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Discuss the way Graham Greene's use of childhood informs your reading of the short stories.

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Introduction

Hayley Tomkins 20th April 03 AS unit 2709- Literature Complementary Study Coursework. Discuss the way Graham Greene's use of childhood informs your reading of the short stories: The general theme for many of Graham Greene's stories is childhood, the stories I have chosen to study are very much based on characters and the results of their experiences in life. The main focus of this essay will be on the opposing themes of innocence and experience created by the examination of adulthood and childhood- these are two very different worlds that are described in Graham Greene's writing. In his stories, Green realistically portrays the world around him as the 'shabby' world. The 'shabby' world is the dark world of adulthood and experience, where one has to suffer to live life as a real human being 'I suffer therefore I am'. Greene's work is often based in places that are physically uncomfortable, and these settings reflect the kind of story he tells. In 'The Basement Room' Phillip enters the 'shabby' world, Greene describes this dark world that is new to Phillip: 'Of smuts from the trains which passed along the backs in a spray of fire.'i Another characteristic of Greene's choice of setting is the dark and gloomy, which is an integral part of Greene's 'shabby world'. Childhood is the innocent, important period in an individual's life, it is the most delicate period that may reflect on one's future and present. ...read more.

Middle

The father obsessively locks every door in the house, the girl is disgusted with her father's security and has reached the time in childhood when an individual freedom. Greene's use of childhood informs us on the typical teenager thinking she knows life, when in fact she has no experience of life. Due to her secure social upbringing she wants freedom, however, when she experiences this freedom she finds she is happier at home. She therefore opposes security over freedom. When she runs away with Fred, she eventually recognises that his recklessness is unlimited, to the extent of taking his and her life. She went out into the world where she was secure from, and finds that the free- wild life does not appeal to her afterall, and she wants that security back. Greene again creates these worlds of childhood and adulthood. Through his choice of language one can see that she does not belong in this world of pain and experience. She comments on 'his smell'v of whiskey, this suggests she is na�ve and innocent- this is her first encounter with anything so rebellious. Fred is from a different world to her, in that era, Fred would not have been an insured worker. He is from a different social class, where he spends money on gambling and drink; it is people like him that her father is trying to protect her from, he doesn't want his daughter interacting with individuals from the 'Shabby' world. ...read more.

Conclusion

Greene informs our reading in many of the stories, as 'The Innocent' is an example of how a child's perception of life is not entirely accurate, and how it may change in adulthood. He uses the child's perception of the memory, also the adult's different perception of the memory. Greene's choice of language may be uncomfortable for the reader, i.e. 'The hole',vii the language used may be used to make one feel uncomfortable regarding the obscene message. The stories inform one's understanding of the theme as one can see the affect childhood experiences can have on adulthood. The 'shabby' settings and characters all help our understanding of the stories. Imagery is created through the characters eyes; 'Bright and reckless in the lamp- light, he was exciting and strange to her as the adventure'viii, through Greene's language in 'A Drive in The Country', one can see the experience through the eyes of the girl. It appears that Greene understands childhood is a delicate time in life, he informs us on how the 'Shabby' world can corrupt ones thoughts, and may involve ones innocence too soon. It can therefore be said, that Green's in depth examination of childhood increases our understanding of the theme, and the stories. i Greene, Graham, 'The Basement Room', cited in Twenty-one Stories, P.26 ii Greene, 'The Basement Room', P.33 iii Greene, 'The Basement Room', P.10 iv Greene, The Basement Room', P.22 v Greene, Graham, 'A Drive In The Country', Collected short stories' P.83 vi Greene, 'A Drive To The Country', P.91 vii Greene, 'The Innocent', Twenty-one stories, P.95 viii Greene, 'A Drive To The Country', P.82 ...read more.

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