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The Case for the Defence Essay

The story begins in the Central Criminal Court in London at the trial of Mr Adams, who is accused with what was dubbed the “Peckham Murder”; the murder of Mrs. Parkers who was battered to death in Northwood Street. Adams was accused of the murder when four witnesses saw him or someone with his appearance coming out of Mrs. Parker’s house holding a hammer on the day that she was murdered. The case is muddied by the fact that while Adams is standing in the dock there is another Adams, his identical twin sitting at the back of the court with his wife. The witnesses are all called to give their testimony and the final witness, Mrs. Salmon, who is also the prime character in the story, identifies the man in the dock as the murderer. However when Mrs. Salmon has the identical twin pointed out to her she becomes very confused.

This confusion means that it is impossible to say which of the twins was the murderer and the accused Adams is acquitted because of lack of evidence. And here Graham Greene introduces the concept of the Divine Vengeance in the story. Divine vengeance is the main essence of the uncanny classic, “The Case for the Defence”. Initially, in the story, Greene presents forth that at least one of the Adams are certainly the murderers. This can be understood clearly by the number of evidences (witnesses), and the manner of writing of Greene. The scene yet plays loopholes and ultimately both the Adams escape without any of them held guilty. This is certainly against the “DIVINE JUSTICE”. After the twins escape human justice, one of them ends up being smashed badly by a big bus.

It is obvious that when things get beyond the hands of us mortals, the spiritual Lord has to do the required justice. Thus it surely puts to the reader’s thinking that the god has done the justice. But still the reader remains confused as the other people in the story whether the person who died was the real criminal or not? In this way Graham Greene uses his skills to make the reader think about the case and the murderer. The story is told through a narrator who does not participate in the plot but refers to the events of the story in the third person.

This means that the reader is left to read between the lines of what the narrator is saying to work out what really happened and also gives a good description of the characters, like Mrs. Salmon who is described as “the ideal witness, with her slight Scotch accent and her expression of honesty, care and kindness” showing the reader that her witness was reliable especially as the accused is described as “a heavy stout man with bulging bloodshot eyes”, not a character she was likely to have mistaken as someone else. Thus, in this way Graham Greene describes the characters really very well, making the story even better.

This short story is a good tense read and Graham Greene keeps the tension going right up to the end of the story as he finishes it with the words ”But if you were Mrs. Salmon, could you sleep at night?” By writing this the author is showing the reader that there is probably still a murderer on the loose and that Mrs. Salmon may be in great danger. This is a quick and easy short story to read and one that makes an ideal introduction to anyone who had not experienced the works of the wonderful writer Graham Greene.


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