The remembrance of things past: going home in Greene's England Made Me.
"I know we haven't a home. It's a manner of speaking."
--Greene, England Made Me 184
CRITICALLY overlooked but powerfully relevant to present times, Graham Greene s England Made Me depicts a sterile world that dismisses traditional values and personal integrity for monetary gain. Greene contrasts the international world of high finance and decadent materialism with a more nuanced English life rooted in honoring tradition and taking personal responsibility. His protagonist, Anthony Farrant, slowly develops a conscience against extraordinary odds by recalling the past. Wrestling with a choice between a life of modern amorality and one of traditional moral accountability, Farrant experiences spiritual redemption at the cost of his life. Greene's social, psychological, and spiritual insights make the text a novel for our times.
An immature protagonist, Farrant unconsciously embarks on a much-needed journey home toward redemption and the integration of his past with his present. For Greene, going home is a return to authenticity and decency, away from enmeshment in a corrupt modern setting. Eventually, Anthony Farrant learns to shed his narcissistic preoccupation with mere appearances by observing other severely maladapted people, including his twin sister, and their incomplete approaches to facing the past. While Michael Shelden rightly suggests that "England made Anthony, and what it made is a hopeless mess" (202), Anthony slowly evolves into a man England would be proud to have made, a man of integrity who values the simple virtues of his father and fatherland. Often, the other characters surrounding Anthony demonstrate attitudes toward the past which mirror aspects of Anthony's own "hopeless infantilism" (DeVitis 77) and thereby allow him to see more clearly that his lack of spiritual and moral growth is a direct result of his failing to go home, in all the symbolic resonance of this phrase. More importantly, the novel emphasizes Greene's appreciation of Wordsworth's conviction that in childhood one is closer to one's spiritual origins. In childhood, Wordsworth says, he was tutored by Nature's ministry and was "Fostered alike by" the antithetical principles of "beauty and ... fear" (The Prelude, I 302). Further, he had to work hard in his adulthood to recall accurately and retain these lessons, which formed his conscience and gave birth to his moral life. Greene demonstrates that Farrant, too, must work to recall these antithetical principles accurately and retain their lessons in adulthood. (1) For Greene, only the coalesced remembrance of all things past, even of those things which appear to be antithetical and contradictory, like beauty and fear, provides a solid foundation for spiritual growth. (2)
In particular, the characters of Kate Farrant, Erik Krogh, and Ferdinand Minty demonstrate Greene's belief that not going home, with clear vision, to a literal or figurative fatherland (one's past) arrests one's moral development. R. H. Miller writes that Anthony's and Minty's "attachment to the old school" is "bitter and resentful" and that they seem "arrested in permanent adolescence, still behaving, and talking, like schoolboys" (39). I suggest that by not accurately recalling their pasts, they become arrested in their moral development and that the way to escape this narcissism in Greene's eyes is accurate recall. For example, Kate, Krogh, and Minty never go home and, consequently, they become examples of paralytic grotesques. Greene emphasizes mirror imagery in the text, beginning with Anthony's "put[ting] on bis hat and look[ing] in the mirror" (15)--as if to suggest that his growth will be sparked by his associations with one-dimensional reflections of himself. He is a man whose memory of his roots is defective, a man who has been "branding his brain with half-fictitious memories" (129) for too long.
The characters that surround Anthony are one-dimensional as well. Kate has left England for Krogh's dark, monolithic Swedish empire and never intends to return home; Krogh recalls only a single, one-dimensional, sterile memory of a poverty-stricken home life which he has allowed to dictate his present circumstances; and Minty visits "home" only in contorted and embellished memories which bear little resemblance to reality. Even Anthony's girl, Loo Davidge, mirrors Anthony's naivete and narcissism in her attempt to appear more worldly than her simple English background would allow. In essence, all of these urban characters fail to embrace an integrated version of their natural pasts, a version informed by the dualities and paradoxes in beauty and fear, by positive and negative memories. It is only in seeing Andersson, a loyal son, instinctively defend his father against being dismissed by Krogh that Anthony's various mirrors finally coalesce into an epiphany about the importance of loyalty to one's roots, to one's past, and to one's father.
As Anthony immerses himself in this world of grotesque alter-egos, he sees everywhere distorted images of what he might further become if he does not learn to go home and to integrate bad memories with good. Severe narcissists often remain permanently arrested if they have not learned to integrate. They "have a remarkable absence of the capacity for an integrated concept of others" and "a poorly integrated concept of the self" (Kernberg 192-193, 12). In certain arrested personalities of this type, "integration fails," and a cure can only begin when the individual "tolerates ambivalence" (Kernberg 12, 307). Anthony experiences a cure only after his awareness is enhanced by seeing in others an accumulation of the one-dimensional, arrested personalities that he wants to avoid becoming.
Anthony's slow liberation from the amorality of Krogh's sterile empire is ironic since it is the sort of place to which Anthony has traditionally aspired. Whereas in the past Anthony had to con his way into such an organization, Kate's relationship with Krogh assures him a place, a new home where his true merit will be tested. Haim Gordon points out that "Despite the portrayal of depressing and banal characters like Erik Krough [sic] ... Greene's novels are often encouraging. Repeatedly, the novels show that you need not live as a comedian, you need not live as a bluffer. You can transcend this situation into which contemporary life throws you ..." (110). For years, Anthony Farrant was just such a chameleon and bluffer. Over the years, he convinced others, for various lengths of time, that he was an urbane and educated gentleman. In fact, he was sponging off of others and using women as he floated across the globe. Greene demonstrates that the more Anthony accurately recalls England, his past, and his relationship with his father, he indeed begins to take personal responsibility, and his powers of empathy grow.
Though Anthony is, throughout most of the text, a con, he is a charming one. His boyish qualities attest to his arrested development. His idea of success is to triumph in a momentary scam where he succeeds in acquiring money, time, shelter, or simply attention. For years he has conned victims and then moved "on to Bangkok" (19) of "on to Aden" (19), always on the run in order to escape the past. Greene says that Anthony has mastered a "calculated interest, calculated childishness, a charm of which every ingredient had been tested and stored for further use" (24). He has become a man who does not sit still long enough to be introspective, and, like most narcissists, wears "his expression of blank innocence, polished and prepared" (27). He is a type--a man who could cross the line into pure evil quite readily. Kate laments his facades and sees through them: "Oh, can't you be yourself," she says (27). (3) Her remarks lead us to believe, initially, that she is the healthiest twin. However, Greene, as always, toys with our expectations and challenges our perspective as the novel unfolds. (4)
Farrant's usual modus operandi is to ingratiate himself into various machine-like organizations in which he can become an invisible cog--in the military club where he pretends to be a captain and is discovered to be a fraud; in the shipping company where he sells "spoilt sacks" of tea (19) in a backwoods revolution before absconding; and in his pretense of having been educated at Harrow, which is perpetrated by his wearing the Harrovian tie. His habitual role of the gaming con-man keeps him immature, undeveioped, and powerless to improve his own life, but it also paradoxically gives him the illusion of tremendous power over others for brief periods of time--until they discover his hollowness. Initially, Farrant seems trapped in a series of these kinds of amorphous roles from which he does not appear to want to escape. But when he finally asserts that he is "going back" home at the end of the novel and rejecting Krogh's empire, he attributes his decision to the "honour ... involved in not forgetting" the kind of moral virtue for which his father stood (185). The importance of escaping narcissism by traveling back in time, in memory, to one's roots or home is connected to the idea that Anthony, having left his father on his deathbed with a lie, did not authentically mourn a psychologically formative loss. Greene writes: "[Anthony] had told his father, ... that he had resigned [his latest job], leaning over the bedpost, grinning and breezy and optimistic to the patient (the wiped tear for the nurse, the black suit for relations, the last clean collar for the priest and the solicitor)" (26). Having decidedly but unconsciously lost his self respect, Anthony begins a journey forward. (5) As Sharrock suggests, "... beyond the habitual lying, the drifting and the easy womanizing, something absorbed almost against his will in his childhood has rubbed off upon Anthony which makes him more a citizen of the moral world than ... Krogh" (75).
Opening with Anthony Farrant's emotionally incestuous relationship with his twin sister and their mirrored past, Greene examines unquestioned loyalties and their hindrance to one's spiritual evolution. The twins' father was a curious mixture of honorable convictions and steely control. Both siblings, however, primarily recall him as a stern disciplinarian and fail to appreciate his virtues as part of their natural heritage. As mirrored reflections of Anthony's "self" appear in the text, Greene seems to be "exploring abnormal psychology" (14) by exposing various unconscious defenses against pain--rooted primarily in a defective ability to recall fully. Gaston suggests that such abnormal psychology is "something which fascinates [Greene]" (Gaston 14), and Sinyard asserts that Greene "offers a different portrait of arrested development related to childhood and school" (94). While severe cases of narcissism can be irrevocably fixed in adult personalities who have failed to integrate pain and joy into their lives, Anthony Farrant, though an unlikely prospect, slowly begins to grow up.
KATE is the first of many characters who reflect to Anthony a possible future--a future in which he either succumbs further to an amoral existence or chooses to transcend it. Farrant's gradual awakening to the memory of his father's honor, alongside his disappointing qualities, prompts Anthony's decision to go home literally but, most importantly, in spirit--and to shed his need for various personas or masks. (6) He thereby outgrows Kate, in spite of their being twins. When Anthony's eye is injured in childhood, he recalls "they thought I would lose my sight on that side" (16, italics mine), and his way of seeing, encouraged by Kate, has been one-sided after this point. Another reason for his one-sided perspective is revealed when Greene refers to his loss of a formative parent, to "his never-known mother's photograph face down in the suitcase in the attic" (170). One dimensionality seems to characterize his fated existence. He has become a hollow man, a con-man, one who apparently, like his sister, is notable to feel primal loss deeply and who chooses to see Kate as a surrogate mother. Greene ultimately makes the point that in choosing to behave differently from Kate, Anthony moves toward a healthy integration of his spirit and his mask, toward a synthesis of the flawed virtuosity in the aged father and the charming image (but hollow reality) of the son. (7)
Greene first dramatizes the dark, blind loyalty between the two siblings as Kate Farrant waits for her brother in a smoky bar. He describes the atmosphere as "thick" and "enclosed" (7)--signifying the emotionally incestuous relationship between Kate and Anthony. While Bergonzi notes that the incest theme itself was "too intense and problematical for [Greene] to handle adequately" (57), it does provide a way for Greene to set up and sustain the mirroring motif in the text and the inert nature of inbred and unchanging relationships. Unquestioned loyalties are difficult to escape for someone like Anthony Farrant because his loyalties are so few and far between and because his childhood needs have been thwarted. Kate becomes mother figure, sister, and lover. Yet by the end of Greene's novel Anthony realizes that Kate's new home of choice in Sweden--the frozen, dark, self-contained, and inbred corporate empire of Krogh--is a corporate waste land and rejects it. Kate's chosen home suggests that she, the powerless observer of Anthony's beatings by their father (who was desperate to rein in Anthony's wild streak), has, in the long run, been more irrevocably damaged than Anthony because of the fixed and one-dimensional nature of her memory. Kate has become loyal to the nightmarish memory of her choice, pushing blindly forward and unable to synthesize the dualities of her past and those within her father. For instance, she recalls her father on the one hand as an "honourable man" (63) and on the other hand as a man who beat his son. These conflicting traits become further bifurcated for her personally when Kate recalls her father's advice that "a girl should not be seen at play with her employer" (63). Because she is Krogh's mistress and employee, this admonition rings in her ears and castigates her from the grave. She is haunted by her father's ideals as she thinks: "Honour the dead, these were the maxims he lived by, a little bit of England" (63). Kate cannot abide by her father's values and retain her comfort level in Sweden.
That she has made maladaptative choices and that she is Anthony's twin, mother, and figurative lover suggests that, short of a miracle, Anthony will neither embrace new insight nor attempt to shed his veneer. Because she has secured Anthony employment, she prides herself on undoing the "damage" she did when she "sent him back" to school as a child to "conform, to pick up the conventions, the manners of all the rest" (141). Further, behavior like Anthony's rarely changes or is cured. (8) In his dramatization of Anthony's unlikely change Greene points to the work of grace and the redemptive possibilities that are often inadvertently awakened even within reprobates. (9)
Kate's allegiance to Krogh's amoral empire and her wish never to go home eventually cause Anthony to reject her. "There are things I won't do even for Kate," he asserts (180). Seeing her moral paralysis for what it is, Anthony wishes to grow beyond it. She reveals her paralysis when Anthony assures her that he'll write from home: "His bonhomie infuriated her; it flashed back at her from the long mirror-lined corridor, it grimaced sideways at her from the mirrored stairs, it sparkled from the chromium doors." She says: "That's the best I get, three weekly pages, when I've worked for you for years" (196). Her self-pity and self-absorption cause Anthony to "glance with hurried embarrassment down the lift shaft" (197) because he's outgrown her. Anthony's murky, shadowy, and ephemeral growth of consciousness is further prompted by characters other than Kate, all working in tandem and encouraging him to return to tradition, vulnerability, and integrity. Anthony's eventual epiphany liberates him from his emotionally incestuous relationship with his sister and from the other less obvious "reflections" of himself who dwell within and near Krogh's inbred corporate empire with its "mirror-lined" corridors (196). Though Anthony Farrant dies before he literally reaches England, he arrives home spiritually by honoring the buried moral convictions of his father.
The fact that Anthony and Kate never actually had a traditional "home," since they were always in boarding school, lays the foundation for their less than healthy choices and their extreme emotional dependence on one another. Their homelessness also contributes, no doubt, to Anthony's acquired ability to seduce of charm people so that he can use them in order to provide himself immediate attachments, portable intimacy. Thus, the title England Made Me seems to be indicative, in the beginning segments of the novel, of a lamentable sham of a life, one which is not authentic or integrated in its various and contradictory components. England seems to be culpable for Anthony's transgressions. By the end of the book, however, the title of the novel resonates differently and indicates that Anthony has a kind of conscience which has been buried too long, but which is rediscovered and intricately credited to his English roots, his home. (10) That England has "made" him is no longer an accusation but a compliment; Greene is again reversing our expectations and reinforcing his constant theme about the difficulty of judging another in a modern and morally murky world.
The integration of Anthony's fragmented memory is perhaps prompted more forcefully by Anthony s reactions to other male characters, particularly Krogh and Minty, who mirror aspects of Farrant back to him. Krogh represents the tragic man whose lack of a conscience allows him to use others in order to acquire their money on a much grander scale than Anthony has thus far, and whose secular nature is so strong that it disallows any room for aesthetic qualities or a connection with the past. (11) Krogh's consternation, for example, when he has to make an artistic, musical, or personal judgment, is palpable. Krogh has repressed all emotion and therefore aesthetic interest--as well as his past--to an extreme degree and exhibits the consequences to Anthony of a thoroughly arrested personality, an impenetrable one which has lost all ability to experience empathy.
Becoming a "body guard" to Krogh and protecting the status quo of Krogh's insulated life, Anthony experiences an awareness of his own insulation and isolation. Greene's description of Krogh's offices captures the suffocating bell-jar effect that Anthony eventually rejects. The setting of Krogh's financial "empire" emphasizes this coldness, impenetrability, and isolation:
The bronze doors slid apart, and Krogh was in the circular courtyard, Krogh was surrounded by Krogh's. The cold clear afternoon sky roofed in the cube of glass and steel. The whole lower floors one room deep were exposed to him; he could see the accountants working on the ground floor, the glass flashing primrose before the electric fires.... He paused to examine the stone; no instinct told him whether it was good or bad art; he did not understand. He was uneasy, but he did not show his uneasiness.... [His] obscure fears ... were invisible. (34)
Krogh, who becomes a kind of secret sharer for Anthony, has adapted to modern life (with its fragmentation and coldness) in rigid and inflexible ways, and Anthony apparently reacts negatively to the soulless concrete and mirror-lined labyrinths.
Anthony witnesses what he might become. All the glass and mirrors reflect Krogh back to Krogh: "... Krogh liked to be alone. He was enclosed now by a double thickness of glass, the glass wall of the lift, the glass wall of the building..." (34-35). However, Krogh is not capable of witnessing his reflection in others. The environment saps volition and individuality, and it feeds Krogh's power. Most are swallowed in this glass jungle as is Krogh, who does not realize its effect on his already diminished humanity. Anthony at times seems ready to capitulate to the environment as he has so often--to become a cog in one more machine. Greene has already narrated Anthony's memories of past charades where he convincingly pretended to be everything from a soldier to a gambler to a rake all over the world. But these roles were minor compared to Krogh's invitation to Anthony to join his corporate machine as a family member.
Working for Krogh, Farrant subconsciously begins to identify his shadow, or the man he might become. Krogh's materialism and amoral approach to making money and using people is monolithic. He has entirely forsaken the possibility of a cure. Krogh's lack of appreciation for art puzzles Farrant. Krogh has to be told what the opera he is attending is about, he has to guess at what great sculpture is, and he does not appreciate music or poetry. These are things Anthony does appreciate because he still has vestiges of openness and appreciation for tradition, and he is shocked at Krogh's lack of an inner life. Anthony tells Krogh to learn to be a bit more spontaneous--ironic words from a con man.
Seeing Krogh's imbalance helps subtly raise Anthony's consciousness of his own grotesqueness. In essence, Krogh demonstrates to Anthony the horrors of a soulless man who uses others to an extreme degree and who cannot "go back" in any semblance of balanced memories. Krogh in fact has few childhood memories; he seems to choose only morbid gray scraps of a past which give him no solid foundation for growth, insight, or wholeness. The childhood memory he has apparently embraced is of an impoverished moment in which "he had never been trained to enjoy" by his father (36):
The explosion of the exhaust brought back Lake Vatten and the wild duck humming upwards from the reeds on heavy wings. He raised his oars and sat still while his father fired; he was hungry and his dinner depended on the shot. The rough bitter smell settled over the boat, and the bird staggered in the air as if cuffed by a great hand. (39)
Clearly Krogh's single memory creates a distorted man driven only by materialism. His life represents that "division of the brain and heart" (29) which is also happening to Kate. However, Krogh's division has persisted longer and has solidified him into a man who doesn't "understand poetry" (41) and who merely mouths the opinions of others in matters of the heart because he is irrevocably hollowed out. Krogh has chosen only the variety of self-discipline evoked by "fear" and none of the self-discipline evoked by "beauty." Krogh is a malignant narcissist. He has blocked memory and emotion. He has become an amoral machine. Whereas Krogh runs from his past, Anthony seems increasingly drawn toward it. Those childhood words, go back, from an uncorrupted Kate become a refrain in the text and in Anthony's mind, and they indicate that the idea of doing what is painful, but responsible, haunts him. He senses that examining the past more thoroughly would allow him to mature and become a man different from Krogh.
Further, Anthony begins to be repelled by Krogh's temperament, one which "always despised people who thought about the past. To live was to leave behind..." (133). Anthony in some inchoate way apparently begins to recognize that perhaps the past should not be left behind. In this way Krogh provides a catalyst for growth; however, he is not the only man who mirrors Anthony to himself and thereby inspires him to change.
MINTY, the shabby journalist from Harrow who lives in a distorted past and who is obsessed with religion, demonstrates to Anthony the consequences of another variety of grotesque isolation. Minty also suffers from arrested development. (12) Minty has recalled too vividly and embraced too thoroughly repressive stories of religious saints and martyrs. He chooses to embrace austerity. He cannot bear the flesh. The material world repels him. He is Krogh's antithesis, but he is also, like Krogh, living in an insular world where time and spiritual growth have stopped. That God became man is, for Minty, disgusting. He strives to be, in contrast to Krogh's materialism, all spirit in order to escape the fleshly corruption around him, but in his striving he demonstrates a narrowly grotesque and disproportionately rigid spirituality. Minty appears to be a congenial man, but as Bergonzi says, Minty is "casually cruel" (54) and "is not a nice man" (54). Like the spider under Minty's drinking glass (113), he can see the outer world but is trapped within a bell jar of his own making and is clearly damaged. He shows Anthony the lonely sterile life of the thoroughly disconnected. Minty is, after all, the Harrovian whom Anthony pretends to be--another mirror. Minty becomes a comic grotesque in that he holds onto an idealized and unrealistic past.
Minty embodies a sentimental spirituality which contrasts with Krogh's crude materialism. But both men exhibit unintegrated personalities who have created skewed, one-dimensional versions of their pasts. As a journalist who stalks Krogh, Minty relies on the old solidity of a strict religious code, a clubbish devotion to Harrow, his Alma Mater, and a Victorian intolerance of the flesh. His life is sterile like Krogh's, but for different reasons. He is an an ogler of the lives of others. Greene paints different renditions of what Anthony could become: Minty, whose literal and metaphorical poverty is realized in the maimed spider under his only drinking glass, and Krogh, whose greed and insensitivity are encased in his glass skyscraper. Minty's mild grotesqueness reveals to Farrant a musty and unexamined connection to Harrow and to sentimental, boyish allegiances--such as Anthony's unexamined allegiance to Kate.
Minty is all English, and he has roots that he seems to recall and appreciate, but he has actually not visited or seen England for ages. His shabby, miniscule life is as imbalanced as Krogh's vast imperialista. His few possessions include a kind of "holy family" portrait of his house-group at Harrow: "rows of boys blinking against the sun above and below the seated figures of the prefects, the central figure of the housemaster and his wife" (67). For Minty, this was home, and he clearly feels loyalty toward it. That Minty was ill the day the photo was taken, and that he sees Tester as his proxy, indicates the importance of "belonging," even in fantasy, to a meaningful past. But Minty's past is a fiction. He expects a letter from his English "home" every month and looks forward to retrieving it. But Greene says that presently "he honoured Stockholm by choosing it as his home" (68). Even though he receives a rather disappointingly accusative letter from his aunt asking for repayment of a decades-old loan, Minty's reaction is lighthearted: "Well, Minty thought, this is indeed a proud day. To have heard from the family" (70). While he is a legend in his own mind and is clearly in denial regarding his past (as opposed to Krogh, who is a legend internationally and looks at facts without sentiment), Minty provides Farrant another possible future: a "ridiculous" one (72). While Krogh denies the past with a brooding that is potentially more nearly tragic, Minty denies the reality of his past with fantasy and is more nearly comic. Greene says that Minty's invisibility "was a familiar poison": "He had been slowly broken in by parents, by schoolmasters, by strangers in the street" (72). His invisibility, distastefulness, and even dirtiness have become his home away from home. Even his religion, some have said, "becomes a substitute for or even a heightened form of pornography" (Lewis 15). He is another paralyzed grotesque, a one-dimensional specimen of what Anthony could become.
Greene establishes Minty as a mirror for Farrant when he looks out the window at the rainy night:
"I'll go back [to England] tomorrow." Then he smiled and forgot his resolution because he saw England staring back at him through the glass with coat-collar turned up and dripping hat. "Minty," he called, "Minty," to the surprise of the waiters. (75)
According to Greene, Anthony "saw himself and Minty clearly as one person" (180). Further, Minty's sparse apartment is more connected with the metaphorical idea of "home" than any other place in the text, perhaps because of its stark bareness. Greene suggests that if "Minty were to be envied at all, it was that he had chosen his dump and stayed there" (180). This assertion implies that, whatever home means, it is something like Yeats's rag and bone shop of the heart. (13) For Greene, home is a return to one's humble core, roots, and beginnings. In the opening, Anthony's "humble abode" (13) is characterized by "the twin dials on the gas-meter, the dirty pane, the long-leaved plant, the paper fan in the empty fireplace ... the scented pillow, the familiar photographs, the pawned bags, the empty pockets at home (15). Similar to Minty's sparse apartment, Anthony's preferences contrast with Krogh's "glassy cleanliness, the latest fashionable sculpture, the sound-proof floors and dictaphones and pewter ash-trays..." (15).
Humble surroundings clash with sterile, ostentatious surroundings in order to demonstrate that Anthony's choice is between two opposing visions of borne. One alternative is represented by Krogh's ability to plow tragically and heartlessly into the future, and the other is represented by Minty's more comic attempt to hold onto a few religious myths which inform the past. Anthony begins to witness extremes. He experiences the tension in opposites which will slowly integrate and awaken his moral consciousness.
In addition, Krogh's one-dimensional and nearly empty memory contrasts with Minty's rich but fictional ruminations. Minty's memories are of overly rooted loyalties that are embedded permanently in pain and impoverishment:
Ex for all, thought Minty. The school phrases hung on his lips, but they were always first to his tongue. It gave him a bitter tormented pleasure to say, not an afternoon free, but Ex for all. He hated and he loved. The school and he were joined by a painful reluctant coition, a passionless coition that leaves everything to regret, nothing to love, everything to hate, but cannot destroy the idea: we are one body. (83, italics mine)
The similar, unhealthy pleasure that Anthony must grow beyond is the belief that he and Kate are soul mates, lovers, inexplicably and sorrowfully joined forever.
Minty shows Anthony the way an "image" of the past can solidify or petrify. The Minister tells Minty at one point: "You don't have to be homesick. You can always trot across for a week-end.... No, you can't pretend we're cut off here" (87). But Minty won't go home. Minty lives only in inaccurate memory, in a false "beauty," another extreme and definitely the opposite of Krogh, who embraces only a fearful memory. Minty therefore remains childish. He cannot retain youthful wonder and exercise adult intellectual powers. These two men and their stunted relationships to the past seem to cause Anthony's subconscious to fulminate, to give birth to an awareness of the need to adapt, to integrate, and to become whole. In a sense he is beginning to be liberated enough from his own naivete so that when Loo Davidge spends more time with Anthony, she serves as yet another mirror for Anthony--of his own ignorance.
ANTHONY'S behavior toward Loo Davidge (whose family he uses for his own free lunches and self-aggrandizement) subtly changes as Anthony realizes that he does not want to become unfeeling like Krogh. Anthony begins to behave his way into consciousness. For example, he takes Loo to Minty's place for a tryst, a place more reminiscent of home. In its sparseness, Anthony feels rather comfortable. Loo's callousness and feigned worldliness begin to mirror to him his own attempt to appear assured and worldly. Anthony notes that her "eyebrows had been thinned unevenly, there was an amateurish touch about her whole face, the too-pronounced lipstick, the dry flakes of powder on her neck. Her manner had the unconvincing swagger of a new boy at a boarding school who has something to hide ..." (116). With minor adjustments, this could be a description of Anthony and his mask. Slowly, being repelled by her remarks and behavior, he sees that her mask is pathetic and childish but understands eventually that at heart "she's old-fashioned, she's got principles" (119). She is, under it all, as naive as he is--and as immature and morally undeveloped.
In dating Loo, Anthony seems to be courting something from "home." He sees his own innocence in her attempt to put on a sophisticated facade. Greene writes, "He was confused; he couldn't keep up with her hinted experiences and her self-exposed innocence" (117). In suspecting her, he suspects his own past actions: "why trouble to plot and charm? He wondered with dismay whether he was not simply being used ..." (117). Anthony is startled by Loo's assertion (usually his line), "We don't want to start a relationship" (122). He responds, "Why not?" (122). When Anthony takes Loo to Minty's apartment, Minty's extreme "friendlessness" (137) almost drives Anthony closer to Loo. In a conversation with Kate about "nationality," Anthony associates being English with "home" (136), and we understand that he is beginning, with Loo's help, to appreciate his English past, something authentic and unveneered.
Greene clearly associates not looking back with a kind of cheapened existence. A blonde at one of Herr Krogh's social gatherings is described as having "the high-class prostitute's contempt for working men; she had risen and she wasn't going to look back" (172). Loo becomes, like Krogh and Minty, a mirrored image (but a softer one) of part of Anthony's feigned character. Anthony sees his own naivete in Loo, who is acting a part. Minty reacts to Loo with disdain: "[I]n his scorched eyes he expressed quite clearly his disapproval of the bad make-up, the cheap pretentious dress, the saucy hat" (127), but his judgment grows out of his miserable rootedness to austerity, which Greene says carried the "smell of oil and misery" (127). Anthony's estimation of her is more forgiving, since be is growing in empathy; in embracing her, he embraces his own naivete. Greene says that Minty's loneliness is so intense that "he drove ... others back into the companionship they had lost..." (127). After Anthony has been subjected to the fear-based mirrors of Kate, Krogh, Minty, and Loo, he is capable of seeing the inspiring beauty in Andersson's allegiance to his father.
A final scenario which convinces Farrant that he wishes to choose another way of life involves Krogh's loyal employee, Andersson. On a dark night a young man comes out of the shadows and Anthony is told that this young man "wants to see Herr Krogh. Something about his father. His father has been dismissed" (172). Anthony feels a "thin spray of sympathy [passing] between the two of them, as if they recognized each other's limitations in a strange world" (172). Andersson's loyalty to his father commands Anthony's attention. Andersson exhibits one of the best possible selves Anthony might strive for.
Greene shows that Andersson's past attitudes toward his father mirror the stages of Anthony's for his own father, beginning with a kind of rejection of the father's values:
Young Andersson was conservative.... His father's socialism was something old, tiresome, didactic; it smelt of night schools; like the morality of old people it was a substitute for experience. (148)
But Andersson's disdain for his father's ideals gets tested the longer he lives in Krogh's inbred bungalows (which are described as similar to D. H. Lawrence's inbred, incestuous mine cities in The Rainbow and Sons and Lovers):
[Andersson] always blushed when he spoke to [his neighbor] and he never looked straight at her. He slept in the next room and the thin matchboard wall kept out no sounds. He could hear her clean her teeth, wash, he could hear when she lay with her husband. (149)
Andersson thinks, "She's pretty, ... it's not right hearing everything like that, and then he thought of his father. A faint premonition of injustice touched his brain" (150). He begins to realize that his father's socialist ideals might have substance (just as Anthony's father's harsh discipline might have had a moral aim). Andersson's naivete also parallels Anthony's initial and naive trust in Krogh. Upon hearing about his father's dismissal, Andersson believes that Krogh will help him: "Herr Krogh just doesn't know, he'll put it right" (150).
Andersson walks long hours in the dark on his journey to Krogh's corporate offices, figuratively mirroring Anthony's years of globe-trotting prior to his being hired, and enters wanting "to see Herr Krogh. Something about his father" (172). Andersson is trying to talk to Krogh out of loyalty to his father, who has been "dismissed" by Krogh's corporation. Farrant had similarly "dismissed" his father on his death bed with lies. When Krogh tells Hall to send Andersson away, the violent scene evokes an epiphany in Anthony concerning his moral duty. He witnesses Andersson's clear respect for his father and an unmistakable directive to go home:
"Home," Hall said, "Home."... "Home," Hall said again, "home." "I only want to see Mr. Krogh," Andersson said and smiled tentatively at Hall. Hall struck him on the point of the jaw, stood for a moment above him in case he needed a second blow.... In the mirror by the restaurant door [Anthony] watched young Andersson heave himself on to his knees; he knelt with his face down, dripping blood on to the beige rug.... Young Andersson's mouth was full of blood; blood was in his eyes, he couldn't see clearly. "I don't understand," he said.... (175-76, italics mine)
Anthony is appalled. His conscience and his consciousness have apparently been awakened by watching an alternative version of himself: Andersson is beaten and does not understand, but still exhibits allegiance to his father. Greene writes that "all [Anthony] knew was that he was against Krogh, because of Andersson..." (183).
SHORTLY after this scene, Anthony chooses to "go back" to England. He begins to want a reconnection with his roots and his humble past. As if he is repelled by them, he sheds the pretenses he has charmed into existence for years. Greene says that Anthony "had been away too long..." Deciding that he and Kate have "grown apart," Anthony says, "I'm going home" (184). Greene suggests that Anthony, perhaps subconsciously, feels an allegiance to his father and appreciates the totality of what he was, both the good and the bad. Apparently appreciating a more integrated truth, Anthony breaks away from Kate's monolithic world. He attempts to extricate himself from Krogh's world, and then he dies--mysteriously disappearing after daring to reject Krogh's corrupt empire as "family."
His death is consistent with Greene's pattern in other books like The Ministry of Fear, A Burnt-Out Case, and The End of the Affair--where a protagonist learns almost too late that he can be the master of his own life. Greene suggests that rebirth occurs in mysterious ways and that what seems to be apparent about individuals is often only illusion. Anthony, the former reprobate, becomes saintly at the end: "The secret of friendship [Minty] kept as carefully as he would have kept the relic of saints..." (202). Greene's emphasis is on the life of the spirit, and he hints, as always, at the mysteries inherent in his Catholic novels. Anthony, the immature narcissist, has grown far beyond Kate, the "responsible" twin. Kate's allegiance to Krogh's machine and her hatred of her father ultimately diminish her. Echoing "Bishop Blougram's Apology" by Browning and suggesting the difficulty in categorizing others with our judgments, Greene, as always, has challenged our assumptions. Perhaps, for Anthony, death represents fruition and the ultimate going home, something Wordsworth referred to when he described our ability to hear the sea (the figurative source of life) though "inland far we be" ("Intimations Ode").
Anthony becomes an autonomous and honorable man shortly before he dies. He has learned from various reflections of himself that he can be whole and not fragmented, that he can feel and not repress, that he can remember accurately and not be debilitated, and that he can go home without being imprisoned by the past. In this murky, corporate "hall of mirrors," Farrant slowly sees various reflections of himself and is affected by them in sometimes strong and other times subtle ways. In his sister he sees a ruthless woman with an imbalanced allegiance to the money machine. In Krogh he sees an amoral man with no memory with which to become humble and teachable. In Minty he sees a lonely waif with a grotesque loyalty to largely fictional roots. In Loo Davidge he sees a girl with false worldliness. In Andersson, he sees a son with moral substance exhibiting loyalty to his father. (14)
The story of Anthony Farrant is one of growing up and seeing one's own immaturity reflected back to oneself. In his various reactions, ranging from being repelled by others to pitying them, Anthony decides to "go back" home. He stops attempting to find home in the anonymity and worldliness of other cultures and the cold glass and metal world of a "successful" man like Krogh. Before he dies, he briefly experiences an integration of the past with the present, of the child with the man, which is nothing less than a return to tradition, authenticity, and morality. Greene speculates that a sense of possibility rather than a heart of darkness exists at the core of man, something that has to be apprehended by way of our connections with others and the work of grace in spite of a dark modern environment.
Bergonzi, Bernard. A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006.
De Vitis, A. A. Graham Greene. New York: Twayne, 1964.
Gaston, Georg M. A. The Pursuit of Salvation: A Critical Guide to the Novels of Graham Greene. Troy, NY: Whitson Pub. Co., 1984.
Gordon, Haim. Fighting Evil: Unsung Heroes in the Novels of Graham Greene. Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1997.
"Greene, Graham." BBC Study Tapes ECN 129. On-the-Green, Guilford, CT: Jeffrey Norton Pub., Inc., n.d.
Greene, Graham. A Burnt-Out Case. New York: Penguin, 1977.
--. The End of the Affair. New York: Penguin, 1987.
--. England Made Me. New York: Penguin, 1970.
--. The Ministry of Fear. New York: Penguin, 1973.
--. A Sort of Life. New York: Washington Square P. 1971.
--. "The Virtue of Disloyalty": An Address given by Graham Greene upon the award of the Shakespeare Prize by the University of Hamburg. The Portable Graham Greene. Ed. Philip Stratford. Garden City, NY: Viking, 1973. 523-524.
Easton, Elizabeth. "The Pain of Writing." Graham Greene: Man of Paradox. Ed. A. F. Cassis. Chicago: Loyola UP. 1994. 235-241.
Hoskins, Robert. "Greene and Wordsworth: The Ministry of Fear." South Atlantic Review 48:4 (Nov. 1983): 32-42.
Hoskins, Robert. "Those Dreadful Clothes": The Meaning of Modern Sculpture and the Genesis of Greene's England Made Me." South Atlantic Review 57:2 (May 1992): 73-91.
Kernberg, Otto. Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies. New Haven: Yale UP, 1986.
Lawrence, D. H. Sons and Lovers. New York: Penguin, 1994.
--. The Rainbow. New York: Penguin, 1989.
Lewis, R. W. B. "The 'Trilogy.'" Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Pub., 1987.
Miller, R. H. Understanding Graham Greene. Columbia, SC: U of SC P, 1990.
Sharrock, Roger. Saints, Sinners and Comedians: The Novels of Graham Greene. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P. 1984.
Shelden, Michael. Graham Greene: The Man Within. London: Heinemann, 1994.
Sherry, Norman. The Life of Graham Greene. 3 Vol. New York: Viking 1989, 1994, 2004.
Sinyard, Neil. Graham Greene: A Literary Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Wordsworth, William. "Ode: Intimations of Immortality on Recollections of Early Childhood." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors. 6th ed. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. 1384-1388.
Wordsworth, William. The Prelude. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors. 6th ed. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. 1400-1479.
Yeats, W. B. "The Circus Animals" Desertion." Yeats's Poetry. Drama, and Prose. Ed. James Pethica. New York: Norton, 2000. 129.
(1) See Robert Hoskins, "Greene and Wordsworth," for a discussion of Greene's appreciation of these Wordsworthian principles.
(2) Wordsworth suggested that after birth there is a kind of gradual forgetting of "the glory and the dream" which he points to in his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality." Greene also seems to equate the corporeal world with constant temptation to forget one's uncorrupted roots. We see this in his equating evil with a kind of "not knowing" or "ignorance." For example, consider Querry's comment in A Burnt-Out Case regarding naive Marie Rycker, who is responsible for Querry's death: "God preserve us from all innocence" (185).
(3) Farrant was modeled on Greene's "eldest brother Herbert, the black sheep of the family" according to Sherry (II, xx). Herbert "was charming and crooked, exhibiting what Greene called ... depraved innocence" (I, 500).
(4) Greene wrote about his interest in such paradox in A Sort of Life: "And if I were to choose an epigraph for all the novels I have written, it would be from [Browning's] "Bishop Blougram's Apology":
Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things. The honest thief, the tender murderer, The superstitious atheist, demi-rep That loves and saves her soul in new French books--We watch while these in equilibrium keep The giddy line midway. (103)
(5) Other Greene characters who similarly "compose" themselves as the novel progresses are Querry in A Burnt-Out Case and Arthur Rowe in The Ministry of Fear. In both novels the protagonist is portrayed in a confusing and amorphous manner--reacting to others in his environment with strong and apparently inexplicable feelings until readers realize that they are struggling to become "whole" (193), as Greene says in Rowe's case. Their disintegrated personalities are finally integrated by their learning to face their pasts and feel pain. In embracing memory and humility, the protagonists become humble and teachable, and therefore progress and evolve to become more mature men, having integrated facets of their personalities into a fully functioning composite. As much as Greene resisted imitating Conrad, the influence of Heart of Darkness and Marlow's struggle to confront the evil within is certainly apparent in this novel. The difference between Conrad's rendition of entering the hell within and Greene's is that Greene invariably suggests that at the heart of narcissism and selfishness lies the possibility of redemption--whereas Conrad suggests a dark and primal voraciousness.
(6) Sherry writes that in this novel Greene treats the "condemned and antiquated precepts of 'honour' so central to the public school system in which he had suffered" (II, xx). He also refers to the "outdated code of behaviour intended to prepare an individual [like Farrant] for life in a hard world..." (I, 493). However, Greene also suggests that tradition can be ennobling, especially in an ethically bereft sewer like the capitalist culture depicted in Stockholm. Farrant's eventual decision to return home can be read as a move toward redemption and a step away from a life of deception; even as this choice prompts his murder, it saves his spirit.
(7) Sherry reports that "[t]he sheer nobility and simplicity and unworldliness of Graham's father comes out in both England Made Me and Across the Border" (I, 499).
(8) Otto Kernberg writes that in treatment of such types "at some point it is as if the treatment has replaced life and the patient were expressing in his behavior an urgent wish and magic command that the treatment continue forever (therefore without any change)..." (243).
(9) In one interview Greene refuted that he was a Jansenist and said that he believed that "grace works in everybody" ("Graham Greene" BBC).
(10) "Home" for Greene is a state of mind which is connected to the past and signifies loyalties. In A Burnt-Out Case home is, for the leper boy Deo Gratias, "Pendele," a place where he was happy and to which he wants to return to die. It is associated with knowing who one authentically is and with knowing from which soil one springs. It is also connected with a sense of one's humble roots and youth. Greene has said that he himself was a man who was capable of feeling "at home" even in the Congo in a leper colony. He suggests in one interview that once he had a table and a piece of paper and a pen, he felt "at home," his identity seemingly forged by his portable craft as a writer ("Graham Greene"). It is this sense of knowing intuitively who one is that Anthony Farrant lacks in the early segments of the novel.
(11) Krogh was based on Ivar Kreuger, who "committed suicide" in a world of high finance (Bergonzi 48).
(12) Minty, Greene said, "was a minor character and became much too important" (Easton 237). And Bergonzi reports that Greene felt Minty "was entirely unexpected when he emerged from the preconscious..." (53). Nonetheless, he reinforces another facet of "arrested development."
(13) See "The Circus Animals' Desertion," where Yeats writes, "Now that my ladder's gone / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart."
(14) Another way to look at this sequence is to see that Anthony is practicing disloyalty to Krogh. Greene once wrote that "Loyalty confines you to accepted opinions: loyalty forbids you to comprehend sympathetically your dissident fellows; but disloyalty encourages you to roam through any human mind: it gives the novelist an extra dimension of understanding" ("The Virtue of Disloyalty").
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|Title Annotation:||Graham Greene|
|Author:||Melfi, Mary Ann|
|Publication:||Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2010|
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