The Power and the Glory : Novel Summary: Part 1 – Chapter 3

Captain Fellows returns in a canoe from his work on the banana plantation. He is happy and feels at one with nature. In his bungalow, he expects to be greeted warmly by his daughter, but this does not happen. There is an outbreak of fever in the impoverished town, and his fearful wife tells him she is sick. His daughter Coral is with a policeman who has stayed the night on the verandah. The policeman was looking for someone.
The thirteen-year-old girl appears in the doorway. She is a self-assured girl with a lot of common sense, and she says it is time for her mother to be evacuated from the disease-torn village. Fellows then meets the policeman, who is the lieutenant from the previous chapter. The lieutenant tells him the priest he is searching for is wanted for treason, and that he expects Fellows to report him if he is seen.
After the lieutenant has gone, Coral reveals to her father that the priest is hiding in their barn. She says they couldn’t let the police catch him. They go to their barn, where they keep the bananas before sending them down river to the port. In the barn they find the same man Mr. Tench encountered in Chapter 1. The man begs for some brandy, which disgusts Captain Fellows. He is also angry with Coral for giving the man shelter.
Coral brings food and beer to the man, who says he will be safe when the rains come in six weeks, because then the police are unable to move about. But he also says he would sooner be caught. He cannot just turn himself in, however, because he is afraid of the pain of being shot; it is also his duty not to be caught. Nor is he willing to renounce his faith. Coral says he can always come back to the barn and she will look after him, even though she confesses that she does not believe in God. She lost her faith when she was ten. The man says he will pray for her, and insists that he must go.
After leaving the Fellows’ home, he comes upon half a dozen huts in a clearing. He asks an old man for a hammock for the night. He also asks for drink, but all the man has is coffee. They have no food to offer him. The priest sleeps in a hut on a straw mat (there is no hammock). The old man asks him to baptize his son and say Mass in the morning, as well as hear their confessions; it has been five years since a priest came to the village. The priest agrees to hear the man’s confession immediately. The man then brings all the women of the village for confession. A boy is posted to watch for soldiers.
The theme of sickness and pain is continued in this chapter, with the sick wife of Captain Fellows. Fellows is the only happy man in the novel, but he appears to be happy only when he is alone with nature. As soon as he makes contact with the suffering human world, his happiness evaporates. He has difficulty in coming to terms with things as they are.
The lieutenant is characterized further. Once again, the author draws attention to his well-polished appearance. His pistol-holster “winked in the sunlight.” He also shows himself to be ruthless and intolerant of lifestyles, such as that enjoyed by the Fellows, that he does not approve of. He has contempt for “ a different way of life, for ease, safety, toleration, complacency.”
This chapter also gives more insight into the priest’s thoughts about himself. He regards himself as completely unworthy. His priestly office is a burden to him. He does not want to take confessions but he cannot escape his duties. He is a priest and will always be one, which shows his ambivalence about trying to escape. He can never really achieve freedom, no matter where he goes, because he will always be judging and condemning himself for his inadequacies.