The Power and The Glory
Edward A. Kopper
In The Power and the Glory, Greene examines the bases of sin and salvation by focusing on the final months in the life of a man who is the last priest still practicing his calling in Mexico. In his treatment of the fugitive, Greene offers two possible views of the protagonist’s plight, and he allows his readers to form their own conclusions concerning the priest’s fate in eternity.
The first view sees the priest’s holiness as almost a truism. The clergyman has lived in the most dire conditions for years in Mexico—half-starved, assaulted by fever and the police—simply to carry out God’s will. Even his death is caused by his sense of duty: he could have stayed across the mountains in safety, but he chose instead to administer Last Rites to the dying outlaw, Calver, although he sensed that he would be wasting his time and that the message summoning him was almost assuredly a police trick. We discover, however, that Calver did write the note.