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Chapter 8 Summary

The people of the town find out that the Mayor has been arrested and quietly pass the message around. They continue to find and hide the dynamite.

A guard is placed at Mayor Orden’s bedroom door. Doctor Winter, arrested, arrives at the Mayor’s house and the Mayor comes out of his room, past the guard, to meet him. The guard does not stop him.

The Mayor and Doctor Winter talk about the situation. Mayor Orden says that he is powerless to stop the townspeople from rebelling: “I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to.”

Doctor Winter, referring to the invaders’ point of view, says:

The time is nearly up. They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.

Mayor Orden admits to Doctor Winter that the thought of death scares him. He is ashamed that he has thought of trying to escape or save himself by pleading for his life. Doctor Winter notes that the Mayor has not acted on those feelings.

The Mayor says that now he does not feel the desire to save his own life. He feels something different, and although he is still afraid, he feels "a kind of exultation, as though I were bigger and better than I am."

He tells Doctor Winter that he has been thinking about something they studied in school. It was the Apology by Socrates. The Mayor says that Socrates said that a man shouldn’t worry about when his death came, only about whether or not he was “doing right or wrong.”

Doctor Winter says he remembers that, and then he remembers a story from their school days. At their graduation ceremony the Mayor had spoken as Socrates in the Apology, but he had gotten part of the speech wrong. He had also left his shirt-tail untucked in the back, which caused laughter on the part of the audience, including the school board. The Mayor says he thought the school board had been red faced from anger as he denounced them. That had been forty-six years earlier.

Mayor Orden begins reciting the passage from The Apology that he had recited on their graduation night. During this, Colonel Lanser enters the room. Doctor Winter says that the Mayor is mistakenly using the word “death” instead of the word “departure” in the line “And I—prophesy to you who are my murderers—that immediately after my—my death—“

Mayor Orden disagrees, saying that the word is “death,” not...

(The entire section is 689 words.)