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As humans we are always aiming for something in particular and when we do not achieve what we set out to do feelings of failure are felt or expressed in various ways as Greene illustrates in the stories "Special Duties", "The Hint of an Explanation".

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Introduction

Theme of Failure Failure is something we all encounter in life. As humans we are always aiming for something in particular and when we do not achieve what we set out to do feelings of failure are felt or expressed in various ways as Greene illustrates in the stories "Special Duties", "The Hint of an Explanation", "A Chance for Mr. Lever". In the story "Special Duties" we see how Greene treats failure in a humorous way. Firstly we note that Mr. Ferraro fails to understand the concept of God and heaven. He thinks that God is some sort of business man, "it was not unreasonable for Mr. Ferraro to return the compliment and to regard God as the director of some supreme business" hence he believes that he can simply buy time in heaven through Miss Saunders, his special secretary, who carries out indulgences in his name so that he may obtain more days in heaven. ...read more.

Middle

First we note that due to David's innocence he fails to see that Blacker is simply trying to use him, by allowing him to play on electric train set. He doesn't realise Blacker's true plan "to revenge himself on everything he hated- my father, the Catholics, the God whom persisted in crediting- by corrupting me." The boy also fails the church as he abuses his position as altar boy to get the host for Blacker. Yet this failure is not self- inflicted but because Blacker had corned him in doing so and because he was afraid of the consequences if he didn't do as Blacker said "I think it was fear- fear of the terrible thing called bleeding- as much as covetousness that drove me to carry out my instructions." Ultimately we see a transition of failure from David to Blacker when David decides to do the right thing by not giving him the host "I couldn't separate the Host from the paper, so I swallowed both." ...read more.

Conclusion

By forging Davidson's signature on the contract of the crusher Mr. Lever thinks he has finally succeeded. Just as he does this he is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquitos that he claimed all through out the story not to have seen "give Mr. Lever three days of happiness." In the end we see that Mr. Lever fails when he thinks he is successful. He fails to expect the unexpected and this lack of insight is what costs him his life. In the previous two stories mentioned we don't feel badly for any of the characters. However when Green describes him as being a man who really loves his wife "He took out his wife's photograph and stood it on the chop-box." and that he even feels badly when he sees a dead black man squashed to fit into a ditch "Mr. Lever would have liked very much to say a prayer." we do feel an element of pathos for Mr. Lever. He doesn't deserve to fail. ...read more.

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