Last Updated on May 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1322
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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....
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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 a deep sense of gratitude and contentment. He enjoys the Runa culture, language, and local community. In Sofia’s words, Emilio is “drunk on God.”
That evening, the group discusses Runa language and culture. They notice that there are fewer infants than expected, that the Runa dislike music, and that they have not produced any advanced technology. George and Jimmy are eager to contact the Singers, but Emilio thinks it is too soon. To make use of their time in the village, the group decides to start an experimental garden. After dinner, D.W. becomes seriously ill.
D.W.’s health rapidly deteriorates. The group argues about going back to the lander to fetch supplies for him. Emilio orders everyone to go to bed and spends the night caring for D.W.
D.W. survives the night, and his health seems to recover somewhat. The group decides to take advantage of the VaKashani leaving the village; while the Runa are gone, Sofia and Marc will fly the Ultra-Light back to the lander and decide whether or not it is safe to land on the overgrown runway.
In the city of Gayjur, Supaari reflects on his life. Driven from his home village in his youth, he had taken passage on a freighter bound for Gayjur. On the boat, he worked closely with Runa and learned to connect with them. In the city, as a merchant, Supaari learned to profit from his knowledge of Runa culture. Despite his wealth, other Jana’ata still disdained his relationship with Runa. Divided from both Jana’ata and Runa society, Supaari is excluded and yearns for heirs, a right that he is barred from as a third-born. Supaari can only gain the right to procreate if he is rendered a Founder by Hlavin Kitheri.
Hlavin Kitheri is the Reshtar of Galatna Palace. Born to a noble Jana’ata family, Kitheri is also a third-born and therefore barred from having children. Kitheri has become an accomplished poet and singer, relishing the unique and the overlooked. In particular, his popular poems and songs focus on unpleasant odors and the experience of orgasm. When Supaari presents Kitheri with a glass container of coffee beans, the scent of the coffee and Emilio’s sweat ignites Kitheri’s curiosity.
In Naples, Emilio argues with the Father General, enraged to discover that the scientific papers the mission sent back to Earth were never published. Giuliani decides to further delay the publication of the papers until after they have understood what happened to Emilio on Rakhat. Giuliani reminds Emilio of how he had believed the mission to be the will of God, how he had pursued it out of love for God, and how he had experienced a remarkable spiritual transformation on Rakhat. This upsets Emilio, and he leaves.
Edward Behr follows Emilio. Behr shares his own story of becoming a Jesuit and his journey of grief after his wife was killed in a car crash. Emilio seems to express regrets about his relationship with Sofia Mendes.
On Rakhat, Sofia and Marc have left the rest of the group to return to the lander; after reporting that they planned to land, their signals stopped entirely. In the silence and uncertainty, Anne and Emilio both find themselves awake in the middle of the night. Their conversation turns to God, and Anne struggles to believe in God in the face of the suffering in the world. Emilio encourages Anne to go to God, even with her doubts and anger.
Marc and Sofia wake after their crash landing. The Ultra-Light is smashed, and they have suffered various injuries.
Marc and Sofia decide to fly the lander back to Kashan. They try to radio the rest of the group but cannot contact them. Sofia begins a test start-up.
Back in Kashan, Sofia and Marc return, and the group is overjoyed. D.W. breaks the terrible news to them that, by choosing to fly the lander back to Kashan, Sofia used the fuel they would need to return to the Stella Maris.There is now no way off of Rakhat.