utterly confident he can kill him with impunity. Early in the novel (p. 7) Greene likens Pinkie to a hunter "before the kill". As he is drawn into closer relations with Rose, Pinkie sees how his scope for action is lessened. This becomes explicit when he visits Prewitt: "More than ever yet he had the sense that he was being driven further and deeper than he'd ever meant to go": he is now the hunted.

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BR: Heaven and hell

This idea is central to the novel's conclusion: although Pinkie is fairly sure of his own damnation, he believes (in theory) that a Catholic can be saved if he repents before death, an idea he thinks of repeatedly in terms of the rhyme about the "stirrup" and the "ground". When he fears he may be about to die, after the attack on the race-course, he finds that this does not work, that his whole attention is given to trying to stay alive. But Greene is careful not to exclude the possibility of forgiveness for Pinkie. Driving with Rose to the country, to arrange her "suicide", Pinkie thinks of himself as pre-destined, unfairly, for damnation, because of the experiences of which "his cells were formed". He is stirred by "an awful resentment", and wonders why he should not "have had his chance, like all the rest, seen his glimpse of heaven, if it was only a crack between the Brighton walls". (p. 228) But as he looks back on his brief courtship of Rose, Pinkie has his chance. He discovers, to his surprise, that he remembers it "without repulsion" and the (slight) possibility of affection for Rose occurs to him; "somewhere, like a beggar outside a shuttered house, tenderness stirred, but he was bound in a habit of hate".

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BR: Heaven and hell

The image is repeated (p. 237) as Pinkie feels almost protective of Rose in response to the boasting of the upper-class men in the bar: "Tenderness came up to the very window and looked in". The chance of repentance, twice refused, comes most vividly, the third and final time; as he drives away from the bar, Pinkie is aware of "an enormous emotion", likened to "something trying to get in; the pressure of gigantic wings against the glass. Dona nobis pacem...If the glass broke, if the beast - whatever it was - got in, God knows what it would do." (p. 239) The colloquial "God knows" here clearly has a serious literal meaning. Pinkie is aware of what is happening, this is the "crack" opening in Brighton's walls, but when it comes, he resists it. Having declined the threefold offer of mercy, Pinkie cannot escape the divine judgement. His death is presented very much as the action of supernatural punishment: "it was as if the flames had literally got him" (the burning of the vitriol anticipating and becoming a metaphor for the hell-fire which Pinkie is about to meet). When he goes over the cliff no sound is heard: "it was as if he'd been withdrawn suddenly by a hand out of any existence - past or present, whipped away into zero - nothing". (p. 243) The "hand" is a conventional anthropomorphism for the action of God, while the reference to time indicates how Pinkie's hell, as Prewitt correctly divines, begins before his death.

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BR: Heaven and hell

Back to top In the depiction of Pinkie, Greene addresses many of the paradoxes of Roman Catholic doctrine. Pinkie seems to be doomed - both by his environment and by his temperament - to hell, and yet he is held accountable for his actions. His lack of imagination (of others' sufferings) and inability to value those for whom he has no affection (and he has affection for nobody) explain, but in Greene's eyes neither justify nor excuse, his crimes. He has the possibility of mercy but declines it. The reader is satisfied (with Ida) that justice has been done (though we understand it, as Ida does not, in the context of eternal damnation). Ida, like Dallow, believes in what she sees. She is superstitious, being quite ready to believe in a spirit world, but not seeing, as Pinkie does, the vivid reality of hell-fire. "She believed in ghosts, but you couldn't call that thin transparent existence life eternal". (p. 36) This is contrasted with Ida's hedonistic ideas about life, as a series of tangible material pleasures to be enjoyed without self-reproach: "She took life with a deadly seriousness". (p. 36) Ida has no belief in heaven or hell: "That's just religion...Believe me, it's the world we got to deal with". (p. 198) "Fred" has been deprived of life and Rose's life may be in danger; Ida, with her overwhelming sense of "right and wrong", of fair play, casts herself in the rôle of avenger.

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BR: Heaven and hell

Greene explains Ida's popularity in terms of her understanding of ordinary people; her physical presence, her joie de vivre and her sentimentality all make her attractive; she is generous in every respect, and mixes common sense with commonplace superstition. In this, she is a kind of representative of the people, and of the popular world view. Many readers will see things as Ida does; most will admire the courage with which she responds to what she sees as her duty to "Fred". Whether we agree with Ida's belief that "it's the world we got to deal with" is another matter. It is possible to see Pinkie's theology as the morbid fantasy of a moral imbecile. But the conclusion of the novel appears more to endorse the supernatural than the worldly outlook. The "hand" which seems to withdraw Pinkie from existence, for example, is not in his mind (we have no insight into the dying man's thought) but in the narrative.

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BR: Heaven and hell

Back to top In the depiction of Pinkie, Greene addresses many of the paradoxes of Roman Catholic doctrine. Pinkie seems to be doomed - both by his environment and by his temperament - to hell, and yet he is held accountable for his actions. His lack of imagination (of others' sufferings) and inability to value those for whom he has no affection (and he has affection for nobody) explain, but in Greene's eyes neither justify nor excuse, his crimes. He has the possibility of mercy but declines it. The reader is satisfied (with Ida) that justice has been done (though we understand it, as Ida does not, in the context of eternal damnation). Ida, like Dallow, believes in what she sees. She is superstitious, being quite ready to believe in a spirit world, but not seeing, as Pinkie does, the vivid reality of hell-fire. "She believed in ghosts, but you couldn't call that thin transparent existence life eternal". (p. 36) This is contrasted with Ida's hedonistic ideas about life, as a series of tangible material pleasures to be enjoyed without self-reproach: "She took life with a deadly seriousness". (p. 36) Ida has no belief in heaven or hell: "That's just religion...Believe me, it's the world we got to deal with". (p. 198) "Fred" has been deprived of life and Rose's life may be in danger; Ida, with her overwhelming sense of "right and wrong", of fair play, casts herself in the rôle of avenger.

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BR: Heaven and hell

Just as Ida sets out to save Rose's (mortal) life, so Rose hopes to save Pinkie's (immortal) soul. If this is impossible, she thinks, she would rather be damned with him. Though familiar with the Catholic doctrine in which she has been brought up, her understanding is very different from Pinkie's. She is quite ready to defer to his authority, even when he pretends not to believe the orthodox teaching on marriage, in order to persuade Rose that he and she are "to be married properly". Although Rose is conventionally "good" she has a sense of inhabiting a country where "good or evil" live together, speaking "the same language", coming together "like old friends"; Pinkie and she live in a common world, from which the non-Catholics are excluded. She sees Ida (in relation to Catholicism) as resembling "an Englishwoman abroad", as if "in a strange country" without a "phrase book". Rose rightly suspects that Pinkie's background is the same as hers; he denies this (p. 91) not least because his home is the thing of which he most wants to be free. Rose fails, at the last, to commit suicide; though she thinks of the voice prompting her to stay alive so she can plead for Pinkie "at the throne of grace" as speaking like a "devil", yet her hand is stayed long enough for her to be overtaken by events. When Ida and the policeman arrive, Rose throws away the revolver she is holding. Rose tells the priest (p. 246) that Pinkie was damned and knew it. The priest encourages her to believe it might be otherwise "if he (Pinkie) loved" her, and tells her to make her child a saint "to pray for his father". The novel's concluding sentence intimates that Rose will soon discover (from Pinkie's recorded message) that he hated her, thus giving the lie to the priest's suggestion.

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Motifs and symbols

In Brighton Rock Greene presents the reader with many motifs and symbols. In order to sort these out, we should note the following types of symbolism. First, there are symbols or metaphors which are understood as such by the characters in the novel: of these, the most obvious is that in the title. The reader is aware that the letters run right through a stick of rock, but we may be a little surprised to read of Ida's using this image to explain to Rose why, in her view, human nature is unchanging - the symbolism occurs to Ida as it does to us; second, we may consider things which the characters observe, and which suggest the characters' state of mind, although for them the symbolism is never articulated: thus, Pinkie's battered Morris and the sausage roll crumbs on his bed can be contrasted with Colleoni's gold cigarette lighter and limousine, as indicative of the status of the two men; finally, there are the images which are never explained but which recur throughout the novel, and which we may choose to interpret analogically - such as the sea, or music (of various kinds). As a writer whose work was frequently adapted for the cinema, Greene seems to think very much of what should be seen or heard at any time, but the context of these images suggests that they are at least ambiguous, if not obviously open to analogical interpretation. In your reading of the novel, you should look out for recurring details which Greene introduces to indicate meanings beyond the literal.

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Motifs and symbols

To take one minor example, we might note the frequency with which Greene draws our attention to glass and windows (Rose outside her old place of employment, Pinkie looking in shop windows, "tenderness" coming to the window in the roadhouse and looking in, gigantic wings beating on the car's windscreen, references to glass breaking). Many of these can be seen as images of separation or isolation. They are also connected with a series of references to seeing or not seeing: Pinkie twice rebukes others for failing to see (first, literally, and later, speaking to Dallow about hell, metaphorically), we (twice) meet a blind band, Prewitt wants to act "like Samson" and sees his wife as a "mole" (p. 210), while even the name of Nelson Place suggests partial blindness or wilful failure to see the enemy (as Nelson did at Copenhagen by placing his telescope against his blind eye). Frank's ignorance of Dallow's affair with Judy is ultimately explained by Dallow's disclosure (p. 234), which we may have anticipated: "What Frank doesn't see, he doesn't mind...And he can't see much - he's blind" (which explains why, although he has "a wonderful hand with an iron", he does not notice the damp patch on Pinkie's suit, of which the Boy is so conscious, speaking to Colleoni at the Cosmopolitan). This recurrent motif is part of Greene's way of distinguishing the visible everyday world of material pleasures, in which Ida so firmly believes, from the unseen eternity behind or beyond it (see below) just as, to use another parallel, Pinkie knows the ugly "real" Brighton behind the facade of sea-front, promenade and pier, a Brighton which the day-trippers never see.

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Motifs and symbols

Prewitt's seeing his wife as a "mole in the cellarage" is one of several subterranean references, depicting hell as the underworld (note that this word in its loose metaphorical sense [as used in the blurb on the novel's back cover] is avoided by Greene). Apart from the basement in Frank's house, we might note the cellar at Snow's where Rose tends the wounded Pinkie, the long tunnel (p. 177-8) under the parade (down which Hale is led to his death) or the likening of the blind musicians' eyes to those of pit ponies (p. 99). These references reinforce the reader's sense that Brighton is, like the world, but in a local and comprehensible sense: "the ravaged and disputed territory between the two eternities" (of heaven and hell; p. 139). Pinkie eventually is stirred by an "awful resentment" that he has never "seen his glimpse of heaven" (228) though he is disgusted by the romantic cliché (p. 48) "beautiful to hold and heaven itself" which confuses heaven with the object of sexual or amorous desire.

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Motifs and symbols

This theological understanding is made explicit by Prewitt, as he quotes Mephistopheles ("this is Hell, nor are we out of it"; p. 210) as by Pinkie's earlier recognition on returning to his room at Frank's with his child bride: "This was hell, then; it wasn't anything to worry about: it was just his own familiar room" (p. 182). As Pinkie and Rose are turned away by the hotel clerk the reader senses a parody of the Holy Family finding no room at the inn. But the motif of Eden is one which Greene develops more fully: as the door of the "Crown" closes behind them, Pinkie and Rose feel "as if they [are] shut out from an Eden of ignorance" with "nothing to look forward to but experience" (p. 171). "Ignorance" here seems synonymous both with bliss and innocence. For Rose, especially, marriage is like a different country, which she thinks of as the country of "mortal sin". As she looks at Maisie on the other side of Snow's window (p. 194), she cannot return to the "Eden of ignorance". That the squalid slum from which Pinkie has fled should be called Paradise Piece is an irony which requires no comment beyond noting that it has not given Pinkie the "glimpse of heaven" he later wishes he had had!

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Motifs and symbols

Pinkie knows and fears the sensual element in the violin music he hears as he walks on the Palace Pier - he thinks of "the catgut vibrating in the heart" or "grief in the guts" and is the nearest thing he knows to "sorrow". Sentimental love songs such as that crooned at Sherry's, suggest "stale romantic" convention, which leads to the double horrors of sexual intimacy and domestication: the lyrics allow Greene to invoke playfully Pinkie's sense of Rose's inadequacy ("lovely to look at"), his eternal perspective ("heaven itself"), serious poetry ("west wind...nightingale") and even Pinkie's way of life, as he would like it to be ("the gangsters gunning"). The dispassionate purity of the sung Mass is more acceptable to Pinkie, not least because he has learned by rote the Latin liturgy, while appearing not to notice its appropriateness to his own situation (does he know how the words translate?) as he sings, or thinks of, "dona nobis pacem" he is trying to find ways to secure peace of mind for himself, while he speaks to Spicer of peace with Colleoni's mob and of "a peace that lasts".

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Motifs and symbols

Some motifs are obviously visual and cinematic: as we read, repeatedly, of the sausage roll crumbs on the bed or the gold lighter, we can see how these would be shown in close-up in the cinema. We are today quite familiar with the idea of the car as status symbol (indeed, the motif may now be too trite for a self-conscious writer to use it) but the contrast between the gang's Morris, rarely parted from the epithet "battered" and the "scarlet racing model" in which Ida cadges a lift, the sports car of which the wealthy young man boasts to his friend (p. 237) or the limousines which may or may not be driven by Colleoni, is made explicit by Sylvie, who describes the Morris as "no good to us", tries a Ford and finds it occupied, but cries (on finding one) "I love a Lancia", pulling up her skirt to show the truth of her remark (p. 134). Images of battle and conquest abound throughout the novel. Ida thinks in these terms (looking at the "heavy traffic of her battlefield, laying her plans, marshalling her cannon fodder", p. 81) while Pinkie tries, but fails, to find time and space to plan his "strategy". The world in which we live is seen as a battlefield where eternal powers struggle for the souls of men and women: this world, which "never move(s)" is seen as "the ravaged and disputed territory between two eternities". Pinkie and Rose, from "opposing territories", fraternize "like troops at Christmas" (p. 139). At times the images are nautical: Ida's mind, moving slowly but inexorably, is likened to a dredger (p. 72) while later she is compared to a "figurehead of Victory" (p. 244), an image which suggests both her triumph and her voluptuous figure (figureheads on sailing ships were conventionally carved in the form of bare-breasted women). Rose's poorly-concealed possessiveness towards Pinkie is likened (p. 138) to "the guns on a Q-ship".

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Motifs and symbols

The comparison is interesting, as it is meant to give an insight into Pinkie's fear of Rose's attitude. Pinkie can plainly see what she is thinking, and may well have heard of Q-ships, but we feel the comparison is more the author's than one which would occur in this form to Pinkie! Later, as Ida fails to persuade Rose to save herself from Pinkie (p. 139), Rose's obstinacy appears to Ida in terms of a naval battle: "...all the fight there was in the world lay there - warships cleared for action and bombing fleets took flight between the set eyes and the stubborn mouth. It was like the map of a campaign marked with flags".

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The recurring motif which most defies clear or simple interpretation is the sea. Given the novel's setting in Brighton and the interest of the day-trippers, frequent reference to it need not invite any kind of symbolic interpretation. But the way both Ida and Pinkie think of the sea, or, at least, are repeatedly aware of it supports such a reading. For Ida, the sea is a metaphor for the exotic, for possibility, for romance: "It was the time of near-darkness and of the evening mist from the Channel and of love" (p. 146). Greene is always aware of the Channel, which links Brighton to other more romantic places: we read of its "continual whisper", of thunder coming down the Channel, of tides which come from Boulogne. Prewitt's wished-for escape is to involve a Channel-crossing. For Pinkie, the sea has no romance, but, in the lightning, as he shows Rose the effect of vitriol, seems more like part of the hell which lies about him. Later, as he is burned by this same vitriol, the sea claims him ("they couldn't even hear a splash", p. 243). It is almost as if the novel's characters embody mediaeval notions of the four elements and the corresponding vital humours: for the phlegmatic, earthy Ida, the sea is a comfortable alternative element, but for the fiery Pinkie it is threatening and hostile: as he disappears into it at the end of the novel, it is evidently the agent of his destruction. In effect, the sea is a kind of mirror, reflecting the ideas of the beholder.

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Details of the characters' physical appearance may be understood metaphorically: Pinkie's thinness and physical immaturity suggest his emotional underdevelopment, for example. But it is Ida whose physical presence is most clearly indicative of her character. Greene repeatedly refers to Ida's breasts to suggest her joie de vivre: "She liked a good time, her *********** bore their carnality frankly down the Old Steyne" (p. 80). There is an interesting contrast here: the large-breasted Ida has no children but becomes a maternal figure for any number of men, such as Hale and Cubitt; but it is the immature Rose who terrifies Pinkie with the prospect of real maternity: "His thoughts came to pieces in his hand: Saturday nights: and then the birth, the child, habit and hate" (p. 224); as he looks at her Pinkie (p. 228) sees "a mouth which wanted the sexual embrace, the shape of breasts demanding a child". While the worldly Ida sees sex as a means to pleasure (and knows how to avoid conception) Pinkie understands that for Rose (a good Catholic) sex is a means to maternity, which also he dreads.

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Finally, one should note the image of human nature as like a stick of rock: "Bite it all the way down, you'll still read Brighton. That's human nature" (p. 198). Where Rose suggests that "people change", Ida cannot believe in this possibility, but sees the world as composed of people, like her, who have "never changed". This metaphor is central to our reading of the novel: at the end, Pinkie appears to be aware of a possibility of change but he is "bound in a habit of hate" and resists the impulse. He thus appears to be responsible for his own actions - but it is not at all clear whether Greene believes (or expects his readers to believe) that Pinkie has any real prospect of repentance. And this ambiguity is endorsed by the priest who tells Rose (and the reader): "You can't conceive...nor can I, or anyone...the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God" (p. 246).

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