The Life of a Half-Caste
The lives of many of the people in Mexico, where The Power and the Glory takes place, often leave something to be desired. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the character of the half-caste. Like many others, the half-caste is forced to eke out his existence in poverty. Thus, when the opportunity to turn over the whiskey priest to the authorities arises, the half-caste has no choice but to take advantage of it.
When the half-caste and the whiskey priest first meet, it is with a certain air of tension. The whiskey priest, on the run from the law, can really trust no one, while the half-caste is probably used to keeping his feelings and opinions reserved. The description of the half-caste serves as a testament to his poverty:
He had only two teeth left, canines which stuck yellowly out at either end of his mouth like the teeth you find enclosed in clay which have belonged to long extinct animals.
The half-caste also has an identifying idiosyncrasy in that, when he walks, his one big toe pokes out of his old tennis shoes.
The second time the two meet is in, of all places, the police station in the capital. The half-caste had recognized the priest, upon their first meeting, and went to the station claiming that he could identify him. The police shelter, feed, and, in essence, pamper the half-caste, he being their key "witness." The whiskey priest had been arrested on the charge of possessing alcohol, and had been brought in to the station by one of the Red Shirts. When the two meet, the half-caste decides not to identify the whiskey priest, because he is not sure if he will get the seven hundred peso reward. He also knows that the police would no longer take care of him. Therefor the two part company once again.
The third and final time they meet, the whiskey priest has finally determined that he should move to the next state to avoid persecution. when the half-caste brings him a note that the gringo theif wants to confess before he dies. The priest then has no choice but to go with the half-caste, although knowing that it is a trap. When he arrives, the whiskey priest is soon surrounded be the police and taken into custody.
It is difficult to say whether the half-caste intends any malice towards the priest, but due the circumstances of his life, the reward and benefits offered are too much for the half-caste to resist. As necessity dictates, the half-caste is forced to, essentially, end the priests life in order to better his own.