Boekverslag : Graham Greene - The Human Factor
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The Human factor


Henry Graham Greene was born in Berkhamsted in 1904. He was Educated at Berkhamsted School where his father was the headmaster. Although Green had a happy childhood he was obsessed with evil, which made his parents send him away for six months of psychoanalysis. After he got his degree in modern history he to worked for a newspaper. After that he moved to London to work as an editor for The London Times. In the thirties he became a communist. During the Second World War he worked as a secret agent for the Secret intelligence Service. After the war had ended he travelled around the world and befriended several heads of state. He left England in 1966 and lived in Antibes in France till he died in 1991. Other books he wrote: Dr Fisher of Geneva, The Bomb Party and The captain and the enemy.


Everyman's Library

First Edition


Edition used



Because you get to know all the feelings and thoughts of the characters this is a novel of character.


Love and Loyalty, the inhumanity of people who don't care about others and the even less human behaviour of government and secret service.

Explanation of the title

The human factor is that of people that care about each other. Government, their secret service, but also individuals like Percival and Muller don't care. Therefor they behave in an inhuman way.


Introduction: Maurice castle works for a department of foreign office which is an alias for the British Secret Service. Seven years ago he met his second wife Sarah in South Africa. Castle Sarah and Sam now try to settle in Berkhamsted. Because Sarah is black lots of difficulties come knocking on their door. However Carson makes it possible for them to live there.

Rising action: Within the secret service a leak has been discovered and Davis is the main suspect.

Climax: Meanwhile castle is trying to pay off his debt to Carson by becoming a double agent for the KGB. Carson feels frightened thus Davis is eliminated.

Down going action: Therefore Castle tries to step out of the KGB but they refuse to let him go. After that Castle sends his wife and her child Sam to his mother, Whereas he himself flies to Russia after shooting Buller.

Conclusion: When Castle and Sarah finally do have contact with each other the phone line to Moscow goes dead just as they where talking about the coming of better times.

Point of view narrator

The know it all narrator mainly tells the story in chronological order but also uses several flash backs for Castle's youth and the events in South Africa.


Maurice Castle a 62-year-old intelligent man who got married twice. His first wife died during the Second World War due to a bombing. He has worked for the BSS for over 30 years. He met his wife Sarah when he was in South Africa. He loves his wife and her son Sam who isn't his one flesh and blood. Castle is also a double agent for the KGB. Only his wife and Sam call him Maurice. The other characters in the book refer to him as Castle or M.C. Sarah is Castle's second wife. She is a black South African woman. She was Castle's inside agent during his stay in South Africa. Sarah does not feel comftable with Castle's mother and only stays in England because of her love for Castle. Sam is Sarah's son who will be going to Prep school. Bulled is Sam's beloved dog a boxer. Arthur Davis is Castle's bachelor colleague who is infatuated with his secretary. He votes Labour and drinks too much. It is discovered that he once takes out reports to read them during lunch. Dr Percival is also a bachelor and eventually kills Davis. Colonel Daintry is a man who is hart broken after his marriage has ended. When he hears of Davis's death he resigns from the BSS. Sir john Haregreaves is the head of the BSS. Cornelius Muller is the chief of Boss who believes in apartheid. Boris is Castle's control in London. Castle trusts him but he shouldn't have.


The story is set in Berkhamsted, London and Moscow during the seventies.


I liked the book because it gave insight to the current issues of the seventies. Nevertheless I was disappointed about the ending of the story.
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