Graham Greene‘s novel The End of the Affair was first published in 1951 in England. The events of the novel describe an adulterous affair in England during World War II. When the war is over and his affair got to an end, Maurice Bendrix tries to find an explanation of why his lover, Sarah Miles, broke off their relationship so suddenly. This setting helps Greene explore themes of love and hate, faithfulness, and the presence of the divine in human lives.
In the opening of The End of the Affair the main character, Maurice Bendrix, and narrator too explains that he is a writer and thus is in control of the story he is about to tell. Although it is a true story, he determines what point he will begin his tale and at what point he will end it. He begins with the night he meets Henry Miles, the husband of a woman Bendrix used to have an affair with. Henry ignores that Sarah and Bendrix were lovers. The two men go to a bar to get out of the rain, and Henry tells Bendrix that Sarah (his wife) is seeing another man. Pretending to be a friend to Henry, Bendrix offers to find out the truth. In fact, Bendrix is jealous and wants to know why Sarah is seeing someone. Bendrix’s affair with Sarah ended suddenly, and he is tormented by the breakup and longs to know the reason she had to end their affair. Bendrix decides to hire an investigator who reveals him some irrelevant information which doesn’t help to find out. The only real important fact is that Sarah is visiting a rationalist who she has been debating the existence of God with. During this part of the narrative, books 1 and 2, Graham used the “Stream of Consciousness” a technique Joyce introduced in his “Ulysses” and that is based in Freud studies of Conscious and unconscious, according to which the narrator opens an internal dialogue where the memories make the narration go backwards and forwards.
In the second part of the novel (books 2 and 3) Parkis takes Sarah’s diary and Bendrix can finally know why she broke off their relationship. He reads Sarah’s diary and finds the entry about their last day together. They had been in bed when bombs started to fall and he was knocked unconscious. Seeing him Sarah thought he was dead or dying, so she went back to the bedroom and pleaded with God to let him live. She felt so strongly about this that she vowed she would give up her sinful ways, and Bendrix, if only he would live. When he walked in shortly thereafter, Sarah believed that her prayer had been answered. She broke off their relationship to keep her vow.But Sarah’s inner conflict did not end on the day of the air raid. She embarked on a spiritual journey of deep, painful struggle. At the end she feels the power of God’s love in her life, and she dedicates herself to Him. After reading Sarah’s diary, Bendrix is convinced that she still loves him and that he can offer her a real love. He calls her, but she says she does not want to see him. Eight days later, Bendrix receives a call from Henry. Sarah has died of pneumonia.
In the end ( book 5 ) Bendrix and Henry find themselves surprisingly close as they grieve the loss of Sarah. Although Sarah had expressed a desire to become Catholic, Henry and Bendrix decide against giving her a Catholic burial. In fact, when visited by a priest, Bendrix makes it clear that Sarah will be cremated, despite the Church’s objections.