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Graham Greene is best known for his novels, which can be largely split into two genres

- entertaining thrillers and more literary works that, according to this site, "explore the
ambiguities of modern man and ambivalent moral or political issues in a contemporary
setting." After graduating from Oxford University, he worked as a journalist, before
publishing his first book, "The Man Within," in 1929. After its success, he hoped to turn
to novel-writing full-time, but had to supplement his income with freelance journalism.
He also wrote plays and short stories. Although his literary works, such as The Power
and the Glory, are arguably the books for which he is most remembered, his thrillers
are still entertaining reading. This short story, called "The Case for the
Defence," published in 1939, may be short and sweet, but is a good example of his
work.
The narrator describes the case of the title as one that it most definitely cut-and-dried.
The murderer of an elderly woman has been caught and stands in the dock: "...this
murderer was all but found with the body: no one present when the Crown counsel
outlined his case believed that the man in the dock stood any chance at all." There was
a witness to the murder; a Mrs Salmon, who had seen his face illuminated in the street
light. Mrs Salmon was regarded to be an exceptionally reliable witness. She was a
decent, law-abiding citizen with excellent eyesight and no reason to make up what she
had seen. And indeed she had seen the man standing in the dock bending over the
body of the dead woman.
The only problem is that he has an identical twin brother, who is standing at the back
of the court room, and Mrs Salmon has no idea which of the brothers is the guilty
party. As a result, both brothers get to go free. Yet the story does not end there. As
the men leave the court, one of them falls into the road and is killed. But was it the
brother who was innocent?
This is a very short story, originally published in a magazine; it therefore has to pack a
punch in a very efficient way. Graham Greene manages to do that very successfully by
using third person narration and a narrator who is just a casual observer and clearly
knows very little about the case. This enables him to give a brief overview of the
scene, leaving a great deal to the reader's imagination. This brevity makes the
highlight of the story, the revelation that there is an identical twin brother, stand out all
the more.
Even the death at the end is described with great economy of words: "He gave a
squeal like a rabbit and that was all; he was dead, his skull smashed just as Mrs
Parker's had been." It may be a little too blunt for some people's comfort, but that is
the author's intention - he wants to shock, to make the reader remember that life is
fragile and death can come to anyone at any time.
It is interesting that Greene chose his key characters to be twins. He may have been
trying to point out that looks can be deceptive and witnesses can be unreliable, for
reasons that are beyond their understanding, which could be a criticism of the legal
system. It is not that there is any sympathy for the brothers. One of them is obviously
guilty; that is very apparent right from the start of the story. Not only were there
witnesses to the murder, but the guilty party looks evil: "He was a heavy stout man
with bulging bloodshot eyes. All his muscles seemed to be in his thighs." Greene was a

Catholic, although his faith seemed to have dwindled by the end of his life, and could
be commenting on the fact that man really shouldn't be deciding the fate of his fellow
man; that is for God alone to decide - hence the comment about it possibly being
divine vengeance at the end. Knowing that the death penalty was still in force at the
time of writing strengthens this argument.
It initially seems that the revelation about the twin is the only twist in the tale.
However, there is another one; one that is even more chilling. After the death of his
brother, the surviving twin looks across at Mrs Salmon. The narrator obviously doesn't
know what he is thinking - he is clearly devastated at the death of his twin - but the
suggestion is that he will make someone pay for his loss and Mrs Salmon, having just
tried to put the nail in one twin's coffin, could end up being in the line of fire. However,
if he does track her down, will it be the murderer committing a second murder? Or will
it be an innocent man seeking revenge for the death of his guilty brother? It's another
reminder that life can often throw curveballs and that unfortunately there is often no
rhyme or reason for it. It's a depressing assessment of life, but although Greene may
be trying to shock with an exaggerated example, there is no doubt that it is also a
realistic assessment and readers can only hope that nothing similar will happen to
them.

The Case for the Defence


The Case for the Defence is a short story written by Graham Greene. The story takes
place in England around the time it was written, in the late 1930s, when a conviction
for murder carried a death penalty. We find ourselves in Central Criminal Court in
London where the trial of the Peckham murder is being held. In this story we meet
Mrs. Salmon who testifies against the defendant Mr. Adams. But it turns out he has a
twin brother and the witnesses can not be sure of which one of them they saw. Mr.
Adams is therefore aquitted, although one of them commited the murder. Outside of
the courtroom one of the two brothers is pushed by the crowd and hit by a bus. If it was
the murderer or not we do not know. But what we do know, is that their might be a
killer that Mrs. Salmon witnessed against on free foot.
The narrator of the story is most likely the prosecutor as he is in the courtroom, and
talking to Mrs. Salmon , following her out after the trial and speaking of her as the ideal
witness. The narrator does not participate in the plot, but he or she is observing and
refering from the events of the story in third person. By having a third person narrator
the author achieves an open story where you need to read between the lines, whereas
an omniscient narrator to take an example, would know everything about the
characters and in a way kill some of the tension in the story.
Even though Mrs. Salmon is not really significant to the theme, she is important to the
plot of the story and is the protagonist. Mrs. Salmon is a round character and is
described like this by the narrator: She was the ideal witness, with her slight Scotch
accent and her expression of honesty, care and kindness. (...) There was no malice in
her. The reason I think the author chose to describe Mrs. Salmon like that, is to point
out that she would tell the truth, that she would be a character with credibility. That
way the reader can be sure that it really was Mr. Adams that she saw. The

characterizing of Mr. Adams has the same purpose. He was a heavy stout man with
bulging bloodshot eyes. (...) Yes an ugly customer, one you wouldnt forget. This
discription rules out the chance of the witnesses being wrong.
In this short story, Graham Greene has used some narrative techniques to set a mood
or point out some things. Like the plot-structure of the story and using certain
language. Although there is some tension in the beginning of the story, I would say the
tension gradually builds up until the twin brother rises in the back of the courtroom,
which is the climax, and then fades out. But the author also ends the story with some
tension. The last sentence:But if you were Mrs. Salmon, could you sleep at night?
points out that there might be a murderer on free foot that she witnessed against in
court. Leaving the reader with the possibilty of a murderer coming for her. One
interesting thing in the story is the date of the murder, Febuary 14. This is Valentines
Day, the day when you show someone you care. This might be a coincidence or maybe
the author may have thought that it would be a nice contrast to what happened that
day in the story. Graham Green also uses words that are typical in law to create a
courtroom atmosphere. This gives the story that particular mood he wishes for the
story to have. For example: Crown counsel or The man in the dock. Other than this,
he has not done anything distinctive regarding style or language.
During the time of this story, a convinction for murder was punished with a deathsentence. I think that what Graham Greene tries to say through The Case for the
Defence is that execution should be abolished. This message becomes particularly
clear when one of the twin brothers is run over by a bus: The story says that the police
kept the roadway clear for traffic, yet a bus suddenly comes driving the exact moment
that he is pushed out on the road. Divine vengeance?, the author says in the text. By
writing this I think that Graham Greene is evidently saying that human beings do not
have the right to judge other people, only God should have this jurystiction. And with
this I totally agree. How can we as humans, all created equal by God, give ourselves
the right to judge others?
Analysis

of:

The

Case

for

the Defence

Death penalties are strictly forbidden in England today, but if we go only eighty years back in time, to the late
1930s,
this
sort
of
penalty
were
still
very
much
in
use.
In the crime; The Case for the Defence, we follow the case for a Mr Adams. He is the main suspect of
murdering an old woman. She was found battered to death in Northwood Street, right outside London. The
case is looking quite bad for the defendant, as the one witness after the other give evidence that he is guilty.
But at the time when the situation seems really hopeless for Mr Adams, the case takes a shocking turn. The
ideal witness, Mrs Salmon, enters the witness box and is about to swear that they have taken the right man,
when the defendants twin brother stands up. Her certainty of the guilt of the defendant is in a second turned to
totally confusion. Mr Adams and his twin brother looks like two drops of water, and its impossible to be
absolutely sure of which one who is the guilty one. Because of the loss of evidence, the suspected twin and
his brother are set free. The huge amount of press that is right outside the entrance is waiting for the twins to
come out. In just a second, one of the twins is pushed right in front of a bus and dies. Then there is just one
big question left; did the guilty twin die? Or is he the one who is alive, who now runs free?
The story is told through the eyes of an anonymous person. If its a man or a woman, I dont know, but we do

know that he or she is in the court during the trial. In the first paragraph, the storyteller says They named it
the Peckham murder in the headlines, so if I should guess what part the storyteller is in the court, I would
guess for a journalist for a newspaper. Also at the end of the story, when the twins are acquitted, he or she is
only six feet away. This makes my theory most likely correct. The person who is telling the story describes
the witnesses and how they present their evidences against Mr Adams innocence.
Its quite hard to point out one main character in the story. In one way you can say that the main character is
the storyteller, but since he or she doesnt take part in the real action, I have to check him or her off the list.
The defendant, Mr Adams, doesnt say anything in the whole story, even though he is the suspect, so he cant
either be the main character. How about Mrs Salmon then? She is the most mentioned person in the story, and
the main witness. So if I had to choose one main character, it has to be her.
The

characters

in

the

book:

I think we should start with Mrs Salmon. She is the most important witness in the trial, and her description of
the murders appearance fits perfectly with Mr Adams looks. She looks like the perfect witness, with her kind
and innocent looks. Her language is firmly and precisely spoken, in a slight Scottish accent. This all
combined,
makes
her
seems
like
an
angel
in
the
court.
Mr Adams or Mr Adam, is the defendant and is found guilty in murdering the old woman. He faces the
gallows if not something really proving is brought to the court. Mr Adam is one of those men you wouldnt
like to meet in a dark side street late at night. He is a large man, with a big stomach and muscular thighs. One
characteristic
that
the
four
witnesses
noted
was
his
bulging
bloodshot
eyes.
Mrs Parker, Henry MacDougall and Mr Wheeler, are the three other witnesses in the trial. Both Mrs Parker
and Mr Wheeler woke up from a noise and spotted Mr Adams when they looked out the window. Henry
MacDougall on the other hand, nearly ran Mr Adams down, who was walking in the middle of the road. They
all
note
his
special
eyes.
The setting in the story takes place in the Central Criminal Court and at Northwood Street, were the murder
was committed. The story takes place back in the late 1930s in England. Most of the story is in court, were the
witnesses
are
questioned
by
the
counsel
for
the
Crown.
My

conclusion:

I thought at the beginning that the story was boring and pointless, but it turned out to have a frustrating, but
interesting end. I think the story is about; that you can never say for certain that the suspected for murder,
really is guilty, especially if the evidences is not good enough. So I will say that the main theme is justice.
Justice in every case of murder, likewise as in any other situation. Like Mrs Salmon, she could swear that the
man she saw that night was Mr Adams, until the point when his twin brother stood up. Then she was no
longer able to point out the guilty one. What if the other brother was the man who actually had killed the poor
old woman? And thats the thing about the story, that we will never find out who actually was responsible for
the
murder.
When I first looked at the heading, I immediately thought that the story was going to be hard to read, but it
wasnt. The author, Graham Greene, wrote the story in a way you can imagine that you are the storyteller who
watches
all
from
the
sideline.
And
the
language
is
easy
to
understand.
I did really like the text, since it had an interesting point at the end. I liked the last sentence; But if you were

Mrs Salmon, could you sleep at night? because Mrs Salmon had just testified against one of the brothers, and
since she doesnt know which is the one who is still alive, and if it is the guilty one, maybe he will take
revenge on her. I will absolutely recommend this text to others, since it has a turning point that you cant stop
thinking
about.

Some

facts

about

the

author:

Henry Graham Greene was born as the fourth of six children in Hertfordshire, England, but at the age of 22 he
moved to London. Later he lived in West Africa, Nice and at the French Riviera.
When he moved to London he married Vivien Dayrell-Browning. But he didnt manage to be a good family
man. He had many affairs, and he claimed that through the 1920s and 1930s he had some sort of relationship
with
no
less
than
forty-seven
prostitutes.
His father, Charles Greene, was not well educated, but became the headmaster of Berkhamsted School. His
mother
was
called
Marion
Raymond
Greene.
Henry started his career early of as a journalist, first for the Nottingham Journal and later as a sub-editor for
The Times. This was a wrong chose for him since he never got any success. After his successful release of the
novel The Man Within in 1929, he quit his job as a sub- editor and started a career as a full time novelist. His
firsts books success didnt last long, since his two next books were a failure. But in 1932 things started to
look promising again. He released the novel Stambol Train which got excellent critics. The book was adapted
as
the
film
Orient
Express
two
year
later.
When he moved to London he married Vivien Dayrell-Browning. But he didnt manage to be a good family
man. He had many affairs, and he claimed that through the 1920s and 1930s he had some sort of relationship
with
no
less
than
forty-seven
prostitutes.

Graham Greene has been quite good known for his affairs with other woman while he still was married to
Vivian and a catholic and also the many the lawsuits in his career. But maybe the most shocking statements
were made after his death. After his death a biography was released who referred Graham Greene as a spy
who has been reporting to British intelligence. Who has been impossible to reveal because of his lifelong
novelist
career
as
cover.
It was the strangest murder trial I ever attended. They named it the
Peckham Murder in the headlines, though Northwood Street, where the old woman
was found battered to death, was not strictly speaking in Peckham.
From The Case for the Defence by Graham Green.
Graham Greene was an English novelist, short-story writer, playwright and journalist,
who was a fantastic storyteller but also liked to deal with moral issues in his works,
many of which often had political settings. Greene was a devout Roman Catholic and a
member of the Communist party and Independent Labour Party. His short story, The
Case for the Defence, is a thriller written in 1939 when, at that time in Britain, a
conviction for murder carried with it the death penalty. Greene uses this book to throw
doubts over this punishment and to echo his beliefs that capital punishment should be
abolished.
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 a 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.
Parkers 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. However,
divine intervention takes over the rule of Justice when on leaving the court, one of the
Adams brothers is hit by a speeding bus, and killed, his skull being hammered in the
precise way that Mrs. Parker's had been. The story finishes with the reader not
knowing who the murderer was was it the man lying dead on the road or was it the
brother who is knelt crying over his twins body?
The story is told through a narrator (probably the prosecutor in court) 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.
This short story is a good tense read and Graham Greene keeps the tension going right
up to the end of the book 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
some 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 Graham Greene.
The Case for the Defence
The Case for the Defence is a short story written by Graham Greene in the late 1930. Its a story
about a murder trial that is quite unusual. Graham Greene wrote it as a reaction when a conviction
for
murder
carried
the
death
penalty.
A woman has been found battered to death, and there are four witnesses. The suspect doesnt
stand a chance of getting away, but there is a major break-through. He has a twin brother who is
identical,
which
causes
both
to
be
acquitted
due
lack
of
evidence.
I think the book is about the good and the bad in a community. The criminal in this short story is
described as a ugly guy, with bulging bloodshot eyes, and this isnt a very nice description, and I
think the reason the author has described the man like this is to have a very clear perception
between good and bad. Mrs. Salmon, the star witness is described as the ideal witness with a
touch of scotch accent, and her impression of honesty. I think this description helps her being the
good role model in the book, with her testifying against the suspect, contributing to getting him a
verdict.

Another theme is religion, and that no human have the right to decide to kill a man, no matter what,
but God is the only one to do this. I came up with this theme, because in the pamphlet it says that
Graham Green wrote it as a reaction of a death penalty case in the late 1930, and after a serious
round of thinking. For example, one of the Adams was mysteriously pushed in front of a bus which
causes him to die. I think that this is Gods way to punish him. Graham Greene writes: but if you
where Mrs. Salomon would you be able to sleep at night? as a comment when one of the Adams
where killed. I think this is to wake up the mind of the reader to understand the main theme of the
story,
the
fact
that
god
never
would
punish
an
innocent
man.
The main characters in the story are Mrs. Salmon, Mr. Adams and Mrs. Parker. Mrs. Parker is the
women who was found battered to death. Mrs. Salmon is the ideal witness, and she testifies against
Mr. Adams, who killed Mrs. Parker. It isnt mentioned in the story how the relationship between Mrs.
Parker and Mrs. Salmon is, but I guess they are somehow friends, because they are neighbors.
There isnt a hint of why Mr. Adams killed Mrs. Parker, but after his appearance to judge from, I
would
say
hes
like
a
wild
animal,
with
a
thirst
for
blood.
Where and when is not mentioned in the story, but I must guess the time is around 1930, when
Graham Greene wrote the book. The location is in Northwood Street, England, near Peckham. I
imagine Northwood Street is an upper-class society, where people own there own houses with
gates, as explained in the story. I doubt the setting is relevant for the story, because the theme can
be
put
in
a
lot
of
different
scenes
with
the
same
result.
The narrator is a spectator in court, a reporter who is covering the murder case. He describes the
circumstances and the setting in court. There is a quite exciting story all through, with new added
information all the time. The turning point is when Mr. Adams (nr 2) raises in court, leading the trial
to come to a brutal end, causing one criminal and one innocent man to be acquitted. Another
turning
point
is
when
one
of
the
twins
gets
killed
by
the
bus.
The language in the story is quite normal English, but you do recognize its British and not American
English. There is a lot of dialogue in the text, and I think this is a reason for the text to remain the
excitement throughout the whole story. There arent so many words that are hard to understand, but
a lot of words and expressions regarding law and order, and this can be tricky if you havent
experienced
these
before.
All in all I liked this text, mostly because of the story, but some because of the way it was written
too. I think it was kind of weird the way the twins where both acquitted, instead of more
investigation, but I guess this is to get a clear view of the theme.
You are right that there are supposed to have been four witnesses who saw Adams around the time
of the crime. Mrs. Salmon, of course, saw him from her window. Henry MacDougall nearly ran him
over while driving home. Mr. Wheeler lived next door to Mrs. Parker and also saw Adams through a
window just as Mrs. Salmon did. The fourth witness is mentioned in the last sentence of the
paragraph in which all these other witnesses are listed. The fourth witness is not given a name. It
is simply stated that this witness (we do not even know whether it was a man or a woman) saw
Adams in Laurel Avenue.
So, there is a fourth witness but we know nothing about that person.