The story “The Root of All Evil” by Graham Greene is an excellent moral story about the sins that can arise when people try too hard to keep secrets. Lies, scandals, and murders are all created by secretive behavior, leading one to believe that secrets are the root of all evil.
The trouble in this story begins when a few men in the town began meeting for nightly talks, and the consumption of alcohol. There were a few of the gentlemen who felt that they needed to gather together secretly, so that annoying intruders would not be an issue. They held their groups for a little while without interruption. One day they realized that Herr Puckler, a very annoying man, surely would want to join. The men began to hold their meetings in secret, and “they had to tell a lot of lies… sin began to enter in”.
While one man was taking his night to walk, the purpose being to distract Herr Puckler from realizing the location of the meeting, he entered a house in which there were naked women. Without thinking he had sex with one of the ladies, “then came the second sin, but it didn’t end there with lies and fornication.” The man was worried for he was married. His wife would be sure to hear about his indescretions, so in order to prevent that he dressed himself up as a woman. While walking back he was seen and recognized, “scandal- perhaps that was the third offence which secrecy produced.”
Herr Puckler eventually found out about the group through an ad they had placed in the paper. They were looking for a woman to make pasties for them every half hour while they drank. Herr Puckler saw this as his opportunity; he dressed as a woman and attended their next meeting. He evesdropped and wrote down the conversation they were having. Claiming they were forming a tyrannical group to over throw the government he brought this to the police. Many people recognized him as he was walking dressed as a woman, two of whom were his wife’s friends, who had a conversation about his ‘poor, poor’ wife. “Foul talk was added to the other sins of lies, fornication, and scandal.
Word of Herr Pucklers scheme got around very quickly. Herr Puckler and the policeman showed up at the meeting dressed as women to make pastries for the men. They were bombarded with ‘unmentionable liquids’, logs, frying pans, and finally a chamber pot. The chamber pot got stuck on Herr Pucklers head, they tried to break it off but “by that time he was dead”.
This story proves that keeping secrets, or creating secretive behavior, is the root of all evil. The men in the town created a situation in which things could only get worse because they didn’t want to involve a slightly annoying man. Herr Puckler, because he was excluded, ended up creating a gigantic mess of his life. Herr Puckler ended up losing his wife (to the police superintendant who he was insistant upon seeing about the conversation he overheard), his reputation, as well as his vitality. Although the men were only trying to have a secret meeting among friends, they created chaos among a small town, all beginning with secrets.