Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 17

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 17

  • New chapter; new conversation.
  • We eavesdrop on a palaver between Dom Paulo and a messenger. The abbot gets up-to-date on politics and current affairs.
  • Dom Paulo is informed that Hannegan is going to "defend" the frontier from Mad Bear and the State of Chihuahua.
  • The messenger further notes that Hannegan plans to have Mad Bear's clan deal with Laredo while the Laredans drive hundreds of diseased cattle into the tribe's herd for some old-fashioned chemical warfare.
  • In other words, Hannegan wants his enemies to kill each other off. Sly guy.
  • The messenger advises Dom Paulo to secure the abbey, especially considering those new hazards: gunpowder and grapeshot.
  • Not long afterward, tribesmen in wolf skins appear outside the abbey's gate, causing a bit of an uproar.
  • Then Taddeo makes his appearance and the misunderstanding is resolved.
  • Dom Paulo notices Taddeo's "icy eyes" that study "him as one might study a lifeless curio" (17.56). We're a little freaked out. But he extends to him all the courtesies of the abbey anyway.