Chapters 20–26 Summary

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Last Updated on May 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1322

Chapter 20

In Naples, Vincenzo Giuliani takes Felipe Reyes sailing. Felipe describes Emilio Sandoz the way he remembers him having been in La Perla—fun and charismatic. Giuliani finds it difficult to reconcile this view of a charming Emilio with his own experience; he remembers him as grim, hardworking, and hostile. Felipe reminds Giuliani of the very different worlds they have come from, sharing details about Emilio’s and his own upbringing in the slum. Giuliani reveals that his own family’s wealth was obtained through organized crime.

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After the first day of the hearings, Emilio is furious with John Candotti, feeling blindsided instead of prepared. Candotti asks Emilio why his hands were mutilated on Rakhat. Emilio explains that the procedure was called hasta’akala, and the purpose of it was unclear to him. He explains that the procedure killed Marc.

In hindsight, Emilio suddenly realizes that Supaari had tried to explain hasta’akala. Emilio believes that he had given permission for the ritual to be performed and blames himself for Marc’s death.

In the night, Giuliani attends to Emilio as he wakes from a nightmare. Emilio calls himself God’s whore and asks Giuliani not to leave.

Chapter 21

On Rakhat, D.W. and George go back to the Stella Maris to fetch supplies, including a small two-passenger airplane called the Ultra-Light. Scouting out the territory ahead with the Ultra-Light, Marc and D.W. discover a village, and the rest of the crew agree to explore it.

Arriving at the village, the crew finds it deserted. The inhabitants, a group of Runa, are returning to the village, and the crew goes out to meet them.

One of the young Runa, named Askama, interacts with Emilio. Using magic tricks, Emilio builds a relationship with the Runa and begins to learn some of their language. The rest of the crew are emotionally touched by the scene, and Emilio himself declares that he “was born for this.”

Chapter 22

Back in Naples, Emilio explains this moment of first contact as part of the hearings. Emilio answers questions about Runa culture, describing them as a tolerant, social people of trade. Although Emilio recalls his close and loving relationship with Askama, he repeatedly turns the conversation away from her. Emilio explains the methods he used to understand the Runa language.

Emilio begins to lose focus, distracted by news he had received earlier in the day: a doctor had announced that his hands could not be improved functionally. Voelker accuses Emilio of pretending to have headaches in order to avoid difficult questions. Reyes defends Emilio, and Emilio lashes out at him in anger.

Alone with Emilio, Giuliani gives Emilio painkillers and instructs him to admit if he is in pain. Giuliani shares D.W. Yarbrough’s description of first contact, where he described Emilio as saintly. Emilio is deeply pained by this and asks Giuliani to stop reading.

Giuliani reflects on his interaction with Emilio, speculating on the idea that Emilio had found God and yet allowed himself to descend to prostitution. He feels committed to helping Emilio.

Chapter 23

In a Rakhat city, Supaari VaGayjur, a shrewd businessman, meets Chaypas, a Runao from Kashan. Chaypas presents coffee beans to Supaari, explaining to him that they had been given to her by the foreigners living in Kashan. Supaari is pleased to discover that, since Askama is acting as interpreter, he has exclusive trading rights with the group of foreigners.

Back in Kashan, Sofia and Emilio banter while studying the Ruanja language. On a walk above the village, D.W. and Anne notice them. While Anne thinks they should be able to have a romantic relationship, D.W. sees saintly qualities in Emilio and believes that celibacy is necessary to Emilio’s view of God.

The intensity of Emilio’s initial spiritual experience has settled into...

(The entire section contains 1322 words.)

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