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Good Conscience by Carlos Fuentes is a novel centered around the main character, Jaime Ceballo's struggle to achieve spiritual awareness and rebel against the materialism of his family. Then, too, Jaime is disturbed by the "compromise" of his family to the importance of appearance and conformity to social mores. This importance is so revered that Jaime's aunt and her husband return to Mexico and claim the rule of the family, moving Jaime's father to an insignificant position. When this occurs, Jaime becomes self-pitying and confused, seeking help from his Catholicism, but in a twisted, confused manner.
When a rebel miner comes through, Jaime tries to help him, but Ezequiel is betrayed by Jaime's uncle. The boy assumes guilt for this betrayal and is further tortured. Finally, however, he turns again to the Church and Father Obregón, who tells him that he must forget his self-pity and love his father and rejected mother.
After hearing Jaime's shocking confession of his lurid spiritual hysterics, the priest tells Jaime,
Believe me, it is harder by far to love the people around you than to cut your back and shoulders with a whip. Love is not words but deeds. You have come to me with words but you have never been capable of a single act of true love.
After his confession, Jaime is yet confused. He considers joining his Indian friend, Juan Manuel Lorenzo, who is from the lower class; however, he leaves and goes into the mountains where he self-flagellates. But, he cannot cleanse himself of guilt and confusion. In the end, he decides to compromise himself and return to his former live and a future in which he will chose convenience over truth, and “be one in the crowd,” and “live with a good conscience.”
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