The Tenth Man


 by Graham Greene
The book " The Tenth Man" by Graham Greene takes place in
France in the 1940's during the German occupation. The book
begins in a German prison with the narrator talking about
the prisoners. He singles out two, the Mayor of Bourge and
Pierre an engine driver. Through a situation concerning
these two men, we are introduced to the main character,
Jean-Louis Chavel who later changes his last name to
Charlot. The narrator goes on to describe how the prisoner
can hear the executions that occur every night. 
One night a German was killed, so for punishment three
prisoners were to be killed from each shed. To be fair, the
men in the cell wherein the story begins, drew marked paper
from a shoe. Chavel drew the last marked slip which
condemned him to death and he became hysterical. In his
hysteria he offered to give every thing he owned to someone
if he would die for him. A man named Janvier, thinking of
his sister and mother, spoke up and took his offer. After
the agreement, Janvier drew up a will leaving everything he
now owned to his sister and mother. The next morning he was
The story then shifts to months later in Paris where
Chavel, whose name has been changed to Charlot, is looking
for a job since he had given everything away. Charlot then
returned to his old home where he meets Janvier's sister
and mother. Because Janvier's sister, Therese, did not k
now who he really was, she gave him a job because he knew
her brother. While working at the house, Charlot had
several run-ins with many childhood and adult friends but
managed to fool them in some way or another. 
As time passes, a beggar came into the town and pretended
that he was the real Chavel who had escaped persecution for
being a collaborator with the Germans during the
occupation. Vividly he explains the whole story and
convinces Therese that he is the real Chavel. Charlot
didn't do anything because he wanted to find out how he
knew the story and what he wanted. As a plan to get all the
land and money that Therese got from her brother, the
impostor Chavel convinces Therese that Charlot made him
look bad and her brother proposed the deal to him. While
proving that the impostor was in fact an impostor Charlot
was shot and killed. Before he died he made sure that
Therese would receive no trouble about the property and
money by leaving it to her in his will.
One moral issue in this book was the willingness to give up
one's life for another and the motives for doing so. People
sometimes sacrifice their life for another when that other
person is faced with death. I think the author put this in
the book because in today's society very few people are
willing to give up their life to save another, and if they
are willing they usually would do it for the wrong reasons.
For example in the book Janvier gave up his life for
another, but his motive was unclear. He could have done it
for his own personal glory because he would have died a
rich man. He could have also done it for his family so they
didn't have to live the rest of their life struggling to
survive. He could have also done it to save Chavel's life
because he thought it was the right thing to do. Also in
the end of the book Chavel gave up his life so Therese
would have no problems with land arguments and because he
loved her. 
In today's society, I believe that most people would
hesitate to save someone else if they could end up dying or
getting seriously injured. For example if someone was going
to get hit by a car and another person had a chance to push
the other person out of the way but they may injure or kill
themselves in the process, I don't think they will try to
save them. People today have the attitude that someone else
will do it or I am not going to do it because I don't like
that person. If people are willing to try and save the
person, they will do it for the the wrong reason. People
today are looking for some way to become the great hero so
they can have their picture on the news and everybody will
remember who they were. Another reason people would try and
save someone else would be because of money or some other
form of reward.
There are some people who would do it for what I think are
the right reasons. I believe if you do it because you care
for some else or for that other persons well-being you are
doing it for the right reasons . If you do it because you
are trying to get into heaven you are also doing it for the
right reason, because after all our goal in life is to go
to heaven because we are promised a better life once we get
there. I don't know if would try and save some one if I
know I would die trying. I am unsure because at the time I
would probably not have chance to way the situation and
would the consequences of my actions would be. I can not
also speak about what I would do in this situation because
I was never in one, I presume that instinct would take over
and probably do what would be needed to be done to help
that person in their time of need.
Another moral value in the book was giving up your riches
to save your own life and not thinking of others in any way
what so ever. People who believe in something, when faced
with a problem or difficulty, take the values of the people
imposing the problem on them. I think the author included
this issue in the book because in today's society, people
sell out what ever they believe in, just so they can get a
little ahead in life. In the book they talk of collaborates
who sold out t o the Germans and agreed to follow their
rules just so they would not be killed. What they didn't
think about is the many people who died trying to fight for
what they believed in and what the many people who were now
forced to live under these rules would have to go through. 
In today's society, especially in the business world,
people disregard what they value because they want that
better job or that raise or just to get on the boss' good
This is not exclusive only to the business world. Many
people lie about what they believe just to belong to a
group or to impress someone. This is a real problem among
children. They will relinquish their beliefs because they
don't want their friends to ridicule or mock them. 
One more moral value in " The Tenth Man" was not to take
advantage of some one who is depressed, hurt, injured, etc.
in any way. A lot of people use someone who has just gone
through a loss to take advantage of him/her. Once again the
author put this in the book because it is a prevalent
problem in the world. He also included this issue to show
how it can lead to more serious problems because these
people were already hurt and now they are hurt worse. In
the book after Therese's mother died she was very upset as
any child would be, and Chavel felt an attraction towards
here. He was warned by the priest not to take advantage of
her. He made the right decision in the book by not
mentioning it and taking it to his grave.
In society today many people prey on people who have been
hurt or depressed for one reason or another and take
advantage of them. They try to win their love and then take
them for everything they have. The right thing to do in
these situations would be to care for the person who is
hurt or down and help them through their problem. Once they
are stable you can tell them how you feel about them or
anything else. 
Deceiving someone else about who you truly are is another
moral issue in the book. People deliberately lie about
their identity or other information to take advantage of
another person. The author included this in the story to
teach that deception is wrong. In the story Chavel
pretended that he was Charlot. He did that so that Therese
would not find out that he was responsible for her brother'
demise. In the end it back fired and caused more problems
then it solved. Many people do not tell important
information about themselves to other people in the hope of
avoiding problems.. A good example of this is when applying
for a job and you are asked if you were ever arrested. Many
people lie so that they can get the job. However, what they
don't seem to realize is that the employer will check their
references and find out the truth. 
One moral that was not openly discussed but was hinted at,
was the issue of war and whether or not one should be
forced to fight. I think the author was for war if the
cause was a fair one. This is still an area of controversy
today. In all the wars we have fought since WWII, we have
questioned if it was really necessary. I believe that you
should not be forced to fight in any war that you do not
believe that we should be fighting in as a nation
The book portrayed many morals that society of today needs
to learn. If society learns these morals this world will be
a better place for everyone.

Quotes: Search by Author