East West Conflict in English Literature

Pre-University Paper, 2001

8 Pages, Grade: 1-2 (A-B)

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The Third Man Graham Greene

The novel The Third Man is set in Vienna in the immediate aftermath of World War II, when the city was still divided into four zones of occupation by France, Britain, the USA and the USSR.

To tell the story of Rollo Martins finding the ideal picture of his friend Harry Lime being destroyed, Graham Greene uses a first person narrator. The story is narrated by Calloway who reconstructs his police files. Through this person, Graham Greene can give the reader a good overview of the cities political structure and at the same time keep up with the plot.

Rollo Martins travels to post war Vienna because his friend Harry Lime invited him to come. The first thing he finds out is that his friend has been run over by a car and Martins hurries to be able to be at Limes funeral. At the Funeral he meets Colonel Calloway who states that Lime was the worst racketeer in Vienna who would have been arrested if he had not been killed. Martins does not believe Calloway because Lime has always been his hero and idol. Because of good luck he can stay in Vienna to start his own investigations. He doesn’t believe the car incident was an accident and because of his investigations of the car incident the novel is titled The Third Man. As his investigations proceed he finds out that there is something wrong about Limes death. Contrary to most witnesses, except one, Rollo believes, that there were three people at the site of the accident. Calloway informs Martins about Lime’s rackets. In those days, only military hospitals were supplied with penicillin in Austria, thus penicillin was stolen and sold to Austrian doctors. Finally, an organisation was founded and penicillin was diluted. The consequences were that it causes venereal diseases and meningitis. Calloway showed evidences that Lime was part of this “penicillin-ring”. After a visit he paid to Limes ex-lover Anna Schmidt, Rollo gets to see the third man at the accident site. It was Harry Lime. Rollo goes out to meet with Harry and finds out, that his former idol had changed. Harry decides to help the police and at the next meeting he finally shoots the fleeing Harry Lime

Rollo Martins is the main character in the novel and one could also say that the whole story is just build up around him changing. When he arrived Calloway described him as “a cheerful fool who drinks too much”. Rollo came to Vienna to meet his idol Harry and see how he was doing. At the beginning Martins worships Lime and that’s why he doesn’t believe Calloway at first. Martins is a professional writer and it seems that he would prefer to live in his novelettes rather than in the real world. But during the novel he finds away from wanting to be like Harry Lime and through the investigations somehow finds himself. At the end when Rollo shoots Harry he “emancipated” from Lime and can now lead his own life. He develops a strange kind of love for Anna Schmidt which is not Harry Lime is a racketeer of the worst kind. Through what Rollo tells Calloway about what he and Harry experienced we find out, that Harry has always exploited Rollo and played with Rollo’s admiration for him. Lime is unscrupulous and does things only for his good. He doesn’t care which nation he is giving information as long as he is not harming himself or his penicillin business.

Through Colonel Calloway, Greene gives the reader a nice insight into the political situation of Vienna. Because he is a police officer he knows what is going on. Calloway fills us in on the problems the three Western Allies have with Russia. He tells about a special police agreement between the Allies’ military police, that the police forces are confined to their particular sector unless they would enter another zone, having asked for permission before. Between the Western Powers this works very well but Russia doesn’t want to stick to this agreement. In the first few months the West and the East got along somehow, but then as the Russians took longer to answer requests from British, American or French police officers to enter their zone, the Western Powers started ignoring Russian requests. The Russians didn’t mind that and sometimes entered other zones without having asked for a permission. A clear power struggle started. In Vienna it was the replica on a small scale compared to what the two Presidents of Russia and America were doing. Calloway also describes the situation about “being in the chair”. The centre of the city, the Innere Stadt, was controlled by all Four Powers. In intervals of one month another Power was responsible for the security and this meant “being in the chair”. Calloway tells us how the Western forces treated the Russians. They believed them to be brutal, naïve and dumb fighters. But still they are somehow afraid of them as the scene shows us, when the international police patrol leaves their designated sector. The Russian who is driving the car knows exactly what he is doing and the other forces are not very consistent in persuading him to drive back into their sector. Graham Greene lets Calloway describe the city with its destroyed glamour. This is mainly because this novel was actually only written because Greene was asked to write a film script about the occupying powers in Vienna.

The style goes along with this explanation. There are a lot of dialogs and we get to now what is going on in the peoples minds or how they change mainly through their actions, just as we would in a film. Many dialogs add a fast pace to the book.

The Innocent

Ian McEwan

The Innocent is set in post war Berlin, ten years after World War II. Berlin was, just as Vienna, also divided into four zones, which were governed by the Allies.

Ian McEwan uses the technique of an omniscient narrator to tell us the story of the “innocent” Leonard Marnham who comes to Berlin to learn to love and to Leonard Marnham, a young British employee of a telephone company, is sent to Berlin and without knowing gets involved in a secret CIA-MI6 operation called “Operation Gold”. The aim of this operation is to tunnel under the earth into the Russian sector to tap the main phone lines. There he meets an American named Glass who becomes something close to a friend. One night when they are out drinking, Leonard meets a young German girl named Maria and they fall in love. From the morning till the evening Leonard spends the time at the tunnel working for his country and the nights he spends with Maria. It is a wonderful time for both of them and they enjoy each and every second they are together. Everything is going well at work as well and operation becomes a big success. One night Leonard returns home very drunk and from his point of view wants to try a new sex-game but he actually tries to rape Maria. From that moment on their relationship isn’t like it used to be before. One day they get together in Maria’s flat and they find Maria’s ex-husband Otto in the closet. Otto comes about twice a year to collect money from Maria and beat her up, but now Leonard is there. It comes to a fight in which Otto dies. Because Maria has a good motive, they decide to get rid of the body. They slice him up in pieces and put him into suitcases. Leonard wants to hide the suitcases but on the way to finding an alternative hiding place he meets Glass who offers him a ride to the tunnel because Leonard tells him there is classified material in the suitcases. He has the suitcases sealed and put at the end of the tunnel. Leonard decides to betray his country and wants to tell the Russians what’s going on. The next day the newspapers are full of articles about the tunnel. To Leonard’s surprise he is not arrested but is ordered back to Britain and he leaves Maria behind. Maria than marries his friend Glass and moves to the USA.

The Innocent is the story of a top-secret spying project at first but turns into a complicated love story at the end.

When Leonard moves to Berlin he is an innocent young man. He has lived with his parents for all of his life and in Berlin he is the first time on his own. At the beginning he seems very exact and emotionally cold. But the work in the tunnel and the relationship with Maria change his personality. In both ways he looses his innocence. At work he looses the mental innocence of not really being aware of what is going on between Russia and the East and the social innocence of not being the new one anymore. In his relationship with Maria he looses his sexual innocence.

As in The Third Man the division of East and West is clearly visible in this book as well. Here the CIA, the American secret service and the MI6, the British secret service are working together to trick the Russians. The Cold War had already started and this was one of the actions the American government was taking in order to be informed what the Russians were planning on doing. The tunneling of the Russian communication centre is not an invention of the author but is based on facts. So this really happened. The Soviets, whose border guards are situated very near to the entrance of the tunnel are also spying by using there binoculars to see what’s going on there. That is why Leonard has to burn the cardboard, so that there is no chance that anything can be found out even via the trash. The American and British believed to be very smart and thought that they had the ultimate “weapon” against Russia and thought they had beaten the Russians. But the Russians were not as naïve and dumb as most Americans believed them to be. Long before had they infiltrated the “Operation Gold” and had let the American and British governments spend millions on a mission, that didn’t give them any advantage.

Ian McEwan describes the system very well. The idea with the clearance levels is truly amusing. He draws up a perfect working organisation where nobody knows what he is working for until he gets the next clearance level. The way people are working at the tunnel is very professional and you get a feeling how the work really was like back then. It is amazing with what tricks they try to keep the tunnel a secret. At the entrance for example are guards, who believe it is a military warehouse they are guarding, who have to check on everybody who comes in. But when Leonard comes in with his two suitcases, he tells them that it is highly classified material and they should call an officer. The officer, who thinks Leonard really has classified material in the suitcases, tells them not to open the cases, because he fears that they might notice, that it’s not a warehouse they are guarding.

The author comes up with a form of espionage that was unknown to me. When Leonard wants to betray his operation, he goes to the “Café Prag” to meet one of those “Hundert Mark Jungen ”. These men are a sort of spies, that don’t work for a country but only for money. If you know what the Russians are planning next, you just have to go to “Café Prag” and one of these “boys” is going to give you money for this information. They will pass it on to the Americans and get a good deal of money for themselves.

He also deals with the differences between Western and Eastern lifestyle, describing Leonard’s trip into the Russian sector with Glass and company. Mc Ewan describes the impressions of East Berlin as even worse than it looks in the West although both sides suffered the same damage from bombings. Also they have to pay with East Marks in the bar they visit, because the normal Marks or the Dollar would be worth too much and people would get suspicious.

Ian Mc Ewans style is tight and tense. There are not too many dialogues, because the author concentrates more on the feelings and thoughts. But if there are any they are very often mixed with German expressions. Words ( Eckkneipe ) and phrases ( Gnädige Frau ) that are very typical, have been written in German, to give the writing a German flair, and than translated into English so that every reader is able to understand. The development of Leonard Marnham is the central theme of the novel. The author uses the surrounding of Berlin and the secret mission as a setting to have the best opportunities to have his main character developed. Compared with Casino Royale one could maybe say The Innocent is not a real spy story. The book is about relations and differences between people and that it is set in Berlin where so many different peoples clash just aggravates this theme.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold John le Carré The novel is set in three cities across Europe, in Berlin, London and The Hague. Berlin is the most important city, because all things happening in the novel refer back to the division of Berlin.

John Le Carré is telling the story of Alec Leamas, a 50-year-old professional who has grown stale in espionage, who longs to "come in from the cold" and how he undertakes one last assignment before that hoped-for retirement.

Alec Leamas is waiting at the Berlin Wall for a double agent, but as this agent tries to cross the border, he is shoot. Leamas who is handling all the double agents in east Berlin, flies back to London. Control, the boss of the secret service, asked Leamas to stay for one final mission. Leamas agreed, but after some time at a desk job he was fired. Later on one gets to know that this is all part of the mission already. Leamas takes a job at a library, where he meets Liz, a young member of the communist party. They build up a relation and she falls in love with him and he has some feelings for her to. After a while Leamas gets the sign, that the mission is ready to get to stage two. Alec hits a shopkeeper because he refuses to give credit and as a consequence Alec gets thrown into jail. As soon as he gets out of prison somebody contacts him, asking him if he was in Berlin at sometime. It is someone working for the secret service of the Soviet Union. He hopes that he can win Alec to tell them facts about the MI6. After a meeting with Control, where the plan is discussed, Alec is getting started and after some time he flies to The Hague. There he meets an agent named Peters, who writes down everything Leamas is telling him about the missions in East Berlin, that Alec was leading. When Peters finds out that somebody started a European wide search for Leamas, he wants him save and so Leamas and Peters fly to Berlin where he changes from the hands of the Russians in to the hands of the GDR. Meanwhile Liz is being interrogated by people from the MI6 because they wee afraid that Leamas had told the girl about their plan. Now he is being asked questions by Fiedler an agent who is planning to overthrow Mundt, the boss of the East German secret service. One day as Fiedler and Leamas return to the house they are staying at something is wrong and Leamas is beaten up. As he awakes he gets to talk to Mundt. Leamas has to testify in court and the Party calls Liz to. They want to prove that Fiedler and Leamas wanted to overthrow Mundt. Leamas thinks he has been caught, but through a superb twist in the tail, he gets set free. Mundt is double agent in the service and he helps Liz and Alec to escape. But they don’t get far. The novel ends where it started. Somebody is shot when trying to cross the border. This time it is Leamas and Liz.

The Wall is very important in this novel. The Wall was the reason why John le Carré wrote this novel. He said in an interview that when he saw the Wall of the Cold War being built in the ashes of the Hot War, he went home and wrote the novel in five or six weeks. The novel opens up with a scene at the Wall and it ends with a scene playing at the site of the Wall. This alone shows the importance of this borderline. The Wall is the symbol for the partition of East and West and not only symbol but also the partition itself. The whole novel is about the Wall and the two people living on both sides. It deals with the people living in the GDR and the people on the outside, seeming to help the GDR but actually looking after their own faith.

John le Carré deals with the East-West conflict very much. But he also shows that the communists had friends outside of Russia and the GDR. The house in The Hague for example is a house organized by the Party working in the Netherlands and he also shows how active the Party was in Britain and how tight the contacts to Russia were. The British Communist Party organizes regular meetings, where Liz is an active attendant. When the Party finds out about Liz and Alec, they persuade Liz to come to Leipzig. This shows that they had to have great influence and enormous connections.

The author also makes us see the difference between Russia and the GDR. The GDR had all important institutions for themselves but they were still supervised by the USSR. In the GDR there were not too many people who wanted to belong to the Soviet Union and that is why it was not too hard to infiltrate the secret police. One also got along quite well with a lot of money, because that was one thing East Germans didn’t have .

Similar to Fleming and Mc Ewan, le Carré did a splendid job in creating the secret service internal structure and in thinking out ways how the MI6 worked. Also the cooperation with different countries is described pretty well. Mundt for example never went to pick up his money in England, but always in other countries.

Alec Leamas is an old spy who has seen a lot in his life. After all of his agents in East Berlin have been killed he actually wants to quit the job, come in from the cold, but Control, the boss, persuades him to stay for a final blow at the East. He is not very passionate and his love for Liz is a very strange relation, but maybe just because he wants to save her.

Liz is a somewhat naïve young girl, who strongly believes in communism. Her ties to the communist Party are her end .

All the agents that appear, be it Eastern or Western ones, are somehow the same. All of them are tough guys who do not care about the feelings of others as long as they get to do their job. They accept all conditions and the worst pain just to help their country win.

John le Carré tells the story in the form of an auctorial narrator. The novel is written at a very fast pace and that is also underlined with many dialogues.

In the novel the theme of both sides of the Wall comes out quite well. Le Carré describes the faults of both sides and of course the ”coming in from the cold” from Leamas is a central theme as well.

Casino Royale Ian Fleming

Casino Royale is the typical spy story and it reminds of all the James Bond movies one has ever seen.

Le Chiffre is the head of a communist-controlled union in Alsace and an agent of the USSR. After World War II he bought control of a chain of brothels. The money he used for this investment was money that had been entrusted to him fro the financing of the trade union mentioned above. It would have been serious business for him, but three month after he bought the chain of brothels, France forbid prostitution and he lost all the money, belonging to Russia. So his plan is to win back the amount at the casino, before the SMERSH, the secret police that polices the rest of the Soviet secret police, will kill him. Because the British see their great chance to destroy Le Chiffre without actually killing him, they send James Bond, a.k.a. 007, to play against him. The MI6 sends a woman as Bonds number two. Bond does not want to work with a woman because he thinks she is unable to work as a good spy. Not even a bomb attack can hold Bond back from playing. He looses his first game, but because Le Chiffre doesn’t have enough money yet, they play again, for thirty-two million francs. This time Bond has the better cards and beats Le Chiffre. But because Le Chiffre really needs the money, he kidnaps Ms. Lynd and Bond goes after them to save her. He himself is also caught by the Russian spy and the communist starts to torture 007, because Bond wont tell him were the money is hid. The cruel torture is being stopped by a SMERSH agent who shoots Le Chiffre and lets Bond alive. 007 wakes up in a hospital and feels horrible. The only pleasure is Vesper Lynd who comes by regularly who he wants to have sex to prove that he can still function. When Bond has recovered, Vesper and 007 go on holidays where they have an abnormal affair. Although they sleep with each other and got along with each other very well, Vesper’s behaviour changes from day to day. One day she’s passionate, the other she blocks James off. It all ends with her suicide and a letter in which she tells Bond that she is a double agent and killed herself to save him from SMERSH.

The setting of Casino Royale differs from the other novels. While the other stories play in the destroyed post war cities, Casino Royale plays in Cold War Monaco. While the other novels were describing how poor people were and how tough life was, Bond gets to live in luxury. The best hotels, playing in the casino with stakes of millions of francs, driving Bentleys, although used, drinks and good food is all part of his life. His everyday life is a dangerous dream, a dream many people want to live. That is why Ian Fleming wrote this novel how he did. He created a character that everybody would want to be. Bond is the hero of all the spies and he knows he is.

Bond is a macho. He proves that on several occasions, especially when he gets to know that MI6 assigned him a woman as number two, “Do they think this is a bloody picnic?” He doesn’t believe that a woman can do this job as good as a man can and in some way he is proved as the plot develops. He is, as a spy has to be, also very patriotic. To ruin Le Chiffre he accepts the worst torture.

Le Chiffre against Bond is the typical Cold War spy fight, a Western spy fighting an Eastern spy. Fleming shows us Bond as the hero who has a right to fight the unscrupulous Le Chiffre, who is a communist and thus bad. He uses the playground of the rich as surrounding where those two meet, because there nobody cares if you are Eastern or Western as long as you are rich.

Books like these ones have formed the way we think of the times during Cold War. While Stalin or Khrushchev and Kennedy or Truman were calling the shots, other ones had to play them. Ships or spies all had to follow their countries plans. But because of those books we think that the life as a Western spy must have been the best life one can imagine. Vesper Lynd adds another touch to the story. The touch of the undecided and the female touch. She is a double agent for Russia, but falls in love with a western spy and kills herself to save him. This clearly proves Bond, when he says, ”On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings”.

In a way both Russian spies, Vesper and Le Chiffre, fail and the British spy wins. Le Chiffre looses his game, the money and thus his life, all because Bond was a better gambler. Vesper also looses, because she can not withhold the pressure and commits suicide. Bond is the only winner, having survived the torture and making the girl fall in love with him so that she protected him from SMERSH.

Fleming does a great job describing the way the MI6 works internally. He notes down very professionally what gun James Bond is using or how he gets his orders. The different abbreviations, i.e. 007, M, S, also add an aspect of professional insight. These professional descriptions of the Secret Service’s structure, the illusion of a hero and an adventurous life made Bond what he is today. Fleming takes the action as the most important part in his book. The development of his characters is vaguely described compared to the games at the casino. His books were written to sell millions and provided a perfect basis for a movie. The Bond series proved to be more successful in the theatres than in the bookshelves.

8 of 8 pages


East West Conflict in English Literature
1-2 (A-B)
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ISBN (eBook)
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East, West, Conflict, English, Literature
Quote paper
Schnurer Flo (Author), 2001, East West Conflict in English Literature, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/102875


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