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Brighton Rock Chapter Notes

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By Graham Greene






FULL NAME:   Henry Graham Greene

BORN:   2nd October 1904

SCHOOLING:   Attended ‘Berkhamsted’ boarding school… has described at length the boredom, unhappiness and evil he faced there. Toyed with the idea of suicide and eventually ran away from the school

It is thought due to this difficult childhood, Greene’s novels (including Brighton Rock) dial with the theme of ‘The lost innocence of childhood.’


RELIGIOUS BELIEFS:   Left the Anglican Church in 1926 and joined the Roman Catholic


Critical of modernist writers, like Woolf for having no religious sense and consequently producing characters with no real depth.


For Greene the dramatic power of the novel resides in an understanding of the truth of the spiritual warfare which exists between good (god) and evil (the devil)


Greene however objected to being described as a ‘Catholic writer’. Even so many of his novels engage his characters in spiritual dilemmas.


He admits he did not meet religion with enthusiasm. Rather he ‘fought and fought hard’ when asked if he thought faith gave him writing and extra dimension, he answered,

 – “Human beings are important to believers than they are to atheists”


Works:   Brighton Rock was published in 1938















Roman Catholic Church





–         Oldest branch of Christianity Roman Catholic believe that the most important reason in the church is the pope. Pope means ‘father’, the pope is the father of the Roman Catholic Church.


–         Roman Catholics give a special place in their worship to Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. They do not worship her but think she is important and pray to her as ‘our lady’


–         Roman Catholics clergymen are called priests. A clergyman is a person who is specially trained to be a priest or vicar. Priests are not allowed to marry.




–         Roman Catholics believe that there are 3 reasons for marriage:

                                          -Right relationships for sexual relations

                                               -procreation of children

                                               -the couples mutual help and comfort in life           

                                               – NO sex before marriage.

                                               -No contraception

                                               -The purpose of sex is to reproduce




–         Roman Catholic churches usually have a statue of the Virgin Mary and of the saints. Sometimes Rosary beads are used – each bead is a reminder of a prayer.


–         Catholics are expected to go to confession at least once a year. Usually they go into a special room called a ‘confessional’. After a person has admitted what they have done wrong the priest will tell them to repent.




Novel Summary


–         ‘Hale’ a journalist, is murdered.

–         By a race track gang led by 17 year old ‘Pinkie Brown’

–         Pinkie is blamed for their former leader ‘Kite’

–         ‘Ida’ who was with ‘Hale’ before he died suspects.

–         She decided that to bring his murder to justice.

–         Pinkie becomes pressured by ‘Colleoni’ (rival gang leader)

–         He then has to marry ‘Rose’ (a young waitress who unwittingly falsifies is alibi)

–         ‘Pinkies’ gang becomes to fall apart.

–         Pinkie leaps to his death


Green says:


–         Brighton Rock started as a detective novel but had found himself injection religious material in a manner he now feels to be ‘overly oblivious’

–         Much of the novelsBrightonsetting does or did at our time exist; but much of it is also invented.



Detective?  Existentialist?  Religious?   Naturalistic?  Psychological?























Novel opens with an intro to the ‘nervous’ outsider, Hale knows that the gang“meant to murder him”.

 The crowd is described, animal like

– “two by two with sober and determined gaiety”


“bewildered multitudes” → Hale has a cynical view of the tourists, yet the  atmosphere

–         “pulled at his heart”


Greene appears to imply the forced enjoyments of a place like Brighton ..”immense patience” required to extract the “grain of pleasure”



Introduction to Ida


–         “ a rich Guiness voice ”

–         “ big blown charms ”

–         “ I wore my bridal robe and I rivalled all its whiteness ”

–         “ she was only a little drunk in a friendly accommodating way ”

–         “ she kept her line for those who cared for lines ”

–         “ the bog tipsy mouth, the magnificent breasts ”

Pinkie describes her as

     – “ the brer ”




Introduction to Pinkie


–         “ A boy of about 17 watched him for the door – a shabby smart suit… a hideous and unnatural pride ”

–         “ I don’t drink, Fred ”

–         “ He watched Hale all the time closely and with wonder: you might expect a hunter to look like that  … before the kill

Introduction is almost oxymoronic.

–         “He had a fair smooth skin, the faintest down and his grey eyes and an effect of heartlessness like an old mans in which human feeling had died”





At the beginning of the novel everything is new and special,

–         “ new silver pain sparkled”

–         “ cream houses “



Disapproving undertone of the commercialism in Brighton

–         “ cosmopolitan ”

–         “ bright silver ”

–         “ cared for ”



Points to consider

–         Representation of women

–         Representation ofBrighton

–         Initial perceptions of both Ida and Pinkie



The men who are ‘picking’ these ‘girls’ are describes as

 – “knife edged” – suggests danger.





Introduction to Women


–         “ bright brass hair and ermine coats, heads close like parrots exchanging metallic confidence. They flashed their painted nails at eachother and cackled “

–         “ waiting to be picked “

–         “ new and daring perms “

–         “ bleached and perfumed hair “

–         “ fat, spotty creature in pink”











Rose – Chapter 2 & 3




–         “ Her quiet, her pallor, her desire to please “

Shows she is weak in Greene’s eyes.



Pinkie seems old beyond his years, empty, cold and heartless.

–         “ watching her with dangerous and unfeeling eyes “



–         “ You and me have something in common, perhaps youth shabbiness and a kind of ignorance”

Becomes more obvious as the book progresses




Greens representation of women and Rose


–         Rose is Greene’s symbol of young women, whereas Ida is the complete opposite of Rose to Greene but both women are viewed as equally uncomplimentary.

–         Green shows that he feels women are weak and inferior to men by showing her need to impress Pinkie and win his approval.

→ – Green shows his dislike and representation through how he points Rose as a

– “stupid little girl”



Description → –  Awkward    – Naïve      – Rambles  


Friendly but timid until someone shows her what she thinks is kindness

–         “ one of those girls who creep about… as if they were afraid of their own footsteps”




–         “ I always look at you close the girl said, ‘the customer I mean’. You see I’m new, I get a bit scared. I don’t want to do anything to offend. ‘Oh she said aghast, ‘like standing her talking to you when you want a cup of tea”

–         “This was only the breathing spell”


–         “ ‘Oh yes’ she said, I’d know him. I’ve got a memory for faces”

    This seals Rose’s future.





She was superstitious

–         “ She didn’t believe in heaven and hell, only in ghosts, Ouija boards, tables which rapped and little inept voices speaking plaintively of flowers”

–         “ She wasn’t religious”



She is very observant,

She believes in

– “ an eye for an eye “ “a tooth for a tooth “



She like singing

–         “ Rich Guinness voice “



She was a kind person

–         “ But you have a kind heart Ida “



She was worried

–         “ There’s only been one Tom “



She was determined to find out what happened to Hale

–         “ I am going to make those people sorry they were even born “



“ Ida’s mind worries with the similarity and the regularity of a sky sign “





Very proud

–         “ A hideous pride”

–         “ A shabby smart suit “


Lives in Brighton

–         “ He watched Hale all the time closely and with wonder you might expect a hunter to look like that before the kill “


Doesn’t have any bad habits

–         “ The only sign of nervousness her showed was a slight tick in his cheeks”

–         “ I don’t drink Fred “

–         “ I don’t smoke “

–         “ I don’t eat chocolates “



Leader of a race track gang

–         “ He had a fair, smooth sking, the faintest down and his grey eyes had an effect of heartlessness like and old mans in which… human feeling had died “

–         “ The Boy “

–         “ A boy of about 17 “

–         “ Take the doll, it’s no good to me”















Part 1 Chapter 2



–         “ one of those girls who creep about “

–         “ a pole thing girl younger than himself “


It is her comment

–         “ I’ve got a memory for faces “ that seals her fate.


Afterwards : “ The Boy’s cheek twitched “



Link between Rose & Pinkie


–         “ Something in common… youth and shabbiness and a kind of ignorance”

–         “He despised her quiet, her pallor, her desire to please “

–         “watching her with dangerous and unfeeling eyes”




Pinkie searched the holiday crowd for Hale, he wins a doll. Spicer leaves one of Hale’s cards in a tea shop and the gang think the waitress will realise it wasn’t Hale who left it and thus out then as the murderers. Pinkie decides to go and reveal the evidence.



Pinkie leaves with the comment

–         “ You an me have things in common “






Everything about Pinkie appears too big for him…

–         “ a little too big at the hips “

–         “ too young faces “


Also introduces the presence of evil in him…

–         “ annihilating eternity from which he had come and to which he went “

His thoughts alternate between violent thoughts and phrases from the Roman Catholic Church.

–         “Hail Mary “

–         “ give me that pistol “



Pinkie wins the doll and his violent nature and lack of respect for women is introduced

–         “ glassy innocence like virgins “

–         “ his fingers pulled absent mindedly at the dolls hair detaching the broken wool “



Pinkie refers to all other women as Polonies or Buers.



His eyes and straight face are referred to repeatedly

–         “ If he was scared his young ancient pokerface told nothing “


                                             His ‘tell’ is his cheek

                                                             -“ His cheek twitched again “


Even the older men are

–         “ like children before his ageless eyes “



–         “ He smiled at her stiffly he couldn’t use those muscles with any natural


Part 1 Chapter 3



Ida has returned toLondon, she meets and old boyfriend who points her to a newspaper story detailing Hales death. The story states that he died of natural causes but Ida senses this is incorrect. She attends his funeral and vows to seek justice.




Clarence, the man in the bar had been a married man during their relationship and now that his wife is dead he wished to rekindle their relations


Ida states,

 “ I like to start something fresh “

Her promiscuity is implied when she states

    – “Theres been more than one Tom in life “ ( referring to her former partner )


Her manner is described as

 – “ Guinness kindness “

And of her gambling she says

–  “ You never known whether you’ll be up or down. I like it “



–         “ She was of the people “

–         “ She had instincts “

–         “ friendly and popular heart “

–         “ A man always has a different name for strangers, you can’t tell me much about men I don’t know “

–         “ she likes men who did their jobs, there was a kind of vitality about it “



She believes in spirits, using an Ouija board to contact Hale.

NOT a catholic idea.

–         “ She didn’t believe in heaven or hell, only in ghosts and Ouija boards “


HOWEVER when talking about justice for Hale she states,

– “ an eye for an eye”

 before explaining

– “ vengeance and reward – they both were fun “




–         “ Life was sunlight on brass bed posts, Ruby port, the leap of the heart… poor Fred’s mouth pressed down on hers in the taxi “



Everything is luxury

She believes in “ Right thing “

“ She drew in her breath luxuriously and stretched her monumental legs”





–         “ Supporting gentlemen, free handed gentlemen, real gentlemen “

–         “ Too quiet. Not what she called a man “



Hales funeral


The address given by the Clergymen is closely based on the address given at Greene’s mother-in-laws funeral. Green was upset at the method of ‘disposal’ of the ‘last remains’. In the novel Hale’s body

– “Dropped in unindistinguisable grey ash on the pink blossoms; he becam part of the smoke nuisance overLondon”


Only in the last 50 years has cremation become acceptable to the Roman Catholic church,

– “ A bare, cold secular chapel which could be adapted quietly and conveniently to any creed “


Greene would have objected to the unspecific sense of religion

–         “ There aren’t any good funerals these days. Not with plumes”




Points to consider

–         What do the narrators descriptions of Ida’s manner towards men imply?

–         What attitude is suggested towards cremation?


 Part 2 Chapter 1



Pinkie is thinking about the murder of Hale and that sometimes other murders have to be committed to tidy up. He organises a day with Rose when he discovers she remembers Spicer’s face, he tries to ginger her.





Leaves a name Rose in with the phrase

– “ I like you “

Spicer asks Pinkie whether or not he has a gun, he replies he doesn’t

– “need a razor with a polony “


Instead he had vitriol (acid). The narrator comments that Pinkie derived a “ sexual pleasure “ from carrying it.


Pinkie is a multidimensional character. He is misogynistic and emotionless character ; yet there are references to a Pinkie who had ‘feelings’ who enjoyed music, who had religious beliefs.

– “The boy stared at the spotlight, music, love, nightingale, postmen, the words stirred in his brain like poetry “



The evil in Pinkie is described as a force he cannot resist

– “ You can’t always help it. It sort of comes that way “


He experiences a curious mixture of emotions when doing this :

– “anger like coal in his belly “

Whilst asking himself :

– “ What would be the fun if people didn’t squeal? “




He catches sight of Rose’s Rosary beads and realises she, like him is a Roman Catholic. Pinkie personifies the pathos of fallen man, evil resides but the original personality is lost.



Appears to have an obsession with inflicting pain. He digs his nails into Rose with

“sexual pleasure”

Rose is delighted but what she sees as his passion and tells him he can carry on if he

– “liked that”




Greene implies that his loss of faith is a symptom of the evil within him, the force is out of his control

 – “of course there’s hell. Flames and damination”

Rose replies “Heaven too.”





                Second time his eyes have been described as grey


She is juxtaposed with Pinkie                                             ↑      

“the eyes which had never been young stared with grey contempt into the eyes which had only just begun to learn a thing or two”



Tells Pinkie she knows who left the card is described as having

–         “horror and admiration”

     for Pinkie’s knowledge about gangs.


Knowledge in the novel is the understanding or acceptance of                  evil. As in the bible.


She feels protected by Pinkie

– “you tell me”

She is described as avoiding living in the present

– “when she wasn’t living in the future she was living in the past… running away from things, running towards things.”


Part 2 Chapter 2





Chapter opens with Pinkie writing and extortion letter.

Sleep for Pinkie was

– “functional, he had no dreams”

Idea that he is subhuman and exists rather than lives.



Pinkie is at the Cosmopolitan Hotel at Colleoni’s request. He wants Pinkie to hand over his gang. He refuses and as he leaves the Police take him into custody – police also try to get him to give up.


Juxtaposition AGAIN present in his description.


– “smooth, never shaven cheek… old eyes”

Pinkie’s evil is personified by his growth as a man.



Police Station


– “I don’t mind you carving each other up in a quiet way… but when two mobs start scrapping, people who matter might get hurt”




Resides at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Cosmopolitan means one who knows the world. Remembering that knowledge is evil.


Refers to Pinkie as

 “my child”

Trying to patronise him. He does mention however “I like push, the world needs young people with energy” showing he has some respect for him.



Doesn’t get involved in the dirty side of his business. Pinkie notes that he

– “won’t want to hear the details”


Money has bought him a place in the world and no one cares about how he got rich

– “I like things good”

– “stamps with crowns in gold and silver thread”


– “a little bitch sniffed at him and then talking him over with another little bitch on a setee”



Cosmopolitan Hotel


Women in the hotel are described as

– “small tinted creatures who rang like glass when they were touched out who conveyed and impression of being as sharp as tin.”


Part 3



Ida returns toBrighton– she tried to make money by placing a bet on the horse Hale recommended. Spicer becomes paranoid about being ‘found out’. Pinkie begins to threaten Rose and tells Spicer to leave.





Panics about the murder of Hale and wants to be sure

– “the boys were doing nothing”


Thinks that everything will be fine as the races start.

The narrator comments he was

– “like a poisoned body who believes that all will be well when a single tooth is drawn.


– “you’re too old for this life, you’ll have to disappear”


– “the smell of dead fish was in his nostrils, he was a sick man… it was like an abscess”


– “pale with blood shot eyes, fear upset his bowels and wee spots came… he sweated”



He answers phone when Rose calls and panics.





At one point she perceives his dislike for her and in a rare fresh of anger.


                   She accepts this “with a blind willingness to deceive”

She tells him she doesn’t “suit him”

That he should leave her alone. He realises the danger of Rose being along he tell her ‘they are suited’

Questioned by Ida, lets slip that the man who left the card “wasn’t so little” which sparks Ida’s interest. At the time she is “pale and determined and out of breath”


Tells Pinkie that the man on the phone to her. Pinkie realises  – “he’s  got to be scared again”


Rose things its ‘lovely’ to be out in the countryside with Pinkie even though he has evil intentions.




– “poison twisted in the boy’s veins”


Tells Rose

– “you look awful”

– “you don’t need a thing”

His first thought is to intimidate Rose

– “I could break your arm”

He “watched her with his soured virginity”


The narrator comments that he would rather die or kill someone than marry Rose

– “distaste”


– “That was what they had joked about, him marrying That”

He reflects upon “frighteningly weekly exercise”


Part 4


Ida, Spicer and Pinkie join the crowds at the races. Pinkie thinks of marrying Rose as a last resort. Both Pinkie and Spicer are attacked. Ida commits to finding out the truth from Rose. Pinkie talks to Prewitt about the accidental death of Spicer.





While walking with Spicer he reflects on

– “the finest of all sensations, the inflictions of pain.”

He tells Spicer to “have a good time while he can”

Wanted by Colleoni’s gang he notes

 “this was a temporary defect”



He has no hesitations in arranging Hale’s murder of the murder of Kite. He is not a Christian by any definition but believes that a confession will repent for all of his sins. Religion is a means by which to avoid paying for the evil he has committed.


Tells Prewitt he wishes to marry Rose. He is described as

– tough as leather”

– “unsympathetic”



He goes to Rose and tells himself that he would “crack the vitriol” if she sent him away. However she was “as dumb and devoted as ever”

Rose tells him Ida has been asking questions. She tells him she would never divulge anything.

                       – “I don’t care what you’ve done”


Pinkie & Rose


– “Rose completed him: what was most evil in him needed her, it couldn’t get along without her”


“good and evil lived in the same country, spoke the same language, felling the same completion”

Pinkie believes that religion can be used to his advantage. He thinks that a confession will rid him of his sins. Rose points out that is he dies suddenly they won’t have time to do this.

Pinkie tells Prewitt “it won’t be a real marriage”




Warns Pinkie that Ida has been asking questions but “I don’t care what you’ve done”

She also expresses contempt for Ida

– “what does she know about us? She doesn’t know what a mortal sin is”


She thinks that her religion elevates her. She makes no distinction between sin and human.



Part 5


Hale’s death is recorded as natural by the coroner. Pinkie should be relieved but is paranoid. After failing to have sex with Spicer’s girl, Dallow and Cubitt make fun of him – he tells them he will not marry Rose. Spicer’s death is in the paper. He realises he must marry her.





Turmoil of turbulent and unpleasant emotions: hatred, envy, disgust, dear, contempt. He seems incapable of exposing joy. Pride forces him to pretend he’s marrying Rose because she’s

– “lovely and intelligent”

While at the same time he felt

– “the secret fear and humiliation”

At the thought of sex.

– “She is not one of your dyed potsies, she’s got class. I’m marrying her for your sake but I’m laying her for my own”



– “It’s not my fault, they get me so angry I want to do things”

The narrator comments that Rose’s praise of his ability to handle her parents was poison to him as it marked her possession of him.



It seems as though the evil in Pinkie. Pinkie is picking up a momentum of his own

– “it was if he were being driven too far down a road he only wanted to travel a certain distance”


He tries to play the game with Spicer’s girl but is unable to

– “this is what people called pleasure”

– “he was aware of nausea and vomiting”

His revulsion towards sex is part of his isolation from humanity.


– “His mind he knew to contemplate any treachery… but she was boarded by her goodness, there were good things she couldn’t imagine”

The implications of their quote is that evil begins in the mind in the contemplation of evil acts.





Pinkie revulsion at sex begins to pereate the narrative, Ida’s eating is described as

– “cream spurting between her two front teeth”

– “a wedge of cream settles on her plump tongue”



The idea of imagination is brought up again

 – “no real sense of danger could… make her believe that one day, she too, like Fred would be with the worms”


Ida’s imagination quite literally doesn’t allow her to be morbid

– “it’s only fun after all”




Ida’s is VERY honest about her sexual desires and the pleasure she gains from sex. This sense of sexual freedom would have been highly unusual for a women in the 1930’s – her extreme sexual confidence emulates or at least severely embarrasses men ; she is predatory and sexually demanding. Brighton has long been associated with the term ‘dirty weekend’ was once synmore with Brighton. It’s what she wants for corkery she “sucked a chocolate between her teeth” Her mouth is often a symbol of self gratification.

“God didn’t mind a bit of human nature”





Describes his progression into time with her

– “had put away childish things”

– “Pinkie was filled with awe of his own powers”


The narrator continuously alludes to Pinkie’s pride which is said to be one of the greatest sin of all. Thinking about his sinful marriage “he was filled with a kind of gloomy hilarity and pride”


After the marriage Pinkie takes Rose to the Cosmopolitan Hotel

– “It’s the right place… you needn’t think there’s going to be a honeymoon”


The only feeling he has for Rose is an intermitting

“sensuality: the corpling of good and evil”

He is stimulated by the thought that he has ruined something good.


He brutally has sex with her and reflects

– “he had graduated in the last human shame”

– “it was if, now he was damned already there was nothing to fear ever again”

– “only death would set him free”



Cubitt has parted company with Pinkie and reflects upon his value. He goes to the Cosmopolitan Hotel to ask Colleoni for a job – he is rebuffed by Crab.





Like Pinkie he is proud “he stared like Narassus into his pool”.

He believes himself to be involved in “High politics… he felt as important as prime minister making treaties”





The narrator draws attention to class mobility: member of Colleoni’s gang rub shoulders with ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ Crab is convinced he has advance socially by joining a more successful gang.





She is late for the wedding because she goes to Church to confess, she realised however this is pointless as she intends on committing the sin anyways. Pinkie tells her:

– “with bitter and unhappy relish… it’ll be no good going to confession ever again”


She is taunted by Pinkie with line from the ‘Kite of Marriage’ and she knows

– “that the evening meant nothing at all, there hadn’t been a wedding”


She insists that Pinkie makes her a recording of his feeling for her – he records that he hates her and calls her a bitch.

She leaves happy.

 Part 7


Rose realises she has joined Pinkie in exile from God’s grace. Ida visits her and she lies about this to Pinkie who then thinks the he can’t trust her. Green shows how evil leads to physical illness in many of his characters. Dallow works out what Pinkie plans to do –

He, Ida and a policeman head out to find Pinkie and Rose. They arrive just as Rose throws away the gun. Pinkie goes to through Vitriol in Dallow’s face but the policeman steps in. Pinkie then runs and jumps to his death.








About missross

Teacher at The Berwickshire High Schoool.

6 responses »

  1. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

  2. You have helped marvellously with my comparative coursework – you my friend are a saint!

    • You are more than welcome! Do you mind if I ask where you’re from/where you found the BLOG? I’m interested to see where it is reaching. I’m in a school in Scotland.

  3. sangeeth jose

    great effort dear unknown……. you are a spirited greene………. very useful for the critical thinking on this novel

  4. Great scot


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