The Power and the Glory : Novel Summary: Part 3 – Chapter 4

When it is dark, the lieutenant goes to Padre José’s house. He tells Padre José that he is wanted at the police station to hear a priest’s confession. The padre’s wife thinks it is a trick, but the lieutenant promises that the visit will be kept confidential. The priest seems to want to go, but his wife will not let him.
The lieutenant returns to the police station and informs the priest that Padre José will not come. He also informs him that he has been tried and found guilty, and will be shot the next day. The lieutenant brings him some brandy, and the priest asks him whether the pain from being shot goes on for a long time. The lieutenant replies that it only takes a second.
During the night the priest dwells on his sins and inadequacies, reproaching himself for his guilt. The night passes slowly and he is only able to sleep because of the brandy he has drunk. He dreams about being in a cathedral and having six dishes served for him to eat. The girl from the banana station serves him wine. When he wakes up on the morning of his death he again reproaches himself for his mistakes. He weeps because he has to go to God without any achievements to speak of. He knows he missed his opportunities to become a saint.
As was the case earlier in the novel, Padre José again serves as a foil for the priest. (In literature, a foil is a character who sets off another by contrast.) If the priest has failings, Padre José has many more. This is the third time he has refused to help someone. The first was when he refused to say a prayer for the dead child; the second was when he turned the priest away, and the third is in this chapter, when he refuses to hear the priest’s confession. His triple failure puts in mind the three denials of Christ made by the apostle Peter.