The Da Vinci Code

by Dan Brown

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Fact, Prologue, Chapters 1-10 Summary

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Fact Before the novel proper begins, Brown presents a list of crucial facts:

The Priory of Sion is a real secret society, founded in 1099, and Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci were all members.

Opus Dei is an existing sect of devout Catholics.

"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." This flat statement gives The Da Vinci Code more power and influence than most works of fiction.

Prologue Prologue Characters: Jacques Saunière

Prologue Summary: Louvre Museum, Paris 10:46 P.M. The curator of the Louvre museum, seventy-six-year-old Jacques Saunière, tears a painting from the wall of the Grand Gallery, causing an iron gate to fall and an alarm to sound. Through the iron bars, Saunière's mysterious attacker demands to know the hiding place of something he says Saunière and his brotherhood have in their possession. Saunière tells the lie he has practiced many times, then learns that his three sénéchaux have already been killed. The attacker shoots Saunière, who thinks, "If I die, the truth will be lost forever," and "I must pass on the secret." The truth and secret referred to is the secret meaning of the Holy Grail.

Saunière realizes there is only one person to whom he can pass the truth and struggles to leave a message before he dies.

Chapter 1 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Jérome Collet

Chapter Summary: Harvard religious symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened in his hotel room in Paris. He has come there to give a lecture at the American University of Paris, but is visited in his hotel room by Lieutenant Jérome Collet from the Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire (DCPJ): the French Judicial Police. Collet tells Langdon that his captain requires Langdon's expertise and that Langdon's name was found in Saunière's daily planner. He shows Langdon a picture of Saunière dead, in an odd position. Collet says, "'Monsieur Saunière did that to himself,'" meaning that Saunière positioned himself in a meaningful fashion—one that would send a message—even as he was dying.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning.

Chapter 2 Chapter Characters: Silas, the albino monk The Teacher

Chapter Summary: Silas, the albino monk who had killed Saunière, calls the Teacher and tells him that "'the three sénéchaux … and the Grand Master himself'" are gone and that "'all four confirmed the existence of the clef de voûte … the legendary keystone'" (a map engraved in stone). Silas tells the Teacher the keystone is located in the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris.

Silas, who wears a cilice (a belt studded with metal barbs) to mortify his flesh, begins to whip himself.

Chapter Themes: The power of belief, and the need to believe.

Chapter 3 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Jérome Collet Bezu Fache

Chapter Summary: Langdon is driven to the Louvre to meet Captain Bezu Fache, nicknamed le Taureau (the Bull). Collet drops Langdon at the new entrance to the Louvre, a neomodern glass pyramid. As Langdon waits for Fache, he thinks, "I'm trapped in a Salvador Dalí painting," because the situation seems so symbolic and surreal.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning.

Chapter 4 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Bezu Fache

Chapter Summary: As Fache guides Langdon through the Louvre, Langdon notices another pyramid, La Pyramie Inversée, a huge inverted skylight. Fache quizzes Langdon about his relationship to Saunière. Langdon does not know why Saunière wanted to meet with him, but he was looking forward to consulting with Saunière, an expert goddess iconographer, regarding his current book, Symbols of...

(This entire section contains 1564 words.)

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the Lost Sacred Feminine.

Fache takes Langdon to Saunière's body, making him crawl under a steel grate to access it. Langdon thinks, "The barricade looked like a guillotine waiting to crush intruders," but it is actually a symbolic barrier, marking Langdon's passage into a new, mythic realm.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning.

Chapter 5 Chapter Characters: Bishop Aringarosa Silas, the albino monk

Chapter Summary: Bishop Manuel Aringarosa leaves Murray Hill Place, the Opus Dei World Headquarters in New York City. Bishop Aringarosa, the president-general of Opus Dei, "has spent the last decade of his life spreading the message of 'God's Work'—literally, Opus Dei." As he flies to Rome, he gets a call indicating that Silas has located the keystone.

Silas again whips himself, and readies himself to retrieve the keystone.

Chapter Themes: The power of belief, and the need to believe.

Chapter 6 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Jérome Collet Bezu Fache

Chapter Summary: Fache shows Langdon Saunière's body, and they discuss the symbols around it, which include a pentacle drawn on his body. As a pagan religious symbol, Fache relates the pentacle to devil worship. Langdon clarifies that pagans were country people whose religion was Nature worship and that "'the pentacle … is a pre-Christian symbol that relates to Nature worship.'" They saw their world as two halves—masculine and feminine—with the pentacle representing the female half, the "'sacred feminine,'" and the gods and goddesses worked to bring harmony to the world, rather than chaos, by balancing both halves. "'In its most specific interpretation,'" Langdon says, "'the pentacle symbolizes Venus—the goddess of female sexual love and beauty.'" Langdon points out that in order to convert people to Christianity, the early Catholic Church degraded the symbols of the pagan religions. At one point Langdon thinks, "So much for the goddess of love and beauty," summing up the ways that the symbols of the feminine have been demonized.

Langdon tells Fache that Saunière's body is positioned in the shape of a pentacle. Fache shows Langdon the message on the floor that Saunière wrote in black-light pen.

As this occurs, Collet is listening in electronically.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning.

Chapter 7 Chapter Characters: Bishop Aringarosa Sister Sandrine

Chapter Summary: Bishop Aringarosa calls Sister Sandrine at the Church of Saint-Sulpice. He arranges permission for Silas to see the church at 1 a.m. that night.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning. The power of belief, and the need to believe.

Chapter 8 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Jérome Collet Bezu Fache

Chapter Summary: Langdon is shown the message that Saunière wrote while dying:

13-3-2-21-1-1-8-5 O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint!

Langdon recognizes the circle Saunière drew around his body and the posture in which he arranged his body as matching that of Da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man. He begins to decipher Saunière's code in those terms, giving the first extended suggestions that Da Vinci and others view the Catholic Church's influence negatively (because "Draconian" means very harsh, after the Greek politician Draco, and because the term "lame saint" suggests the church is not as "fit" as it thinks).

Collet listens in electronically.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning. The power of belief, and the need to believe.

Chapter 9 Chapter Characters: Robert Langdon Bezu Fache Sophie Neveu

Chapter Summary: Fache is radioed that a cryptographer, Sophie Neveu, has arrived. Fache thinks Agent Neveu's department, DCPJ Cryptography, has sent her. Sophie tells Fache that she has deciphered the first line of Saunière's message, then tells Langdon that he needs to contact the U.S. Embassy for a message. When Langdon calls the number she gives him, on Fache's phone, he gets Sophie's voice, which tells him he is in danger.

Chapter Themes: The human world is encoded with meaning. The centrality of human relationships, especially male-female relationships. The influence of the past upon the present.

Chapter 10 Chapter Characters: Bishop Aringarosa Silas, the albino monk

Chapter Summary: Silas arrives at the Church of Saint-Sulpice, driving the black Audi the Teacher had arranged for him. He thinks to himself how powerful Opus Dei will be when he gives the keystone to the Teacher "so they could recover what the brotherhood had long ago stolen from the faithful."

As he stares at the Church of Saint-Sulpice, his haunted memories return. He remembers leaving home at seven after killing his father, who had beat his mother lifeless. While living on the streets of Marseilles and other port towns, he was shunned because of his ghost-like appearance, had trouble with the law, and at eighteen was imprisoned. He was freed after twelve years by an earthquake. As a fugitive, he fell ill and was tended by a priest from Obra de Dios (Opus Dei). The priest gave him an old Bible with Acts 16 marked, which tells the story of a prisoner named Silas who is freed by an earthquake. The priest says, "'From now on, my friend, if you have no other name, I shall call you Silas.'"

While Aringarosa is flying over the Mediterranean, he thinks about the future of Opus Dei and wishes he could call Silas, but the Teacher will not allow it. Even though he does not know the Teacher’s identity, Aringarosa trusts him and is confident that he will deliver the prize he has promised. It is made clear that Aringarosa will soon be getting twenty million euros.

Chapter Themes: The centrality of human relationships, especially male-female relationships. The power of belief, and the need to believe. The influence of the past upon the present.

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Chapters 11-20 Summary