How this is relevant: The story the priest tells is extremely relevant to the novel because it basically foreshadows what will happen to Billy if he does not find his place in the world. The heretic in the priest’s story loses his faith after losing his family and becomes “simply a messenger”. Billy is already showing qualities that the man spoken of had, hence the addition of the story in this spot. The priest warns Billy to find where he belongs so that he does not die sick and alone like the heretic in the story. Importance/Themes: Through meeting the priest and hearing his story of the old man, the priest warns Billy of his future probability of the recurring theme of Billy’s inability to find his place in the world. The priest is a positive reflection of what could become of Billy. The priest goes through obstacles and challenges but in the end, he finds his place in the world, he finds his truth, and he finds his faith. If Billy were to try hard enough and listen to other people who try to pass on their knowledge and advice, he could also find his meaning, faith, and purpose in the world. However, the old man represents the negative, but eventually true, possible outcome of Billy. The old man dies lonely, confused, and purposeless. He loses his family, like Billy, he loses his faith, like Billy, and he refuses to listen to the priest, like Billy refuses the several warnings he is administered. As a result, both Billy and the old man end up alone and without purpose in the world. At the end of his time with Billy, the priest tells him to go home in hopes that he will salvage his faith and person as the priest did. Billy, as usual, ignores the priest’s advice, tips his hat, and rides on. However, later we see the outcome of this ignorance, the reality of the fear of loneliness and lack of purpose. The story is extremely important to Billy because it ties into the main theme of finding your place in the world, or your sense of belonging. Without that, Billy will become a loner. Another theme tied into this story would be the importance of life and the fragility of it. It is important for Billy to realize how fragile life is, especially because of how easy people’s lives around him crumble. People are easily damaged by misfortunes. The priest tells Billy that God is the only one that can escape the fate of becoming astray from one’s path in life. Perhaps this is because God has no witness; He leads His life the way He wants. Every man needs to be tested and “to God, every man is a heretic” Quotes:
"You are lost, he said" p. 139 (one of the first things the priest says to him) "I was a Mormon. Then I converted to the church. Then I became I don't know what. Then I became me." p. 140 "I didn't come here. I'm just passin through. The man drew on the cigarette. Myself also, he said. I am the same." p. 141 "Things seperate from their stories have no meaning. They are only shapes. Of a certain size and color. A certain weight. When their meaning has become lost to us they no longer even have a name." p.142 "The story on the other hand can never be lost from its place in the world for it is that place. And that is what was to be found here. The corrido. The tale. And like all corridos it ultimately told one story only, for there is only one to tell." p. 143. "Such a man is lost to us. He moves and speaks. Bu the i himself less than the merest shadow among all that he beholds. There is no picture of him possible. The smallest mark upon the page exaggerates his presence." p. 146 "In his dreams God was much occupied. Spoken to He did not answer. Called to did not hear. The man could see Him bent at his work. As if through a glass. Seated solely in the light of his own presence. Waving the world... Endlessly. Endlessly... A God who seemed a slave to his own self ordained duties." 149 "With God there can be no reckoning. With what would one bargain?" 151 "When the priest was done this old man raised his book aloft and shouted at...
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