John's Reviews > Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
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Aug 14, 10

Read from August 13 to 14, 2010

Another of Greene's so-called "Catholic novels," Brighton Rock explores the uneasy gray areas surrounding mortal sins--the idea that someone can be beyond the mercy of God. Green accomplishes this through a sustained examination of his moderately Catholic characters, Pinkie and Rose.

Both believe in the proclamations of the Church, but where he has cast it off and sees himself beyond redemption, Rose still longs for something better, still clings to hope--even as she joins herself to Pinkie and his certain damnation. As the young couple sinks ever closer to disaster, Greene uses a non-Catholic character as the heroine of the narrative. This woman, Ida, serves as a counterpoint to the Catholics, providing a strong and sure belief in right and wrong that exists completely outside the church (so she would say).

However, it seems that Greene's purpose in the novel (or at least one of them) is to question the whole notion of "inside" and "outside." The questions linger as the novel closes: Can anyone really say who is in and who is out of the Church, the redeemed? Is there reason to hope even for the worst of sinners (a la Pinkie)? And could it be that the knowledge of the working of God's mercy stands outside even our best attempts at defining it?
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08/13/2010 page 169
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