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Books Read In 2019 > The Heart of the Matter - Spoilers

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message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
I'm really enjoying this book. I think I'm liking it far better than The Quiet American. Not really sure what to make out of the character Scobie yet. He seems genuine enough but there's some underlying flaw that hasn't shown itself yet to me. His wife Louise is quite annoying. I feel there's is a loveless marriage, with both just tolerating each while living in squalor, infested with rats/mosquitoes/rains.


message 3: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments Scobie seems almost a tragic character at times, and too trusting.
I think that he is probably the only person unaware of Wilson's true reason for being in town.
As for the town itself, it sounds like a very uncomfortable place to live if you are used to a moderate climate.


message 4: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments I am over half way and sense that Scobie is not in a good place, mainly because of circumstances beyond his control.


message 5: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments I have just finished the book and found it very sad. Scobie is a tragic figure.


message 6: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 344 comments It’s been a year or two since I’ve read this so it’s not as fresh in my mind as yours but I remember the feelings I had for Scobie and his situation. By tragic, do you mean his downfall is outside his control?

I can be rigidly judgmental about some things and adultery is one of them! I felt that Scobie committed a knowingly sinful act and then tried to pretend that he was conflicted. I remember him convincing himself that he needed to selflessly help his lover - even if it meant his damnation. Please! It seemed to me that he was assuming her happiness depended on him. I’m sure she could get over him if given the chance. Clearly, he rubbed me the wrong way as a character. I tagged him as selfish, egotistical and melodramatic.

But were you able to have more sympathy towards his predicament? And did you feel his inner conflict was legitimate?


message 7: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments I think he was probably the only honest character at the beginning of the story but became overwhelmed by the situation. I think that Wilson may have been introduced first because he was the agent of Scobie's downfall. He knew that he had sinned and found it impossible to forgive himself, which is why he didn't take the sacrament.


message 8: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 344 comments This is one of those stories which may have been ruined for me because I read too much info about the author! Greene himself was unfaithful so I kept rolling my eyes and reading it as his attempt to excuse his own bad behavior.

I can see his point that there are some situations that are a Catholic “catch-22;” you seem to be sinning no matter how you proceed. I just wish he’d picked a different sin!


message 9: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments I can see your point, Jenny.
I think that Scobie finally broke after Ali was killed. After that, he lost all hope.


message 10: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 344 comments And without hope, of the future or of salvation, all our systems of support can begin to crumble.


message 11: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "Scobie seems almost a tragic character at times, and too trusting.
I think that he is probably the only person unaware of Wilson's true reason for being in town.
As for the town itself, it sounds ..."


Greene definitely wrote about the surrounding area very well. He made me squirm and say "yuck" a few times! 😖


message 12: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "It’s been a year or two since I’ve read this so it’s not as fresh in my mind as yours but I remember the feelings I had for Scobie and his situation. By tragic, do you mean his downfall is outside ..."

I totally agree with your thoughts Jenny, especially about adultery.


message 13: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
I was disappointed in the ending because at that point I knew exactly how the book was going to end after they had the discussion about suicide.


message 14: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments I was disappointed in the ending too. It almost seems that Scobie was being used by everyone.


message 15: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I was disappointed in the ending too. It almost seems that Scobie was being used by everyone."

Exactly and that's why I also felt badly for him.


message 16: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments Scobie realized that he could not act like the others and live with his guilt. It is ironic that things started going better for him after he "fell". He was harder on himself than anyone else in the book.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 409 comments I stayed up late last night and finished this one--I really enjoyed it, though I thought the ending was a little weak.

I think the point made earlier about adultery is very valid--but I don't think Greene made it look attractive at all though, so I don't know that he was excusing his own behavior. If anything, he may have been trying to honestly show the emotional toll it took on someone who legitimately had feelings for both women.

What I did like about the book was portrayal of Scobie and Louise's marriage--anyone who's been married any length of time knows that there is a wide range of emotions that either spouse (probably both) can experience during the marriage. I thought Greene tried to illustrate that honestly. Personally, though, I think there are ways through that emotional roller-coaster, provided both parties are dedicated to staying together. We don't get Louise's thoughts first-hand--she may have been as relieved to be away from Scobie as he was to be away from her. Her actions could certainly be interpreted that way. As Greene wrote it, both parties could easily have convinced themselves that the initial separation was a permanent break. And while it doesn't seem as though Louise was unfaithful, it's true she was huddled up in the rain smooching with Wilson.

So to me, I think Greene did a fantastic job setting the stage for the eventual position Scobie found himself in--that one's opinion about a marriage can sometimes be less about the other person and sometimes about how someone sees themselves as a person in that marriage.

Anyway--I think the guilt over Ali's death might have pushed him over toward suicide eventually anyway, but as a solution for his problem between Louis and Helen, I thought it was weak. Greene didn't convince me on this point--I get the remorse concerning Louise and Helen, and I can even empathize with the religious struggle, but I think there were other choices available to Scobie (there are always are), and I thought Greene's object was to convincingly portray suicide as his only choice. I don't think he did.

Still, up until the final few pages, I'd say this was an excellent, thought-provoking read.


message 18: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "I stayed up late last night and finished this one--I really enjoyed it, though I thought the ending was a little weak.

I think the point made earlier about adultery is very valid--but I don't thin..."


I wasn't thrilled with the ending either Bryan but I did enjoy the book.


message 19: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5949 comments Mod
Eve wrote: "What saddened me was Scobie’s constant thought that he had to make others happy. It’s an impossible task; you can no more make someone happy without their help than you can make them well."

It's a very impossible task!


message 20: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1531 comments Eve wrote: "What saddened me was Scobie’s constant thought that he had to make others happy. It’s an impossible task; you can no more make someone happy without their help than you can make them well."

So true!


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