Chapters 27–32 Summary
Last Updated on May 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1320
In Kashan, George feels responsible for the fact that the crew is stuck on Rakhat. The only probable solution is that, after making contact with the Singers, they might be able to manufacture more fuel.
Sofia and Marc recover from the plane crash, and D.W. continues to suffer bouts of sickness. Emilio notices the care and self-control Jimmy shows toward Sofia, realizing that they are slowly developing a relationship. Emilio feels a deep grief but remains strong in his decision to remain celibate.
With the Runa gone and everyone well-rested, the crew takes the opportunity to have a private party. During their party, a stranger approaches and attacks Emilio. Emilio defends himself, and they discover that the stranger is Supaari VaGayjur, who is shocked at the sight of the foreigners.
The crew offers Supaari coffee, makes their introductions, and invites him to join them for dinner.
In Naples, John Candotti finds Emilio in the laundry room. With new braces for his hands, Emilio is much more capable. They banter and joke back and forth, but when Candotti tries to ask about specifics of what happened on Rakhat, Emilio ends the conversation.
Giuliani meets with Voelker, Behr, and Candotti. He tasks them with gathering information about the Rakhat mission but also to care for Emilio as a fellow priest. He gives them transcripts of the mission reports from D.W. Yarbrough and Marc Robichaux. Giuliani believes that Emilio’s spiritual state at the beginning of the Rakhat mission, described by his fellow crewmembers, was sincere. Giuliani instructs the group to treat him gently, refraining from any accusations, to try to discover what changed.
The hearings continue. Emilio explains the similarities and differences between the Jana’ata and Runa. The Jana’ata are carnivores and, Emilio speculates, evolved the intellectual and physical capabilities to hunt the Runa more effectively. The Jana’ata enforce strict population control and see themselves as guardians of the Runa, whom they breed for meat and labor.
In Kashan, the crew learns about Runa and Jana’ata culture through Supaari. When the Runa return to the village, they do not fear Supaari, and the relationship is generally positive. The Jesuit crew do not realize that Supaari is an exception or understand how he might crave the social status that he has been denied among other Jana’ata.
Supaari leaves Kashan, and Anne explains to the rest of the crew what she has learned from him regarding Runa gender roles.
On his return to Gayjur, Supaari hopes that he can use his relationship with the foreigners to convince Hlavin Kitheri to name him a Founder.
In Kashan, the Jesuit party settles into a productive second year in the village. The humans introduce various new ideas and technology to the Runa—drawings, pulley systems, and even a water slide. With Supaari’s permission, they grow a garden.
The Runa also begin growing gardens and become more sexually active. Sofia and Jimmy’s own courtship progresses, with Emilio’s unspoken blessing, and culminates in a wedding. Shortly after their marriage, Sofia becomes pregnant.
Despite Anne’s treatments, D.W.’s health continues to deteriorate. Anne convinces D.W. to go with her on a walk, and D.W. gives Anne instructions regarding the crew for after his death.
Meanwhile, Supaari brings Marc, Jimmy, and George to Gayjur. He stresses that they must not be seen by any other Jana’ata. Supaari’s secretary, Awijan, tours them through the city in the evening hours. One day, Supaari accompanies Marc to see a Jana’ata artistic performance. Marc, wearing a disguise, sees Jana’ata in daylight for the first time. In a seemingly drugged state after the performance, Marc sees three Runao being publicly executed. Meanwhile, Awijan brings George and Jimmy to a Runa club of some sort, where they all get drunk.
Upon their return to Kashan, the group of three men learn that D.W. and Anne have both died. Sofia and Jimmy insist that Emilio and George are part of their family and invite everyone to stay at their place for the night.
After the others go to sleep, Sofia tells Jimmy what happened. Sofia and Emilio had gone looking for Anne and D.W., who had never returned from their walk. They found the remains of their two friends, obviously eaten by some kind of predator. After reassembling and burying the bodies, Emilio and Sofia grieved together.
In Naples in 2060, Emilio recounts the weeks after D.W. and Anne’s deaths, describing the Runa’s fear of the hunter and the number of babies born in that time. Emilio explains that Runa are bred on a set schedule by Jana’ata geneticists. Fattened by the gardens, the Runa conceived more babies than they were authorized to, and a Jana’ata patrol arrived in Kashan to demand that the infants be handed over.
When the patrol arrived, the Runa reacted calmly but kept the humans concealed in the middle of the crowd. Realizing that the Jana’ata were killing the babies, Sofia resisted, triggering a Runa rebellion. In the violence, George, Jimmy, and Sofia were killed. Marc and Emilio were taken prisoner, and Marc refused to eat the food that the Jana’ata offered them—the meat from the Runa babies.
Supaari found the patrol and took Marc and Emilio to his compound in Gayjur. Emilio and Marc were subjected to hasta’akala, the hand mutilation procedure. Emilio suffered greatly after the procedure, and Marc died.
Retelling his experiences during the hearings in Naples, Emilio tells the group that, at the time, he believed God was still with him.
During the hearings, Emilio explains that, after Marc’s death, Supaari kept Emilio as a part of his household for a period of six to eight months.
One night, Emilio was taken from Supaari’s compound and brought to Galatna Palace. He was kept in a cage, surrounded by others in cages. Although he initially thought it was some kind of zoo, Emilio realized later that it was a harem.
One day, Emilio was brought to a room where he encountered Supaari and Hlavin Kitheri. Realizing that Kitheri’s voice triggered the mission, Emilio felt convinced that the moment had been orchestrated by God. Emilio prepared himself to share the human understanding of God with Kitheri and to learn from his poetry.
Instead, Kitheri raped Emilio.
In Naples, Emilio struggles to recount his experience to the group. Giuliani pushes Emilio to admit that he was raped. Emilio tells them that, in the moments before the rape, he felt in love with God, completely in His will. He tells the panel that in the months afterward, he was continually raped by Kitheri and his friends.
Emilio commands everyone to leave except Candotti. He tells Candotti the horrible details of his imprisonment. Driven to the brink of sanity, Emilio decided that he would kill the next person who opened his cage. Unknown to him, Askama was leading the Magellan crew to him. When Emilio’s cage was opened, it was Askama whom Emilio crashed into, crushing her against the stone wall.
Outside, Felipe Reyes questions Giuliani’s methods. Giuliani insists that Emilio speaking what happened to him is necessary for his healing. Giuliani believes that, in the process of telling his story, Emilio will find meaning in it.
Candotti joins Reyes and Giuliani, explaining to them that Askama’s death was an accident. The three priests discuss the problem of God in light of human suffering.
The next morning, Emilio thanks Giuliani for assembling the group at Naples to help him and asks to stay in Naples longer. Giuliani tells him that he is planning to send another group to Rakhat and requests Emilio’s help; Emilio responds that it is too soon. The novel ends with Giuliani overlooking the courtyard and garden outside his window.