Stranger in a Strange Land
How we cite our quotes:
Smith knew that shape was never a prime determinant; it was necessary to go beyond shape to essence in order to grok. (15.36)
This is one of the very few specific details we get about how to grok in the novel. The shape of something will give clues to its identity—in this case a gun—but it won't give you the identity as a whole.
"The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was 'saved,' they were 'damned'—we were in a state of grace and the rest were 'heathens'." (23.5)
Jubal sees the ability to identify or label other people as a way of gaining power over them, even if just in your own mind. Jubal uses this identity system to give Mike the upper hand at the world conference. Both the Fosterites and Mike use it to grant their disciples access to different levels of their churches.
"The sooner you act like an angel the quicker you'll feel angelic. Get Happy, junior!" (25.10).
Digby's identity conflicts with his actions. As an angel, he's supposed to be angelic, so when he isn't, it's a problem. The same could be said for other social identities in the novel, like when Cavendish and Anne take on the identities of Fair Witnesses.