Richard Hughes: A High Wind Term Paper

Pages: 15 (5266 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Messinger, drowns. Just about the time Tony is about to die in Brazil, he is rescued by a strange and very eccentric recluse named "Mr. Todd"; this recluse, who has apparently lived in the jungle (away from society) for 60 years, loves to have the works of Charles Dickens read to him, and this becomes Tony's life.

There are indications that this story was Waugh's way of condemning British society, that the trusting Tony reflects the "old" British society, who takes his wife's word that she is up to only honorable things, and the affair Brenda has with Beaver is the "new" British society, a lying, cheating society capable of infidelity and cruelty. This "new" British society was also capable of cold-hearted behavior, such as Brenda showed when she dealing with her son's death; on page 167, Brenda said "I suppose there'll have to be a funeral," which is first of all, an odd thing to say, living in England at this time in history -- "Well, of course," Tony replies -- and second of all, an indication that getting back to her hot young lover meant more to Brenda than saying goodbye to her dead son, properly and with dignity.

Even Brenda's "dear john" letter to Tony (172), which he finds after she has left for London instead of attending the funeral, is ice cold: "I am in love with John Beaver and I want to have a divorce and marry him," Brenda writes. "Please do not mind too much ... [and] I hope afterwards we shall be great friends."

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Tony Best, meantime, is the most believable, likeable, and interesting character in this novel. Readers might find though, that his pathetic and bumbling behavior with regards to his wife's affair with a young man -- and indeed, his failed marriage -- casts some shadows on his character. The narrator (page 135) offers a glimpse of Tony's struggle with reality, and paint a picture of a man befuddled, confused, and unable to get a grip on why these unpleasant things have happened to him.

Term Paper on Richard Hughes: A High Wind Assignment

"He could not prevent himself, when alone, from rehearsing over and over in his mind all that had happened since Beaver's visit to Hetton," Waugh writes. "Searching for clues he had missed at the time; wondering where something he had said or done might have changed the course of events; going back further to his earliest acquaintance with Brenda to find indications that should have made him more ready to understand the change that had come over her, reliving scene after scene in the last eight years of his life."

This is a fruitless struggle that Tony has embarked upon; and his bitter, bleak struggle to get away from all the pain of his failed marriage and his son's demise, are presented through Waugh's descriptive narrative on board the ship that is taking Tony to Brazil (222). He looked out over the Atlantic Ocean and saw " ... ponderous waves rising over murky, opaque depths. Dappled with foam at the crests, like downland where on the high, exposed places, snow has survived the thaw." Indeed Tony's life had become "murky" and "opaque"; the sky overhead was "lead-gray and slate," "olive, field-blue and khaki like the uniforms of a battlefield." His life had become a battlefield, and he had lost the war. On page 277, Tony, who has fallen ill in Brazil, is "weak and dizzy," and his fever created "a constant company of phantoms" which "perplexed his senses." Certainly Tony's life had been joined by a "company of phantoms" long before he went to Brazil, and prior to him becoming sick; but he didn't know about those "phantoms" (his wife's infidelity and her lover) then, and didn't need to know about them now, but his reality was greater than his will to escape his past, or to make him well for the future.

Graham Greene -- Brighton Rock

It's always interesting and informative to learn what an author says about a book -- in particular a famous author and highly respected work -- he or she has written; the why, the how, the view looking back at the book in hindsight. And Graham Greene, in talking about Brighton Rock, says it began "as a detective story, and continued, I am sometimes tempted to think, as an error of judgment ... " (Greenland: The World of Graham Greene, 2003).

The first fifty pages of Brighton Rock "are all that remain of the detective story," Greene is quoted as saying; "they would irritate me, if I dared to look at them now, for I know I ought to have had the strength of mind to remove them, and to start the story again -- however difficult the revisions might have proved ... "

For readers of this book it is a good thing Greene did not opt to re-write the first fifty pages; the novel reads well, especially the first portion, and it allows Green to paint his standard literary landscape of moral confusion, violence, pain, human flaws, Catholics questioning their religion (" ... A Catholic is more capable of evil than anyone ... " [332]; and it gives him the license to present a sense of near-perpetual grayness leading to character darkness.

His "bad guys" in Brighton Rock are savage beasts, and they are bent on violence and revenge, albeit Greene admits the gangs pictured so graphically "were to all intents quashed forever as a serious menace ... " prior to the date of his novel.

And as to the dark characters in the book, and how he learned enough about them to be able to write so clearly and descriptively, he says: "There were no living models ... " And, more remarkably, Greene admits to having spent only "one night in the company of someone who could have belonged to Pinkie's gang ... " How, in one night, Greene was able to pick up the slang and tone of gangs in that era, is remarkable; he says, though, " ... one cannot learn a language in one night however long" that night may be.

Meantime, this novel is considered by some critics to be Greene's finest book, though there is clearly disagreement as to precisely what kind of a novel this is. The many elements presented so aptly by Greene make it difficult to pin down: it is, most certainly, at the outset, a thriller, detective-realistic kind of story, about criminal life in Brighton, England. It is also a kind of revenge tragedy, an in-depth examination of what a British sea-side resort is like in the 1930s, and a look into the world of Catholicism.

The very first sentence of the novel grabs the reader's attention: "Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him." And indeed, Hale did know something, because he is killed by Pinkie Brown, and his evil little squadron of gangster loser-cohorts, Cubitt, Dallow, and Spicer.

Whether in hindsight Greene liked or disliked that opening few pages, readers are treated to some very fine writing and character development (16-17): Hale is in a taxi with a woman he'd just met, Ida, whose "great breasts" pushed at her dress, and when her "skirt pulled up to her knees" it exposed "her fine legs." She "reached Hale's withered and frightened and bitter little brain" with her "magnificent breasts and legs" and (19) "fastened his mouth on hers" after being nudged sensually by the sight of her "great and open breasts."

It's as if Greene is allowing his character Hale to sniff from a few of life's sweeter moments before he dies, because earlier in the book, Hale had already felt threatened by Pinkie (6) when " ... Hale realized that they meant to murder him" (for no apparent reason other than some silly macho body language drenched in liquor in a dark pub. And then, again on 19, while kissing Ida, he was watching Pinkie's car -- "with its split and flapping hood, its bent fender and cracked and discoloured windscreen" -- follow the taxi.

"I'm going to die. I'm scared" (20) he told her. And she knows that he is nervous, and he "put his mouth on hers again" since while kissing her "he could watch in the mirror the old Morris vibrating after them down the parade." And so, Greene has created a frightened character who is allowed to be kissing a sexy woman while witnessing the onrushing approach of a car that will soon prove to be his demise. And when Ida leaves Hale for a few minutes, and returns, he is gone. Later, though readers don't know how Hale died, he is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Richard Hughes: A High Wind.  (2005, January 19).  Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

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"Richard Hughes: A High Wind."  19 January 2005.  Web.  8 July 2020. <>.

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"Richard Hughes: A High Wind."  January 19, 2005.  Accessed July 8, 2020.