Ideas and Topics for Papers


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

2. Why does the revolutionary government want to outlaw the Church?

3. In what ways does the whisky priest exhibit cowardly behavior? In what ways is he brave?

4. Is it possible that the whisky priest is both a “good man” and a “bad priest”? Explain this conflict.

5. What characteristics does the lieutenant exhibit that make him out to be a “good man”?

6. Why is it necessary to the conclusion of the story for the priest to be executed?


1. Greene establishes loose parallels between his characters and some from the Bible. Explain how the whisky priest plays the role of Christ; the mestizo Judas, the lieutenant, Caesar; and Father Jose, the Apostle Peter. How does the story of the Good Samaritan serve as a foil? Are there other biblical allusions?

2. The title is taken from the Lord’s Prayer. Analyze the importance of prayer (and the absence of it) in the novel. What does the title mean?

3. A principal theme is the power of corruption and the potential for redemption. Explain how the novel develops this theme.

4. Research and report the history of the repression of the Catholic Church in Mexico or in other countries.

5. How does Greene develop his objections to a totalitarian government? What does he suggest that the Church’s role should be under such conditions?

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