Brighton Rock By Greene

"Does Greene raise his characters from mere functions in a ‘detective’
novel to characters whose motivations are believable?" Use two characters to
illustrate your argument. Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, is a book based in

1930’s underworld Brighton. The novel is based on the tale of Pinky, a teenage
gangster, and his conflict against an amateur detective, Ida, who is intent on
bringing Pinky to justice. In many ways Brighton Rock can be classed as a
detective novel as it contains certain elements of this particular style of
writing. Features characteristically used in such novels include thriller
elements, violence and rapidly paced action, all of which are present in

Brighton Rock. In a detective novel, the crime which is committed is apparently
‘perfect’. The murder of Hale in the book is so cleverly done that the
police put it down as an accidental death. There is also usually an amateur
detective, in this case Ida, and the detective’s side-kick, Phil Corkery. To
conclude the story, the characters come together in a ‘denoument’ –
another typical feature of a detective novel. In this way Brighton Rock can be
classified as a detective piece of writing. In the book, however, are the
characters created so that they become believable individuals in their own
right, or do they simply remain as stereotypical functions, merely existing for
the sole purpose of taking part in a plot. Pinky, the central character in the
book, is a seventeen year old gangster who is in charge of his own mob, and
frequently carries out violent and cruel criminal acts. He is an intelligent
young man but is mentally quite naпve and child-like in his attitude
towards love and sex. We, the reader, first meet Pinky in the very first chapter
of the book although we do not find out his name until the second chapter. The
first mention of Pinky is a physical description of the boy: "...He had a fair
smooth skin, the faintest down, and his grey eyes had an effect of heartlessness
like those of an old man in whom human feeling has died." p. 8 This initial
description gives a lot of information about Pinky’s character straight away.

The ‘smooth skin’ and ‘faintest down’ give an indication of how young
and child-like Pinky is, almost giving him an air of innocence. The ‘grey
eyes’, however, show that Pinky is not just a young man, but that the other
side of his character is much older, maybe because he has seen things that
children should not see. Pinky is also very religious, believing strongly in the

Catholic faith. Themes in the book, such as sin, damnation and salvation stem
from this intense religious belief. Jelaousy is another theme which is central
to Pinky; he is jealous of the other mob member’s experience in love and sex
because he feels like they know more than him, and he is also jealous of

Colleoni, a much more successful and powerful mob leader than Pinky. The reader
is told a lot less about Colleoni in the book, but although he is a minor
character, he plays an important part in highlighting Pinky’s weaknesses and
shortcomings as a gangster and mob leader. In contrast with Pinky, Colleoni has
a lot of money and doesn’t have to do the ‘dirty work’ that Pinky does; he
just gets his mob to do what he wants for him. The physical descriptions of

Colleoni demonstrate the differences in the two gangsters. "...Mr. Colleoni
came across an acre of deep carpet from the Louis Seize writing room, walking on
tiptoe in glace shoes." p.63 Pinky is jealous of the respect Colleoni receives
from his mob, the money Colleoni has and the fact that Colleoni patronises Pinky
by talking to him as a father would – offering advice and gentle warnings not
to mess around with him and his mob because Pinky is still a child. Pinky must
also feel intimidated by the image Colleoni portrays of the typical rich,

Italian gangster type. "...His old Italianate face showed few emotions but a
mild amusement, a mild friendliness; but suddenly sitting there in the rich

Victorian room, with the gold lighter in his pocket and the cigar case on his
lap, he looked as a man might look who owned the whole world..."