The Power and the Glory : Novel Summary: Part 3 – Chapter 2

After about five hours, the priest, the mestizo and the guide approach some huts near the border. The priest sends the mules, with their guide, away. He goes on with the mestizo on foot, certain that the police will be waiting for him. The priest stops for some brandy, and then continues to the hut where the mestizo says the dying gringo is. The priest enters and finds the man. The man whispers to him to go away. The priest asks him if he wants to confess. The man says no. He tells the priest to take his gun, but the holster is empty, a sign to the priest that they are not alone. The priest tries again to get the man to confess his sins, but the American takes no notice. As he dies, the priest whispers a conditional absolution, in case the man’s spirit had repented in the moment before it left him.
There is a cruel irony in the fact that the priest travels for five hours, into a dangerous situation, to hear the gringo’s confession, only to be told to go away. The irony becomes even greater when the events of the next chapter are related. Underlying it all, once more, is the priest’s guilt about his own life. He does not see himself as any better than the American criminal who killed and robbed.