Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Mexico. Country in which the entire novel is set. The novel uses psychological realism to depict the corruption and violence associated with the government’s revolutionary vision. That vision is portrayed by an unnamed police lieutenant, who considers himself the champion of hope and betterment and says that “life will never be the same” for the next generation as he pursues a fugitive priest.

In contrast, the priest is engaged in a survival struggle to bring continuity into the spiritual lives of Mexicans who are eager to extend their vision beyond their physical and material needs. Since the Mexican police have advertised a reward for the priest, Greene shows how the theme of trustworthy relationships can sustain hope in a corrupt and threatened environment.


Plaza. Central square of an unnamed Mexican city where a bust of a former president serves as a reminder of Mexican Revolution and the nation’s independence. The plaza leads to the river port that offers the priest an opportunity to escape to Vera Cruz on the coast. However, the priest’s decision to share a drink with Mr. Tench, then a child’s summons to his mother’s deathbed, supersede his original plan of escape. In the conclusion, the plaza becomes the site of the priest’s execution after the Mexican police arrest him.


Hotel. Hotel beside the river to which a beggar leads the...

(The entire section is 577 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The story takes place during the 1930s, a time of totalitarian reign in Mexico. It is set south of Mexico City in the province of Tabasco. In...

(The entire section is 105 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Greene uses a number of techniques in this novel that are particularly appropriate for its religious theme. For example, the priest is...

(The entire section is 345 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Greene uses several techniques that complement his religious themes. For example, the priest is detained three times when he is on the verge...

(The entire section is 371 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Greene's novel, The Power and the Glory, and his travel book, The Lawless Roads (1939), published in the United States as Another Mexico...

(The entire section is 770 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. In what ways does the lieutenant believe the Church has failed the people? What evidence does the novel produce to support his view?


(The entire section is 99 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Greene establishes loose parallels between his characters and some from the Bible. Explain how the whisky priest plays the role of Christ;...

(The entire section is 138 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Even though Greene parodies conventional, sentimental stories of saints' lives, the novel does stand in that tradition, and, even though it...

(The entire section is 215 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Power and the Glory was adapted for the screen by Dudley Nichols and directed and produced by John Ford as The Fugitive in...

(The entire section is 414 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Allain, Marie-Francoise. The Other Man. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983. A series of interviews with Graham Greene.


(The entire section is 293 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Allott, Kenneth, and Miriam Farris. The Art of Graham Greene. New York: Russell and Russell, 1963. Envisions The Power and the Glory as a spiritual way of the cross, as the priest separates himself from his known life.

Atkins, John. Graham Greene. London: Calder and Boyars, 1966. One of the most engaging studies of Greene, this book relates some of Greene’s earlier, less-known works to his major novels.

Baldridge, Cates. Graham Greene’s Fictions: The Virtues of Extremity. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. This first evaluation...

(The entire section is 335 words.)