Can a Sinner Be a Saint? Graham Greene’s Unorthodox Saints in The Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock
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The article addresses the theme of unorthodox saints in Graham Greene’s novels – Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory and also deals with the author’s attitude to religious problems, particularly his views on salvation and damnation. There is also a discussion of the question whether the title of “a Catholic writer” has been rightly used in Greene’s case. The first part of the paper presents the character of the whisky-priest from The Power and the Glory. Particular attention has been paid to the author’s use of two perspectives upon the figure of the priest: one shows the character in his mundane existence, with all his human weaknesses and vices, whereas the other view stresses the character’s moral and religious superiority which testifies to his sainthood. This point is argued with numerous references to the Bible and to the philosophy of Charles Peguy which underline the martyrdom of the sinful priest and his similarity to Jesus Christ. The second part of the article focuses on the figure of Rose from Brighton Rock, highlighting a contrast between the weakness of her character and the strength of her convictions. The fact that she is torn between good and evil has been pointed out as well as the power of her feelings which is the reason of both her fall and her salvation. Similarly to the analysis of The Power and the Glory, references to the Bible and to Peguy’s philosophy have been used in order to underline Rose’s motivation which was rooted in her love of God. The final part of the article presents similarities between the two characters; what they have in common is both a human, sinful nature as well as the ability to offer superhuman love and self-sacrifice. The conclusion of the article underlines the fact that although both characters have sometimes acted in the ways questioning the principles of faith and the teaching of the Church, they can be perceived as saints because of the superiority of their morality with regard to their love of God and love of their neighbours whose good they put above their own.
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