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The visual imagery used in The power and the glory.

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Introduction

THE POWER AND THE GLORY Graham Greene Greene challenges us as human beings regarding faith, religious ritual, sin, confession, absolution and martyrdom. The black and white of characters in the story is juxtaposed to make this a thrilling read. With precision he fragmented each character giving snippets of information in short paragraphs. Constantly I was left dangling in suspense wondering what was going to happen next. The visual imagery used to describe the chaotic lives of the characters and the settings in the story, weights you down like the physical features of the land, swamps and dark forests. His portrayals of the fever, blinding heat, poverty, hunger, thirst, not forgetting the vultures, snakes and other creatures all enhance this gloom. Although, when you look closer at the vision Greene has created for us, you soon realise the decay, squalor, human degradation, and the fear he is describing, are actually reflections of the characters turmoil throughout the novel. The Power and the Glory is set in Mexico in the early 1930's, where the state has outlawed the Church for its greed and corruption of the people. The priests have been rounded up and shot, or made to renounce their faith and marry. The main unnamed characters of the story are, 'the whiskey priest' the last practicing priest, who is being pursued by the 'Lieutenant'. ...read more.

Middle

It is ironic that at the end of the book the Lieutenant looks differently at his own life. He even shows warmth and compassion toward the Whiskey Priest, by breaking the law he holds so dearly, to try to get a priest (Padre Jose- a married priest!) to hear the his last confession. 'This priest - he has been working for years secretly - for YOUR Church. We've caught him... ... ... ...He seems to think it will do him good' When the Priest is executed the Lieutenant has a great sense of emptiness, his work is done. He feels trapped in his own 'success'. "A long passage in which he could find no door ". Their own childhoods are depicted the same way; both witnessed poverty as children and both had strict upbringing. The Lieutenant and the Priest have contact with children; the children in the book are symbols of the future that is hanging in the balance, and represent an innocence's that may well be threatened, or worse, permanently damaged, by the conflict they live in. 'There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.' There are several children in the novel, the most important being Coral, Brigitta and Luis. Different characters through out the novel seem to stand in for figures from the New Testament. ...read more.

Conclusion

... no. I tell you I am in a state of mortal sin. I have done things I couldn't talk to you about.' Priests are seen to be superhuman - but he is just a simple man, afraid of meeting God. He has committed a Mortal Sin and his soul has been deprived of sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural life of the soul. - His religion tells him he will go to hell for all eternity! - This is his fear. He is extremely humble, and is unaware of his importance and because of his love for his daughter he feels unable to humbly beg for the forgiveness of God in saying a sincere act of contrition to save his soul. I think you should also remember the Priest bearing the weight of the old man head on his shoulder in the cell, just as Christ bore the sins of the world for us. The priest throughout the novel endangers his life for the sake of the people; his sense of duty and responsibility overshadows his weaknesses. I loved this book, even now when I think of it, other images and meaning come to mind; to many for a review. The Whiskey Priest is a Martyr, and yet he died not knowing it. 'Suddenly the dead priest winked at him - an unmistakable flicker of the eyelid, just like that.' Assignment for 16th May 2003 Book Review Amanda Hanna 1 Foundation Studies Tutor: M Adair ...read more.

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