A Canticle for Leibowitz Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 2-3

Walter M. Miller Jr.

Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 2-3

New Characters
Leibowitz: a survivor of the nuclear war who founded the Order of Saint Leibowitz

Father Cheroki: a priest at the abbey

Brother Fingo: a monk who works in the abbey as a woodcarver

Francis whispers the litany of the Saints to help protect himself as he advances into the shelter. He slides into a room of the shelter and sees a sign reading, “Inner Hatch Sealed Environment,” and beneath the sign, a warning giving information about the hatch. However, the door to the hatch is blocked by tons of rock. So Francis starts looking around the room and sees a skull with a gold tooth in a corner of the room. Francis is disturbed by this gold tooth as he starts exploring the furnishings of the room, including an old metal desk. He finds it impossible to open the desk’s drawers, but sees a rusty box and manages to pry this box open. He climbs out of the hole to examine whatever is in the box. Francis finds that the box holds some tubes of glass with wire inside them, and a note written on paper inside the box’s lid. The note is signed “I. E. L.,” who says that he has to catch a plane in twenty minutes, and asks Carl, the recipient of the note, to get Em, Francis' wife, “on the alternate list for the shelter.” I. E. L., the note writer, could not get Em on the plane, which is why she needs to get into the shelter. I. E. L. says he doesn’t know if the war has started. Francis reads the note, then takes out some trays from the box to find some notes, papers, and a Memo notebook at the bottom of the box. One of the notes is a short list of groceries, another is a reminder to pick up IRS tax form 1040, and another is a list of numbers. The Memo book is a list of names, places, numbers, and dates, with the dates coming from the late 1940s and early 1950s. One of the folded papers has the words “Racing Form” on it, and the other is a blueprint of a circuit design by I. E. Leibowitz.

Francis assumes that this circuit design is by the Isaac...

(The entire section is 831 words.)