Discuss, in detail, how Graham Greene leads up to Pinkie’s death and say what reaction you had to his last moments of life.
The plans carefully laid by Pinkie begin the lead up to the drama of the end of the novel. These plans, which are misleading in that they suggest that Rose will die, start as early as the morning after the consummation of the marriage when Pinkie retains the note Rose has written. “An obscure sense” tells him to keep this note which swears Rose’s undying love to him; thus begins the reader’s unease over Rose’s safety.
Later on Pinkie lays more plans in the prelude to what should be Rose’s suicide. As Rose and Pinkie depart from the tea-room where they have been having a drink Pinkie leaves clues as to his intentions, “the message at the shooting-range, at the car park: he wanted to be followed in good time”. As he lays the clues behind him, thoughts go through his head as to what the consequences of these actions will be in the witness box at the inquest into Rose’s suicide: “something had agitated him, the witness said”. This trail cleverly builds up the reader’s expectations that Rose’s death will occur and that the “exhilaration” which Pinkie is experiencing will continue.
The car ride which Pinkie and Rose take to the hotel builds up the drama as Pinkie forces Rose again to promise that she means to kill herself. This episode in the “old Morris with a flapping hood” is extremely powerful and this drama is further aided by the pathetic fallacy of the storm brewing all around Brighton, of which several mentions are made. This appalling weather worsens as Rose’s plight does, and, in the course of the last few chapters of the novel, develops from the sight of “the lights of Worthing- a sign of bad weather” to a big storm in which all the characters get wet through.
The chapters following Pinkie and Rose’s departure from the tearoom are set out to add to the excitement of the conclusion of the novel and Graham Greene’s arrangement does this exceptionally well. From this point onwards the chapters alternate between Pinkie and Rose heading towards their “suicide pact” and Dallow and Ida’s discovery of Pinkie’s trail and their subsequent pursuit. These chapters show clearly what each character is thinking: Dallow wondering what to do; Rose letting “hope stretch” and Pinkie’s confused emotions when he is “bound in an icy constraint” over the “whole thing”. Each of these chapters ends on a cliffhanger, which entices the reader to carry on reading to find out the result. Pinkie “felt the prowling presence of pity” and Dallow “hadn’t the imagination to see what they’d find”. The reader is subjected to similar emotions as those which the characters experience.
The pace is kept slow until the very end, with many pages leading up to what should be Rose’s death. The episode in the bar involving the two men, “hearty and damp in camel-hair coats”, is a break in the drama where the reader can momentarily relax. These men provide a flash of normality in this intense part of the book where every other character is frenzied with emotion. These upper class men and their “arrogant looks” at Rose offer Greene an opportunity to show Pinkie’s feelings for her. His possessiveness becomes obvious and also, oddly, his tenderness towards Rose; he becomes angry and thinks, “What the hell right had they to swagger and laugh”. These emotions build up the suspense and the reader wonders whether Pinkie actually will “force” Rose to take her own life.
Over the final pages Rose lets “hope stretch” and the tension mounts as she delays, first deciding whether to kill herself or not, and then, when she has decided against this, the moment of actually firing the gun, “she put it down again with a feeling of sickness”.
Graham Greene uses the actions and feelings of Pinkie himself to build up to his death. While in the hotel, at Pinkie’s request, “a violin came wailing out, the notes shaken by atmospherics”; this reminds us that music is the only thing so far in the novel that has had the ability to move Pinkie. The violin also reverts the reader’s attention to Pinkie’s departure from his Catholic upbringing and raises the question as to when and whether Pinkie will return to it and make his peace with God. We glean a hint as to Pinkie’s fate when we read that “he could hardly believe in the freedom at the end of it”. If Pinkie himself cannot see a way out of his problems it is unlikely that he will outlive Rose and escape all the problems he is faced with.
The lead-up to the death that everybody expects (Rose’s) is dragged out over many chapters from as far back as the day after the marriage; however, the unexpected demise of Pinkie takes only a paragraph, “he was at the edge, he was over: they couldn’t even hear a splash”. This extremely short section that is the end of Pinkie fits in well with the description that Greene gives of Pinkie, as being “whipped away into zero”. Packing all the drama into this short space makes Pinkie’s demise more exciting to read about and also more thought provoking.
A few different factors enhance the drama at the end of the novel. The use of direct speech, ” ‘Stop him,’ Dallow cried”, quickens the pace. Graham Greene uses physical actions, such as the breaking of the glass, to increase the excitement. The confusion in the novel, “glass – somewhere – broke,” demonstrates how chaotic this short scene is for all characters involved.
The burning of Pinkie’s face by the vitriol is ironic in that it is his own evil contraption for causing pain that causes him to plunge over the cliff. Similarly poignant is Pinkie meeting his death in the way he had pictured Rose doing on their previous visit to Peacehaven: “the Boy could see over her shoulder the rough drop to the shingle”.
After being burned by the vitriol Pinkie undergoes a change. He “shrank into a schoolboy” and Rose sees his face “like a child’s, badgered, confused, betrayed”. These changes have a cathartic effect on Pinkie and as “the fake years slipped away” they remove the sins that he has committed. For this reason I believe that “between the stirrup and the ground” Pinkie receives forgiveness from God and does not burn in hell.