The Power and the Glory
Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
One striking feature of the novel is that its protagonist goes unnamed throughout. Discuss the significance of naming with specific reference to the namelessness of the priest.
Although this is a story about a spiritual journey, Greene's protagonist doesn't move from a beginning place to an ending place, but seems instead to continually circle back and revisit places he has already seen. Why do you think Greene chose to structure his novel in this way?
Is this novel an allegory? Why or why not.
Suggested Essay Topics
Choose an important scene of dialogue and try to characterize it. Are the characters connecting through the dialogue, understanding each other, listening to each other? What would you say about communication in this novel in general? Are people able to communicate? What hinders communication?
This novel contains a few important scenes of mistaken recognition. Most notably, the lieutenant fails to recognize the priest in two face-to-face encounters. Besides lending a sense of tension and excitement to the novel, why would Greene choose to have his enemies meet in this way? Do these scenes help us to understand the two characters better?
Discuss the novel's title. Where are "power" and "glory" found in the book?
Discuss the importance of forgiveness and self-forgiveness in the novel with specific reference to the priest and two other characters.
The novel opens at a dentist's house. What is significant about Tench's occupation? What role does pain play in the novel?
Discuss the importance of dreams in the novel. Why does Greene occasionally choose to represent his characters' thoughts and feelings through depicting their dreams?
Escape is a significant issue in this novel. Does Greene seem to make a distinction between escape and escapism, or between physical, geographical escape and mental escape? How are they related? What is the relationship between escape and abandonment?
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