I did not like this book when I first started reading it. However, after reading the conversion story, I am appreciating it more. This is my favorite story in the book and probably my favorite of all that we read so far. Borden repeatedly talks about how faith is useless, the theme of hopelessness, and how death is a release from war which is a good thing. However, this is the first time when these things are questioned. In this story, death is not seen as always a good thing but that there are consequences after death and that religion brings back the hope that is lost.
I find it beautiful how the scene of the priest, who is always described as insignificant, is able to convert the man, who is driven mad with guilt, through prayer. It is interesting that Borden decided to include this story even though she makes it clear how much distaste she has for religion. Yet, we get such a powerful scene of this man crying like a child while confessing his sins to the priest in order to be forgiven.
This man was mad with guilt with the acts he had committed in the past. He knew that there would be consequences after death if he did not change his ways and ask for forgiveness. Therefore, the closer he got to death the guiltier he got which drove him mad. Therefore, after he confessed his sins he is compared to a child to suggest that he regained his innocence and purity since his sins were washed away and is now able to renew his life and have a better chance at going to Heaven.
I also like how the priest is continuously described as insignificant and yet performed such a powerful act because it shows how humble he is. One of the most important values of the Catholic Church is Humility. The Church teaches that the first should go last and that the last should go first, meaning that one should lower themselves and put others first out of love for God. This was illustrated really well with the priest in the story. He is shown as helping the patients all through the night without complaint even if that means that he would not get much sleep. He also stayed up all night to help the young man who was struggling and was determined to pray no matter what until the man was released of his suffering. This determination is also admirable because it is the first time we see a glimpse of hope in this book which many had lost at the start of the war.