A Canticle for Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

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Questions and Answers: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapters 29-30

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Study Questions
1. What does Mrs. Grales fear?

2. What does Zerchi suspect Mrs. Grales has come to confess to him?

3. What things does Zerchi think gave rise to the nuclear war?

4. What does Zerchi think is the reason why pain exists?

5. What does the last monk say before he enters the spaceship?

Answers
1. Mrs. Graves fears that the Dread One has arrived. This Dread One is the deployment of nuclear weapons.

2. Zerchi suspects Mrs. Grales has come to confess to him that she had an abortion.

3. Zerchi thinks the evil of unreasoning fear of suffering and a desire for security gave rise to the nuclear war. The unrelenting focus on avoiding suffering and maximizing security have become the only goals of society, though they in fact produced no security whatsover and have lead to absolute suffering.

4. Zerchi thinks pain exists because it makes courage, bravery, nobility, and self-sacrifice meaningful. Without pain, such noble characteristics would have no meaning.

5. The last monk says “sic transit mundus” before he enters the spaceship. This, which roughly means “so passes the world,” refers to the destruction wrought by the nuclear war, which has annihilated the Earth.

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Questions and Answers: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapters 27-28