The mestizo, who functions as a "Judas" figure of the novel, appears at significant points throughout the priest's journey. The irony is that although he means the priest nothing but harm, he actually provides opportunities for the priest to commit heroic acts. It begins with the small sacrifice after the two first meet: the priest refuses to abandon the mestizo when he falls ill, finally putting him on the back of a mule and sending him towards a town. When the mestizo tracks him down on the other side of the border, the trap he has set becomes an opportunity for the priest to turn away from the life of leisure, and recommit himself to his ideals and his duties. The mestizo, always interested in getting something for nothing, asks the captured priest to pray for him. The priest tells him that forgiveness cannot be given out, but must be worked for, and that he had better do some true soul-searching if he is concerned about the sins he has committed. The mestizo is in many ways the mirror image of the priest: the priest has done this soul-searching but despairs over having no third-party to hear his confession. But, while the priest attempts to root out all self-interested motivations from his mind, the mestizo is concerned only with his own advantage. Nevertheless, the priest's actions towards the mestizo make the mestizo a sympathetic character.