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"The Sinner is often the Saint." In what way does Greene explore this paradox with reference to Scobie?

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"The Sinner is often the Saint." In what way does Greene explore this paradox with reference to Scobie? "The Sinner is often the Saint" - In order to come to terms with this paradox the reader must be aware of the definitions of the words 'sinner' and 'saint'. As it is understood today, a 'saint' is one who transgresses God's known will. Greene uses the character of Scobie in his novel 'The Heart of the Matter' to explore the paradox in the above statement. However, once the reader is quite aware of these definitions, it can be said that Scobie is a mixture of both, and this concept is implied implicitly through the paradox itself. The initial introduction of Scobie in the novel, is presented by other characters, which produces an emphasis on the importance of how others perceive him: "...If I had a wife like that, I'd sleep with niggers too...Poor old Scobie" This introduction immediately suggests that others feel that he does not deserve his situation (in this case the situation of his marriage), thus highlighting his 'saintliness'. The other characters in the novel look unto him as 'Scobie the Just' and feel that he is trustworthy, honest and respectable. ...read more.


the good in the motive behind the 'sin' as well as the difficulty Scobie has dealing with his situation, thus agreeing with the paradox seen in the statement 'the sinner is often the saint'. There is a sort of arrogance projected through Scobie's sense of responsibility and it is highlighted further when Scobie portrays himself in a Christ-like manner, and continues by justifying his future suicide by implicating that Christ too killed himself: "Christ had not been murdered: you couldn't murder God. Christ had killed himself..." It is such lines as these, spoken by Scobie, that indicate this notion of arrogance which the modern reader will frown upon, thus highlighting his characteristic of a 'sinner'. Pity appears to be one of the recurrent themes throughout the novel, hidden in the symbolic meaning of the 'rusty handcuffs', as well as being conveyed explicitly. The reader soon becomes aware that Scobie is consumed by his pity for others and is bound by it like the handcuffs. The most apparent example is his pity for Louise: "These were the times of ugliness when he loved her, when pity and responsibility reached the intensity of passion." His pity for Louise seems to have replaced the love and affection he once felt for her, and the fact that she is no longer young ...read more.


However, as much as Scobie doubts God, and questions and insults Him, his love for Him is still noticeable through the fact that he never strays, which may also be a reflection of Greene's own feelings towards his God. Even though Scobie does not agree entirely with the Church's teachings, he still has a strong belief in God. When this idea is compared to the definition of a 'sinner', one who transgresses God's will, it can be said that Scobie does not fully fit the description, because of his love for God. In conclusion, it can be said that through an analysis of Scobie the reader is able to decipher that his character is somewhat complex, therefore making it apparent that he is both 'sinner' and 'saint', in turn causing ambivalent reactions amongst modern day readers. When this view is further explored it becomes obvious that Scobie is merely 'human', due to the fact that the motive behind his 'sins' was moral, and mainly for the benefit of others. It is because of this that the reader may presume that in Scobie's case, the good overrides the evil. Evidence to support this idea can be seen at the very end of the novel, by examining the dialogue between Father Rank and Louise Scobie: "The Church knows all the rules but it doesn't know what goes on in a single human heart. ...read more.

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