Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 10

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 10

  • The trip to New Rome will require three months, so Francis heads into the desert on a donkey with no name
  • It's a good thing Francis hasn't bothered naming the donkey because he soon has to part with him. Why, you ask? Well, he meets a robber who kindly relieves him of his beast of burden
  • (Zing. Two-fer links, for the win.)
  • The robber's two mutant companions want to eat Francis, but the robber suggests he's too scrawny. Guess asceticism has its practical purposes as well.
  • Then the robber finds something new to get interested in: the blueprint and illuminated copy Francis has been working on. He decides his woman would like to hang those on her cabin wall.
  • Who wouldn't, we wonder?
  • Desperate, Francis begs for them back. The robber says he'll wrestle Francis for them, and Francis accepts.
  • It goes about as well as you'd expect. This is Fainting Francis we're talking about here, Shmoopers.
  • Francis begs for the manuscript back once again, after his big loss, telling the robber it took him fifteen years to complete.
  • The robber assumes the illuminated copy is the original, and offers to give it back to Francis for two heklos of gold. He gives Francis the original back, believing it worthless. He rides away and laughs at spending fifteen years on that.
  • Francis is distraught at losing his life's work, but happy to have saved the original. He is tempted to start chanting, "I am so smart, I am so smart."
  • But instead, he gets to walking.