Graham Greene was a Catholic, a traveler and an exile (Lawson). These three aspects influenced the course of much of his works. As a Catholic, he developed a perception to scrutinize things as evil and good with God as a source of redemption. He was baptized at 21.
Sherry also informs us that as a young boy of 14 he suffered at the boarding school. His acquaintances and his experiences were shaping a mind which paralleled the tumultuous time he lived in. He ran away from home. And was sent for psychoanalysis. In 1925, he met Vivien Dayrell-Browning. A Roman Catholic conver, Vivien molded him toward Roman Catholicism, to which he got converted at the age of 26.
His religious belief followed a trajectory vividly depicted in his catholic tetralogy: "Brighton Rock" (1938), "The Power and the Glory" (1940), "The Heart of the Matter" (1948), and "The End of the Affair" (1951).
In fact, Greene's life is a reflection of the saga of Roman Catholic Church at that time. As Mark Bosco says that Greene's writings represent different phases of his Catholic sensibility. He emerges mature with liberation theology after Vatican Council II (Bosco 115-117).
The novel draws parallels with T.S. Elliot's poem "The Hollow Men". The hollow men wander in a barren landscape, trying to remember the line after "For Thine is the Kingdom" in the Lord's Prayer. The phrase happens to be "the Power and the Glory" (Ways of Escape 65-68).
Not only the theme, but even the milieu and the settings set Greene's novels apart. "The Quiet American" is set in the Vietnam of the early 50s, "The Heart of the Matter" is set in West Africa, "Our Man in Havana" in Cuba, "The Honorary Consul in Paraguay/Argentina.
Greene was a globe-trotter. From Africa to Asia to Latin America, he had his share of experiences everywhere. A man who wrote "England Made Me", Greene spent the last 25 years of his life in exile in France. This is not surprising then to find that all but a few of his post-war novels are set outside Britain.
His authorized biographer Norman Sherry suffered tropical diabetes in Liberia, dysentery in Mexico and intestinal gangrene in Paraguay in the course of his research.
Sherry links Greene's constant urge to be on the move to his escapist tendency and an escape from the responsibilities of life (Sherry 350-354 Vol. I).
His penchant for travels also stems from his love for Joseph Conard.
Mr. Greene suddenly becomes a character out of the Conrad stories he admired. He exposes himself to all sorts of pain and jeopardy. He explores hitherto unpenetrated jungles. He climbs mountains, crosses wild and unbridged rivers, endures the pain and vulnerability of tropical sicknesses. He looks everywhere, it seems, listens with respect to the most obscure of his fellow human beings and thereby not only learns about and from others, but finds the direction of his own life's compass (Coles).
Like his shifting destinations during the course of frequent travels, Greene's faith too followed a shifting trajectory.
Today Catholicism is once again the topic of discussion thanks to Dan Brown's murder mystery "The Da Vinci Code." Before Brown's best-seller, Catholicism as a theme of a novel was a strange idea for the readers. As Lawson makes us believe:
Today, Catholicism, wanderlust and expatriation all lack the attraction they had for writers in Greene's time. The centre of gravity of ...
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