Research Article

Exploring the Eurocentric Heart: A Postcolonial Reading of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter


  • Tanmoy Mazumder Assistant Professor, Department of English, Jashore University of Science and Technology, Jashore 7408, Bangladesh


A literary text can be a propagator of values- both explicitly and implicitly. As Edward Said claims in his book, Orientalism (1978), for centuries Eurocentrism pervades Western literary pieces; they somehow justify and/or uplift European values and perspectives as superior ones while portraying lands, people and cultures of the colonized nations elsewhere, especially in the East. Sometimes, it may become more oblique as the apparent issues dominating the text seem to be something very different, but the writing, however, in the undercurrent, portrays things in a Eurocentric way, often by “othering” the non-Europeans. Said famously terms, this process of creation of an alter ego of the West in the East as “Orientalism”. Graham Greene’s novel, The Heart of the Matter (1948), set in West Africa’s Sierra Leone, a then British colony during WWII, summons rethinking of its presentation of the non-White people and the land of Africa. This study would like to take the focus away from the dominating themes of religion, sin, pity, mercy, responsibility, love, etc. in this piece of fiction to assess its underlying colonial issues which often go unnoticed. The novel portrays a variety of characters- both the British colonizers and the colonial subjects- though the roles and space occupied by the non-British characters are mostly marginal. The “Whites” are portrayed sympathetically, whereas the “non-Whites” are presented as evil, naïve, weak and mystic. This study, thus, argues that the portrayal of Africa (Sierra Leone), the Africans, and the major “non-White” characters in the novel, in contrast to the empathetic presentation of the major “White” European characters, indicate an obvious “othering” of “non-Whites” and the marginalization of non-Europeans in the narrative of the novel. The paper further opines that this process of “othering” and marginalization underlines the operation of an underlying Eurocentric attitude in the representation of the Europeans and non-Europeans in Greene’s fiction.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

4 (8)





How to Cite

Mazumder, T. (2021). Exploring the Eurocentric Heart: A Postcolonial Reading of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 4(8), 113–121.



binary oppositions, eurocentrism, marginalization, othering, postcolonial reading, stereotyping, the non-whites and the whites