· Posted: 1 Aug 2004 23:33
For specific albums, I think three stand out as having strong Catholic references : 'Tintin in the Congo', 'The Broken Ear' and 'Explorers on the Moon'.
'Tintin in the Congo' reflects not necessarily Hergé's views, but the Belgian Catholic's viewpoint in general in regard to the colonialism present in the Congo. As is widely known, Hergé didn't want to send Tintin to Africa after Russia - he wanted America, but was pressured into sending Tintin to deepest darkest Africa. Which actually wasn't that deep, and not that dark.
'The Broken Ear' has (I believe) one of the highest "death counts" of any of the Tintin books (at least referenced are the deaths of Balthazar, Lopez, Tortilla, Corporal Diaz, Ramon and Alonso), if you don't include the plane crash from 'Tintin in Tibet', which we are only ever aware of the aftermath of, not the crash itself. The deaths of Ramon and Alonso at the end were judged (I think) to be just retribution for the murders of Lopez and Tortilla.
Hergé's faith seems to have been curiously absent until 'Explorers on the Moon', when the question of Wolff's sacrifice comes up. In the documentary 'Tintin et Moi', the topic is discussed - a number of priests presented their objections to Hergé and Casterman, about the suicide being portrayed in a positive light. I personally believe that the act of supreme self-sacrifice Wolff carries out to save the others (partly because he couldn't live with having betrayed Calculus and the others, and having committed the manslaughter of Jörgen ?) was incredibly brave and noble, and the inclusion of Wolff's sentence "Perhaps by some miracle I shall escape too" was unnecessary, and seemed to detract from the point of view Wolff was putting across. As Hergé said at one point, Wolff knew very well that he hadn't a chance of surviving, and to do what he was doing would indeed be suicide. However, he did it in order to save the others. The Catholic viewpoint on this is undetermined, as far as I know - suicide is forbidden, yet the act of self-sacrifice in order to save the lives of others (perhaps a hint of utilitarianism ?) would be permissable. I'm not entirely sure on this point, yet I would assume it would be.
In regard to Hergé's gradual loss of faith, it could be seen that in 'Tintin in Tibet' (the most personal of all the albums), he presents a wholly sympathetic view of the Tibetan Buddhist monks, to an extent unseen of his own supposed faith. It is true that he became more interested in Far Eastern philosophy when he married Fanny, so this could be seen as a rebellion against his own faith.
In the stories in general, the lack of female characters seems to adhere to the Catholic viewpoint - that there should be no "shenannigans", shall we say, between the two sexes. Therefore, Tintin never gets himself involved with another woman romantically, and does not ever present the idea that he is a homosexual. As mentioned in the other topic, the sexuality of the characters doesn't come into the story, so it is never mentioned.
And perhaps another point, in the original French editions, Tintin (and the others) often exclaim "Mon Dieu !", or "My God !". This was never used in the English editions - perhaps because it is seen as a mild curse, and not something that would really be appropriate in a comic strip targetted primarily at children (as English bookshops and libraries seem to think). Whilst many people commonly use this exclamation without thinking about the actual implications of it (the belief in the existance of God, or a god), it could be concluded from this that Hergé believed in God, or at least, wanted his characters to. I think there's something in 'Tintin et Moi, entretiens avec Hergé' about his beliefs, but I don't have it to hand at the moment.
That's just a basic overview, I'm sure there's more that I haven't mentioned.