Literature Annotations


Greene, Graham
The End of the Party


Genre Short Story (6 pp.)
KeywordsChildren, Death and Dying, Empathy, Family Relationships, Hysteria, Psychosomatic Medicine, Trauma
Summary

This story is narrated by a young boy who is observing his twin brother, Francis, as he expresses his extreme fear of the dark. Francis tries hard to avoid attending a children's party because he knows the plan is to play hide-and-seek in the dark. He pretends to have a cold, tells his parents and his nanny that he does not want to go, but is forced to attend anyway.

When the lights are turned out for this game, Francis is literally scared to death. His brother tries to comfort Francis by touching his arm, only to find that was the final unendurable anguish for his petrified sibling. When the lights are turned back on, the adults find Francis dead.

Commentary

This powerful story shows how indifferent and unaware adults can be about their own children's phobias and anxieties. Even though the twin/narrator feels great empathy for his brother and understands his fears, he cannot really help him, though he tries to intercede and explain to the adults, who dismiss Francis's fears as silly.

SourceThe Portable Graham Greene
PublisherViking
Edition1994
Place PublishedNew York
Alternate SourceCollected Stories of Graham Greene
Alternate PublisherPenguin
Alternate Edition1929
Place PublishedNew York
MiscellaneousFirst published: 1929
Annotated by Donley, Carol
Date of Entry 05/11/99
Last Revised 06/01/99