Monday, July 19, 1999

The Power And the Glory

by Graham Greene

A nameless priest is on the run in an intolerant Communist Mexican state where religion has been outlawed.  He is a bit of a drinker and has even fathered a child, yet he doesn’t think of renouncing his faith.  He’s not exactly a hero — he is aware the police shoot hostages from the villages where he hid, but doesn’t give himself up — yet he’s not a coward either.  He thinks it’s his duty to try to escape, but he doubts what good he’s doing by not fleeing the state entirely.  The book is written with beautiful style, intense descriptions and excellent pacing, and it presents a number of ethical problems without ever fully resolving them, though it’s obvious where the sympathy lies when the priest meets his obsessed pursuer, the lieutenant.  I must say I found the very end — a village boy gives refuge to another priest — a rather obvious moral: oppression doesn’t make the people embrace your cause.

three stars