“Does Greene raise his characters from mere functions in a ‘detective’ novel to characters whose motivations are believable? ” Use two characters to illustrate your argument. Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, is a book based in 1930’s underworld Brighton. The novel is based on the tale of Pinky, a teenage gangster, and his conflict against an amateur detective, Ida, who is intent on bringing Pinky to justice. In many ways Brighton Rock can be classed as a detective novel as it contains certain elements of this particular style of writing.
Features characteristically used in such novels include thriller elements, violence and rapidly paced action, all of which are present in Brighton Rock. In a detective novel, the crime which is committed is apparently ‘perfect’. The murder of Hale in the book is so cleverly done that the police put it down as an accidental death. There is also usually an amateur detective, in this case Ida, and the detective’s side-kick, Phil Corkery. To conclude the story, the characters come together in a ‘denoument’ â€“ another typical feature of a detective novel.
In this way Brighton Rock can be classified as a detective piece of writing. In the book, however, are the characters created so that they become believable individuals in their own right, or do they simply remain as stereotypical functions, merely existing for the sole purpose of taking part in a plot. Pinky, the central character in the book, is a seventeen year old gangster who is in charge of his own mob, and frequently carries out violent and cruel criminal acts.
He is an intelligent young man but is mentally quite na?ve and child-like in his attitude towards love and sex. We, the reader, first meet Pinky in the very first chapter of the book although we do not find out his name until the second chapter. The first mention of Pinky is a physical description of the boy: “… He had a fair smooth skin, the faintest down, and his grey eyes had an effect of heartlessness like those of an old man in whom human feeling has died. ” p. 8 This initial description gives a lot of information about Pinky’s character straight away.
The ‘smooth skin’ and ‘faintest down’ give an indication of how young and child-like Pinky is, almost giving him an air of innocence. The ‘grey eyes’, however, show that Pinky is not just a young man, but that the other side of his character is much older, maybe because he has seen things that children should not see. Pinky is also very religious, believing strongly in the Catholic faith. Themes in the book, such as sin, damnation and salvation stem from this intense religious belief.
Jelaousy is another theme which is central to Pinky; he is jealous of the other mob member’s experience in love and sex because he feels like they know more than him, and he is also jealous of Colleoni, a much more successful and powerful mob leader than Pinky. The reader is told a lot less about Colleoni in the book, but although he is a minor character, he plays an important part in highlighting Pinky’s weaknesses and shortcomings as a gangster and mob leader. In contrast with Pinky, Colleoni has a lot of money and doesn’t have to do the ‘dirty work’ that Pinky does; he just gets his mob to do what he wants for him.
The physical descriptions of Colleoni demonstrate the differences in the two gangsters. “… Mr. Colleoni came across an acre of deep carpet from the Louis Seize writing room, walking on tiptoe in glace shoes. ” p. 63 Pinky is jealous of the respect Colleoni receives from his mob, the money Colleoni has and the fact that Colleoni patronises Pinky by talking to him as a father would â€“ offering advice and gentle warnings not to mess around with him and his mob because Pinky is still a child.
Pinky must also feel intimidated by the image Colleoni portrays of the typical rich, Italian gangster type. “… His old Italianate face showed few emotions but a mild amusement, a mild friendliness; but suddenly sitting there in the rich Victorian room, with the gold lighter in his pocket and the cigar case on his lap, he looked as a man might look who owned the whole world… “