Character analysis of Mr. Ferraro – an un-Catholic businessman

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Special duties by Graham Greene

(598 words)

Religion to Mr. Ferraro is what he believes in, to him the path he takes will lead to forgiveness. However, to an outsider or even a true Catholic, is it a true way of belief? Graham Greene’s Catholic satire contemplates the actions of a millionaire businessman Mr. Ferraro and Miss Saunders his three-year employed secretary to go to London churches to pray for Mr. Ferraro and do penance for him.

Mr. Ferraro is very business-like; all his life is business-like, he deals with Catholicism in this way. He is concerned for his soul but to him, God is a business and by him paying taxes (indulgences) he will be on the better side of God and this will bring him salvation. He can work out his salvation in the same manner as his finances. The thought that telling someone to take your indulgences for you is real to Mr. Ferraro and he does not seem to question himself. Miss Saunders, a former head girl at the Convent of Saint Latitudinaria, is more than qualified for her job of getting Mr. Ferraro as many indulgences as possible. She even won a special prize for three successive years of piety. Mr. Ferraro is tallying up the amount of days reduction Miss Saunders’ work is helping him get off Purgatory. ‘As you remember, Miss Saunders that none of us is getting any younger’, says Mr. Ferraro. His religious arrangements are in the belief that he is doing it right, even though someone is doing it on his behalf. His view of Catholicism is the one and only he believes in. He is religious and there is nothing to say that his views are totally wrong. If he did the indulgences himself he might see it in a different light and actually get the point of religion.

As a businessman, Mr. Ferraro in a way excels, because he has people working for him doing his work, even his prayers. Mr. Ferraro looked after his salvation in a more independent fashion. Again, he delegates responsibility to Maverick to buy him famous paintings. Mr Ferraro has six Renoirs, four Degas, five Cézannes. However, he will later in the story in seeming angst have these pictures remind him of death duties. It is noted where others would be more than happy with one famous painting, Mr. Ferraro bought wholesale. There is a lot of trust he puts in his workers.

Mr. Ferraro does think that everybody is doing their job properly. Relying on his workers to do their job, thinking that they would not do anything less. His checking of the books and double-checking of things keeps things in order. However, Mr. Ferraro goes to Canon Wood thinking that he will see Miss Saunders at a church there only to find there is no such place. Miss Saunders has betrayed him for the last 3 years. The protagonist, Mr. Ferraro, has found his antagonist Miss Saunders.

In all, Mr. Ferraro sees the Catholic life as he perceives it, the choices he makes, and the mistakes he has made will be right and if not, the Catholic religion will save him from wrong. Above all, he finds himself three years nearer death through Miss Saunders failed special duty. In the end, Mr. Ferraro does not reach his aim to attain indulgences. Is Mr. Ferraro a Catholic as his actions seem to contradict to real faith? However, Mr. Ferraro is ever the optimist, “Tomorrow I will set about getting a really reliable secretary”.

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