College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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Greene, incarnation, catholic, christianity, modern


The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is central to the “Catholic novels” of modern British author Graham Greene, as can be seen through a close reading of how he ties the physical nature of experience to a spiritual understanding of God. Indeed, Greene writes of a God who not only exists, but acts as a living being within the plot to shape events, their participants, and the nature of the world in which He acts. In the author’s view as communicated through Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair, Christ embodied as God in human form elevates the significance and potential holiness of normal human bodily experience, creating the potential for God to work His mercy and love within the corrupted earthly world. While religious themes are certainly not the only narrative aspects to be discussed in the works of Graham Greene, this analysis seeks to show the importance of evaluating Christian ideas for a deeper understanding particularly of his “Catholic novels.” As will be demonstrated, Greene relies heavily on the Christian idea of the Incarnation to frame the paradoxes of existence faced by the modern writer.