Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Bendrix, Not Sarah: Transfiguration vs. Apotheosis

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Bendrix, Not Sarah: Transfiguration vs. Apotheosis

Article excerpt

Abstract

Though The End of the Affair brings Sarah's name to the forefront, it is Bendrix's character that makes her more fascinating for the readers. Sarah's sainthood evolves out of Bendrix's insatiable love for her. For Sarah's journey towards divinity, Bendrix proves the first and last ladder. His radiating and jealous love for Sarah remains alive even after her death. It is he who suffers in Sarah's love before and after her death. He seems to be paying the cost of Sarah's divinity. As his object of love is not around so he has to express his love for Sarah in hate and jealousy against God. There is no hypocrisy in Bendrix since he confesses openly what he feels and why he feels so. This paper presents a deconstruction of Bendrix's character in order to validate our point that Sarah wins divinity at the cost of Bendrix's suffering. His love, jealousy and hatred foreground the sainthood of Sarah.

Keywords. The End of the Affair, Sarah; Bendrix; deconstruction; Graham Greene

Introduction

The End of the Affair is regarded at once a "masterpiece" (Kermode, 186) and an "artistic failure" (Wyndham, 22). It is also "the most complex of Greene's major novels" (Land, 72), "structurally . . . most complex" (Miller, 83). But this is not the end of the affair. Critics also have divergent opinions regarding who to consider the protagonist of the novel: Sarah or Bendrix? Some consider Bendrix as the central character (for example, Kermode) while others give importance to Sarah (for example, Huben). These contradictory reactions and evaluations show that the work in question is indeed intriguing. Perhaps, the question that perplexes the reader's mind about The End of the Affair is whether it is a tale of love or hatred! "I hate Sarah because she was a whore, I hate Henry because she stuck to him, and I hate you and your imaginary God because he took her away from all of us" (181).

We hold that Bendrix's love, jealousy and hatred overshadow Sarah's sainthood. By deconstructing the text through close textual analysis, we aim to show how Bendrix's feelings trigger a movement which culminates in Sarah's ultimate resignation and divinity or apotheosis which leads to Bendrix's transfiguration.

Apotheosis vs. Transfiguration

Sarah's journey to sainthood has made her one of the most celebrated characters of this novel, yet it is Bendrix's worldly love that elevates Sarah to the status of a divine and spiritual being. He is the cause behind the sainthood of Sarah. Whether it is Parkis's son or Richard, Bendrix's love is in the foreground in Sarah's road to divinity. He is soaked and drenched in Sarah's love. It is his love for Sarah that makes Sarah respond to it so intensely. She tries to forget his love but fails to do so even by being away from him: "for two years we haven't seen each other or written but it doesn't work" (117). The more she loves Bendrix, the nearer she gets to divinity and spirituality. Thus, divinity in Sarah springs from the mundane, corrupt and worldly love of Bendrix. The first sign of her spirituality manifests itself in giving new life to Bendrix. It is Bendrix's enigmatic love that makes her bow before God for a divine miracle. She owes her interaction with Parkis's son to Bendrix's jealous love. It is to win back Bendrix's love that she visits Richard Smythe. These two prove to be the two other testimonies of her sainthood later on. It seems quite strange that despite Bendrix strong and perpetual presence, Sarah's character fascinates more eyes. Nonetheless, her divinity, however, is indebted to Bendrix's worldly love "Could I have touched You if I hadn't touched [Bendrix] first" (123).

The End of the Affair is the last of Green's four Catholic novels. It has fascinated a huge readership, especially critics who hold diverse opinion regarding the two major characters Bendrix and Sarah. To Bosco, the whole credit goes to Greene who has successfully created two such enriching characters. …

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