Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Part 1, Chapter 2

By Arthur C. Clarke

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Part 1, Chapter 2

The New Rock

  • Moon-Watcher gets woken up by the sound of metal across stone. Which he doesn't recognize, since the man-apes haven't even figured out stone tools, much less metal ones.
  • The tribe goes down to the river and they find the New Rock. It shakes its hips and says, "Love Me Tender."
  • Okay, it's not the Elvis kind of New Rock. It's a big transparent rectangular slab kind of New Rock.
  • Moon-Watcher decides that it's a rock that has grown during the night. (The novel thinks Moon-Watcher is cute. Shmoop feels like maybe the novel shouldn't be so condescending. Respect the man-apes, Arthur C.)
  • Since Moon-Watcher thinks it's a plant, he tries to eat it. That doesn't work.
  • So he forgets about it.
  • He shrieks at the Others.
  • Moon-Watcher's tribe goes to forage, and they don't find much. One female collapses, and they have to leave her, since they don't have energy to drag her along.
  • There are drums. There are lights. There is…Elvis! (Okay, still not that kind of New Rock.)
  • The slab is evaluating them and figuring out what to do with them.
  • The man-ape nearest the slab moves around like a puppet; he picks up a couple of grass stalks and moves to knot them together, but he can't do it.
  • A second man-ape does the same thing, but this time he manages the knot.
  • Way to go, man-ape! Way to go, big slab! Together, ye shall knot the world! (Fanfare here.)
  • Anyway, other man-apes do various things.
  • Moon-Watcher's turn comes, and the slab gets him to chuck a stone at the slab. When he gets a successful hit, he feels almost sexual pleasure.
  • This is as close as the book gets to a sex scene, by the way. (See Steaminess Rating.)
  • Every man-ape gets its turn, and finally the slab lets them go back to their caves.

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