Pinkie is waiting for Rose in front of the municipal building. It’s their wedding day and she’s late. He goes walking down the street a bit with Dallow and they stop in front of a news agency where, at the back of the store, there are a number of naughty gifts and books for sale. Dallow tells Pinkie he knows how he feels. He was married once and the nerves got him, too. He says the naughty books never really taught him anything he didn’t know, except for some things about flowers, the raunchiness of which surprised him.
Instead of preparing himself for a holy rite, Pinkie is looking at pornography. Dallow is attempting to ease Pinkie’s wedding day jitters, but Pinkie is repelled by anything having to do with sex, even if it’s about the oddly erotic reproductive processes of flowers.
Pinkie wishes Kite were here instead of Dallow—he could talk to Kite—but if Kite were still alive, he wouldn’t be marrying Rose. None of this would have happened. He tells Dallow the story of a girl who went to his school when he was a boy. The girl’s name was Annie Collins and she killed herself when she was fifteen by putting her head on the railway track. She was pregnant at the time with her second child. She’d had her first when she was twelve. Pinkie tells Dallow the father could have been any one of twelve different boys.
The story of Annie Collins appears, at first glance, to be a non sequitur, but Pinkie is compelled to tell Dallow about her because she is an extreme example of the dangers of sex. Sex leads to babies and babies lead to despair. Pinkie knows he is just hours away from losing his virginity and doing so with a woman he neither loves nor is attracted to. The possibility exists that they will conceive a child.
Pinkie is in a rare talkative mood. He tells Dallow that he’s read the sappy love stories in the magazines, and he’s read smut, too. All of it’s the same. Dallow is uncomfortable. He tells Pinkie that it’s almost 2 P.M. He really needs to get to the registrar. Pinkie looks down the street and sees Rose walking toward them. Pinkie muses about how Prewitt managed the whole affair by adding two years to Pinkie’s age. Rose has done herself up for the occasion. She has a new hair cut and has put on some makeup. To Pinkie, she looks like a doll you could buy in a shop, one you could pray to but not expect an answer from.
Pinkie’s fixation on sex suggests that he is nervous about the honeymoon night and about how he will perform. Rose’s efforts with her appearance verge on the pathetic. Her doll-like face reminds Pinkie of the prize he won at the shooting booth on the afternoon Hale was killed. Even on his wedding day, Pinkie is thinking of murder.
Pinkie asks Rose why she was so late. She tells him she went to church, hoping to confess. She wanted to be in a state of grace when she married him, but the priest wasn’t there. She says that they’re about to commit a mortal sin. Pinkie tells her there’s no use in either of them confessing ever again. Then he starts to lead her to the registrar, struck again by the sense that he needs her.
Pinkie’s assertion that neither he nor Rose need confess ever again is really an admission that their lives as Catholics in good standing are over. Rose has more hope, though, and a greater desire to remain in God’s grace.
The hall of the municipal building is tiled like a bathroom. Mr. Prewitt makes jokes as Pinkie and Rose make their way toward the chapel. Rose’s parents have not come. Someone has dropped a rose on the floor. They step over it. Everyone takes a seat in an anteroom where the atmosphere is bland and prosaic. The doors open and a man and wife emerge. The wife looks astonished. Mr. Prewitt leads Rose and Pinkie into a small green room where there are three chairs lined up against the wall. It’s time. Rose is deflated by the spartan nature of the surroundings and ceremony.
This ceremony is ugly and practical and, to Rose, depressing. It is nothing like the wedding she thought she would have someday. The dropped rose symbolizes her abandoned hopes. No one, of course, notices. This wedding is not about Rose. It’s about Pinkie’s desire to keep her from testifying about her should Hale’s murder every become a subject of further investigation.
It’s over almost before they know it. Pinkie says his vows quickly, feeling shame as he does so. Rose repeats hers as if surprised. The registrar asks about rings, and Pinkie tells him angrily that they don’t have them—this isn’t a church service. Later, they sign the marriage certificate and Pinkie is filled with a strange combination of lightness and gloom. He knows they’ve committed a sin, and it somehow makes him feel like a man. He leads Rose out into the hall where someone has picked up the flower and invites everyone to come and have drinks on him to celebrate the occasion. He thinks of Sylvie stretched out in the back of the Lancia and he is filled with dread.
Even though he believes the wedding to be a farce, Pinkie is still moved by the idea that he and Rose are bonded, if not by holy matrimony, then at least by mutual sin. Rose loves Pinkie and wants very much to be his wife. Pinkie is only using her to protect himself.
They all head to a pub around the corner. It’s nearly closing time, but they get drinks anyway. Prewitt offers an awkward toast. Rose, who hasn’t spoken since the ceremony, stares at her reflection in the bar mirror. Dallow asks her what she’s thinking and Pinkie answers for her, because he feels he knows her as well as he knows himself. He says she’s thinking that it wasn’t much of a wedding, and Rose nods. Prewitt says all weddings are equal in the eyes of the law, but Pinkie scoffs at such a suggestion. He knows that he and Rose are in agreement that the ceremony meant nothing.
The sad celebration is fitting, considering that the wedding itself was nothing more than a technicality. Pinkie flatters himself when he assumes that he knows what Rose is thinking. She doesn’t consider the wedding meaningless. Rather, she is disappointed by its lack of elegance and romantic atmosphere.
Still, when the rest of the men leave Pinkie and Rose alone, they’re shy with one another. Pinkie realizes that he should have planned to take her on a honeymoon of some kind. Perhaps a weekend away to a different sea. He offers to take her to the Cosmopolitan for the night. She can’t believe it. He asks where she’s left her bag, but she explains that she has no things, really. Only what she’s wearing. Her parents didn’t give her any money. They’d both gotten into moods and so that was that.
Pinkie’s specialty is killing and violence. He knows nothing about planning a honeymoon. The Cosmopolitan is Colleoni’s home and headquarters. He wants to take Rose there to impress her and to prove to Colleoni and to himself that he is the older man’s equal. Lucky for him, Rose is easily impressed.
When they get to the Cosmopolitan, the clerk tells Pinkie that there are no more vacant rooms. Pinkie is furious. He tells the clerk that his money is as good as anybody’s, but the clerk, giving Rose a condescending once over, insists that the hotel is completely booked. With tears of humiliation and rage pricking his eyes, Pinkie grabs Rose and they leave the place together. Rose tells him she doesn’t care where they stay. She suggests Frank’s but he vetoes the idea. They decide to head to the pier for the time being.
Pinkie would like to be Colleoni, who is very much at home in the Cosmopolitan. Instead, he cannot even get a room for the night. Young and poor, Pinkie and Rose face the contempt from the hotel clerk. Pinkie’s pride is injured, but Rose is too happy to mind the obvious slight.
The sea moves in and out relentlessly. Its motion reminds Pinkie of killing Spicer and the whole chain of events that began with Kite’s death and shows no sign of ending. Rose points to a girl in the crowd that’s staring at Pinkie. It’s Molly Pink, the fat girl Hale chatted up in a futile attempt to keep Pinkie off his trail. She’s with the same friend and Pinkie can tell they’re talking about him. He lies to Rose and says he’s never seen the girls before in his life.
Although he is open to the possibility of a blood bath, Pinkie is unable to finish what he started. The sea’s never-ending motion symbolizes the eternal nature of Kite, Hale, and Spicer’s deaths, and Molly’s appearance is one more reminder of a day that Pinkie would just as soon forget.
Rose stops in front of a souvenir booth and asks Pinkie to go into a sound studio and record his voice for her. Pinkie tells her not to be silly, and Rose erupts, saying that he’s never gotten her a single thing, not even today, and she has no idea what he wants with her. He tries to calm her and promises he’ll do whatever she says. He just doesn’t understand why she’d want a recording of his voice. Also, they don’t have a record player. She says that if he ever goes away for a while, she can listen to him talk and she likes that idea. She’ll borrow a gramophone if she has to. He goes into the booth and says, “Goddamn, you little bitch, why can’t you go back home forever and let me be?” He hands her the record and tells her he said something loving.
This recording is like a ticking time bomb. Rose wants only to hear Pinkie telling her he loves her. He has yet to say the words. His message is, instead, bitter and designed to hurt her. The fact that they don’t own a record player means that Rose is spared Pinkie’s cruelty for the moment, but she treasures the record and is now on the lookout for a gramophone. She is determined to someday listen to the message. Her love for Pinkie will never be the same after that.
Rose suggests they move on to the covered walkway under the pier. Pinkie feels for a second a rush of sexual desire at the thought of returning to the sight of Hale’s murder. It’s like mingling good and evil. They’re in front of the shops that sell carnival food. Rose wants a stick of Brighton Rock. Pinkie agrees to buy it for her, thinking that he now has her the way Christians have God in the Eucharist: by the guts.
Pinkie’s sexual desire is often motivated by violence. He is aroused by the idea of bringing together Rose’s love for him and the last moments of Hale’s life. Brighton Rock was used somehow in Hale’s killing. Once Rose eats it, it will bond her and Pinkie like a sort of twisted version of the Eucharist.
Pinkie enters the candy shop like he owns the place. He knows every square inch of it. There’s something new, though—a wall of broken rock. The cashier says some clumsy men came in and broke a bunch. Pinkie orders two sticks of candy and leaves, impressed with his own cleverness. They eat the candy and Rose says they should probably go somewhere. Pinkie is filled with anxiety at the prospect of the marriage bed. He suggests a movie, but the film they go to see is a romance and his anxieties swirl anew. A clock by the screen shows the time. It’s late. He knows he can’t put it off much longer. A sentimental song accompanies the actor’s lovemaking on screen and Pinkie weeps, envisioning a life free of hate and envy and fear that he knows will never be his.
This is the shop where Hale was killed. Pinkie’s men were the ones who broke the candy. Pinkie enjoys revisiting the scene of the crime without raising suspicion. It gives him a feeling of power and self-satisfaction. That feeling is short-lived, however, when he thinks about what the honeymoon night will require of him. The clock in the movie theater is a not-so-subtle reminder that Pinkie’s life as a carefree virgin is almost over. The cynical Pinkie is moved by the film’s sappy score to dream of a future his present makes impossible.
Pinkie tells Rose roughly that they should go and they head back to Frank’s, the sea seeming to disappear under an airplane, music drifting over them. No one’s awake at Frank’s. Judy left a note telling Pinkie they were out celebrating his wedding. Up in the room, they stand around for a while awkwardly. Rose says she likes his place; it’s homey. She’ll tidy up tomorrow. He says she won’t touch a thing. It’s his cave, he thinks, and she’s an intruder. The bell rings in the hall, but instead of going to answer it Pinkie grabs Rose and begins to make violent love to her. He wants to get it over with.
Pinkie comes to terms with the fact that he cannot put it off any longer; he must make love to Rose. He needs to keep her in love with him. Otherwise, she might be tempted to go to the cops and tell them what she knows about Hale’s death. His extreme reaction to her offer to tidy up shows that while he is legally married to Rose, he is, in his mind, still very much a single man.
Pinkie is surprised to feel a tiny bit of tenderness for Rose during the act. In fact, it wasn’t as horrible as he’d always imagined. He’d exposed himself to another person and she hadn’t laughed. He supposed he was going to Hell, but it was good to have that decided as well. He feels strong, vital, a man finally. The bell continues to ring. Rose is afraid it’s the cops. She tells him she loves him. He runs to answer it, promising to come right back.
Pinkie told himself for years that he found the idea of sex disgusting because he witnessed the ugliness of his parents’ weekly, Saturday night rituals and because it would give a woman control over his life. Really, his feelings were founded on fear. Rose did not mock him, and he now feels virile and immortal.
It’s Cubitt and he’s very drunk. He tells Pinkie he’s only come back to get his things, but then he says he wishes the two of them could be friends—they’re like brothers, really. Pinkie tells him they were never friends and he isn’t about to take Colleoni’s leavings. Cubitt begins to cry. He asks Pinkie to loan him some money; he’s broke. When Pinkie refuses, his sadness turns to anger. He starts to tell Pinkie he could get him into real trouble. He mentions Hale and Spicer. He tells Pinkie there’s someone who would pay him a lot more money for a lot worse. His speech is garbled by drink. Pinkie isn’t worried. Cubitt, he thinks, is like a professor, going on about the exports and imports of a foreign country, whereas Pinkie has been to the actual jungle and seen the goods.
Cubitt and Pinkie are playing an elaborate game of chicken. Cubitt, of course, has already told Ida too much. Drunk and bent on blackmail, he tells Pinkie he’s willing to do more. Pinkie’s reaction is both arrogant and revealing. He thinks of himself as an experienced and wise man whose knowledge has been hard-won. Cubitt, he believes, in an amateur by comparison. All Pinkie knows, though, is lying, killing, and intimidation.
Rose is waiting for Pinkie on the bed. She’s no longer afraid. She thought it would be the cops. Instead, it was a drunken man, and she’s used to drunken men. Pinkie asks her why she thought the cops would come for him, and she whispers “Kolley Kibber.” Pinkie realizes she knows all about what happened to Hale. She’s known the whole time and she doesn’t care. He says, with a faint trace of admiration that she’s just as bad as he is, and she agrees, staring up at him with devotion.
It is finally clear to Pinkie that Rose has known all along that he killed Hale and that Spicer planted the card under her table at Snow’s to throw the cops off their trail. Pinkie has spent much of his time with Rose alternately underestimating and despising her. Now he feels a stirring of respect for her. He no longer sees her as completely good.
Later, Pinkie is dreaming. At first, he’s in a schoolyard and he’s the new kid. He’s sick with fear that he’ll be mocked and rejected, but then Kite appears and, for the moment, he is not alone. Kite gives him a razor and Pinkie knows what he must do. The dream changes then, though, and he’s on a pier, tipping into the sea. He scrambles frantically, sure that he’ll drown, but really he’s just in his bed in Paradise Piece and he’s trying to sleep while his parents make love in the other room. He feels dead while they do it. It’s as if he doesn’t exist to them. Then he wakes. The clock strikes three. Relieved to be alone in his room at Frank’s, he goes for a glass of water. Rose calls to him from the bed and he remembers.
This dream is significant on many fronts. First, it highlights the torments Pinkie lived through as a child. He was bullied and ostracized. He also felt rejected by his parents, who, when they made love every Saturday, seemed to forget they even had a son. The dream also suggests that Pinkie felt genuine affection for Kite, but that he might have been the one who killed him. The clock striking brings him back to a reality he would rather not face: that of being married to Rose.
No longer exhilarated from the act of love, Pinkie is depressed by the thought that he is now tied to Rose forever. The marriage at the registrar wasn’t fake; it was real, and he will now have to work to keep her love. He won’t be free until the day he dies. He goes out for air and walks toward the channel. While he walks, he notices there’s something in his pocket. It’s a note from Rose in which she says that she will love him forever. No matter what he does, she will always be by his side. Pinkie crumples the paper and almost throws it in the trash, but at the last minute, he holds onto it, thinking it might be useful someday.
Rose’s message of love and devotion is in direct contrast to the bitter recording Pinkie made for her on their wedding day. Pinkie keeps the note not because he is touched by it but because he senses he might be able to use it against Rose in the future. Regardless, Rose’s words echo his premonition that he is tied to her forever.
On his way back to Frank’s, Pinkie sees an old woman in the gutter. Her face is rotting, and her teeth are discolored. To Pinkie, she seems like the face of damnation. Then he realizes she is praying the rosary and he realizes she is actually, to his surprise, among the saved.
Pinkie can’t imagine that someone so poor and ragged would be favored by God. He had thought that God’s chosen ones looked more like Colleoni, or himself.