Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock

Music Symbol Icon

Pinkie fancies himself heartless and hard, and he does often act very much like a man without a conscience. Music is the only thing that can pierce Pinkie’s carefully constructed armor, reminding him that he has a soul which will ultimately either be saved or damned. A devout but doctrinally confused Catholic, Pinkie can’t help but be moved by music, which, in addition to awakening his religious conscience at inconvenient times, evokes in him odd and inexplicable feelings of empathy: “Only the music made him uneasy, the catgut vibrating in the heart; it was like nerves losing their freshness, it was like age coming on, other people’s experience battering on the brain.” As a tourist destination, Brighton’s atmosphere is infused with music, and so Pinkie’s focus on violence is forever being interrupted by misgivings and attacks of self-doubt, all of which he is able to tamp down until Ida Arnold, an amateur lounge singer, succeeds in tracking him down. In this way, each time a piece of music butts into the storyline or interrupts Pinkie’s heartless scheming, it is a reminder of that which is vibrant, sacred, and vital in every person: the soul.

Music Quotes in Brighton Rock

The Brighton Rock quotes below all refer to the symbol of Music. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Catholicism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Brighton Rock published in 1938.
Part I, Chapter 2 Quotes

The imagination hadn’t awoken. That was his strength. He couldn’t see through other people’s eyes or feel with their nerves. Only the music made him uneasy, the catgut vibrating in the heart; it was like nerves losing their freshness, it was like age coming on, other people’s experience battering on the brain.

Related Characters: Pinkie Brown (speaker)
Related Symbols: Music
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
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The inhuman voice whistled round the gallery and the Boy sat silent. It was he this time who was being warned; life held the vitriol bottle and warned him: I’ll spoil your looks. It spoke to him in the music, and when he protested that he for one would never get mixed up, the music had its own retort at hand: ‘You can’t always help it. It sort of comes that way.’

Related Characters: Pinkie Brown (speaker), Rose
Related Symbols: Music
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
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