In Breakdown 1968, the author shows the moral breakdown of Mark. He is travelling with his pregnant wife and son, Hans to Los Angeles where he is planning to look for work. The car breaks down at a remote gas station and he has to get a new alternator. He hitches a ride from a man and two women who are part of a film crew in a hearse. They encourage him to leave his wife and kid and join them to live a better life.
They manage to convince him. He takes up the suggestion and actually abandons his wife and child. He is completely selfish at this time, thinking of himself and accomplishing his dreams. He looks at his family feeling that they are trapping him. He is unable to reach for his dreams.
He wants to join the entertainment industry and make it big. He is not thinking of his family and how they will get out of the remote gas station and go home. While in the car however, he starts feeling guilty and tells them he has to get out and go back to his family. He gets to a parts store when he realizes he does not have enough money. He is forced to call home and ask for help from his parents something he hates.
Mark is unstable and not happy with the life he is living. The film crew offered him what he perceives as a way of escape and he was tempted to take it. He was on the journey of selfishness and abandoning his family but he redeemed himself at the end and came to his senses. The story shows us the moral failure of a man and his self-redemptive actions.
Priest Leo experiences moral failure as Mark in the story of the Missing person. Priest Leo is convinced he is supposed to be a priest and he patiently works in the parish. However after the death of the old priest, he is moved to a parish where things are falling apart. The nuns have lost patience in following the rules of the church. Leo feels lost, moving from parish to parish till he meets Jerry, a man employed by the parish to assist in fundraising.
Jerry causes Leo to change and condone actions that he should not. Jerry raises money through unethical means. He lies that the parish is supporting the disabled, orphans, lepers and even earthquake victims so that they can get financial support. On these meetings with the rich people, Leo refuses to look at them in the eyes as he knows what he is doing is wrong.
Jerry and Leo go to a trip in Vegas where Leo meets a woman called Sandra who he sleeps with going totally against the priest teachings. Before he joined the priesthood, Leo had marveled at the helplessness of love. He had loved someone till he almost did not join the priesthood. This shows that Leo had this inherent weakness for women which he had just suppressed.
At the end of the story, Leo has found himself and is no longer lost or missing. When Sandra is sleeping on the bed and she cries out, Leo tells her it is ok since he is there. He is now at peace with who he is and he is not going anywhere.
The difference between Mark and the Priest is that at the end, Mark refuses to abandon his family. However the Priest does not go back to the parish and the priesthood. Leo has found happiness elsewhere.