Our Man In Havana Essay, Research Paper
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene is an espionage mystery novel. Graham Greene was born in 1904 and educated at Berkhamsted School, where his father was headmaster. In all he has written forty novels, entertainments, plays, children s books, travel books, and collections of essays and short stories. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1966, and was given the O.M. in the 1986 New Year s Honours List. The setting is Havana, Cuba in 1958. This was just before Fidel Castro became president of Cuba. The country was divided up into rich and poor people. Greene described Havana with clich s such as rum/whisky, bars, girls, and prostitution. The novel is written in 3rd person, an omniscient onlooker who followed Jim Wormolds (protagonist) thoughts and actions. Some other books by Greene are Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Comedians, The Quiet American, The Heart of the Matter, and many others. The conflict involved the British Secret Service including Mr. Wormold, the Cuban authorities, and foreign agents. It is a triangle conflict where if the B.S.S (British Secret Service) had problems with the foreign agents the Cuban authorities become involved and so on. My first impressions; I think that Wormold is devoted to his daughter, Milly. She is the most important thing in his life. It was because of Milly s acquisition of an expensive horse that forced him into joining the secret service to make extra money to pay for the horse.
There is one major plot, which is Wormolds life. This major plot is divided into multiple sub-plots. One is Milly and Captain Segura (the chief of police), another sub-plot involved Mr. Wormold and his friend Hasselbacher, another sub-plot was the B.S.S. and their plans for Cuba, and the final sub-plot was between Wormold and his secretary. The first sub-plot involved Captain Segura and his love for Milly. Although Milly s constantly neglected Captain Segura, the captain continued his objective of gaining her love throughout the novel. At the same time Segura is devoted to reveal, with the correct evidence, that Wormold is working for the B.S.S. The second sub-plot, involves Wormold and Hasselbacher. They are both citizens of Cuba, and were acquired to be agents in Cuba, however they do not know that the other person is an agent for another country. Later in the novel, they realized that they are both agents, they help each other to stay alive in the risky game of espionage. The third sub-plot is Hawthorne and the M.I.6 chief. They convey the status of their agent (Wormold) in Cuba as an overall summary for the reader. The final sub-plot involves the Wormold and his secretary, Beatrice. They add an extra love column to this espionage story. As they work harder and harder to find out Cuba s secrets, their love for each other gets higher and higher.
Jim Wormold is 45 years old, he has one daughter, he originated from London, England, and is divorced. He is an intelligent, friendly, and caring person. He illustrates his intelligence throughout the novel. He created imaginary people and told the B.S.S. that they were his agents. He then sent them on expensive missions and when the money came in to pay the he kept it for himself. When they asked for evidence of their missions he sent them fake drawings of missiles that were actually vacuum parts. His friendliness aided him in gaining friends and trust. This helped his with his job. He treated everyone with respect and in return got respect and trust. With the trust, he gained a large amount of information about Cuba that he could send to the B.S.S. He illustrated his caring nature with his daughter. His actions were never carried out without thinking of his daughter. For example, Well, he said, I don t know that I would. Milly wouldn t consider it a marriage, and one can t shock one s own child. (Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, pg 110) As it is proven, he is neglecting to a second marriage because of Milly. Captain Segura a Cuban officer. He is a tall and has dark skin. He is an intelligent, disloyal, yet still at the same time a kind person. He illustrated his intelligence by his spilt personality. He pretended to be the best police officer in Cuba. Yet instead of working for the government, he worked against his country as a double agent. This leads to his disloyalty. He deceived his country and his head officers by double crossing them and giving critical and secret information to other countries. He illustrated his kind nature when he bought dinner for the Wormold family on Milly s birthday. In spite of their rude comments towards him he still paid for all their expenses. He also helps Wormold to find the people that tried to kill Mr. Wormold in spite of Wormolds rudeness to him. Wormold does not change throughout the book because the time period is too short for the development of his character.
Our Man in Havana is a novel in which all ages of readers would be interested in reading. The plot is easy to follow and the dialogue is easy to understand. Everything is given to the reader, which made it easier for the reader to understand. Greene illustrated his intelligence by using normal vocabulary. The target audience is larger (all ages) and therefore he can sell more books and make more money. An example of the dialogue follows:
One day you must lend me Lamb s Tales, Milly. I too find Shakespeare
difficult. A very small man in a very tight uniform waved his hand
towards their table. You aren t worried are you, Dr. Hasselbacher?
What should I be worried about, dear Milly, on your birthday? Except
the years of course.
Is seventeen so old?
For me they have gone too quickly.
(Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, pg 84)
As you can see the dialogue is easy to follow. However, Greene tends to shine when it comes to describing things. For example the setting:
He arrived at Santiago in the evening, the empty dangerous hours
of the unofficial curfew. All the shops in the piazza built against the
Cathedral fa ade were closed. A single couple hurried across in front
of the hotel; the night was hot and humid, and the greenery hung
dark and heavy in the pallid light of half-strength lamps.
(Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, pg 63)
As illustrated above, Greene goes to great depths to describe the setting. It is most important to him. There are also an abundance of metaphors and similes. For example, Childhood was the germ of all mistrust and He carried a chair that was almost as big as himself . Alliteration can also be found. For instance, the night was hot and humid . It is proven that this book is filled with literary devices. Greene s strength as a writer is his ability to describe the setting with great skill, and his interesting plots. The multiple plots add to the strength of the novel. The more plots the more interesting it became. His weakness is his characters. There are too many characters in the novel. He continuously introduces them, which at times becomes confusing. Overall Graham Greene has illustrated his pure talent with this novel.
I believe that this book is a great book to read for any body that likes a good mystery. It has all the different styles of novel packed into one. He could have added a more mysterious plot to this novel because it wasn t suspenseful enough for my taste. Brilliantly crafted characters and a fabulous storyline make this a joy to read. The unworldly air of the events and a grand climax grips the Greene fan and the uninitiated alike. Greene himself was an MI-6 agent. Is he trying to put across something about MI-6 or the secret services in general? Anyway, the theme I have learned from this novel is that lying might bring happiness, however in the long run it can lead to your demise. This book was produced for all ages of readers. It is a definite classic.