The “Divine” Love Triangle
In The End of the Affair, Graham Greene presents to us a complex romantic triangle between Sarah Miles (the kind-hearted adulteress), her suspicious yet ever-loving husband Henry, and Maurice Bendrix, Sarah’s passionate lover. However, as the novel progresses, a new character is introduced into this love trio: God. One might even say that God is not just introduced, but actually replaces Henry in the intricate triangle. Not only does God touch Sarah in an intimate, spiritual way, He also touches Bendrix, the ultimate non-believer. God breaks apart Sarah and Bendrix’s powerful and passionate relationship, and also challenges and invites Sarah to believe in Him, and in love. Throughout The End of the Affair, He directly touches Sarah through her willingness to believe, while also indirectly affecting Bendrix, through Sarah.
God shows Sarah that there is a different way to love besides the physical love she has for Bendrix. As Sarah begins to believe in and love God, she develops a deeper understanding of love. In her diary, Sarah simply asks God, “Teach me to love,” (96). Sarah sees that God loves everyone unconditionally, and she wishes that she could love as God does. Sarah wants the kind of unselfish love God radiates. She wants to think of Henry, or Richard and his spots, instead of herself. When Sarah writes about the day of the air raid, she recalls her promise to God, “Let him be alive, and I will believe…I love him and I’ll do anything if you’ll make him alive…I’ll give him up for ever, only to let him be alive with a chance,” (76). Sarah wants to believe in God so badly that she risks her relationship with Bendrix. She also deeply loves Bendrix, yet is willing to throw their relationship away in a promise to a God whose existence she still questions. God takes Sarah and Bendrix’s relationship to a whole new level of love, a love that lives on without the physical attachments.
In the beginning of the novel, Bendrix...
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