Reading Journal Entry: The Third Man, by Graham Greene

The Third Man is a novella Greene wrote as preparation for the screenplay for the Orson Welles movie (which I now must see). It's a mystery about an author of cheap western novelettes, Rollo Martins. He goes to post-war Vienna at the invitation of his childhood friend Harry Lime, only to find when he arrives that Lime has just died in an automobile accident. The story is rife with mistaken identity and suspense; and there's a girl, of course.

I actually gasped about halfway through, if that tells you something. It's very good.

OK, let's make our English teacher proud and discuss what The Third Man is really about. It's about identity. Rollo Martins writes under a pen name; he assumes the name of another author; and he is described by the narrator as having two disparate personalities, one 'Rollo' and the other 'Martins'. That's four identities for Mr. Martins. In addition he assumes the role of the sheriffs he writes about in his books when he sets out to investigate his friends' death. Then he discovers that Lime was not the person he thought he was; he is disillusioned. He confronts Anna, Harry's girlfriend, who tells him that knowing more about Lime doesn't change their relationships about him; he was who he was, not merely who he was in relation to themselves. But Rollo's identities are defined by others - or does he define them through his actions?

Damned if I know. I'm tired and going to bed.

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