Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Although Concluding is an antiutopian novel, it is not a political novel in the manner of those more famous works of Green’s contemporaries, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. Concluding is certainly about the same themes of loneliness and isolation contained in Brave New World (1932) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), but it focuses less on the broad social implications of central government control of people’s lives, as those novels do, and more on a kind of Kafkaesque absurdity inherent in such control. Although there is much melodrama in Concluding, one senses that it is the same kind of grotesque and absurd melodrama that one finds in Kafka. The basic questions the reader faces, such as, Will Rock lose his cottage? and What really happened to the missing Mary? sound much like the questions that face the fans of soap opera, yet it is perhaps just this meaningless indeterminacy that Green wishes the reader to feel.

The most general theme of the work focuses on the basic tension between change and status quo. Rock, as his name suggests, refuses to yield, despite all of Edge’s efforts to dislodge him. Edge, and her spinster companion, Hermione Baker, represent the sterility of the institution and the bureaucracy that perpetuates it. As is typical of much of Green’s work, however, even though the novel has a surface social or political theme, its very style suggests a more universal theme about the nature...

(The entire section is 458 words.)