The novel begins in a dull, grey town which, we come to realize, represents the afterlife. The grey town is lonely, and the people who live there are always fighting and yelling at one another. For some, the grey town is Hell—a place where humans are punished for eternity (though their punishment consists of arguing, fighting, and loneliness, rather than the stereotypical fire and brimstone). For others, though, the grey town is a form of Purgatory—a place where souls live for a time, before eventually migrating to Heaven.
The Grey Town Quotes in The Great Divorce
That's one of the disappointments. I thought you'd meet interesting historical characters. But you don't: they're too far away.
I'd start a little business. I'd have something to sell. You'd soon get people coming to live near—centralization. Two fully-inhabited streets would accommodate the people that are now spread over a million square miles of empty streets. I'd make a nice little profit and be a public benefactor as well.
“What I'd like to understand,” said the Ghost, “is what you're here for, as pleased as Punch, you, a bloody murderer, while I've been walking the streets down there and living in a place like a pigsty all these years.”
“But I don't understand. Is judgment not final? Is there really a way out of Hell into Heaven?”
“It depends on the way ye’re using the words. If they leave that grey town behind it will not have been Hell. To any that leaves it, it is Purgatory.”