Character Sketch of Pinkie in Brighton Rock
Pinkie was a seventeen years old protagonist who was the leader of a small group of criminals that extort protection money from the bookmakers. He was the successor of Kite’s mob and ran his gang. He was intelligent, ruthless and ambitious to gain power and take revenge of Kite’s murder. Greene presents him in the following words: “A boy of about seventeen watched him from the door-a shabby smart suit, the cloth too thin for much wear, a face of starved intensity, a kind of hideous and unnatural pride.” (5)
J.M. Coetzee describes his character as follows: “Pinkie is a product of the dreariest Brighton slums. His parents are dead; the schoolyard, with its hierarchies of power and its casual sadism, rather than the school room, has given him his education; the gangster Kite has become his adopted father or big brother, and Kite’s gang his surrogate family. Of the world outside Brighton he is utterly ignorant.” Pinkie was a true successor of Kite, after him, he extorted the protection money. When Cubitt informed him that Brewer and Tate have denied to pay extortion money because they are paying to Colleoni. He immediately decided to visit Brewer and Dallow praised him. “You’re a grand little geezers, Pinkie, Kite was right to take you on. You go straight for things, Pinkie.” He went to Brewer’s house and slashed him with razor, when latter tried to ignore him. He had even adopted the habits of Kite. Like him, he did not drink and had a habit of biting nail; “he had prolonged Kite’s existence-not touching liquor, biting his nails in the Kite’s way, until she came and altered everything.” (238)
He had the power to foresee situations and things. When Spicer left the Kolley Kibber’s card at Snow’s and nobody in the mob took it seriously, it was he who foresaw the situation and went to retrieve it. Dallow suggested ‘better to leave it alone’ but Pinkie felt if the waitress spotted your face wasn’t right and she found it soon as you felt. (23) Even when he married Rose, he visualized his life after sixty years and could not accept the situation. He did not want to live dominated by Rose to keep her silent, so he planned her suicide.
Pinkie is presented as a person who had no mercy. In his first appearance, he displayed his hatred and merciless views for others. He possessed no humanity and behaved rudely to Hale and stared with distaste to Ida: “He was watching the woman with an expression of furious distaste.” (6) Greene has described his hatred in these words: “He had a fair smooth skin, the faintest down and his grey eyes had an effect of heartlessness like an old man’s in which human feeling has died.” (6) He frightened poor Rose by narrating her the story of buer and by pouring the drops of vitriol on the wood plank. He showed no mercy on that innocent girl and married her to bring her destiny to doom.
From his first meeting to Rose, his relationship with her was not like true lovers rather he disliked her but she was important because she could destroy the alibi, they had constructed to cover, the death of Hale. He bid her farewell saying, ‘T’ll be seeing you. You and me have things in common.” He had no idea at this time that Rose will become an integral part of his life. In his second meeting, he tried to frighten her with vitriol and advised her not to mixed up with thing but he himself got indulged in a web he never thought of age, woman and sex. He never liked her and “watched her with his soured, virginity, as one might watch a draught of medicine offered that one would never, never take; one would die first or let others die.” (93) He married her under compulsion and to hide her inferiority, he boasted about her before his friends.
“Jealous? the boy began to boast. You’ve cause when you’ve seen her. She not one of your dyed totsies. She’s got class. I’m marrying her for your sake, but I’m laying her for my own.” (162) She characterizes the progression of time and loss of freedom. She stands for marriage and sex and Pinkie is afraid of both. She belonged to a world that he wishes to escape from. But time and situation developed their relation. He knew theory about the sex but was afraid if he failed in practical, the world will laugh on him. “he is locked into virginity of which he is ashamed but from which he has no idea of how to escape.” (Coetzee) He had bad memories of Saturday nights of his parents and did not want to spend such Saturdays in his life. He became nervous and ran away when Sylvie invited him but he felt complete and proud man after developing sex relations with ignorant Rose.
“He had an odd sense of triumph: he had graduated in the last human shame-it wasn’t so difficult after all. He had exposed himself and nobody had laughed. He didn’t need Mr. Prewitt or Spicer only a faint feeling of tenderness woke for his partner in the act.” (198)
He was an egoistic gangster who was not ready to accept Colleoni’s suggestion that he was too young to run a mob. Colleoni was a rich businessman. The luxurious writing paper on which he wrote a letter for Pinkie seemed to amuse the squalor of Pinkie’s lodgings. Colleoni lived in the opulent surrounding of the Cosmopolitan, possessed gold lighter and elegant attitude. Pinkie lived at Frank’s house which was old and having broken banister, sausage crumb roll on his bed, old Morris and arrogance. At Colleoni’s order, the bogies took him for investigation that twisted poison in his veins and he decided. to show his power to the world.
“There was poison in his veins, though he grinned and bore. it. He had been insulted. He was going to show the world. They thought because he was only seventeen…he jerked his narrow shoulders back at the memory that he’d killed his man, and these bogies who thought they were clever weren’t clever enough to discover that. (70) On his wedding day, he was not entertained at the Cosmopolitan and felt insulted. He had rough arguments with the receptionist and showered his anger on Rose. His ego was hurt and he could not bear it, he wanted to shout and boast his power. “He had an insane impulse to shout out to them all that they couldn’t treat him like that, that he was a killer he could kill men and not to be caught. He wanted to boast. He could afford that place as well as anyone: he had a car, a lawyer, two hundred pounds in the bank…”(191)
Pinkie always claimed that he did not believe in God and Church but there are several incidents where he could be noticed praying and thinking about repentance. While attacked by Colleoni’s men at the racecourse, he hid in a garage and thought about the humiliation and faced the reality of life “between the stirrup and the ground there wasn’t time: you couldn’t break in a moment the habit of thought.: habit held you closely while you died;” (116) He continued to think about peace, church and confession box. “…his heart weakened with a faint nostalgia for the tiny dark confessional box, the priest’s voice, and the people waiting under the statue, before the bright light burning down in the pink glasses, to be made safe from eternal pain.” (117) Even when he planted the suicide of Rose, somewhere in his heart, he had the feeling that he was doing wrong to Rose. He consoled himself and thought he could repent at church. “Go to a priest. Say: Father, I’ve committed murder twice. And there was a girl-she killed himself.” (248) He represented those people of his time who showed that they have no faith in God but in heart recalled Him in danger.
He was an arrogant leader who paid no attention to his team members. When Cubitt mocked at Rose’s personality and ironically called her a Duchess, Pinkie became angry and spoke arrogantly to him that he will treat him like Spicer. “You think you know things. All the Boy’s hatred was in the word ‘know’ and his repulsion: he knew-like Prewitt knew after twenty five years at the game. ‘You don’t know everything.’ (162) The verb ‘you know’ reflects all his anger and repulsion. Due to his arrogance, he scattered the whole mob and brought his damnation too.
Pinkie had an obstinate pride and immature self-confidence that he could beat Colleoni. He believed that after the death of Kite, he could run the mob successfully. He always strengthened his ambition to gain power and to show the world how a seventeen years old boy could rule it. He was a person who could trail the clouds of his own glory and moved ahead to fulfill his dreams.