International Islamic University IslamabadPOST WAR LITERATUREAssignment No: 1Submitted To: Ms. AsmaMansoorSubmitted by: HummeraMasoodHasnaShabbirDate of Submission: 3-31-2013
Despite its structural simplicity, The Tenth Man is a combination of profound themes andphilosophies pertaining to the choices an individual makes in life. Discuss.“I suppose people of our generation aren‟t able todie for good causes any longer. We had all that donefor us, in the thirties and forties, when we were stillkids. There aren‟t any good, brave causes left. If thebig bang does come, and we all get killed off, it won‟tbe in aid of the old-fashioned grand design. It‟ll just befor the Brave New-nothing-very-much-thank-you.About as pointless and inglorious as stepping in frontof a bus”.(John Osborne, Look Back in Anger. London:Faber and Faber, 1957, pp. 84–5)Graham Greene‟sThe Tenth Man is the product of both Post War and Post Modern literature. Inits true sense it portrays the characteristics that were prevalent in societies after the demise ofWorld Wars.Written in a colloquial language with simple structure, without breaking unitiesGreene has given the detailed overview of the horrors of war, its aftermaths and its effects onindividual human lives. Moreover inner working of thoughts of every character is broughtforward through the use of omniscient narrator. Greene‟s fiction is occupied with the notion thathuman circumstances changes according to the life dynamism or to their fate. A blink ofoptimism is present in his work. While he explores the human decay he also preserves a certainhope and faith in man‟s possibilities to revive.His characters are ordinary people who confronthardships of everyday life.Greene‟s main concern in his fictional works was to recover the lost importance of human actand human person. In order to reestablish the reality as well as the fictional beings and theirbehavior it was important to restore the link with religious consciousness which early 20thcentury fiction does not have. Life itself has become a rare commodity when it comes tosituation where people face a constant experience of death, violence and suicide. It is one of themain features of Post War era that people became disillusioned due to mass destruction. Theylost their faith in all metanarratives and religion being one of them was also seen with a skepticaleye. Greene through his characters also show the same degree of confusion but his novel doesnot end on a cynical note. “A crowning justice saw to it that he was no troubled. Even a lawyer‟smeticulous conscience was allowed to rest in peace” (Greene 154). Here Greene has released themercy of God from strict conventional religion and rendered it attainable for even a worst sinner,
so that a lawyer like Chavel can also enjoy the same degree of salvation. With the death ofChavel the process of salvation was completed, his soul transcend beyond his personal self “hefelt simply a certain pity, gentleness, and the tenderness one can feel for a stranger‟s misfortune”( Greene 156). Burden of taking one‟s life has gone to ashes at the moment of sacrifice and hissoul attains peace and contentment when he dies. Death remains the ultimate reality whichdefines life “ Death was like an operation performed urgently without the proper attendants __ orlike a child birth. One expect at any moment to hear the wail of the newborn, but what one heardat last was simple silent” (Greene 148). Here crying stands for life and death stands for simplesilence and stoppage. Death brings humility and feeling of oneness in mind. A sense offulfillment has been created through the concept of redemption. The process of purgation hasbeen completed through suffering. Greene‟s novel is a symbolic journey of man from ignoranceto enlightenment. Following the existentialist idea of existence precedes essence Greene hasplaced the main character Chavel in a situation where his actions constructs his afterlife.The concept of time holds an important place in his novel. Greene has defined sense of being interms of material manifestation of time. Time is a symbol of authority, discipline and order andmeans of controlling reality. A power contest has been created between the two characters, theMayor of Bourge and an engine driver called Pierre who possessed the authority of time. “Timethey consider belong to them and not to the twenty-eight other man”( Greene 40). Time alsogives a sense of direction and orientation to the characters. Greene has focused on the plurality ofreality. For him reality is situational there is no absolute truth and meanings are localized ingeneral settings. Greene has personalized time which used to be a universal absolute truth anddeconstructs the idea of transcendental signified. “ This is my time”, the mayor said sharply. Itwas indeed his time: from now on he could recognize even the faintest possibility of error__ histime could not be wrong because he created it” (Greene 43-44).InThe Tenth Man time is controlling reality. Greene has taken Heideggeraccount of time, whichrejected the traditional definition of time as a moveable image of eternity. The phenomenon oftime can only be understood from final vantage point that is death. According to Heidegger timefinds its meaning in time, he assert that “Time itself is meaningless; time is temporal”(Heidegger, 1992: 21E) .Time is a complete integration of past, present and future. “Asphilosophers say that past, present and future exist simultaneously”( Greene 60). A human
subjective intuition is associated with time in which characters when lost their control over timefaces metaphorical death.Greene has developed a deep understanding of the psychological working of his characters andtheir lives. Heillustrates the unpredictable human nature by showing how the outer circumstancesshape the behavior and attitudes of the people. Portrayal of essential human nature is shownthrough the concept of class distinction, jealousy and contempt for upper class which stillprevails in the confines of prison. “Most of the other prisoners regarded him as an oddity; even ajoke __a lawyer was not somebody with whom one lived” (Greene 41). On the other handattitude of Chavel who belonged to upper class towards other prisoners was that he called them„natural prisoners‟ while he “himself was a prisoner by mistake” (Greene 44). His gentility wasall that he had which he was afraid of losing.“ But the lawyer was afraid of losing anythingwhich stamped him as a gentleman, a man of position and property” (Greene 45). Later onparadox in the phrase gentleman is brought forward through the cowardice of Chavel. “They didnot judge him by their own standards: he belonged to an unaccountable class and they did not atfirst even attach the idea of cowardice to his actions” (Greene 53). Here Greene has highlightedmoral ethical depravity of elite class by Chavel‟s hysterical outburst.Another important factor that Greene has discussed in his work is the deceitful nature of manespecially those people who own authority and manipulate the circumstances in their own favorby playing on the trust of common people. As Chavel trades the life of Janvier because he was a“man of property”, here Greene has highlighted the shameful undignified attitude of Chavel.Loss of identity which is a central dilemma of modern man in postwar society is anotherimportant theme in Greene‟s work. In the post war society identity was associated withdocuments; trust in man was transferred to trust in paper. “In France at this moment such adocument was of more value than legal paper” (Greene 69). Chavel lost his identity when hebarters his property from Janvier, this was the moment of realization for him, that he is now leftwith nothing. Initially the qualities given to Chavel were related to his self-consciousnessregarding his roots and class. His arrogance, his pride and his cowardice in letting somebody diein his place. His identity took a shift when he drops himself at the level of a common man withno place to live and no livelihood to earn. “He was one of them now, a man without money orposition” (Greene 67).
Greene has also stress on the important aspect of loneliness and lack of communication. Chavel‟strue representation of the horrors of war and lack of communication reveals his inability to enterinto any kind of relationship with lower class. He tends out to be the central figure and others areat the periphery. Through his character Greene stresses on loneliness and lack of reliable goodfriend. “No city was more crowded than their cell, and week by week Chavel learned the lessonthat one can be unbearably lonely in the city” (Greene 45) .The condition of prison is even worsethan anything else; it is occupied by more prisoners than its capacity. Chavel soon realizes thathow a person can be lonely even in the presence of so many people around him. Henceloneliness becomes an internal state in which each character is lonely in his own sphere.“ Charlot had never felt their loneliness so complete. It was as if the death had already occurred,and they were face to face with the situation” (Greene 130).Chavel‟s connection with his home is another important aspect. He develops a sense of securitywith his home which later on turns out to be a sign of recovery for him in which he finds solaceand comfort. Chavel‟s return to his home restores the regenerative process for the search of lostidentity.The novel is melodramatic in nature in which all the essential elements of post war era arepresent.His novel explores the fragility and suffering of the human condition. It also has a strongCatholic leaning, which explains a man‟s journey from faithlessness to faith.
Work CitedDesmond, John F, “Religion and Literature”.JSTOR, Vol. 23. No. 2, 1991; pp. 115-122.Web.Lewis, R. W. B,“The Fiction of Graham Greene Between the Horror and theGlory”.JSTOR, Vol. 19, No.1, 1957; pp. 56-57. Web.