Wednesday, June 2, 2010

selected student blogs

on Graham Greene's Power and the Glory.


Tate Herbert said...

"The papers were there; reluctantly he let his case fall -- a whole important and respected youth dropped among the cans..." - The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, p. 80

In this scene, the whisky priest has gone to retrieve some papers from his wine case before he throws it away. Now, with the lieutenant hot on his trail, it is too dangerous for him to be carrying around the tools of his illegal trade. Greene uses metaphor to connect the case and the priest's "important and respected youth," making it clear that the act of throwing away the case is symbolic of him fully letting go of his duties as a priest. He has realized that, because of his flaws, he cannot let himself be caught and become a martyr; he's not worthy of the title. Although he lost his importance and respect a long time ago (when the atheist/prohibitionist government took over, when he fathered an illegitimate child, when he started drinking...), he is just now throwing away any hope he had of regaining it. All he thought was important as a young priest, all the moral and religious values, are now forgotten by society. Now, he knows, he has to go on the run, hiding so as not to become a martyr, mocking what little Catholicism is left in Mexico.
The idea that everyone and everything is somewhat flawed is a theme reflected in this passage and throughout the novel -- the priest is even introduced to the story after he has already had his downfall. As the whisky priest lets his case go, he is letting go of the better, younger version of himself. Now he has been corrupted, and he must do his work -- if he does it at all -- while on the run from those who would use him as an example against his faith, as opposed to what he really is: an example of upholding faith in spite of personal failures.

Tate Herbert said...

"'I am a priest.'
'You?' the boy exclaimed.
'Yes,' he said gently. 'My name is Father -' But the boy had already swung the door open and put his lips to his hand before the other could give himself a name." - The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, p. 222

This boy, the oldest in a family of secretly faithful Catholics in an age when religion has been outlawed, was doubtful of the merits of their faith at first. He didn't believe the stories of the saints that his mother told him and his sisters. Now, after the last priest (the whisky priest) has been shot, he feels differently. He knows life will never be the same again; with the game of cat and mouse between the priest and the lieutenant over and the priest inevitably caught and killed, there is now not even hope that someday his family will be able to practice their faith. He feels deprived of opportunity and deceived: all the government’s campaign has brought is death. Ironically, the act of killing the last priest has failed to squash religion in this state – the boy has been converted by it. From the other point of view, the irony is that the boy has only become a believer now that his religion is officially gone from Mexico.
However, in this quotation, another priest shows up at his door the very night of the whisky priest’s execution. This probably has multiple purposes in the story: the boy’s interaction with him shows his conversion and represents the tide turning back in Christianity’s favor at the end of the novel. It also touches on the theme that there is always a chance for redemption; even when it looked like the end, there was another priest out there yet. The boy may also think that the priest is some sort of reincarnation of the whisky priest, and it serves as a second chance for him in that way.

Mark Charest said...

He stood with his hand on his holster and watched the brown intent patient eyes: it was for these he was fighting. He would eliminate from their childhood everything which had made him miserable, all that was poor, superstitious, and corrupt. They deserved nothing less than the truth – a vacant universe and a cooling world, the right to be happy in any way they chose.

- The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, page 58

This passage provides the reader with a brief glimpse into the complicated mindset of the novel’s chief antagonist, the police lieutenant. The preceding conversation between the lieutenant and the jefe, in which the lieutenant voices his plan to flush out the priest by killing hostages, is meant to appall the reader and portray the lieutenant as nothing more than a depraved murderer. The jefe’s morbid response (“A little blood never hurt anyone”) further vilifies the police. However, despite these initial impressions, the lieutenant’s interactions with the children reveal an entirely new side of his character. Greene uses this passage to show that the lieutenant’s motives are fueled by his desire to erase the church’s corruption and greed from the children’s lives. His hatred of the church resulted from his own destitute and oppressed childhood, and he is unwilling to allow others to suffer as he has suffered. In his own mind, the end result of a “vacant universe” devoid of religious superstition and greed is more than worth the means he plans to use. Seeing as the novel’s setting takes place in the aftermath of the church’s downfall, however, the reader cannot know the degree to which the lieutenant’s actions are justified. Therefore, the true villainy of the lieutenant is subject to debate. However, this passage nevertheless succeeds in making the reader wonder if the removal of the church’s influence is not totally uncalled for. The reader’s ambivalence on this matter is the result of Greene’s cleverly realistic portrayal of the lieutenant as a flawed but well-meaning man.

Mark Charest said...

The oddest thing of all was that he felt quite cheerful; he had never really believed in this peace. He had dreamed of it so often on the other side that now it meant no more to him than a dream. . . . It wouldn’t really have been a good dream – that confession in Las Casas when he would have had to admit, as well as everything else, that he had denied confession to a dying man.

- The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, page 180

This passage signifies the beginning of the end for the priest. Although he has evaded the police and managed to cross the border, he soon finds that he feels no relief at all. His halfhearted desire to confess his sins is really nothing more than a fantasy, a fa├žade that hides his deep resentment and provides the false hope of a solution. The priest cannot rid himself of his guilt any more than he can cure his alcoholism or lock away the love he holds for his daughter. Although a safe getaway is finally within his grasp, the priest finds no solace in the hope of survival—or confession, for that matter. Neither does he consider himself worthy of martyrdom. Therefore, his only true escape lies in capture and execution. The priest has shied away from this fact for the majority of the novel and is just now accepting the truth: the goal of survival means nothing because the emotional stress he feels, a mixture of shame and love, is simply inescapable. This realization reinforces one of the novel’s main themes: the power of guilt. Greene further highlights this theme by using a metaphor to compare the priest’s fading hope of relief to a meaningless dream with an unsatisfactory ending. By admitting that he never truly believed in a happy ending, the priest shows that he has given up all hope of escape. His guilty conscience has slowly broken him down to the point where he no longer cares if he lives or not. His calm and somewhat cheerful attitude gives the impression that he is simply acknowledging what he knew would happen all along. In addition, the priest’s commitment to duty plays a role in his decision to abandon his getaway and spring the half-caste’s deadly trap. As is evident in this passage, the priest’s genuine compassion for the dying gringo, as well as his desire to avoid further shame and regret, factor in to his decision as well. However, the priest is also aware that dying in the line of duty—the likely outcome of the trap—is the most honorable escape within his power. By illustrating these factors, this passage succeeds in setting the stage for the final consequence of the priest’s guilt.

Anonymous said...

“It was as if he had descended by means of sin into the human struggle to learn other things besides despair and love, that a man can be unwelcome in his own home.” The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, p. 62

In this passage the Priest is beginning to realize his failures. He has succumbed to his desire to visit his home and family. He has sinned. Greene uses simile in this passage to compare his sin to struggle. He has seemingly fallen from the light of God and is now able to feel the pain and hardship of man. His cold welcoming has allowed him to see all of the errors leading him up to this point. He allows the feeling of despair to creep into his body, another sin. He begins to view himself as the wretched, even evil person others view him as.
This is the beginning of the end. Later in the book Greene says, “Hope is an instinct that only the reasoning human mind can kill.” By viewing himself as such a wretched failure the priest has effectively killed all of his hope. He sees his sin as a white flag of surrender. He has given up the good struggle for God. It is through out the next hours he spends in his village that he truly realizes his fate. As Tate commented on in her blog, the priest has given up on his younger better self, and has embraced his future. He will keep running, not good enough to be a martyr not brave enough to give himself away. He will live in his sin and follow the path God takes him on. This effectively sets a morose tone to the rest of the book. Almost everyone has given up on their goal, on God. Now that the priest has joined this group it is hard to find a positive upturn on the story line.
Kathryn Violette

Anonymous said...

“‘Would you like to take a look around? I don’t want to boast, but I’m the best dentist here. It’s not a bad place. As places go.’ Pride wavered in his voice like a plant with shallow roots.”
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (12)

In southern Mexico, religion has been outlawed and every priest, but one, has been rounded up and killed for their beliefs by the Red Shirts in The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. The story follows the lonely priest as he continues to evade capture after having already been on the run for ten years. He travels through multiple villages looking for momentary peace, while offering to perform baptisms and mass to the closeted Catholics. These people keep their belief because of his ability to survive the horrendous conditions, but he however, believes himself to be a corrupt priest, and throughout the story refers to himself as a ‘whiskey priest’.
On one of the priests many travels he meets a dentist. The man came to Mexico after being left by his wife, and he now is, what he believes to be, the most prestigious dentist in his entire village. He speaks very highly of his practice, and the above quotation is a simile comparing his pride to a plant with shallow roots, as perceived by the priest. His pride however, is not too boastful because he is a poor man in a slowly dying village ruled by the Red Shirts. He dreams of returning to America where he can retire and live as a ‘gentleman’, but those dreams cannot be attained while the country remains in such poverty. His pride is compared to a shallow root because shallow roots are easily pulled up, and he can easily lose the pride of his business because of the squalid conditions in which he lives.
One of the main themes of The Power and the Glory is surviving despite the odds set against you. The priest and the dentist must find a way to move on day by day, despite the fact that life is quite terrible for the both of them. The book describes the human will to continue on when there’s hardly a pleasant fate that may ensue.
Sydney Hebert

Anonymous said...

“He began to shout abuse – a meaningless series of indecent words which petered out in the forest like the weak blows of a hammer. He whispered, ‘If I see you again, you can’t blame me…’ Of course, he had every reason to be angry: he had lost seven hundred pesos. He shrieked hopelessly, ‘I don’t forget a face.’

Throughout The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene the only remaining priest in Mexico is on the run from the Red Shirts because every other priest has been killed for their belief in Catholicism. The priest has been on the run for ten years, and travels from village to village seeking rest. He has become distrustful of all those he meets for fear they will turn him over to the red shirts. He does not travel with companions, if he can help it, and he does not tell people he is a priest if they don’t already know it.
While the priest is passing through a village he is discovered by a destitute man. The priest quickly realizes the man is hoping to capture him so he can win the reward the Red Shirts have set in place for any help they may receive in capturing the priest. The priest tries to escape him, but the half-caste maintains his innocence in the situation, while never letting the priest leave his sight. The man however, is very ill, and the priest takes advantage of the situation by sending the feeble man onto the next village alone. In a final attempt to scare the priest the man yells back after him, ‘I don’t forget a face.’ This quotation can be used as foreshadowing for the rest of the story. It sets an ominous tone for the man because now someone knows his face that has every intention of turning him in to the Red Shirts. In the end, the half-caste leads the priest to his demise. The man never lost the drive to find the priest and earn his winnings.
One of the themes of The Power and the Glory is searching for a better life. Throughout the story the priest is constantly searching for a new home. He doesn’t want to be on the run and have the fear of death lingering above him every second of his life. The same can be said for the half-caste, just under different conditions. The half-caste is willing to sell out the priest to the Red Shirts without fear of condemnation from God, all in the name of money for a more suitable life. Although the two characters may be searching for different things, they are nonetheless working towards a better life.
Sydney Hebert

Anonymous said...

“This was an arena, and the bull was dead, and there was nothing more to wait for anymore.” Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, p.216

Bull fighting is a very popular sport in Spanish culture. The simplest explanation of a bullfight is an elaborate killing dance. The head(matador) is in charge of killing the bull. He dances around showing off while trying to catch the bull while the picadors assist him by weakening the beast. The fight is to the death, which is almost always the death of the bull.
This dance between hunter and hunted made the majority of the plot. The priest ran, trying to protect himself from the perusing police. To the police and many of the people the priest may as well have been a beast. His faith overshadowed any redeeming qualities he had as a man. His beliefs were so hated that he was sentenced to death. Like a bull it was easy to kill something people thought was so worthless and dangerous.
Greene uses metaphor to relate the characters and plot of the book to bullfighting. The onlooker, Mr. Tench, can clearly see what was happening as the priest was being shot. The priest was just an innocent being, being persecuted because his belief was not the correct one at the time. The bull was dead and there was nothing more to wait for. As far as everyone knew he was the last priest. Religion was gone, hope was gone, there was nothing more to wait on, or to believe in.
This was a powerful ending, but as Tate said it brought hopelessness as well as faith. Some people like Mr. Tench believed everything was over faith had lost. Others, like the boy found faith in the priest’s death. They found a reason to believe more, and carry their beliefs on even though they may be the only ones to believe. This confirmation of faith in such sad surroundings is a theme in the book. The title of the book, The power and the Glory is also the ending of the Lord’s Prayer. This refers to the power and glory of God being never ending, having faith regardless of the circumstances.
Kathryn Violette

Maura Quigley said...

“He said, ‘You remember this place before-before the Red Shirts came?’
‘I suppose I do.’
‘How happy it was then.’
‘Was it? I didn’t notice’”
The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene (15)

In southern Mexico the Red Shirts have taken power and God has been completely outlawed. Every priest in this section of Mexico have been found out and killed except Padre Jose, who has become a pensioner of the government, and “the whiskey priest”. The priest and the lieutenant have a lot more in common than they think they do. Both are idealists; in complete opposite directions of course. The lieutenant believes that their area will be a lot better off with out the church. He is unhappy with even one last priest on the run. In fact, he has become so obsessed with hunting this priest down that they are taking hostages from every town until they find the priest. The priest believes that there is no good world without God. He imagined the world as a better place than it actually was because they had God. He still believes that there is hope yet.
The Power and The Glory is all about people wanting to relive the past, creating a better future or living life as it really is. Greene uses a lot of stories of the former and ideas of the future to represent these themes. The priest recalls better days of the church. He believes that everyone benefits from it. The lieutenant imagines better days without the church. He contemplates whether it benefits anyone and believes it especially takes away from the poor.

Robin Gallant said...

"A man said, 'Better go north, father,' and stood waving his hand. One mustn't have human affections - or rather one must love every soul as if it were one's own child. The passion to protect must extend itself over a world — but he felt it tethered and aching like a hobbling animal to the tree trunk. He tuned his mule south."

-The Power and Glory, Graham Greene, p.82

This quote derives from the end of the scene, where the priest says goodbye to his former lover Maria, after his unwelcome stay in his village, or hometown, and goes to look for his traveling case, which Maria had thrown away when the soldiers moved into town. There he meets his daughter Brigida again. His first impression of her was that she was an unruly child, Maria describes her as this as well, but he doesn't love her any less. She tells him that the other children mock her because of him, and he is again overwhelmed with the feeling that he wishes to protect her from the cruelty of the world. However, he sees that it is too late to do so, that she has grown up in this culture of violence and intolerance and he feels there is nothing he can do to change that. He tells her how deeply he cares for her before taking his leave from her and from the village. The quotation follows this scene, as he mounts his mule to continue on his travel.
This quotation reveals the priest's guilt toward the amount of love he has for his daughter, since he is a priest, he feels selfish about this and wishes that he had the power to love all members of the human race without discrepancy.
Also, the "hobbling animal" metaphor is very interesting in this quotation. The metaphor describes the limited nature of his love towards his daughter by comparing it to a creature that cannot move at all, but the priest then "turned his mule south." In this way, he moves much more slowly across the landscape than he had imagined should, but he is still moving.

Maura Quigley said...

“Unlike him, she retained a kind of hope. Hope is an instinct only the reasoning human kind can kill. An animal never knows despair.”
The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene (141)

On the whiskey priests travels he encounters a hungry dog at an abandoned house. The dog finds a piece of bone with little bits of meat attached to it. The priest and the dog fight over the bone. This fight makes the priest think that there really is not much that separates humans from animals except that humans kill any hope and animals do not realize that there is any other way. Through out the story, the priest cannot come up with valid reasons why he should live. He’s constantly fighting with himself on giving up and giving in or sticking it out on the run. The priest actually lowers himself to fight with the dog over this bone with barely any meat on it. His dignity and pride are thrown out the window in this scene and the priest lets his hunger and desire to live take completely over.
Greene was very effective in outlining the priests struggle with himself during this fight with the dog. The priest knows the pain that he inflicts upon the people that he encounters in the towns. The soldiers are killing hostages from every town that will not give up his location. He wants to believe that he can make it to another town and live a prosperous life not having to worry about the Red Shirts, but a lot of the time it seems that the whiskey priest would rather give up. This scene showed just how hunger and desperation makes humans no more than animals.

Anonymous said...

“A man like that,” The lieutenant said, “does no real harm. A few men dead. We all have to die. The money - somebody has to spend it. We do more good when we catch one of these.”
p. 23 The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene

In this quote the lieutenant and the chief are talking about two different outlaws. The first outlaw mentioned is a bank robber who had killed two men and stole ten thousand dollars. The second is a priest. The quote from the lieutenant shows the reader how the opinion of a criminal has changed in the world. In the world the reader lives in, it would be a far harsher crime to kill two people and steal ten thousand dollars. The criminal would be punished severely. In the world of The Power and the Glory that is not the case. In this world the study of religion has been outlawed. Along with that there is a prohibition placed on all alcohol.
The quote given by the lieutenant shows well what is feared in the world of The Power and the Glory. Instead of being afraid of a murderer or a thief, they are afraid of a priest on the loose. The lieutenant says a man like the robber does “no real harm”. The lieutenant considers a few people dead and lost money “no real harm. This shows that men with authority to uphold the law are more afraid of a man who possesses ideas and thoughts that could spread, than a man who will outright kill a person.
In the case of the lieutenant, he has shared that he had some poor experiences with religion as a child. A priest who had molested him or other children in the church he belonged to. This explains his contempt for a man of faith. However there must be a lot more anger posed toward organized religion than just of people who had small, yet significant bad experiences. What can be inferred from this is that the people of this world (or maybe just one or two very powerful people) have seen what religion has brought in the past of history, such a religious wars, and weighed that much larger a problem than anything good the religion has brought.

- Ian Karby

Anonymous said...

“He walked backwards all the time, weaving his plump fingers, shaking his head, nearly bumping into the Lopez tomb. He was scared, and yet a curious pride bubbled in his throat because he was being treated as a priest again, with respect.”
p. 49 The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene

This quote comes from Padre Jose, one of the two priests left in the world of the Power and the Glory. The other priest is known as the “whisky priest”, an alcoholic who is continuously on the run from the government. He participates in both well known treasonous activities, alcohol and the practice of Christianity. When the decision was given to the priests in the land they were told to renounce their faith, marry, or be killed. The whiskey priest decided to not follow any of the guidelines and went on the run. Padre Jose decided he would rather live a more normal life, and chose to marry a wife.
The decision of Padre Jose may have seemed the smarter choice. However since all of the other priests died, they became martyrs and heroes of the people. Padre Jose was not allowed to practice his faith anymore, therefore could not help people when asked for aid. He also became very obedient of his wife. For these reasons he had lost the respect of the people. In the quote Padre Jose finally is treated with some respect when asked to say a prayer for a dead child.
In this quote Greene uses imagery to show how much the sign of respect made Padre Jose happy. The “curious pride” bubbling in the father’s throat brings the reader right into Jose’s body to feel his emotions. This is important for the scene. It shows how much Padre Jose cares about his image and how it has been ruined by his unfortunate choice for life without fear and pain, which in the end resulted in more pain and fear than he would have imagined. A life without the freedom to practice his life’s religion and his career that made him a respected man turns out to be just as harsh, if not more, than death could have been.

- Ian Karby

Ayantu said...

“His gaiters were polished, and his pistol-holster: his buttons were all sewn on. He had a sharp crooked nose jutting out of a lean dancer’s face; his neatness gave an effect of inordinate ambition in the shabby city.”

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, pg.20

This description is the one given of the lieutenant when he is first introduced to the reader. Though it does not bring to mind a particularly vivid image, it is still a description worth mentioning. It gives the reader an insight into the contradiction that is the lieutenant. Here he is described as a man whose impeccable neatness is in complete contrast to his shabby and rather disheveled surroundings. This is indeed true of the man in more than one way. The lieutenant is a very structured man who takes pride in his polished appearance, but he is also a very strategic man. Upon hearing about the presence of a priest in the state, he mind goes to work concocting a plan to hunt down and bring the priest to justice, or at least the lieutenant’s idea of justice. He is not detoured by the fact that his plan harms the very same people he has convinced himself he is helping by apprehending and executing the priest. Therein lies the contradiction of not only his logic and strategy, but also his character. The lieutenant, as I mentioned above, is a very structured, disciplined man, however he is also highly irrational and driven by his emotions rather than by true logic. For example, in his plan to apprehend the priest by forcing the villagers to reveal the whereabouts of the priest under the threat of killing a hostage who has been taken from that village, it is clear he will be harming at least one innocent person. He, however, chooses to ignore the flaw in his plan and attempts to rationalize it instead. The lieutenant is so blinded by his anger toward and hatred of priest and all he believes they represents that he cannot see that the lives of a few poor peasants should matter.

Sarah Bragdon said...

“’A man like that,” the lieutenant said, “does no real harm. A few mean dead. We all have to die. The money – somebody has to spend it. We do more good when we catch one of these.’” (23)
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

At the start of the novel, the reader has been introduced to a priest, who goes to assist a dying woman out of obligation to do what is right. The next chapter takes place at the police station. The chief informs the lieutenant that there are more priests to capture and shows him a picture of a priest at a communion party. The happy man disgusts the lieutenant.
The police speak of James Calver, a bank robber and killer. A hyperbole is used by the lieutenant to show how serious the police are about killing the priests and ridding religion. The lieutenant goes as far to say that a priest is more harm than the gringo, who murders and steals. We all have to die and somebody has to spend the money, the lieutenant reasons. It is clear that the government is very immoral and controlling. The lieutenant plans to take a man from every village and will kill them if they fail to tell him where the priest is. The governor approves. The lieutenant is a very heartless man, who goes back home thinking about all the priests they have killed without any sympathy.
In the third chapter, the villagers ask the priest to hear their confessions. Although religion is outlawed, it is still a part of many Mexicans lives. This part must be hidden because of the deathly consequences of the law, which the lieutenant is determined to discover. The priest is sickly tired but of good nature continues to serve his people.
The police force focuses all their energy on finding the priest and not on the poverty and desperation of the people in their country. The gringo kills an innocent boy, who is left to die with his mother in an abandoned hut in an abandoned village, where everyone has abandoned their faith, which is a big theme in the novel.
To much surprise, at the end of the novel when the lieutenant captures the priest they have a conversation, where they learn they have a lot in common. The lieutenant does not kill him right away, but says he will have a proper trial. The lieutenant tries to get Padre Jose to come hear the priest’s confessions although it is against the law of which the priest is being condemned. It shows the lieutenant is capable of change and seems to be a different man than the one who had spoken the quote above. Then at the end, the law is put in order and the priest is killed.
The priest did not leave his life without recognition or remembrance. The boy at the start of the novel, who was not open to religion, spit at the lieutenant saying he was pretending he was bombing a foreigner. At the end of the novel, the boy spits at the lieutenant in disgust for taking away the life of his hero, the priest.

Anonymous said...

“It is one of the strange discoveries a man can make that life, however you lead it, contains moments of exhilaration; there are always comparisons which can be made with worse times: even in danger and misery the pendulum still swings.” Pg. 59
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

In Tabasco, Mexico, the government has been trying to suppress Catholicism. The Red-Shirts are forcing the priests to give up their profession and marry, in order to close down the Catholic churches. The book follows one priest in his quest to outrun a lieutenant who is chasing him down.
This quote is a small summary of all human life. Some people say they have boring lives, and partially that may be true, but at some points there are little things that come along and make things exciting, or terrifying. These things can last only minutes, maybe even seconds, but they are there. No matter what type of life you may lead, there is bound to be excitement, fear, misery, and a whole array of emotions. Things will always get better, because no matter how bad things get, time is still going, and they say time heals all. Even in threatening or bleak situations, time still ticks and there is no way to get around that. The priest is facing danger, and exhilaration, and misery, as he is running from the lieutenant. He is fighting to survive in a case where all odds are against him, and he is the last priest standing. He knows he can’t run forever, and time isn’t exactly on his side at this point. He knows the clock is still ticking even if the face of danger.

Anonymous said...

“He wore what used to be town shoes, black and pointed; only the uppers were left, so that he walked to all intents barefoot. The shoes were symbolic, like the cobwebbed flags in churches. He wore a shirt and a pair of black torn trousers…” Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, pg. 42
The above passage is describing the main protagonist of the novel, the whiskey priest, who is the last remaining vestige of the Roman Catholic Church in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. Graham Greene, the author, uses this description of the priest symbolically, not only to describe the physical state of the clergyman, but also the tattered state of his own morality and conscience. Greene’s description is first and foremost a physical description of the priest, but goes deeper than that. The pathetic and ruined state of the priest’s clothing suggests a persecution, but also reflects the deep intrinsic torture from which the priest suffers. It suggests a tattered and impure morality, with which the priest constantly and guiltily struggles. Not only is he hunted and persecuted by the secular authorities, but he is also hunted and persecuted by his own tortured conscience. The above quote reflects that admirably well, introducing the reader to the struggles and problems that will plague, define, and challenge the protagonist.
Not only does the passage describe the priest and suggest clues to the priest’s own moral condition, but also can be interpreted as a description of the state of the Roman Catholic Church in Tabasco, and Mexico as a whole. The Socialistic dictatorship of President Plutarco Calles had enacted anti-Catholic and anti-clergy policies that severely persecuted the Church in Mexico. This persecution was taken to an even more extreme level by the socialist government of the southern state of Tabasco, where churches were s hut down, clergy routinely shot and killed, and a widespread and total suppression of Catholicism took place. As such, the condition of the Catholic Church in Tabasco was much the same as the description of the whiskey priest: battered, tattered, indigent, hunted, and on the run. If one were to accept the description of the priest as a description of the Church, then this would offer clues to the reader of the future course of the story and even foreshadows the challenges and persecutions the priest, and his parishioners, would face in the book. Not only does it suggest the challenges, but also suggests the obstacles the priest, and by extension, the Church, needed to overcome.
-Ben Morgan

Anonymous said...

“’Yes,’ he said gently. ‘My name is Father-‘ but the boy had already swung the door open and put his lips to his hand before the other could give himself a name.” Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, pg. 222
The above passage contains the closing lines of Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. At this point the main protagonist, the whiskey priest, has been executed and the Catholic Church in Tabasco has been seemingly snuffed out by the secular government. As the reader ends the books, with the last remaining priest killed, every church shut down, and the faithful seemingly cut off from their faith, a new priest arrives in town. Graham Greene’s technique in not giving the clergyman a name is particularly telling and ends the book on a note that suggests that the Church will always be around and will never be successfully quashed, no matter the severity of the persecution.
Graham Greene used this passage as a bookend to convey his message of his belief in the power and indomitability of the Church. He did the opposite of personification by not providing the priest with a name. Rather, the priest is an anonymous, universal representative of the Roman Catholic Church that takes away the human element and leaves only the undying presence of the Catholic Church. Leaving the priest completely nameless and faceless strips away a personal identity, which in turn omits the human mistakes and follies one might associate with individuality. If the priest is thus nameless and devoid of individualism than one can argue that Greene used symbolism in this last paragraph, with the priest being the symbol. With no personal foibles to distract, one may conclude that the priest symbolizes the Roman Catholic Church and its omnipresence. The clergyman could also signify the permanence of the Church and its apparent perseverance and omnipresence in the face of fierce and deadly opposition.

-Ben Morgan

robin gallant said...

"The lieutenant said in a tone of fury: "Well, you're going to be a martyr—you've got that satisfaction." "Oh, no. Martyrs are not like me. They don't think all the time—if I had drunk more brandy I shouldn't be so afraid."
-The Power and Glory, Greene, p.194

In this conversation between the lieutenant and the priest in this section of chapter three, the priest speaks of an idea that has been clear to the reader throughout the novel— how that thinking and holiness are somehow opposite to one another. Thought is something has been seen in many places throughout this book. While most stories of martyrs are stories of things such as action or heroism the priest's story is one of introspection, which is looking into one's self. He clarly often doubts hiself, and if often anxious or uncertian. Considered from a different perspective, however, the priest's thoughts do not prevent him from doing good—in fact, in many ways, it is his tendency toward second- thoughts that usually lead him to make the right decisions. Although his introspection may keep him from being a purely good priest, thought is usually helps him to overcome many of his selfish instincts, including the instinct for self-preservation, or keeping himself safe at the risk of others and their lives. His final self-sacrificing actions and his constant soul-searching ultimately make him seem like a martyr to almost everyone he speaks with, everyone but himself.

Anonymous said...

“Hope is an extinct only the reasoning human mind can kill. An animal never knows despair.” Page 141

The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

This quotation envelops the reader into realizing the sense of despair the whiskey priest is having. As the end of the road, and ultimately the whiskey priest’s life, is nearing he is starting to give up all hope. He stumbles upon a dog, and the dog is completely emaciated. She is begging for food because she has not been fed in weeks. Animals have only one instinct, and this is to survive. Their minds do not process things the way a human would. Animals act on a survival instinct, and this is their way of life. When there is a shortage of food, an animal does not feel a sense of “fear” or “despair.” The animal’s body knows something is wrong, and is craving the necessary food, but there is no emotion for an animal to feel this. They would begin to migrate on an instinct, not a rational thought. Humans however, can have thoughts, and this is why hope can be shot down through the course of a human mind. A human can take a series of events and string them together and come to a rational conclusion of either I am going to live through these events, or I am not. That is why it is so easy for a human being to give up hope. A human knows all of the facts and can no longer deny them, the hope in that human can be lost, or in some cases gained.

- Matthew Weimer

Anonymous said...

“‘Let me be caught soon… Let me be caught’”
-The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

In the time of this quote, the priest has just missed his boat. He was on the run from authority and this was his last easy chance for a sanctuary away from the persecution that he had dealt with since Catholicism had been outlawed in the Mexican region in which he lived. In the book we learn that the priest is a very humble man who believes that his sins cannot be redeemed in the eyes of god because he thinks his bad actions outweigh his good by far. He is so humble that at times he thinks himself insignificant and valueless, and his struggle with self-forgiveness leaves him marveling at why the people around him have not turned him in. People he meets find out he is the outlaw “whiskey priest” and do not say word to the red shirts or the lieutenant who are constantly on the prowl for him. He is oblivious to the good that he brings in his travels to each diminished town he enters since he is blinded by his humanly flaws. Each passing day, he wants to be captured so that first, he does not endanger the lives of the village people and second, so that he can end his internal struggle. The priest poses as a very good example of a man vs. himself. He has committed sins, like all humans do, which he will not and cannot forget, and until he dies, he will battle with himself over his religious duty, the sins he has sinned and his unworthy salvation.

-Glenn Emery

Ayantu said...

“One mustn’t have human affections - or rather one must love every soul as if it were one’s own child. The passion to protect must extend itself over a world - but he felt it tethered and aching like a hobbled animal to the tree trunk.”

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, Pg.82

This quote stood out to me due to the blatant absurdity of its contents. The idea of a human being loving all others in the same unconditional and unwavering manner is impossible. It is not within the nature of human being to do so. This, one would imagine, would be obvious to anyone who had the faintest idea of what is to be human. Evidently, that is not the case with the priest. He feels guilty and almost shameful that he, as a priest, could ever feel deep affection for any one person and not the whole of humanity. Surely, he should see how absurd this is, but sadly he does not. The priest, being a man who takes his duty as a clergyman, a man of God, very seriously refuses to be content with anything less than perfection. He is the type of man who meditates for hours on his unworthiness and torments himself constantly because he is unable to fulfill his duties to perfection. In this sense, the priest is truly a fool.
He, as a man of God, should be quite aware that human beings are not, have never been, and will never be perfect. It is very frustrating to watch this man torment himself with thoughts such as these. The contradiction in the quote itself is frustrating. “On mustn’t have human affections…” How is that at all possible for a human? He must know that it is not. Yet, he continues to foolishly punish himself with guilt for no better reason than the fact that he is human.
Another thing that stood out to me was Greene’s ability to give such depth to the characters. Though frustrating at times, Greene does a very good job of using quotes such as the one above to bring out the many layers of the characters. He uses a wide range characterization techniques to develop the characters, which greatly adds to the novel.

Anonymous said...

“It wasn’t anybody she wanted: she wanted what she was used to: she wanted the old world back.”
-The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

In this passage the priest while starving, encounters a dog, wounded and whimpering. The creature drags itself along with a bone full of meat at its mouth. Both the dog and the priest are hurting at this point. The priest has not eaten for at least two days and is weak. He is dealing with the haggard life of an outlaw. The dog is similarly suffering with what looks to the priest like a broken leg. They have both seen better days.
This quote that talks about the dog presents a metaphor that also characterizes the priest’s feelings. The dog did not want or need the person standing in front of her. In her times of suffering, all the dog wants is to return to the way things used to be. Life has her beat up and limping much like the priest. His life on the run has taken its toll on him to the point where he is desperate. So desperate, that he will fight the dog for the bone in her mouth. He reduces himself to fighting like a dog with a dog.
The priest wants his old life back. Before the persecuting, before the running, before the hiding, before the starving, he wants back what had been taken. Save the illegitimate child, he wants back his pious life in which he was not a worn man fighting a dog for scraps. The priest wants to run freely again as the dog once had.

-Glenn Emery