Fray Santiago is a genuinely godly Christian priest who has come to the New World with the Spanish conquistadors. When he observes the typical behavior of his countrymen, which ranges from merely awful to truly shocking, his sense of mission is shaken. Ostensibly, he is here with them to convert the heathen Indians. Instead, it begins to look to him as though he ought to be converting Spaniards to Christianity. When he tries to carry out his mission with the Indians, they ignore him, then absorb him completely into their life and culture. The bemused priest is happy to be among these more civilized human beings, and his eventual "rescue" by the Spanish is a cause of immense suffering and frustration for him.
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