A Misleading Label
A first look at the title of Graham Greene’s story “The Innocent”, may give people a sense of purity and a feeling of bliss. Even those who have read the story can see the association between innocence and childhood, which is exactly what the author intended. Any reader can plainly look at the surface of what is happening in this story and see the narrator as an average man who is revisiting the town he grew up in, while having flashbacks of childhood memories. However, a closer look into the mind of the narrator brings out a whole other side of this so-called ‘innocence’.
Many relevant factors have lead me to my decision that the narrator in this short story is not an average man taking a look at his past life, but in fact a severely depressed civilian who is searching for an unfulfilled void in his life. I am even certain that the main character that is narrating this story is a subconscious aspect of Graham Greene’s own life, in which he has portrayed as a man taking his “girlfriend” out into the country.
The story starts off right away with an uncertain decision that the man has suddenly realized: “It was a mistake to take Lola there, I knew it the moment we alighted from the train at the small country station.” This shows a lack of self-confidence in the character’s judgment, which continues throughout the story as he repeatedly “wishes she wasn’t there.” The character of Lola comes off as the narrator’s girlfriend, whom he has Newgren 2
brought with him to the city where he was born. Then, secreted sentences give the impression that Lola might not be a girlfriend but more of a prostitute. Clues like, “It was costing me a lot, a fiver for Lola and then all the bills and fares and drinks”(para. 7) or “Now when I am unhappy about a girl, I can simply go and buy another one”(para. 13) indicate that the character believes that happiness can be bought, and Lola is his current attempt at feeling loved.
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