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How does Pinkie’s upbringing affect his actions in “Brighton Rock”?
Integral to understanding how Pinkie’s upbringing influences his choices involves an exploration of the nature of the poverty and religious dogma that Pinkie is raised amidst; it is therefore important to examine how Pinkie’s perspective is shaped by these factors. Pinkie’s origins lie in the slums of Paradise Piece; he views himself as predetermined for hell and that his life is equivalent to damnation. His Catholicism relates to his poverty because the failure of the Catholic Church to deal with the material world reduces the scope of his imagination to his depravation. Due to Pinkie’s religious forbearance he links his inescapable poverty with the Catholic teachings of hell, concluding that his damnation is inevitable. Graham Greene demonstrates the significance of these factors by examining Pinkie’s betrayal of Spicer, Pinkie’s inability to copulate, his realisation that life is hell and his corruption of Rose’s immortal soul. Graham Greene, himself a Catholic, portrays how these factors influence Pinkie throughout his brief life.
The Catholic influence on Pinkie’s influence is exemplified by the Biblical allegory Greene uses when Spicer is betrayed at the races “…patted Spicer on the back”. The metaphor is an allusion to the Biblical story of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, because when Pinkie “patted” Spicer he signalled that Spicer was to be killed; he echoes Judas signal kiss. Greene’s Biblical metaphor emphasises Pinkie’s evil identity, as defined by the Catholic Church. Pinkie’s crimes mirroring that of Judas’s leads the reader to infer Pinkie’s committal to his understanding of Catholic evil, thereby implying a Catholic influence on Pinkie’s actions. Furthermore, that Pinkie betrays Spicer to“The Jews”, because in Catholicism not being Catholic is sin, so betraying Spicer to unbelievers displays his rejection of Catholicism as a guide for moral good behaviour. Greene exposes the influence Pinkie's Catholicism has on his actions using characterisation of Pinkie’s immorality and linking that to his religion. Greene develops further the characterisation with his dramatic irony that no one is “more capable of evil” than Catholics. The reflection from the priest is comprehended by Rose as Pinkie being evil, which supports his evilness as being influenced by the Church. However, Greene’s authorial voice can be interpreted as him distancing Catholicism from morality, and presenting it as an enabler for immorality by stating Catholics are “more capable” of it.
Graham Greene identifies Pinkie’s upbringing as a primary cause of Pinkie’s malevolence. His analepsis reveals the nature of poverty in Paradise Piece: “stuffy room”, “There was no escape”. Greene’s stream of consciousness encourages the reader to perceive through Pinkie’s perspective the world from which he originated. The adjective “stuffy” has pejorative connotations of being closed in and surrounded by uncomfortable conditions and circumstances. Thus, the analepsis demonstrates that poverty influences Pinkie’s future actions and in the desire to escape he leads a life of crime. Additionally, Greene develops the analepsis’ significance to the idea of Pinkie being unable to escape the influence of his upbringing; he felt there was “No escape”. The themes these devices explore are further depicted when Pinkie shares his epiphany: “hell…was just his familiar room”. Pinkie's moment of realisation demonstrates Greene's juxtaposition of Pinie’s perception of hell and his perception of poverty; a perception which underpins his world view. Pinkie’s impoverishment and Catholic conditioning have such a malign influence on his psyche that he is left with an inescapable notion that his life is hell. Such influence from which which Pinkie could not "escape" is pinpointed in Greene's epiphany, and strengthens the idea of Pinkie's evil identity in its surety. Greene further develops the theme using symbolism to contrast the notions of the Catholic teachings of “good and evil, and “right and wrong” during Ida’s attempts to worn Rose about Pinkie: Greene describes the concepts of “good and evil” having “extinguished” her understanding of right and wrong. The verb “extinguished” entails that her moral knowledge had been removed by Catholic doctrine, as you cannot extinguish what was never there. To underpin the idea, Ida remarks that Rose wasn’t “taught that, with the author’s italics underpinning, in a similar vein to that of his verb “extinguished”. Therefore, it is clear Greene uses the contrast between the, like Pinkie (poor and Catholic-raised) Rose’s knowledge of Catholic good and evil but ignorance of basic morals, which reinforces again the theme that the upbringing Pinkie has influenced, his activities.
Analepsis is used by Greene to explore Catholicism’s influence on Pinkie’s upbringing by exposing the damage Pinkie’s witnessing of his parents’ copulation caused. His experiences “Saturday night movements”, “wakeful children” are relived through stream of consciousness as Pinkie contemplates his future with Rose. Greene’s allusion of Children refers to the Catholic dogma of reproduction, thus explaining the ritualistic sex that damaged Pinkie. The analepsis elucidates his later response of “fear… horror” at the prospect of penetrating Sylvia. “Fear” entails an instinctive impulse to remove oneself form a situation. Greene uses Pinkie’s impotence to portray Catholicism as influencing Pinkie’s actions: The Catholic dogma of reproduction causes Pinkie to witness the sexual activity that damages him to “fear” intimacy with women and since the fear (traced from Catholicism) motivates his behaviour, Catholicism has influenced his actions. The 1930s religious dogma Greene describes relates to his depiction of poverty; the “stuffy room” is what makes Pinkie witness his ordeal, so again Greene’s allusion to Pinkie’s poor and Catholic upbringing through analeptic stream of consciousness illustrates via Greene’s authorial voice how Pinkie’s actions are influenced by his upbringing. These factors also demonstrate a lack of control, a theme that Greene explores using objectification. During a passage with Rose, Pinkie refers to her as “his”, like a “table…chair”. Greene’s objectification through the noun “table” juxtaposes Rose and inanimate objects as being equivalent to Pinkie, which exemplifies his desire to control. His desire of control is caused by the restrictions poverty and religion imposed on him, demonstrating the influence of Pinkie’s upbringing to his perspective.
A final example of Pinkie's actions revealing the impact Pinkie's upbringing had on his future decisions is his attempt to get Rose to kill herself, a sin which he describes as "just one more". The adverb "just" means that Pinkie does not think that the sin is significant, suggesting that he does not fear the entailment of sin: hell. Greene uses the narrative-perspective of an evil identity to symbolise Pinkie's self-perception: when Pinkie has his epiphany he comes to the conclusion that he is predetermined for, in fact, actually in hell, therefore not fearing going to hell, so not fearing to corrupt an immortal soul by persuading Rose to kill herself. The act is significant because suicide is the most unforgivable sin; during the 1930s those who had committed the sin of despair could not be buried on Roman Catholic Church land. Thus Greene’s depiction of Pinkie has a significant impact on the theme of Pinie’s evil: it conveys his belief that he is pure evil—by the only concept of morals he understands—and highlights Greene’s intention in communicating the Catholic influence of evil. For Pinkie to dismiss the sin as "just" another symbolises Pinkie's dedication to his evil self-perception. His unfazed attitude to sin realises a reader’s inference of the influence of Pinkie's religious and poor upbringing on his actions; because it could be argued that he would not strictly adhere to Catholic sin if he felt it was not in his interest
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