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The Power and the Glory
May 5, 1999
A. How setting shows the main theme
1. the jail scene
2. the traveling scenes
A. How symbolism shows the main theme
B. How characters show symbolism
1. a quote
IV - Characters
A. How characters show the main theme
1. The lieutenant
3. The mestizo
B. Minor characters
1. Mr. and Mrs. Fellow, Mr. Tench
2. Towns people
V - Theme
A. What makes up the main theme
B. A quote from a book
VI - Conclusion
In the novel “The Power and the Glory”, Graham Greene uses the elements of
fiction to show a main theme. Some of the elements he uses are them, characters,
symbolism, and setting. The way Greene uses these elements to show a main theme
for his novel, is very good. The elements come together to show the theme, which
is pity. Pity for a fellow human being.
Setting is a major element of fiction. The setting of a piece of literature can
set the mood of the scene. Setting, can also make the reader feel a certain way.
Some of the scenes in “The Power and the Glory” evoke certain feelings in the
reader. In the scene when the whiskey priest was put the crowded jail, for having
liquor on him, Greene makes the scene so horrible that you can’t help but feel sorry
for the priest. As Kenneth Allott said, “The crowded unseen figures in the dark
seem like shapes from a Dore hell.”(182). In the scenes when the priest is traveling
from town to town, the setting is very rough. Through dense forests and complete
darkness, he travels and again, the reader feels pity for someone he doesn’t know
but feels connected to because of being human. As Kenneth Allott said, “There is a
blanketing sense of cruelty’s omnipresence ... and very frequently this mood is
symbolized by a peculiar background of squalor ...”(15). Some critics think that the
novel is “a melodramatic thriller about a policeman chasing a priest, romanticized
by its religious significance and its exotic Mexican setting.”(Pryce-Jones, 58).
Another important element of fiction is symbolism. Symbolism in a novel
can bring some insight to what its theme might be. A lot of the characters,
atmospheres, and objects contain symbolism in the novel. The liquor that the priest
is drinking is highly symbolic. It is a symbol of how the priest pities himself. He
feels his life is not worth much, so he drinks. He makes himself feel worthless.
Neil McEwan said, “ The novel firmly connects the consolations of alcohol and
religion... those who need to suppress both have cut themselves off from
suffering.”(59). That statement shows the priests pity on himself. Another symbol
in the novel is the scene in the jail. This is a symbol of the priests lose of faith. He
feels as if his life has no more meaning and he might as well give up. Characters
are also symbolic in the book. As Allott said, “There is a sense in which other
characters in the book can be regarded as symbols...”(174).
A novel wouldn’t be complete without characters. And, characters in “The
Power and the Glory” play an important role to evoke pity for the priest. First is the
Lieutenant, whose relentless pursuit of the priest makes you pity him. The
lieutenant even starts to kill innocent people in hopes to find the priest. You can not
help but feel sorry for the priest because of the lieutenant. Another character in the
novel is Brigitta. Brigitta is the child of the priest, who obviously is illegitimate.
The priest wants badly to love the child, but he can’t. He is caught between his
child and the sin he has committed. She also,... “Stands for the early corruption of
innocence.”(Alott, 174). This alone makes us pity the poor whiskey priest.
Another character in the novel is the mestizo. The mestizo, who follows the priest
to turn him in for a reward and then to get him to bless a dying criminal, represents
a ... “Judas figure...”(McEwan, 92). We pity the priest even more because the
mestizo is after him just like the lieutenant does. He represents “...evil and
treachery...”(Alott,174). Some small characters play an important role in the novel.
The people in the towns, who have rejected the priest in fear
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The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, Whisky priest, Pity
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