Study Guide

The Power and the Glory

The Power and the Glory Summary

Our protagonist, an unnamed priest, has come to a river port in the hope of escaping a Mexican state government that wants him dead. All because he's a priest, which in this state is a crime of treason! He's the last one, so no pressure or anything.

He doesn't get out. First because he passes the time drinking brandy with an English dentist named Mr. Tench, and second because he grudgingly decides to help a boy's dying mother.

Meanwhile, the lieutenant, our not-so-friendly neighborhood antagonist, asks his chief for the authority to take hostages from the villages the priest visits and shoot them if the villagers don't turn in the traitor cleric. The chief digs it, and the plan is implemented.

On the run again, the priest finds temporary shelter at the home of Captain Fellows and then in a village of people desperate to confess their sins and receive the Eucharist at Mass. He next seeks safety in the village of his daughter and her mother. In the early morning before dawn, the priest says Mass as reports come to him that the police are near and headed his way. When the lieutenant arrives, the villagers refuse to give the priest over to him, and he takes a hostage.

After an awkward moment with his daughter, the priest departs and heads toward Carmen. On the way, an unwelcomed companion called the mestizo (or half-caste) joins him. Sensing the man's coming betrayal, the priest tries several times to ditch him and finally succeeds.

Now in the capital, the priest needs wine so he can continue to say Mass. An opportunity to obtain it turns bitter after the priest is arrested for carrying brandy. In prison he meets the mestizo, staying there as a guest, but the would-be traitor won't turn him in now knowing he'll get no reward. He's a crafty one, that's for sure.

The priest is released from prison and given a little money by the lieutenant. The priest makes for the mountains and the border of the state. Though feverish, he escapes.

Enjoying once again a life of comfort and relative luxury, the priest is none too pleased when the half-caste shows up again, claiming that a man has been shot and needs a priest before he dies. The priest's Spidey-sense detects the trap, but, believing himself duty-bound, he follows his own personal Judas. The man, an American criminal, is indeed dying, but refuses confession. The setting is indeed a trap, and the priest is finally caught.

News that the last priest has been detained reaches the people who had helped him along his way: Captain Fellows and his wife, Mr. Tench, who's trying his best to relieve the chief of police's tooth ache and watches the execution from the window, and a mother who has been reading a prohibited religious book to her children.

In the last scene of the novel, a new priest shows up. He'll have his own joys and sorrows no doubt.

  • Part 1: Chapter 1

    The Port

    • Mr. Tench, an English dentist living in Mexico, braves the blazing sun to get the ether cylinder he ordered.
    • Eying a few bored vultures and feeling rebellious against death, he tosses a wrenched piece of the road at the birds, but only one flies off. Death can't be scared away that easily!
    • After passing a man with a gun and a treasury building that had once been a church, Mr. Tench forgets what he came outside for. Does he have amnesia? Is this a plot setup to Dark City in Mexico? Not exactly. It's the heat. Simply the heat. It's so blazingly hot that you forget what you're doing in the middle of doing it!
    • Fortunately for him, he remembers. The boat is in with his ether cylinder. Onward to the port!
    • Mr. Tench arrives at the port on the river and finds the General Obregon being unloaded.
    • With nothing to do but wait, Mr. Tench sits upon a crate and again forgets why he's here. Yes, again. Yes, it's really that hot. At least for this poor dentist. But don't worry. Graham Greene knows where this is going, even if his Mr. Tench does not.
    • "My God, a pretty one," Mr. Tench says to himself, in English, upon seeing a thin girl passenger on the bow of the boat. (1.1.8)
    • Somebody nearby, also speaking English, asks what he said.
    • Mr. Tench turns around and spots the questioner—a small, bearded man with a smutty book under his arm who's carrying an attaché case. This is our nameless protagonist, but we don't know that yet.
    • Perhaps curious or perhaps just bored, Mr. Tench asks the man if he arrived on the boat or will be departing on it. The man says he's just looking, but asks in a roundabout way if it will be sailing soon.
    • Undoubtedly thirsty, Mr. Tench asks the man if he has a drink in his case. He doesn't mean water. The man says he has only medicine.
    • Wanting to get out of the sun and figuring he has some hours before the ship leaves and his cylinder is ready for pick-up, Mr. Tench invites the man back to his place. The man declines, saying he is expecting to meet someone named Lopez. Mr. Tench informs him that Lopez was shot and killed by the authorities for helping certain people get out of the state. This doesn't sound good!
    • Believing a few hours remain before the boat sails, the man follows Mr. Tench back to his place. There Mr. Tench shows his guest a dentist drill he obtained from Japan and a piece of stained glass he got from a sacked church.
    • They sit and drink some Brandy the stranger had with him. Mr. Tench reminisces about the nature of memory and his children, whom he hasn't seen in sixteen years. The stranger reminisces about the time, not long ago, before Catholicism had been so thoroughly suppressed by the government.
    • The stranger asks Mr. Tench how much a ticket on the boat would cost. Mr. Tench tells him to ask the agent, Lopez, before remembering that Lopez has been shot.
    • There's a knock at the door. At child asks for a doctor for his dying mother. Mr. Tench replies that he's a dentist, not a doctor, but suggests the stranger. The latter at first declines, saying he has a boat to catch, but then, in a rage born of frustration and nursed with brandy, he follows the boy. To himself more than anyone else, he says that he's meant to miss the boat.
    • After the stranger has left with the child, Mr. Tench finds that he has left his novel, La Eterna Mártir. Opening it, he realizes that isn't not a novel at all, amorous or otherwise, but something written in Latin.
    • Suddenly remembering the reason he went to the port to begin with, Mr. Tench bolts out of his home, but he arrives at the river too late. The General Obregon has left and his cylinder is nowhere to be found.
    • We can almost hear him utter a Homer Simpson "D'oh!"
    • Riding a mule and feeling unworthy of what he carries to the sick woman, the stranger prays that he will soon be caught. His attempt at escape had failed; he sees only one end to his struggle.
    • Well, now, we're off to a frustrating start. Frustrating for the characters, that is. We're entertained.
  • Part 1: Chapter 2

    The Capital

    • A neatly-dressed lieutenant returns to the station with squad of ragged police, asks where the chief is, but gets no answer. He turns to dolling out punishments to prisoners—fines to some, cleaning out bathrooms and cells (yuck!) to others.
    • Think we'd prefer the former.
    • The police chief enters, complaining of a toothache and of a fugitive priest the Governor is upset about.
    • The chief shows the lieutenant an old picture of the priest at a First Communion party, looking happy, safe, and respected—a recipient of all the good things in life. The lieutenant is none too pleased. He's never met him, but he totally hates this priest and what he symbolizes. Houston, I think we've got our primary antagonist!
    • The lieutenant and the chief discuss what's known about the priest's movements: that he tried to escape on a boat, but missed it by chance. That he'd slipped through the net of the Red Shirts—a group set up to purge Mexico of the Catholic religion. Also that his parish was in Concepción, that he was born in Carmen, and that he can pass for a gringo (a foreign English speaker).
    • Their conversation turns to a wanted bank robber and murderer out of America named James Calver who might seek to hide in their area.
    • The lieutenant argues that the priest does more harm than the murderous thief. He proposes to the chief a means of catching the fugitive cleric: taking a hostage from every village in the state and killing the hostage if the villagers don't report the priest if he comes.
    • The chief likes the idea.
    • The lieutenant returns home, infuriated that people still believe in God. His certainty lies elsewhere: in a dying universe without purpose. He despises those who cannot face this reality.
    • Even more, he hates the whole network of religion, which he believes is run by careerist hypocrites who live well by spreading deceits.
    • The scene switches to a mother reading a smuggled story about a martyr to her two daughters—six and ten—and her son of fourteen. The girls are engrossed in the pious tale of a boy named Juan, but the boy is irritated. Juan is a little too perfect to believe.
    • The boy asks his mother if Juan is a saint. His mother answers that he will be one day, along with the other martyrs. The boy then asks about Padre José, who has apparently told him that he's more a martyr than the rest.
    • The mother chastises him for mentioning the despicable "traitor to God," as she calls the Padre José. He asks instead whether the priest who came to see them is like Juan. She says "No," but clarifies that he's not despicable like Padre José. The youngest girl says the priest smelt funny.
    • After the story has ended and the children are out of earshot, the mother tells her husband that she's worried about the boy because saintliness doesn't interest him like it does the girls. She's also upset because he asks questions about the whisky priest, whom they hid.
    • The husband surmises that if they hadn't hid the priest, he'd have been captured and shot, and she'd be reading a sanitized story about him to the children. She thinks this is silly.
    • The scene concludes with the husband saying that the Church is Padre José and the whisky priest, and if they don't like it, then they must leave it. The wife says she would rather die. The husband concurs, but says they have to go on living as best they can.
    • In the final scene of the chapter, Padre José, an old priest who had forsaken the priesthood and married so he wouldn't be killed, looks at the stars. He's called to bed by his wife. As he's leaving the patio for the bedroom, several children across the way mimic his wife's plea, mocking his weakness and his shame.
  • Part 1: Chapter 3

    The River

    • Singing happily to himself over the motor of his canoe, Captain Fellows returns to his home on the river.
    • Entering his bungalow, he receives a cold welcome from his wife, who seems frightened at his arrival, but he doesn't let her worries get him down.
    • Captain Fellows asks where their daughter Coral is, his wife says with the police officer, and Captain Fellows, after taking a second to process this unexpected news, has a "wait, what?" moment.
    • Before he can go to Coral, she comes to him, wishing to speak to him alone, away from her fearful mother who wants the policeman gone ASAP.
    • Coral takes her father to the veranda, where the lieutenant awaits, unwilling to walk to them.
    • The lieutenant informs Captain Fellows that he's looking for a priest wanted on treason who's reportedly hiding in the district. He reminds the captain that he's a foreigner living under protection of the country's laws and is therefore expected to return the hospitality. You can feel the tension between the two men. It hardly goes away when the lieutenant departs.
    • Coral admits to her father that she wouldn't let the lieutenant search the place. And then she explains why: she's hiding the priest! Talk about trouble with your teenage daughter!
    • A happy man no longer, Captain Fellows accompanies Coral to the barn where the priest hides.
    • At first, the captain commands the priest to go at once, but then he relents and says he'd better wait until dark when he'd have a better chance to escape.
    • The priest refuses offered food, but asks for brandy. The captain finds this begging for brandy shameless, saying "What a religion" (1.3.90).
    • After her parents are in bed, Coral brings the priest chicken and Cerveza Moctezuma beer. Her father hears her footsteps, but, despite having forbidding her visiting the barn, he puts her out of his mind. Not one to follow through on his commands, is he?
    • Coral advises the priest to head north as the police went south. She asks if he can try to escape from the area. He says he tried, but was summoned and missed his chance. Now he has to continue as a fugitive, doing his duty not to be caught, but preferring being caught to this life on the run. It's a conundrum.
    • They talk for a while, about why he feels he cannot renounce the faith, we she lost her faith three years ago at the age of ten, and how Morse code might help him.
    • After finishing the chicken and the beer, he leaves.
    • Exhausted beyond reason, the priest walks nearly barefoot into a grouping of mud huts. An old man somehow recognizes him as a priest, kissing his hand and taking him to a hut to sleep. They haven't had a priest in five years.
    • The priest tries to go to sleep, but the old man, plagued with five years of sin and concerned that a boy hasn't been baptized (the last priest demanded too much money), implores the father to hear his confession.
    • The priest says "tomorrow," but the old man, fearful of the soldiers who were just in the area and might return, begs him to hear it now. Angered and tired to the point of tears, the priest nonetheless agrees.
    • The old man counsels the other inhabitants to confess as well. Tired as well, they protest, but the old man will not have the priest insulted, telling them that the priest weeps for their sins. Not too perceptive, this one.
  • Part 1: Chapter 4

    The Bystanders

    • The final chapter of Part One returns the reader to the stories of Mr. Tench, Padre José, the pious mother, Coral Fellows, and the lieutenant—people whose lives are being affected by the whisky priest.
    • Wishing to communicate to those who knew him that he's still alive, Mr. Tench composes a letter to his estranged wife Silvia, living, he supposes, in Westcliff, England. He doesn't know what to say. He can't even remember what she looked like.
    • We learn that Mr. Tench had tried to leave Mexico a couple times, but the outbreaks of revolution had depreciated the value of the peso, and the money he had saved lost its value and its power to get him out.
    • The sound of the General Obregon returning from Vera Cruz reminds him of something, but he can't place it.
    • A knock on the door from a patient takes him away from his thoughts and his letter.
    • Padre José walks among tombstones in a cemetery that used to be called the Garden of God. It's a place that he can usually be alone with his memories. Among the graves are people he buried.
    • Near the tombstone for Lopez, he encounters a family burying a five-year-old girl. The grandfather begs Padre José for a simply prayer.
    • Fearful that the family would boast that their child was put in the ground with an official prayer, Padre José cannot trust them to keep a prayer of his a secret.
    • Enticed by the respect he's receiving again, he's tempted to break the law and say the prayer, but fear returns "like a drug." He knows he's in the grip of despair.
    • The mother continues to read to her children from the prohibited book about the young martyr Juan. As before, the girls are enthralled, while the sullen boy, Luis, is annoyed with it, finally shouting that he doesn't believe a word of it. The mother sends him to his father. He leaves the room, slamming the door.
    • The boy's father is more understanding. He tells his son that the book remind his mother of the time the Church was thriving, when it offered music, lights, escape from the heat, and simply something to do.
    • Watching soldiers marching out of step to the barracks is all the excitement Luis gets, but it brings him hope.
    • Mrs. Fellows instructs her daughter using books from a private tutorial firm, but a headache forces her to stop the lesson for the day. Coral says she has a little one too.
    • She asks her mother if she believes in God and the Virgin Birth. Mrs. Fellows wants to know who she's been talking to that she asks these questions. Coral replies that she just been thinking.
    • Realizing it is Thursday and that her father, now out on the plantation, has forgotten to get the bananas to the quay, Coral takes charge to make sure the store is emptied. She is not resentful. She is a child, but her whole life is adult.
    • Coral feels an awful pain in her stomach, but she continues to work.
    • While inspecting that everything has been done properly, she comes to the place where the priest had slept and sees that he had drawn crosses on the wall with chalk.
    • The Chief of Police is in the cantina, playing billiards and losing, when the lieutenant finds him and inquires into the status of his request to take and shoot hostages from towns harboring the priest.
    • The chief says he trusts him, that they know each other, and that he can do as he thinks best.
    • Not quite content, the lieutenant asks for this is writing or something from the Governor in writing. The chief says the Governor just said the same to him.
    • Aware that he won't have the support of the higher ups if his plan fails or draws condemnation, but indifferent to his own future, the lieutenant restates his resolve to shoot as many people as necessary.
    • Returning to the office, the lieutenant walks by a group of children playing. An empty bottle tossed by one of them lands and shatters at his feet. A sullen boy admits to throwing it, saying it was a bomb meant for a gringo.
    • Wanting to make these youths understand that they and he are on the same side, the lieutenant shows the boy, Luis, his loaded gun. Luis salivates at the sight and the other children gather around.
    • Here the author takes us into the twisted head of the Lieutenant and his desires are laid bare: to rid the world of falsehood and those who propagate it—the Church, the foreigner, and the politician. Even his chief, he muses, will need to go eventually, so he can begin the world again. Where's James Bond when you need him?
  • Part 2: Chapter 1

    • Evading the Red Shirts drives the priest toward the place where he most wants to be: the home of his daughter, Brigitta, and her mother, Maria. This could be awkward!
    • Having travelled through the forest for 12 hours, both he and the mule he's riding are tired and take a moment's rest.
    • The welcome is not what he hoped for. Maria chides him for his peasant clothing and the villagers eye him with apprehension. No one immediately processes to kiss his hand and ask for his blessing.
    • The priest soon finds out why. After offering to say Mass for them in the morning, a villager, obviously afraid, asks if the Mass could be said very early or at night. Then the truth comes out. A hostage at Concepción, Pedro Montez, was murdered.
    • The priest's cry is met with laughter from a girl in the village.
    • The priest promises to leave in the morning. Maria takes him to her place to sleep and gives him some brandy she's saved for him.
    • He wonders if it's all worth it. Should be continue to minister to people his presence engagers and his example corrupts? Is he doing the Lord's work or the devil's? With no answer to these questions, he drinks.
    • The priest asks after his daughter again. Maria tells him that he saw her with the others. He shocked that he didn't recognize her. Brigitta is the malicious child who laughed at him. Oops!
    • Brigitta enters the room, looks at him with contempt, and asks him if he's the gringo. They clue him in to who this guy is.
    • Aware that fleeing will mean leaving his daughter, he asks if he can stay a few days, but Maria is afraid of the danger.
    • His child's eyes frighten him. They look as if his own sin is looking at him with no contrition.
    • He reaches for her, but she darts back and sticks her tongue out at him. This one has an attitude.
    • Maria scolds Brigitta, raising her hand to strike, but the priest stops her, saying they haven't the right.
    • He tries to engage her in a game and with chit chat, but she only laughs maliciously. Is this absent father getting what he deserves?
    • After Brigitta and then Maria leave him to rest, the priest dwells on the difference between Maria and him. She's proud of being a priest's woman. He's wounded.
    • Before dawn, he says Mass, despite rumors of police.
    • He speaks to them of heaven and the redemptive quality of suffering.
    • A man enters. The police are near. A mile off.
    • The priest continues the Mass.
    • When done, the room empties while Maria helps hide all signs of the service.
    • The priest wants to flee, but Maria bids him to a hut. The village is surrounded. There's no escape.
    • Is this the end?
    • Maybe. Maybe not. But the lieutenant has arrived, so we're in for a tense scene.
    • The huts are searched and emptied. The lieutenant questions everyone, including the priest, who lies and says he's married to Maria.
    • He has a close call when Brigitta claims not to know him, but Maria saves the day by telling the police officer to ask her who her father is. She points at the priest.
    • The lieutenant tries to instill fear and distrust in the crowd, but when no one speaks, he takes a hostage as promised. He picks a young man, Miguel. His mother screams.
    • Feeling the hate of the people, the priest offers himself in place of the boy.
    • The lieutenant isn't interested. They go with Miguel.
    • The priest learns quickly that no one wants him around. Maria tells him he's a bad priest who will only bring mockery to the church if he's martyred. She sends him away with no case or wine with which he might endanger others.
    • Before he leaves for good, the priest tries to speak to and kiss his daughter, and more importantly tell her how important she is to him, how she means more to him than his own soul.
    • He senses that he has come too late and rides south.
    • Following the trail of the lieutenant, the priest passes through a village and, after some hours, comes to La Candelaria along a tributary of the Grijalva River. There he asks a mestizo (someone of European and Native American descent) with two yellow teeth the distance to Carmen and whether he can get a canoe to cross the river.
    • No boats are to be had, however, so the priest must cross the river on the mule.
    • The mestizo calls out to him as he's midway across, but the priest, weary, pays him no mind.
    • Riding in the forest, the priest dreams of a girl reciting her Catechism. Montez, the man murdered in Concepción, appears behind her, a dry wound on his forehead, gesturing something. The priest feels certain the child is in danger.
    • He wakes up.
    • The mestizo is behind him, having swum the river.
    • He asks to accompany the priest, saying it's better to travel in company.
    • The priest agrees, but he's suspicious. He wants to get to Carmen during the night, but the mestizo wants to rest. He agrees to follow the mestizo to a hut where they can sleep.
    • The mestizo continually calls him "father," despite the priest's denials. He tells him he could easily test the theory by requesting a confession, which a priest would not be able to refuse.
    • Too suspicious to sleep, the priest lies down and examines a piece of paper with notes written on it from the time before the persecution. It's the only tangible evidence he has of what once was and what he hopes will be again.
    • The mestizo shivers with sickness. Swimming the river has not served him well.
    • It's dream time again! The priest is at a dinner in honor of the tenth anniversary of his ordination. He's a little drunk. He's cracking irreverent jokes, offending parishioners. Montez, the father of the man killed at Concepción, is at his right, talking about the Altar Society and his wish to start a branch of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The priest himself wants to build a better school and a better presbytery (house for the priest) at the parish. Ambitious much? Trouble is brewing up north, you know!
    • He awakens, wondering if he didn't go the route of Padre José because he was too ambitious, too proud. Boy, Graham Greene sure knows how to puree the virtues and vices!
    • Okay, it's time to escape this potential Judas. The mestizo seems to be asleep, so off the priest goes, quiet as a mouse.
    • The mestizo, feverish, grabs his ankle, imploring him not to leave. He begs the priest to hear his confession. The priest refuses, saying he only needs to relieve himself.
    • Outside, he finds the mule, but it doesn't have a saddle. And here comes the mestizo. Friend or foe, this guy is determined.
    • The priest insists he has to leave. Time is pressing. The mestizo insists on coming with him.
    • Feverish and shaking, he can't walk, so the priest puts him on the mule.
    • Two miles out from Carmen, the priest decides he cannot endanger the village by going there. He pushes the mule down the path toward Carmen and takes another path himself.
    • You can bet your lost breviary the mestizo doesn't like this! He yells after the priest, warning him that he knows his face and won't forget it.
  • Part 2: Chapter 2

    • Our intrepid priest has made his way to the capital. That's like sneaking into the Death Star.
    • A chance encounter with a beggar on the street might enable him to buy wine. Illegally, of course.
    • Uh oh. The mestizo is here too. Walking with the police. He and the priest make eye contact. We knew he'd be back.
    • The beggar takes the priest to a hotel where the cousin of the governor might have spirits to sell.
    • Now comes one of those cringe-inducing scenes where you know everything is going to go wrong and it does. The cousin of the governor has wine, but he's hesitant to part with it. Negotiations proceed and the priest acquires a bottle of California wine (for saying Mass) and a bottle of brandy (for himself).
    • The beggar, however, has instructed the priest to offer a drink to the cousin of the governor. Good politics. And, of course, they drink all the wine. The priest is forced to watch as the governor's cousin pours himself one drink and then another and then another. The chief of police joins the secret little party. The priest leaves with no wine and a little brandy. At least he got out, right?
    • Not so fast.
    • A tad drunk on brandy, the priest accidently bumps into a Red Shirt. The minor collision is enough to rattle the bottle of brandy, alerting the Red Shirts to his carrying something suspicious. They discover the brandy and the priest tries to flee.
    • Now we get the novel's frantic chase scene. The Red Shirts don't know he's the priest; they're just having fun with a minor lawbreaker.
    • The priest evades them for a time and finds himself at the residence of Padre José. Recognizing the former priest, our hero begs for his help, but Padre José refuses, too fearful of the consequences.
    • The authorities catch up with the priest and take him to the station.
    • The lieutenant doesn't recognize him, thankfully. Since he has no money to pay the fine, the priest is thrown into a pitch black, packed jail cell for the night.
  • Part 2: Chapter 3

    • In the dark, with only the occasional flash of lightening to guide him past the mass of people and the poop and pee bucket they all have to share, the priest tip toes toward a wall where he can kinda sorta sit down.
    • An old man next to him starts rambling on about how priests are to blame for his situation. They took his bastard child, a woman tells the priest.
    • The priest thinks of his own daughter, Brigetta.
    • He tells the old man that the priests were wrong to take his daughter from him.
    • The old man objects to this, opining that the priests know what's right.
    • Our protagonist admits to everyone there that he is a priest. Whoa. Didn't see that coming!
    • A woman admonishes him for revealing what he is.
    • The priest says he's afraid but that his disclosure doesn't matter as he'll be discovered in the morning anyway.
    • He begins to preach to them about martyrdom, insisting that he will not be a martyr because he will die in the state of mortal sin. He will go to hell, not heaven. He doesn't want the Church mocked.
    • Strangely, he feels affection and companionship with the prisoners in way he'd never experienced.
    • The woman, put in prison for owning banned books, asks for confession, here among the other prisoners, but then complains loudly about a couple in the cell who are having sex.
    • The priest asks her what good saying an Act of Contrition would be when she's focused on judging the sin of others.
    • She calls their sin ugly, but the priest begs to differ. He says that, to them, it's beautiful and that sin can be beautiful.
    • Now convinced that he's a bad priest, the pious woman threatens to write his bishop.
    • The priest laughs at this, asking her not be angry, but to pray for him instead.
    • She says the sooner he's dead the better.
    • The priest tries to sleep, but the cramped space, regular sounds of urination, and the pious woman's complaining about nuns who refused her vocation keep him from getting much rest.
    • He makes a deal with God that if he gets out of this he'll head north and make for the border.
    • In the morning, the police sergeant makes him empty the pails from the cells. To pay for his free lodging for the night, you see. Yuck!
    • In another cell he sees the hostage Miguel, badly beaten, among others. He looks at them for a while, giving them a chance to free themselves by turning him in.
    • In the last cell he finds the mestizo, and, you guessed it, he recognizes the priest.
    • This fellow, though, he's a clever one. He knows that he'll get little to no reward turning in the priest here. Plus, he's got a roof over his head and beer for his trouble. This is the life. So he tells the priest that he'll wait to catch him. House Slytherin for this one!
    • Upon cleaning the cells, the priest is sent to see the chief to ask permission to leave. Instead of the chief, the official he meets is the lieutenant.
    • The lieutenant, hearing from the priest that he has no money, gives him a coin (the price of a Mass) and sends him on his way.
    • The priest, astonished, tells him he's a good man.
  • Part 2: Chapter 4

    • Knowing that, if he's to escape, he has to cross the mountains before the rains come, but also immediately in need of food, the priest returns to the home of Captain Fellow, hopeful that young Coral will be able to help him.
    • The home is deserted. No food, only medicine bottles—for the mother, the priest assumes.
    • He and a starving dog fight over a bone.
    • In his victory, the priest at first supposes that he'll consume most of the remaining meat and give the remainder to the dog, but his hunger overpowers his compassion. He leaves the dog a meatless bone.
    • The priest examines a book a poetry that Coral apparently left behind after their flight. The closing line of a poem reminds him of his own daughter.
    • A storm breaks and the priest seeks shelter in a hut. It too is deserted, and the priest feels as though all life is receding before him, as if he is now meant to be alone.
    • He continues on his way. The sound of water dripping almost brings him peace, but he's too alone and too afraid for tranquility.
    • Someone is near him. In the flash of lightning, he sees the face of an Indian (Native American) woman peering into the hut.
    • She flees to the forest, but again approaches the hut cautiously.
    • Believing that something of value resides in the hut, the priest searches it in the dark.
    • His hand rests upon a face.
    • It's a young boy, bleeding heavily and very near death. He's been shot three times.
    • The boy has no hope of recovery, but the priest does what he can for him: water, pressure on the wounds, and prayer. To no avail.
    • The priest asks the woman who shot the boy, but the language barrier prevents their understanding one another. The priest gathers that the American criminal was somehow involved.
    • The woman seems to want the child buried at a church. Of course, no churches are near.
    • With only sugar cube between them, the priest and the woman (carrying the boy on her back), make for the mountains.
    • At dusk on the second day they come to a plateau with a grove of tall crosses, the first Christian symbols he has seen in more than five years.
    • The woman lays the child at the foot of the cross and makes a peculiar sign of religious devotion.
    • More rain is on the way, so the priest leaves the grieving woman and goes to look for shelter. Feeling as though he's neglected his responsibility to her, he returns, only to find that she has gone, leaving the child alone with a small lump of sugar.
    • Figuring the dead boy won't need the sugar, the priest takes it.
    • Feverish he climbs and finds himself in a forest with monkeys and snakes. Nature, he guesses, will be the death of him.
    • Before fever, dehydration, or starvation can bring an end to his wandering, a man with a gun appears.
    • The priest gives the stranger (but not us readers) is real name, something he hasn't done for ten years. He wants no trouble or to bring trouble to anyone. He'll just keep going.
    • The stranger follows him until the priest stops at the sight of a building that looks like a barracks, minus any soldiers. The stranger tells him it's not a barracks, but their church.
    • The priest lies down against the white wall and falls asleep. He's escaped.
  • Part 3: Chapter 1

    • Mr. Lehr and his sister, Miss Lehr, have been caring for the priest since the foreman brought him to them three days before.
    • For the priest, this is a time of luxury: wearing nice clothes, drinking clean water that didn't have to be boiled, bathing on a cool stream, the idleness of not being hunted.
    • He discusses the luxuries of the Catholic Church with them. They're Lutherans who don't subscribe to the inessentials of the priest's faith.
    • The priest learns from them that saying Mass is illegal here as well, but the penalties are much less severe. He'd be fined or thrown in prison for a week if he couldn't pay, but no one would think to shoot him.
    • More luxury comes when he reenters the village. People approach him and kiss his hand. They ask for confession and Mass. He's wanted again. One skeptical schoolmaster bothers him not a bit.
    • And he can make money again and not live as a beggar. The people here are poor, but they're willing to pay some for Mass and a hundred baptisms. Authority returns to his voice.
    • A parishioner sells him brandy. He drinks and reflects on his own piety and how it keeps him in a state of sin. Still, he drinks.
    • In the late evening, the priest chats with Miss Lehr. She remarks about having once had her eyes opened by reading a newspaper that covered police-related news. The priest has just heard confessions, tasting brandy all the while.
    • In the morning after saying Mass he is to head out to Las Casas, a city where the respectable life of a priest should only improve for him, but guess who shows up.
    • If you answered "the mestizo," then give yourself 30 points!
    • Things get a little weird here. Upon speaking to the mestizo, the priest gets the sense that his would-be traitor is the only real thing all around him, as if everything else is a dream.
    • The mestizo claims to be on an errand of mercy, not treachery. The American criminal has been shot, is dying, and needs a priest.
    • Seeing through the trap, the priest starts on his mule toward Las Casas while the mestizo abuses him, calling him a bad priest.
    • As proof, the mestizo explains how the American was shot while taking an Indian boy as hostage. This and a note ostensibly written by the dying man convince the priest that the man is in fact dying. But it's a trap, Admiral Ackbar!
    • Well, duh. He knows it's a trap, but he also knows he has a responsibility to the dying man.
    • Leaving town with the mestizo, the priest gives the skeptical schoolmaster all of his remaining money to spend on the people of the town. He knows he won't need it where he's going.
    • The mestizo is incredulous at the priest's obvious distrust of him.
    • The priest offers him a sandwich.

  • Part 3: Chapter 2

    • As they approach the Indian huts where the criminal purportedly lies dying, the priest sends the muleteer away with payment for the trek to Las Casas. He departs, leaving the bottles of brandy at the priest's instruction.
    • Our two-toothed Judas continues to protest the priest's suspicion of him. Overkill there, dude.
    • The priest actually feels bad for the guy, burdened with a sin of such magnitude. If you've read your Dante, you know that traitors dwell with the Big S himself in the bottommost pit of Hell.
    • The mestizo lags behind, out of breath, complaining about the pace. It can take a long time to die, the traitor says.
    • Shrewdly, the priest asks his guide if "they" will let him see the criminal. The mestizo, realizing the trap too late, says, "Of course," but then predictably backtracks.
    • The priest stops to drink for courage while the mestizo eyes the bottle greedily. He offers to carry the other bottles.
    • They come to the hut of the dying man. The priest proceeds to enter and the mestizo calls him, frightened, but then lies about having said anything. Cold feet?
    • The criminal tells the priest to beat it. He knows what's up. Apparently he wanted a priest when he wrote the note, but not now. He tries to offer the priest a gun, and then a knife, so he can defend himself from the police.
    • The effort kills him. The priest is understandably miffed.
    • He offers absolution and a prayer on the off chance that the man repented, but in that moment the priest feels himself to be no more than one criminal aiding another, neither of whom deserves mercy.
  • Part 3: Chapter 3

    • Enter the lieutenant.
    • He's not a barbarian, he tells the priest. He let the dying man have his wish.
    • He is genuinely surprised that the priest returned. Even a coward has a sense of duty, the priest remarks.
    • The lieutenant has a vague sense that he's seen this priest before.
    • Twice, the priest tells him, to the fury of the lieutenant, who feels a fool.
    • The two men wait in the hut for the downpour to cease. They talk of card tricks, the trickery of the church, and whether or not the priest will be shot then and there. You know, small talk.
    • The lieutenant gives the priest the "it's not personal; it's business" routine. He really, and we mean really, dislikes the Christian embrace of suffering. Wants its ideas eradicated. They're dangerous.
    • In a sort of confession, the priest explain to "his enemy" that pride, not love of God, has fueled him since the persecution of the church began. He won't be a saint or a martyr or anything of merit, he believes. He thanks the lieutenant for hearing him.
    • Without irony, the police officer tells him he's not afraid of the priest's ideas.
    • The rain stops and the two of them leave the tent. The mestizo's outside. He berates the priest for distrusting him the whole time. What a piece of work.
    • And then he has the audacity to ask for a blessing! The priest calls him superstitions, tells his betrayer he'll pray for him.
    • On the ride back to the capital, the priest and the lieutenant talk of people rich and poor, the sincerity of religious belief, the justice of eternal damnation, the will to murder for the greater good, the truth or falsity of miracles, and the awfulness of God's love. They don't exactly see eye-to-eye.
    • The lieutenant has no interest in setting the priest free, but he seems to respect him a little. He asks if there's anything he can do for him. The priest asks for the chance to confess to Padre José. The lieutenant surprisingly acquiesces.
    • Once in the city, the boy who threw the bottle at the lieutenant calls out to them, asking if they caught the priest.
    • The lieutenant tries to smile in response, but he just doesn't have it in him. This task has brought him neither a sense of victory nor hope for the future.
  • Part 3: Chapter 4

    • When you want something done right, you do it yourself. So the lieutenant waits until dark and pays a personal visit to Padre José.
    • Unfortunately, the former priest's wife and the ever-mocking children eavesdropping don't allow for a private chat between the two of them.
    • At hearing that he's wanted at the police station, Padre José and his wife protest his innocence, and the lieutenant, to avoid a scene, tells them the truth. They're skeptical.
    • The wife worries it's a trap: get her husband to break the law and then, bam!
    • Padre José has a moment's feeling of mercy, stating that he is a priest, in truth. But, the moment passes and he refuses.
    • In a jail cell, the lieutenant brings the priest the bad news. Padre José will be a no show, the trial has been concluded, and the priest found guilty. He'll die tomorrow.
    • But, hey, the police chief cares. He's brought the dead man some brandy.
    • The spirits do little good. Watered down, perhaps? Or just not sufficient for a man doomed soon to die by a firing squad? Why can say?
    • With no one to absolve him for his sins, the priest confesses to the air, trying to be concrete in the descriptions of his sins, but falling back into stock generic phrases.
    • Late at night or early in the morning, he falls asleep and dreams of being at a café table inside a cathedral with six preparatory meals before him. He eats these while a priest says Mass at the altar as if he's not there, as if the Mass is for other people, not him. Coral Fellows serves him wine. They talk of Morse code, and then the priest at the altar and the whole congregation tap the warning Coral had taught him in the barn.
    • The priest asks what it means, Coral tells him it means news, and he wakes up with a feeling of hope.
    • This ain't no sanitized saint book, though. The terror fills him completely again once he remembers where he is.
    • He's disappointed in himself because he has nothing to present to God.
  • Part 4

    • Mrs. Fellows lies in bed in a hotel room, her husband with her. They avoid speaking about their daughter, who seems to have died.
    • They have tickets to leave.
    • They hear the excitement in town. News of the priest's capture has spread.
    • Captain Fellows wants to stay, or says he does, but his wife implores him to leave with her. Their conversation, full of fear and regret, suggests that their daughter might have lived had the captain acted in some way other than he did.
    • They speak instead of the priest, wondering if it's the man they sheltered. The wife expects the priest deserves whatever he gets.
    • The conversation turns back to Coral, however, as Captain Fellows remarks on the priest's influence on their daughter.
    • Alone together, they feel deserted.
    • The scene switches to the chief of police, who's being treated by Mr. Tench, the foreign dentist, in the chief's room.
    • The dentist's hands are jumpy from indigestion, or so he says. Mr. Tench also can't see very well. Just the two features you want into your dentist!
    • The chief can't talk much, seeing as his mouth is being worked on, but the dentist keeps a monologue going with news about his estranged wife sending him a letter. She wants a formal divorce, but she forgives him.
    • Sounds from outside the room startle the dentist. He wonders if a revolution is about to happen. Nothing of the sort, the chief tells him, just a man to be shot for treason.
    • He recognizes the priest and feels that he should do something.
    • There's nothing to do. The priest makes jerky movements with his arms, tries unsuccessfully to say something, and falls dead with the bullets.
    • The chief moans in pain.
    • Mr. Tench feels deserted and resolves to leave.
    • In the final scene of the novel, the pious mother finishes reading the story of the martyr Juan to her children. It's like a Hollywoodized, Disneyfied version of the whisky priest's death scene. Juan had spent the night in fearless prayer, waiting to meet his God. The Chief of Police, an evil man who'd murdered so many, is moved.
    • Juan is led peacefully to the wall where he prays for his murderers, raising his crucifix.
    • The boy, listening to this story, asks if the soldiers had loaded their guns and why they didn't stop Juan from this final act of public prayer. His mother answers that God decided otherwise. She resumes the story.
    • Juan smiles at the soldiers, knowing he'll soon enter heaven.
    • The girls are bored by this part of the story, but the boy is actually intrigued. He asks if the priest they sheltered was also a hero, and being told yes, feels that he's been deceived by the lieutenant.
    • Just then he sees the police officer passing by. He spits at him.
    • Late at night there's a knock at the door. With his father out, the boy goes to see who it is.
    • A stranger is there, asking for the boy's mother.
    • He is a priest.
    • The boy kisses his hand.