Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 22

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 22

  • Taddeo discusses an experiment with Brother Kornhoer, mentioning the brother's gifts for conceiving of practical applications for his abstract theories.
  • He then offers Kornhoer an opportunity to work with him at the collegium.
  • Kornhoer is flattered, but he decides he's once a religious dude, and always a religious dude.
  • Taddeo mentions the collegium paying a stipend of a hundred gold hannegans… which is completely the wrong thing to say, given the current political climate.
  • Dom Paulo heads into the guesthouse, where a near-dead Brother Claret is having his wounds tended.
  • Claret, it turns out, smuggled a letter out of New Rome.
  • The letter is a proclamation by Hannegan calling the Pope a heretic. You know, because this guy collects enemies like Pokemon (gotta catch 'em all).
  • In the basement, Taddeo argues with Father Gault and others over the book of Genesis.
  • Gault says many of the monks "'feel that Genesis is more or less allegorical'" (22.57).
  • But Taddeo has uncovered a document that suggests a pre-Deluge race might have created Man itself. He speculates that maybe the Simplification was a rebellion by Man against this master race. (Someone's an Assassin's Creed fan.)
  • Dom Paulo has had enough. He demands to see this amazing reference, only to find that Taddeo didn't read the document closely enough.
  • He had merely discovered a fragment of a play.
  • Bahaha.
  • Trivia Snack: the play is a reference to Karel Čapek's R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). R.U.R. is the story of a future society that creates robots to do labor, but the robots eventually rebel, causing the extinction of humanity.
  • It's a classic.
  • Anywho, Taddeo argues that his remarks were only conjecture, and that people must be allowed to speculate.
  • Dom Paulo agrees, but believes "'to abuse the intellect for reasons of pride, vanity, or escape from responsibility'" is a problem (22.100).
  • Yikes. What's he trying to say, huh?
  • Dom Paulo asks why Taddeo wants to "dehumanize[e] the last civilization," but Taddeo yells that the Memorabilia should be in competent hands (22.102).
  • Wow. Open mouth; insert foot.
  • And with that, the arc lamp is put out, and Brother Kornhoer returns with the crucifix for Dom Paulo to put in its place.
  • When he descends the ladder, he tells Taddeo to give a message to the collegium. Anyone who wishes to study at the abbey may do so.
  • Later, a knock comes on the abbot's study door. It's Thon Taddeo. He has taken the sketches of the abbey's fortifications and is giving them to Dom Paulo.
  • They shake hands, but Dom Paulo "[knows] that it was no token of any truce but only of mutual respect between foes" (22.148).
  • That same year, the states of Denver and Texarkana make and break a deal.
  • The old hermit resumes his wanderings, and the Leibowitz Abbey buries their abbot.