Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

To direct his reader to a proper appreciation of the social and moral themes suggested by the narrative, Greene makes subtle use of imagery and symbolism that suggest reconciliation and renewal within a starved landscape. As the girl leaves her father’s house for her rendezvous with Fred, the narrator directs the reader’s attention to the “crazy paved path” that takes her past the half-finished development in which she lives with her family. She is aware of the “wounded” fields that remain “grimly alive in the form of thin grass and heaps of clay and dandelions,” and of the small garages that suggest graves in a cemetery. As she and Fred make their way deeper into the country, the notion of the journey into the self becomes apparent. The girl is suddenly made aware of the fact that a choice that she has not fully considered is being thrust on her, and she is forced to choose between the annihilation that Fred offers and the bleak life of London that she has hitherto considered lacking in value. Her choice, regardless of whether she is fully aware of the sights about her, is confirmed by the references to the continuing life of nature in the dark of night, to the bird that beats against the car that Fred has stolen for the drive into the country, to rabbits and owls, to oaks and elms, and to the clover that covers the earth where they stop the car. The symbols of house and apple tree, as well as the many references to a meager nature, offer the reader the best means of appreciating both the social and the moral meanings of the story.