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The Power and the Glory

Graham Greene

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full title ·  The Power and the Glory

author · Graham Greene

type of work · Novel

genre · Realist novel; novel of spiritual development; saint's life

language · English

time and place written · 1938–9, Mexico and London

date of first publication · 1939

publisher · The Viking Press

narrator · Anonymous

point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person and reports the characters' thoughts and self-analysis but only rarely offers his own opinions. He primarily gives us an account of the priest's actions and thoughts.

tone · The narrator is earnest and although he usually withholds his explicit opinion about the priest, the arrangement of the plot implies a sense of respect and admiration for him.

tense · Past tense

setting (time) · Mexico during the 1930's

setting (place) · Chiapas, Mexico

protagonist · The last priest in the state, on the run from the authorities

major conflict · The priest is trying to evade capture by the police and struggling internally with his own sense of sinfulness and unworthiness.

rising action · The priest moves from village to village trying to escape from the lieutenant and his men. An untrustworthy man, known as the mestizo, learns his true identity and begins working with the police to capture him. After a few very close calls with the police including being arrested for smuggling, the priest finally escapes danger and makes his way across the border and out of the reach of the authorities.

climax · The priest, knowing he is walking into a trap set by the mestizo, decides to return to the state to hear the confession of a dying man and is captured by the lieutenant.

falling action · The priest and the lieutenant finally face one another and discuss their differences; the priest is brought back to the capital city where he is executed;

themes · The dangers of excessive idealism; the disparity between representation and reality; the interrelated nature of so-called opposites; the paradox of Christian humility

motifs · Animals; half-things; abandonment

symbols · Alcohol; Christian symbolism; children

foreshadowing · Almost immediately upon meeting him, the priest calls the mestizo "Judas", anticipating the role he will in fact play in the priest's story; the girl singing on the boat at the conclusion of the first chapter does not know why she is so happy, foreshadowing the uneasy nature of happiness and the fact that most of the characters in the novel will be riddled with troubles

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