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The Power and the Glory

Graham Greene

Part II: Chapter Two

Part II: Chapter One

Part II: Chapter Three

Summary

In the capital city, the priest sits on a bench watching the people pass. A beggar approaches him and asks for money. The priest tells him that he has very little money, and that he wants to spend what money he has on alcohol. Of course, he is looking for a bottle of wine so that he can say mass, but to the beggar he pretends that he is simply a drunk looking for booze. As they talk, the priest sees the mestizo walk by in the town square. The beggar agrees to show the priest to a place where he can get alcohol. He takes the priest to a hotel down by the river, where they wait in a large, spare bedroom for the beggar's contact, the Governor's cousin, to arrive. The beggar suggests that after he buys the alcohol, the priest should, out of courtesy, offer his host a drink.

Soon the Governor's cousin arrives and, after a somewhat tense conversation, agrees to sell the priest a bottle of brandy and a bottle of wine. The priest offers the governor's cousin a drink of brandy, but the other man wants wine, and drinks a glass. The three men start talking, and the Governor's cousin continues to make toasts and drink glass after glass of the wine. Helpless, the priest watches despondently as the wine that he has especially procured for mass disappears down the governor's cousin's gullet. The jefe arrives and begins to drink the wine as well. The men are surprised when they notice that the priest is quietly crying. But they attribute his emotionality to his being drunk and having the soul of a poet. The jefe talks about the manhunt his officers are on, telling his drinking companions that they are searching for a priest, and that they have a man in custody who says he spent some time with the outlaw and can recognize him. The men continue to talk and, curiously, often use quasi- religious terminology in their speech, such as "mystery", "soul" and "source of life." After more drinking and talking, the wine is gone, and the priest takes his leave of the men, dejected, with the bottle of brandy in his coat pocket.

When he leaves the hotel, the priest notices that it is raining, and he quickly ducks into a cantina to avoid getting wet. Inside, he accidentally bumps into a man who is playing billiards. When he collides with the man, the brandy bottle clinks in his pocket. A group of men begin to take an interest in the priest with his hidden contraband liquor, and begin to tease him. The priest suddenly dashes out the door, and he is pursued by a group of men. They chase him through the city streets, and the priest runs to the house of Padre Jose, hoping the former priest will take pity on him and hide him in his house. But Padre Jose, unwilling to take on the responsibility, refuses to admit the hunted priest. Soon the group of men, which includes policemen, catches him. The police don't recognize him as the famous wanted priest. Instead, they ask him to pay a fine for the alcohol and when he can't, they take him to jail.

Analysis

The narrative voice has shifted slightly from the previous chapter: where chapter one focused on the priest's thoughts, his assessment of himself and his situation, chapter two is more action-based. For the first half of the chapter, we get almost no descriptions of what the priest is thinking at all: the narrative is almost exclusively focused on dialogue, plot and external description. It is only after the priest leaves the hotel that we return to a perspective that lets us see "inside" his mind. On one level, obviously, Greene refrains from giving us too much of the priest's thoughts during the drinking scene. He does not want to interrupt a tension-filled scene, where action and dialogue are of paramount importance, with too many side-glimpses into the world of thought. Greene is a master of suspense, and this is one of the most edgy scenes in the entire novel. On a thematic level, in the beginning of the chapter the priest finds himself, for the first time in awhile, animated by a sense of immediate purpose: he needs to find a way to procure wine for mass. This part of the chapter is narrated with particular emphasis on the action of the plot because the priest himself is acting and not simply reacting. He has made a bold move into the heart of the state and is driven by a very real goal. The fact that even this relatively modest plan falls through only emphasizes that the priest's destiny is not in his control, that anything he undertakes must be carried out within a matrix of forces that are not subject to his control—in this case, the forces of authority and etiquette.

The narration returns to the priests thoughts after he leaves the hotel. Now completely broke, his mission frustrated, the priest turns inward, unsure of what to do next. The end of the chapter shows him once again forced to react to the actions of others-running, hiding, lying, trying to evade detection and capture for as long as he can. As evidenced by his encounter with Padre Jose, the priest can count on no help from anyone, not even a fellow member of the clergy, and his powers of persuasion do him no good. The only person in town to whom he could look as a friend or ally has denied him, and he can do little else besides wait. Finally, captured and powerless, thinking, repenting, worrying, praying are all that is left to him. The whole chapter is a story of rapid unraveling. As in the previous chapter, the authorities searching for him ironically cannot recognize him as the priest even though they arrest him on another charge.

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