Graham Greene’s fictional women have increasingly been recognized in the field of Graham Greene scholarship as significant members of the author’s body of complex characters. This paper participates in that interest and engages with Greene’s nuanced treatment of his characters: there is a want for a more robust understanding of Rose found in Greene’s Brighton Rock (1938), his first ‘Catholic novel,’ whose character is frequently obscured in both the literary narrative and the scholarship by Ida’s and Pinkie’s more dominant personalities. Should we approach Rose with a particular sensitivity towards Greene’s dovetailing religious and literary impulses, it becomes clear that she supplies the novel with its metaphysical ground. Mark Bosco’s concept of the “religious sense” in Greene’s novels (Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination [2005]) and his work on Greene’s modernism (“Shades of Greene in Catholic Literary Modernism” [2017]) inform this paper’s argument that Rose’s innocence and subsequent fall into mortal sin reveal God’s presence through individual and freely-chosen human acts of love and faith. Rose’s love is a powerful redemptive force and its expression through charitable feeling towards the sinful is an example of a spiritual ideal as it appears amidst humanity’s moral failings. Her sustained faith as she willingly commits herself to sin and damnation for Pinkie’s sake not only captures the paradoxical nature of human experience, but suggests that her practice of love is as close as one can get to a positive affirmation of the divine. By the novel’s conclusion, it falls to Rose to explore the role of the self-aware individual against a world at once governed by and broken from its faith-based principles, through which, this paper argues, she represents one of Greene’s earliest attempts to view that world through a female perspective.


The author is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. Her work primarily involves Middle English devotional texts and religious signification in English literatures.

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