Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Part 1, Chapter 4

By Arthur C. Clarke

Part 1, Chapter 4

The Leopard

  • The slab taught the man-apes to use simple tools, but even though they're simple, they'll change everything.
  • And now Clarke describes the tools, because tools are awesome. Sci-fi writers like tech, even Stone Age tech. They can't help it.
  • Stone club, toothed saw, horn dagger, and bone-scraper.
  • Time passes; with the tools the man-apes aren't hungry very often.
  • Life is awesome.
  • Except.
  • For two things; the leopard, which kills them, and the Others, who are still there on the other side of the river, still squawking.
  • One day Moon-Watcher's tribe finds a crippled antelope. They drive off the jackals.
  • Then they kill the antelope. But by then it's almost dark.
  • They can't stay and eat it or the leopard might get them.
  • So Moon-Watcher has the bright idea of dragging the antelope to the cave rather than eating it there.
  • It takes a lot of work but eventually they manage it.
  • They eat a lot and are happy and go to sleep…but.
  • The leopard is drawn to the cave by the smell of blood, and now they're in trouble.
  • Or maybe not. With their new weapons, they drive the leopard back, and it falls out of the cave to its death.
  • Poor leopard. Why didn't the slab help it out? Doesn't seem fair, really.
  • Moon-Watcher feels like he controls the world.
  • Next day they go down and find the leopard's body, and cut it up with their saws. Leopard burgers for all.