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The Priest in the Crossing

By katrinaengle Nov 10, 2010 1987 Words
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 the priest. You know nothing. That is what he shouted. You know nothing." 151 "He poured over the record not for the honor and glory of his Maker but rather to find against Him. To seek out in nice subtleties some darker nature. False favors. Small deceptions. Promises forsaken or a hand too quickly raised." 153 "Acts have their being in the witness... In the end one could even say that the act is nothing, the witness all... Only the witness stood firm. And the witness to that witness." 154 "And he began to see in God a terrible tragedy. That the existence of the Deity lay imperiled for want of this simple thing. That for God there could be no witness. Nothing against which he terminated. Nothing by way of which his being could be announced to Him... He could create everything save that which would say him no." 154 "He saw that he was indeed elect and that the God of the universe was yet more terrible than man reckoned. He could not be eluded noe yet set aside nor circumscribed about and it was true that He did indeed contain all else within Him even to the reasoning of the heretic else He were no God at all." 156 "He held the priest's hand in his own and he bade the priest look at their joined hands and he said see the likeness, This flesh is but a memento, yet is tells the true. Ultimately every man;s path is every others. There are no separate journeys for there are no separate man to make them. All men are one and there is no other tale to tell." 156-7 "He let go of the priest's other hand and raised his own. Like a man going on a journey. Save yourself, he hissed. Save yourself. Then he died." 157 "Only the witness has power to take its measure. It is lived for the other only... That God needs no witness. Neither to himself nor against. They truth is rather that if there were no god then there could be no witness for there could be no identity to the world but only each man's opinion of it." 158 "To God every man is a heretic." 158

"Go home." 159

Explanations:
1. is significant because right off the back the priest can tell that Billy has yet to find his place. And it's this quote that introduces the whole story. 2.This quote proves that the priest has gone through his own journey and has managed to find his place in the run down cathedral. 3. This quote is one that backs up the idea that all men have the same stories because all men are the same. All heretics in God’s eyes. 4. The priest is saying that all things lose their significance if nothing can be gained from them. If they don't have a story, they don't have purpose. 5. The priest goes on to say that stories are significant because others hear and learn from them. They live on as they are witnessed and retold. They make their own place in the world. And because these stories or corridos are told and told again to others, they ultimately become everyone's story and thus unify. This also links to Boyd who becomes a folk hero because of a corrido. His story will live on forever and becomes everyone’s story to gain. 6. This is a quote describing the old man, or someone who has no place in the world. It goes to say that someone who has no place (literally has no image or message) is less than an ink spot on a piece of paper. It's a description of what Billy could potentially become. 7. This quote is the old man's dream. (significant becuase of the dream motif). The image of god almost mirrors the image of a man with no place. He cannot hear and will not answer. He only slaves away making the world. Completely alone. It is also significant that the old man wakes in tears because of this dream, because he knows somewhere in the world got weaves there is a measly thread for him. 8. This is another quote that reveals the insignificance of man. God is a perfect being that needs nothing. Man, however, is only important in stories or as witnesses. 9.A quote that hints at the naïveté of man and their unwillingness to accept, see, or know truth. The old man seems to know something that the priest cannot compute. This is mirroring Billy's inability to learn from the stories of the people he meets. 10. This is a quote that is describing the priest's Loss of faith after being with the old man. It shows how all men's stories are one. As the old man lost his faith so did the priest and so did Billy. 11. This quote reveals that acts are not important and that they only have purpose to the witness and the witness of that witness. It goes in this way like a chain or a weaving if you will. 12. This quote links to the Weaving God quote. It seems to reveal a more pitiful image of God. The fact that he can never have a witness seems unfair. But it can also be taken as unfair in the way that no one can tell him otherwise. No one can convince him to make the world he weaves better. No one can tell him that people are more worthy and not heretics. 13. This quote also shows how god seems to have a heavy influence. He seems omnipresent/ all knowing and watches all with a condemning eye. If he couldn't do this he wouldn't be god. 14. This quote is very significant. It shows that all men are the same because ultimately, we all share the same story. As shown by how many people tell Billy to find his place or go home or find his own people. They all tell him to settle down. All of the people who tell Billy their stories have been in his position before. This quote also mirrors the image in the first book of the old man Mr. Sanders hold Billy's hand and telling him his story, getting in all his wisdom so that it can live on. That is exactly what is going on in this quote with the priest and the old man. 15. These last words are significant because it has a double meaning. He's asking the priest to save him self in a sense that he need to find his place and not end up like him. But it can also mean save himself in a religious sense. As if to save himself from his heretical thoughts and doubts in god. 16. Yet another quote that reveals the power of god. He needs no witness because he makes the witnesses. In fact, his in THE witness. And that without him there really wouldn't be anything to witness anyway. 17. This quote also shows how all men are the same in a way. 18. The priest is telling Billy to find his home/ place where he is accepted.

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