The Power and the Glory : Novel Summary: Part 4 - Chapter I

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Captain Fellows and his sick wife prepare to leave the town and go home. They also discuss the excitement over the capture of the priest. Fellows tells his wife that he has changed his mind and decided to stay, but then he relents. It appears that Coral has left home.
Mr. Tench treats the Chief of Police for his toothache. To distract the man from the pain, he tells him that he has received a letter from his wife. She wants to legalize their separation by getting a divorce. Mr. Tench goes to the window and sees the firing squad. He watches the priest being led out and shot. He is shocked by what he sees, as he remembers the visit the priest made to him.
The woman who is reading the story of the saintly martyr Juan continues to read to her children. Like the priest, Juan is also shot by a firing squad. He prays for himself and his enemies. He holds the crucifix on high and calls out “Hail Christ the King!” before twelve bullets rip into him. There is a happy smile on his dead face. The boy asks if the priest who was shot that day was also a hero, and his mother replies that he was. He may even be a saint. This makes an impression on the boy, since the priest had once stayed with them for a day. But now there are no more priests or heroes left.
During the night, there is a knocking at the door. The boy gets up to answer it, and finds a stranger at the door. The stranger identifies himself as a priest, and the boy eagerly lets him in.
Analysis
There is a stark contrast between the biography of the brave martyr that the woman reads to her children and the life and death of the real priest. The biography of course is not true; it is presents an idealized portrait of what the Church would like the faithful to believe. The reality is different. But perhaps the moral is that the priest, in spite of all his flaws, has done the best that can be hoped for from any real, flesh-and-blood man, since the woman believes that his sacrifice has raised him to the level of hero or even saint.

The fact that the story of the death of the priest arouses interest in the boy is also significant. This final incident suggests the failure of the lieutenant and the socialists to eradicate religious feelings in the people, since they are now being born again in the young boy. The unexpected arrival of another priest clearly suggests that the church will never be entirely stamped out. There will always be someone willing to carry on the faith, and people willing to listen and give shelter.

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