Eros, Dios, and the End of the Affair
"Love doesn't end. Just because we don't see each other "
" people go on loving God all their lives, don't they, without seeing Him?" "That's not our kind of love."
"I sometimes don't believe there's any other kind." (Greene 5)
Graham Greene uses his novel The End of the Affair to show that erotic love is truly the strongest human expression of the innate desire for God. Greene uses the fictionalized tale of his own real life affair with the beautiful Catherine Walston to examine the relationship of hate to love, of physical to spiritual, of holy to tainted, and of erotic love to divine love. A moderately popular novelist, Greene's central protagonist, Bendrix, tells the woeful tale of his ultimately doomed love affair with Sarah Miles, the beautiful wife of civil servant Henry Miles. In a series of flash backs, Greene reveals the unlikely birth, anemic but passionate life, and abrupt death of this fling. It's final demise arrives when Sarah finds her lover trapped beneath a door after a bomb lands nearby, and thinking Bendrix dead, she makes a pact with God that if God will spare Bendrix's life, she would walk away from him forever. Remarkably Bendrix is unharmed and their affair is abruptly over. Bendrix then embarks on a journey of investigation, searching his lover out, even hiring a private detective to discover Sarah's secrets, to discover who it was that lured her away from him. Bendrix is certain that Sarah has a new lover, and that she is still playing around on her husband Henry. The thought of her in another's arms drives Bendrix mad. In his pursuit, Bendrix unearths the trail of a wild lover wooing Sarah, but it is no man. It is none other than the being whom Bendrix has spent his life hating and fearing and loving and denying the existence of: God. Graham Greene's books have always been a reflection of his life. Greene himself stated with perfect irony, "novelists are trying to write the truth and journalists are trying to write fiction" (Escape 95). The truth in Greene's life that drove him to write The End of the Affair was his passionate affair with Catherine Walston, the wife of one of the wealthiest men in England, Henry Walston (Books). It is this love affair, or its termination, which evoked Catherine's love affair with God, which Greene saw as very similar to her affair with him, and in which Greene saw the truths expressed in his novel The End of the Affair. It was from the Catholic Church that Greene first began to seek the truths that later appeared so prominently in his works. Greene had actually been a Roman Catholic since 1926. He explained his desire to convert by saying "I had to find a religion to measure my evil against'" (Books). However, in spite of his conversion, Greene despised the title "Catholic writer", one bestowed upon him by numerous literary critics (American Society). Greene did not see himself as one who wrote about religion, but rather as one who wrote about life, of which religion and spirituality were a large part. In the following year, Greene also Married Vivien Dayrell-Browning (Wikipedia). He was an awful father and Husband however, and the marriage eventually dissolved, leading into Greene's long stretch of affairs with high class, prestigious women, and promiscuous relations with numerous prostitutes. Though still a confessing Catholic, Greene by no means agreed with the Catholic Church on many of it's doctrines and dogmas. He lived quite as he wished with little or no regard for moral boundaries. However this did not stop him from pondering humanity, spirituality, and ultimately God and His role in the...