"The Heart of the Matter" is a novel by Graham Greene, published in 1948. The novel attracts discussions on the physical and moral aspects of the plot.
The story takes us to World War II with location in West Africa where climate is harsh and the struggle for survival is high.
The hero, Scobie, is a Roman Catholic. He is the deputy commissioner of police who becomes a victim of his own compassionate nature: first for his unstable wife, Louise, then for a young widow, Helen, with whom he has an affair.
Scobie did not achieve the promotion he wanted. To add more stress, he gets a mistress. Finding himself in a financial bind, he is forced to borrow money, incurring more debt. This initiates a progressive descent into his instabilities which is observed throughout by a young intelligent agent, Wilson.
Increasingly, Scobie's attempt to retrieve his life is not meant to happen. He inadvertently causes the death of Ali, his servant. From desperation, Scobie decides to commit suicide, a mortal sin in terms of his religious Catholic creed. He endeavours to conceal this from his wife by fabricating his diary. Wilson, who is in love with Louise but still acts in his official capacity, uncovers the deceit after Scobie's death, thereby exposing the final tragic paradox in the life, through that of Scobie's.