Citizen of the Galaxy

by Robert A. Heinlein

Start Free Trial

Describe Thorby's personal transformation in Citizen of the Galaxy.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Thorby's transformation in this science fiction novel is one that catapults him out of a life of slavery where he is impoverished, has no freedom and is unhealthy, to an existence where he ironically becomes the most powerful human on earth in terms of his status, possessions and wealth. Thorby starts off in the novel as an emaciated slave who is being sold in Jubbelpore having been kidnapped by slave traders. However, the description of him as he stands waiting to be sold is so dreadful that nobody wants to buy him because of the state of his health except a beggar. The change in circumstances that Thorby undergoes involves being trained in espionage work and then becoming part of a space gypsy community on a space ship, before discovering his true identity before he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He is taken home, where he lives the life he was born to lead, as "Rudbeck of Rudbeck," head of an international conglomerate and an immensely wealthy individual. Ironically, he becomes head of a conglomerate which deals in slavery, which is what he has been fighting against. Thorby struggles in his new position as those who run the conglomerate try to prevent him from finding out about various illegal and unsavoury activities of the conglomerate. Note, for example, what Thorny complains about in the following quote:

I'm so busy doing what I must do that I don't have time for what I ought to do... and I never get a chance to do what I want to do!

Thorby is kept so busy with various jobs and tasks that he is unable to challenge and fight slavery in his own conglomerate. It is only with the help and advice of other characters that he is able to discover the truth behind his own conglomeration and bring an end to its involvement with slavery. Even though he is successful in this, and has the opportunity to marry and settle down, Thorby continues his fight against slavery, enlisting in the Exotic Corps so he can continue fighting against slavery. Thorby's transformation is from a weak and defenceless slave to somebody who has the power to challenge and fight against slavery because of his power and position. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team