Pinkie, The Boy, is a central character whose blighted childhood and repressed sexuality combine to create a force of evil, both fascinating and repelling. At the outset, it seems as if Pinkie is yet another version of Raven, the killer in A Gun for Sale (1936), the man who had killed Pinkie’s mentor Kite, but other elements intrude. Pinkie is no mere juvenile delinquent, as Greene makes clear after the opening thriller aspects of the murder of Hale.
Set in contrast to Ida Arnold, Pinkie’s “Catholic” morality, his sense of good and evil versus her awareness of societal right and wrong, makes him into a holy sinner, an outsider who can find no peace in the type of “game” others play, no solace in sensuality, no release in ordinary vices such as drinking or smoking. The quintessential isolate, Pinkie functions under the blessing and curse of a twisted sense of being caught between the “stirrup and the ground.” Readers may see Pinkie as pitiful in his psychological and sexual immaturity, and all the physical descriptions of him show him as the frail, out-of-place villain. His despicable cruelty, his callous disregard of Rose’s redeeming love, and his rejection of even the gang members’ loyalty mark him as the outsider, the stranger to himself and others. Yet Greene depicts him as a magnificent sinner because of his awareness of that hidden God, that religious other world that makes Ida’s casual morality seem a charade. Rose and...
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