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Reading Assignment Brighton Rock

Reading Assignment
Brighton Rock
Reading Questions
1. Given that this novel begins with a murder, how is it l
ike a murder mystery?
It presents a possibility of murder without giving all the detai
ls about the actual act and build up to the tension, making the
reader speculate what he has done to deserve this fate, and if t
here’s a high possibility that he will be killed or not. Is the
re anyone who is really out to get him? After his death, I wonde
red if Ida and Rose will die at Pinky’s hands or his friends, a
nd how that will be accomplished.
2. Why does Pinkie respond so intensely to music? What eve
nt in his past may have contributed to his responses to
music? What effect does his response to music have on y
our opinion of him?
Pinky was raised to be a Catholic with firm view of right and wr
ong. He associates the Latin verses that are sung during Mass wi
th his last verge of humanity. He inadvertently seeks to find th
e way in his life of clear Good and Evil: Lamb of God and Peace
afforded to all who believe in the faith, but which escapes him
and his evilness. He is also disgusted with secular music since
it still stirs within him some kind of response to get out of th
e path to destruction and evil, which he sees as being manly and
3. Why is Ida Arnold important as a character? How is she
described? Do you agree with the text when it describes
her as a maternal character?
Ida is the traditional sleuth in the novel. She asks “questions
” nobody has bothered to ask about Hale’s death and the circum
stances around it. She is relentless in her quest despite misgiv
ing she receives from many fronts: Rose, Phil, and the police th
emselves. It is only through her doggedness that Rose “escapes
” from Pinkie’s machinations, and also dooms Pinkie and Rose:
the people implicated from Hale’s murder.
Ida is first presented as the saviour of Hale and possibly Rose
from the evil grasp of Pinkie. She is described as exuberant and
full of life: She is womanly to those older, hard-seasoned men a
nd sometimes, motherly to those who are seeking reassurances in
life (i.e. Hale). However, she is described as a busibody: a “b
uer” who interferes with Pinkie’s peace and Rose’s attempt at
happiness when she appears to interrupt Rose’s delusion of futu
re with Pinkie. Ida is a firm believer in her own judgement of r
ight and wrong, and doesn’t back down from her quest even at Ph
il’s urging because it is the right thing to do and she is havi
ng fun in the process. As CLarence states, Ida is a “terrible”
woman who only sees the world in black and white who is willing
to overlook and dismiss anything beyond her comprehension of jus
tice to get her way.
I agree she is described as an earthy woman; however, she is not
motherly. Although Hale (who sees her as a motherly figure) begs
her not to leave him, she is unable to empathize with him at the
time to connect with his distress. She ignores Rose’s pleas to
leave her alone and Pinkie who she is protective of to carry out
justice and mission as she sees fit. If she was motherly, she wo
uld have seen through Rose’s desperation for what it is and how
motherly instinct is driving Rose in her attempt to save Pinkie.
She is more like the warring Valkyries and Furies, only caring a
bout meting out justice as she sees fit.
4. What is the difference between right and wrong, and goo
d and evil in the novel?
People can be driven to do what’s right and wrong; however
, you are either born good or evil, and your intention to d
o good justifies these mishaps. Even though she doesn’t kn
ow the pretext in which Hale has died, Ida takes an interes
t in his death because it is wrong not to be remembered in
death and of her own part in backhandly aiding in his murde
r. To Hale, even though it led to Kite’s death, he has no
remorse for it because in his eyes, he was right in exposin
g Kite’s illegal activities. Ida’s sense of right and wro
ng doesn’t care about the means of getting retribution of
any wrongs committed, just that it is done with poetic just
ice: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
For Rose and Pinkie, their sense of good and evil comes fro
m their Catholic backgrounds. Rose knows that Pinkie is unm
istakably evil: She realizes she can’t change his nature a
nd decides to “fall” into evil with him. For her, being g
ood is restrictive: Being bound to her parents and their di
smal moods and whims. Her hopeless situation and need to ge
t away from her poor background make her choose Pinkie and
becoming evil as her ticket out since being Good failed her
. By abetting a murderer willingly and “using” Pinkie in
her own way, her intentions are selfish and self-serving.
Even though she believes that she will die with Pinkie to b
e with him and not abandon him. Even though she is driven t
o become evil, Rose’s nature is ultimately good since she
realizes at the last moment that she is incapable of that u
ltimate sin of willingly “killing” herself: intentionally
letting Pinkie commit another sin of “killing “ her and a
bandoning him in his own hellish life like everyone who was
and is in his life.
5. Is Rose a mirror of Pinkie, or is she fully enough deve
loped to be a character in her own right?
I think Rose is fully developed to be a character in her ow
n right. When Pinkie says that he feels as if she completes
him like furniture, I assumed she will be characterized as
as his shadow for the rest of the novel. But, by including
two episodes where Pinkie overhears her conversation with I
da in defending and being faithful to Pinkie, she is given
her own voice. Also, when she decides to save Pinkie, inste
ad of dying together, she becomes an active participant of
her own fate. She proves that she is not merely a tool for
Pinkie to assure his freedom from the law but instrumental
to his destruction by actively seeking her stamp of love fr
om Pinkie.
6. Is Pinkie damned, as he thinks himself to be? Does he h
ave other choices in the way his life will unfold, or d
oes he seem destined to play out the ending of the nove
l as it is?
With his being determined that committing violence is the o
nly way to wield influence and garnering respect from other
s, Pinkie is damned. He is firmly ruled by his conviction t
hat he needs to prove his worth my being ruthless in his de
alings and consumed by his desire to become like Coleoni: T
o be able to garner respect and not have to kowtow to anyon
e else’s demands. He sees other people as hindrances to hi
s path to greatness and even dismisses Dallow’s loyalty as
undependable in the end. The only person who could really s
ave him, Rose, is viewed as a societal trapping that forces
him to be down below: a gutter rat through and through.
7. What might Rose’s reaction be to playing Pinkie’s rec
ording? Does her conversation with the priest just befo
re affect the way she might respond?
I think she will either break, or persevere and find a new
purpose if there is a baby involved. If she has heard the r
ecording before her conversation with the priest, she may h
ave blamed herself for not being able to instill love in Pi
nkie, and mourned for the loss of her innocence. After the
priest advises her that if Pinkie had loved her in his own
way, he may have been saved, she will want to prove to hers
elf that he was saved because she wasn’t able to follow hi
m to the depth of Hell herself. If she has a baby, since Pi
nkie is evil incarnate, she will want to redeem herself by
raising the child to be a saint, embodiment of goodness: wh
at Pinkie and herself could have been if raised in a loving
8. What is important about the Brighton rock candy? How is
it used as a metaphor within the novel?
Brighton rock is described as a candy that always meets the
expectations: No matter what part of the candy you break, y
ou will always get the lettering “Brighton Rock” on the b
roken surface. Ida uses this metaphor to exemplify that peo
ple’s nature doesn’t change: Just as everyone can depend
on the candy to have the letting at any break, she doesn’t
believe in redemption because mercy will be wasted on the e
vil ones.
The candy is also mentioned when Pinkie and Rose go to the
pier to visit the candy shop, the site of Hale’s murder. P
inkie becomes gleeful when he hears that they are keeping t
he broken candies on display. They are his trophies for eve
ryone to look at: That he is more vicious and not afraid to
kill as well as a successful carrying out of vengeance that
will make other mobsters respect him and his accomplishment
9. What effect does the narration have on the novel? How m
ight the novel read differently if it were first-person
narration from Pinkie’s perspective? Rose’s? Ida’s?
You would be able to employ the idea of unreliable narrator
s if the story was told in first-person point of view. I do
n’t think much of the narration will change in Rose’s poi
nt of view. Her narrative is straightforward with no detail
s left out of her own damnation by choosing to be with Pink
ie. If it was written in Ida’s perspective, we may have ha
d more hedonistic details about her past, and further logic
s behind how she has helped those unfortunates and how her
brand of justice has been met in the past. She may have bec
ome more sympathetic character, a misguided hero like Don Q
uixote, or something like “Of Mice and Men”. Likewise, we
might have had more glimpses of the more evil side of Pinki
e, including his past activities as a gang member, and the
circumstances around Kite’s death. If the narrative was wr
itten in first person point of view, I think the novel woul
d have been more in the line of sensational novel and have
had too much drama for it to be interesting in the end.