Describe the theme of death and the afterlife in two stories from "Twenty One Short Stories" by Graham Greene

Essay by unrealfighterCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2006

download word file, 2 pages 4.5 1 reviews

Downloaded 34 times

Graham Greene takes on the themes of death and the afterlife in quite a few of his stories, and develops them to show the many different ideas people have about these two controversial themes.

In 'Proof Positive', Major Weaver is pronouncing to the audience that he has cancer. He is proclaiming that 'the spirit was stronger than anyone realised' and that 'the spirit was everything'. Weaver seems to be extremely determined to prove this to his audience, who were not taking any notice of him. He then dies and everyone is sent away. Dr. Brown speaks 'with a distress unusual in a doctor accustomed to every kind of death'. This is because he whispers 'The man must have been dead a week.' Weaver's presence at the meeting, a week after he died, should be a substantial amount of evidence of the soul's immortality. Weaver must have planned this encounter because Colonel Crashaw 'had received a note from the speaker a little more than a week before.'

The Colonel, however, does not take this to be proof that the spirit outlives the body, but that without the body, the spirit decayed into nothingness, because 'all he certainly revealed was how, without the body's aid, the spirit in seven days decayed into whispered nonsense'. This story shows us two views to death and the afterlife: The first being that the spirit lives forever, while the second is that the spirit can not last without the body.

In 'The Second Death', we see a conversation taking place between two friends, one of whom is dying. The narrator, who is the healthy man, takes his friend's death as a joke, even though the doctor says 'There's nothing I can do'. The doctor also says that 'He's frightened about something'. We realise that...