Sample Question

Discuss Pinkie's relationship with Rose.

You might open the essay by discussing the notion that Greene does not tend to develop the female characters in his novels very extensively. Many critics say that he uses the female characters simply as a mirror in which to reflect the more complex features of the main male characters. It is up to you to decide how well the character of Rose is developed but it is clear that Pinkie, as the protagonist, gets a lot more of the reader's attention.

Go on to say that, if Rose is a mirror, a stooge in the exposition of Pinkie, the most obvious feature that their relationship exposes is Pinkie's faith. Note the quotes like 'She was good... and he was damned: They were made for each other.' (126). Their relationship, between the extremes of Good and Evil is much closer than either could get to the Right and Wrong of Ida's world. Note quotes such as: 'Good or evil lived in the same country, spoke the same language... ' (127); and 'They were two Romans together in the grey street. They understood each other. She used terms common to heaven and hell.' (166).

Their relationship reveals a lot about Pinkie's faith in that it is not actually so different to Rose's although they appear very different superficially. She follows his quest for damnation, understands it and supports it and in the end finds that she, too, doesn't know how to hope. This theme should be expanded as much as possible to cover the concepts of faith and lack of faith, Heaven and Hell, Mercy and Salvation. The book may seem to be rather negative as far as salvation is concerned but it emphasises above all else the principle that God's mercy is unlimited as long as your are contrite. There are other important features that are exposed by their relationship, principally Pinkie's pride and ambition, his naivete and impotence.

Pride and ambition: Pinkie has a very high opinion of himself. 'He had a momentary sense of his own immense cleverness... If only once could boast of one's own cleverness, relieve the enormous pressure of pride... ' (178). He dreams of power and money, to be like Colleoni and Rose's plain features, innocence and poor background do not suit his ideals. She acts as a contrast to his own opinion of himself.

Naïveté and impotence: He considers himself all-knowing and all-powerful but finds himself afraid and impotent in his sexual relationship with her. Similarly, he finds himself becoming controlled by her. '... and ready there, masked behind the ingenuous question like the guns in a Q ship, was possessiveness. She was his like a table or a chair, but a table owned you, too - by your fingerprints.' (138).

These features Pinkie's faith, naïveté, pride and impotence - are all fairly evident, even if Rose were not there to highlight them. What would never be clear - indeed, what is pretty well hidden as it is - is the sort of dependency that Pinkie develops. He is in a relationship that he resents, with a girl that he feels nothing but scorn for but, yet, sometimes he feels almost affection for her. The motive for this love is not normal: it is not physical attraction or the draw of her character. It is that he has her salvation in his hands:

'He had graduated in pain; first, the school dividers, next the razor. He had a sense now that the murders of Hale and Spicer were trivial acts, a boy's game, and he had put away childish things. Murder had only led up to this - corruption. He was filled with awe at his own powers. "We'd better be moving," he said and touched her arm with next to tenderness. As once before he had a sense of needing her.' (167)

Your conclusion should attempt to tie up the various features of Pinkie's and Rose's characters that their relationship reveals and the issues - such as salvation/damnation - that are highlighted by their relationship.

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