Chapters 14–19 Summary

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Last Updated on May 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1297

Chapter 14

In Naples in 2060, Emilio is woken from a nap on the beach by a boy who summons him to meet with someone.

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Emilio finds Felipe Reyes, an old friend from La Perla who is now a middle-aged priest. After the two share memories of the past, Felipe asks to see Emilio’s hands and explains his own injury caused by a letter bomb. Emilio becomes angry and suspicious of why the Father General summoned Reyes.

Vincenzo Giuliani is disappointed to learn that Reyes’s interaction with Emilio had not gone as he had hoped. He contemplates the history and motivation of Jesuit martyrs, deciding that in some cases death is easier than survival.

John Candotti joins Emilio on the beach, and they discuss Emilio’s options. Candotti begins to tell Emilio that people know more of his story than he realizes and encourages Emilio to share it, but Emilio refuses.

Chapter 15

In 2021, Anne picks George up from the airport; on the drive, he excitedly describes the Stella Maris, the spaceship prepared for the mission.

As the months pass, even Anne is amazed at how various obstacles that arise for the mission are resolved. She is “increasingly drawn in by the beauty of belief.” Despite the intense motion sickness she experiences, as they enter space, Anne has a moment of certainty about God’s existence. Watching D.W. and Sofia work together, Anne notices their budding friendship.

The narrator describes the seven crew members and the various ways they have prepared for the mission. Sofia Mendes and D.W. Yarbrough understand each other, are evenly matched in their pursuit of perfection, and have spent intense hours working together to prepare for the mission. Marc Robichaux and Alan Pace, both members of the Society of Jesus, are introduced. Marc is a naturalist, and Alan is a musicologist. The other crew members are George Edwards, Anne Edwards, and Emilio Sandoz.

In the months before the mission, transmissions from Alpha Centauri are detected in fifteen- and twenty-seven-day cycles. The crew members study these “regularly scheduled concerts” and begin to recognize specific singers. The narrator explains that one of these singers, Hlavin Kitheri, “would one day destroy Emilio Sandoz.”

The flight continues to go smoothly. The crew becomes accustomed to zero gravity, and there is even a comical attempt by the Edwardses to have sex. After leaving the solar system, gravity is regained, and a routine is established.

During one dinner, there is a brief moment of tension between Pace, Emilio, and Sofia. All three apologize, but after sharing a moment of connection, Emilio and Sofia seem to make a point of avoiding close contact with each other in the following months.

Chapter 16

Aboard the Stella Maris, Jimmy approaches Emilio privately to ask for advice about living without sex. Emilio, to Jimmy’s surprise, suggests masturbation. Emilio talks with Jimmy about the reality of celibacy but refuses to entirely disclose his “private life.”

Jimmy recalls a conversation he had with Anne months earlier, before the mission. He had felt angry and judgmental toward Emilio, suspecting some kind of romantic relationship between Sofia and the priest. Anne had explained that vows made in youth are hard to keep, comparing them to marriage vows, and cautioned Jimmy against judging Emilio.

Jimmy realizes that Sofia and Emilio would be good for each other, but he also notices that since the first real dinner on board the Stella Maris, Emilio and Sofia have kept physical distance from each other, as well as emotional distance by calling each other by their last names.

Emilio contemplates his vows of chastity, something that he realizes intrigues other people. He believes he is called to the path, but it is something so meaningful to him that he cannot articulate it.

Chapter 17

In June 2060, Giuliani,...

(The entire section contains 1297 words.)

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