The entire story consists of the male narrator’s reflections on what he has learned during a scientific mission to investigate a ‘‘white dwarf,’’ a sun in a distant galaxy that became a supernova and burned itself out thousands of years earlier. The reader learns that he is a Jesuit priest and an astrophysicist aboard a starship, and that he has been fighting a ‘‘private, good-natured, but fundamentally serious war’’ against the atheism of the crew. The findings of the mission cause him to question the foundations of his faith.
The ship’s doctor is the only person’s name the reader learns in the story. A conversation between the narrator and the doctor reveals the atheistic attitudes that the Jesuit astrophysicist encounters from the ship’s crew and officers during the mission.
(The entire section is 136 words.)