A Shocking Accident by Graham Greene
In A Shocking Accident by Graham Greene we have the theme of frustration, perception, social opinion, fear, acceptance, love and coming of age. Taken from his Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Greene may be exploring the theme of frustration. Jerome is fully aware that others have and will laugh at how his father died. There is a sense that Jerome is frustrated and as such he decides upon slightly changing the story of his father’s death. This may be important as Jerome may not only be frustrated at how others have reacted when told about his father’s death but he may also be afraid to tell the real story of how his father died due to fear of feeling embarrassed. It is as though Jerome feels overly concerned about social opinion when it comes to the subject of his father’s death. This may be important as Jerome’s hesitancy when it comes to the truth about his father’s death suggests that Jerome himself is not comfortable or accepting of how his father died. Jerome when he first heard of his father’s death had romantic notions about how his father might have died (shot in the heart).
Jerome’s perception of his father is interesting as it is clear to the reader that Jerome idolized his father and if anything he has put his father on a pedestal. Though his father was a travel writer. For Jerome his father was something more important. He worked for the government as a spy. As to why Jerome would need to escape into a world in whereby he distorted the image of his father is difficult to say. It may be a case that Jerome strongly felt the loss of his mother at such a young age and felt the need to create an alternative persona for his father as a way of handling or accepting the circumstances he found himself in. Death can be traumatic at any age but for Jerome to lose his mother so young could be devastating and as such Jerome may have created an alternative world around himself when it came to his father in order to alleviate the pain that he felt over his mother’s death and which he was too young to handle. In reality Jerome has lost both his parents before he has reached the age of ten. This alone would be enough for a young boy to be sensitive to other people’s opinions. It also doesn’t help that Jerome is trying to accept the manner in which his father died.
The fact that Jerome is so worried about Sally’s reaction to how is father died is also interesting as Jerome fears that like others Sally will laugh at the absurdity of how his father died. However in spite of his fears Sally is supportive of Jerome. Something that would not have been the case when it came to others in Jerome’s life particularly those in school who nicknamed Jerome ‘Pig.’ The insensitivities of others is not mirrored by Sally’s reaction to Jerome’s father’s death. This may be important as apart from his Aunt and his father Jerome has not had anybody else in his life who has been supportive of him. It is as though Sally is not judging Jerome by the fact that his father died an unusual death. To her it is ‘horrible’ how Jerome’s father has died. In many ways Sally’s reaction strengthens Jerome’s connection with Sally. Which may leave some readers to suggest that Jerome is coming of age. No longer is does he feel burdened by the social opinion of others nor does he feel embarrassed about how his father died.
It is as though Sally is the pathway to a new chapter in Jerome’s life. Not only does he intend to marry her but when he leaves his Aunt’s home with Sally. Jerome sees babies in Sally’s eyes. It is through Sally’s reaction to his father’s death that Jerome is finally able to accept how his father died. There is also possibly a realisation within Jerome that not everybody is going to laugh at the story of his father’s death. That not everybody will be so cold. If anything Sally has managed to remove any fear that Jerome has when it comes to telling others about his father’s death. It has become an issue of no importance and no longer burdens Jerome. Through Sally’s love Jerome has managed to move on from the opinions of others and the fears that may have crippled him when it came to the issue of his father’s death. He has grown as a person through Sally’s understanding of how his father has died. Which leaves the reader suspecting that Jerome will be happy for the first time since his father died.