The Extended Allegory in The Power and The Glory Essay

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The Extended Allegory in The Power and The Glory

Graham Greene pieced together The Power and the Glory from his own personal memoirs in 1940 after a three-year trip to Mexico. Drawing from his own observations of a small town torn between the anti-religious laws of the secular government and the people's religious beliefs, Greene created the story of a Catholic priest being pursued by the police to illustrate the conflicting relationship between the church and state (Greene 2-4). Greene used his experiences in Mexico to create an extended allegory that illustrates the conflict between the two world views and, in turn, reveals his own values and philosophy.

Drawing from his experience in Mexico, Greene developed
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Only after a "half-caste," a "Judas figure of evil and treachery," betrays him is the priest forced to recognize his destiny of becoming a martyr (Allott 174). The half-caste leads him to the lieutenant of the police and "it is at this moment that the theme of flight and pursuit is reversed" and the lieutenant becomes pursued by the priest and the world view that he embodies (DeVitis 90). Arrested and thrown in a crowded prison surrounded by "the sinners and the rats and the rascals," the priest finally realizes the "the power and the glory" of God and sees the beauty of God reflected in the other prisoners:

At the centre of his own faith there always stood the convincing mystery- that we were made in God's image- God was the parent, but He was also the policeman, the criminal, the priest, the maniac and the judge. Something resembling God dangled from the gibbet or went into odd attributes before the bullets in a prison yard or contorted itself like a camel in the attitude of sex. He would sit in the confessional and hear the complicated dirty ingenuities which God's image had thought out: and God's image shook now...with the yellow teeth [of the half-caste], and God's image did its despairing act of rebellion [of the priest's mortal sin] (Greene 254).

By using the priest as a symbol of the Church, Greene successfully asserts the "vitality of the Roman Catholic Church" and