Fighting Evil: Unsung Heroes in the Novels of Graham Greene

Fighting Evil: Unsung Heroes in the Novels of Graham Greene

Fighting Evil: Unsung Heroes in the Novels of Graham Greene

Fighting Evil: Unsung Heroes in the Novels of Graham Greene

Synopsis

What can we learn from the novels of Graham Greene? This book argues that Greene's writings have much to teach us about fighting evil here and now, and about endeavoring to live a worthy life. In novels that span half of the twentieth century, Greene related stories of evil persons who destroyed the freedom of others and of a few simple people who fought them. Through these stories he showed us three basic truths: first, evil exists; second, it is possible to fight it; and third, one may attain wisdom and sometimes a very limited glory by undertaking such a struggle. Gordon's study sets forth its own important lesson: thinking and assuming responsibility for the world, guided by the reading of great literature, are keystones of any worthy life.

Excerpt

Ballads will probably never be sung about the characters in Graham Greene's novels who fight evil. Greene recognized that, in the contemporary world, in which we are persistently indoctrinated to applaud celebrity and financial success, many courageous people who fight evil and struggle for justice are short-changed. Their stories remain untold, unremembered. Those whom he describes fighting evil are not knights or generals, hard-nosed detectives, clever sleuths, or lauded political leaders. They are simple people whom one may meet in a bar or encounter coming out of a cinema. They themselves may have often acted wrongly or been manipulated by others to participate in doing evil. Yet, at a certain moment, they have seen specific evils for what they are and have decided to stand up for the good. They choose to do what is right. Let me say it again: They are courageous.

They are also sensitive people who care for others, who are attracted to a worthy life, who search for love in a world in which the destruction of human freedom, alienation, brutal oppression, and greedy exploitation prevail. These unsung heroes recognize that many of the evils they encounter are performed and supported by wicked governments and by seemingly innocent ordinary people. Throughout his novels, Greene repeatedly unmasks these evildoers, showing us their true ugly faces.

Greene's unsung heroes also perceive, but rarely articulate, that they will attain personal integrity only by quietly abandoning the crowd, with its indifference to the horrors of evil and human suffering. There is an educational message here. Greene reveals to us, his readers, that the difficult struggle against evil is a possibility open to simple people like ourselves. If we decide to engage in such a fight, we will often attain integrity. Put differently, Greene's unsung heroes teach us this lesson: the difficult challenge of fighting the evil and the evildoers we encounter daily is a laudable commitment—and we, too, can participate in such a commendable undertaking.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.