Even though the world is filled with impoverished as well as disease struck places, Mother Theresa tries to make a difference. While living a basic life in India, she fights to help the poor, cure the sick, and disregarding her owe health for others. Some might say that she is going to be a saint and others might say she is already one. Her unselfish actions have made her a symbol of love and total devotion to the people. A saint is considered to be a man or woman chosen by God to lead and one almost free of human weaknesses. The priest in “The Power and the Glory” can definitely not be classified as a saint and he is the total opposite of Mother Theresa. Since the whiskey priest is the best representation of human weakness, thus he can be called a sinner. The novel is clearly trying to alienate the readers by indicating to readers the wrongs of the human beings and exposing the wrong doings to readers. By revealing those acts, the readers are not inspired by their own human weaknesses and thus are repulsed by them. Through the use of the actions by the whiskey priest, Graham Greene’s book, “The Power and the Glory” has failed to draw readers to God and instead has distanced readers from God.
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In their communities, priests are considered to be a role model or an example of what a Christian should be. They are representations of Jesus Christ in the world to teach the Word of God to others. In the novel, Chiapas, Mexico is under an anti-religion removal and it reasonable that priest is scared to do his duties as a priest. The whiskey priest must cheat, steal, as well as lie to survive and avoid being caught by the authority. He would get money for the people he baptized and “two pesos is the usual charge” (167). Even though the woman said that her family was poor, the priest still insisted on getting some money. The priest can be defined as an ordinary crook who steals from families who can barely put food on their own tables. The money that he gets from the baptisms is for his brandy. He wants “three bottles. For eleven pesos” (170). As a priest who is called to serve the people, he only serves himself. When the old man asked the priest, the priest replies, “Can’t you let me sleep for five minutes?”(44).The whiskey priest does not want to hear the confessions, but it is his duty. That duty is not for himself but for God and His followers. After the old man’s confession, the priest begins to weep for himself, because he now has to hear the confessions of the villagers instead of getting his sleep. He cries in sympathy for himself, not for the villagers’ sins. These examples outline the priest’s selfishness and are contrary to what Jesus has taught his people.
The duties and services of a religious man are not only for the people but for creatures, humans and animals alike. When the priest returns to the land owned by Captain Fellows, the protagonist finds the house abandoned and the injured dog. He thinks to himself, “her (the dog) life has no importance beside that of a human being” (144). The priest does not care about the dog’s life and only cares about his own. The priest thinks that “a man’s need was greater than a dog’s” (145). His mercy and concern for the dog is slim to none. He is only worried about himself and his hunger and not of the dog’s hunger. God created man to care for the animals but the priest completely ignores it. The whiskey priest also commits one of the worst sins: fornication and on top of that he is a priest. He created a child than he cannot care for. When he saw her, the priest thought that “it was making light of his mortal sin” (65), meaning that he wishes that his sin was not so bad. It is and never will change. This sin makes the priest less than that of the betrayal of the half-caste. The whiskey priest knew that he was in the presence of “Our Lord’s betrayer” (91), another Judas so to speak. The mestizo betrays the whiskey priest for money, just like Judas did to Jesus, and the priest betrays God for lust and fornication. These examples summarize the priest’s inability to control his own self. He does not have to self-discipline to stop his lust and to think of others before himself.
The whiskey priest gives in to the knowledge that God forgives people right before the person dies. If you are truly sorry for what you did in this world, then God will forgive you. The whiskey priest knows about this and thus in the prison, the priest prays to God and asks for forgiveness. He is a priest for the wrong reasons and also forgets that it was pride that made Lucifer fall. When he realizes that he is going to die the next day, he starts to repent saying, “I have committed fornication” (207). Even though he says this, it has no meaning because he does not really repent for doing it. ‘It was like a sentence in a newspaper: you couldn’t feel repentance over a thing like that” (207). His repentance was not true and he kept drinking brandy, making him drunk while he was trying to repent. In the morning before he gets shot, he realizes that if he had used “a little self-restraint and a little courage” (210), then maybe he would not be the person he is today. He would then know what it felt like ‘to be a saint” (210). It was the use desperation that led the priest to pray that night and it was the use of pride that made him believe that he can be saved by repenting. The whiskey priest is human and has weaknesses just like ordinary people. He has forgotten what it means to be a priest and has disgraced the vocation. The whiskey priest best exemplifies the weaknesses of man and can only be saved by God.
To the villagers in the novel, the whiskey priest could be called a martyr. The priest refuses to renounce his faith, unlike Padre Jose who married after hearing about the purge, and living the life of a fugitive, performing confessions and masses when his services are wanted. However, the villagers only see the tip of the iceberg so to speak. They do not see what the whiskey priest’s true intentions are. As the readers, they can sense the true reality of things. The people think that the priest cares for the people and that the priest is risking his own life for what he believes in. But in actuality, the priest is selfish and only cares for himself. Graham Greene exposes the true actions of the priest to the readers and thus telling them what our human weaknesses are. The human weaknesses are selfishness, lust, and only turning to God in desperate times. Greene is telling readers what we cannot control and this makes the readers distance from God because we do not have power to stop it. Graham Greene has failed to draw readers closer to God’s holiness and actually made people separate themselves from God. This book has failed to inspire people to know more about the faith because of what the priest did so that he can obtain forgiveness for God. Greene as sent the wrong message to the readers about God’s mercy and love.
Greene, Graham. The Power and the Glory. New York: Penguin Classics/Penguin Group, 1940. Print. Book.
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