Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 25

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 25

  • Another go-around between the reporters and the Defense Minister.
  • The Defense Minister denies the charges of violating international law, on account of a nuclear disaster at Itu Wan that resulted in a fierce standoff with the Asian Coalition.
  • Zerchi feels pretty down in the dumps after that news broadcast.
  • Then Brother Joshua enters and is shown the message. The Quo peregrinatur, the Church's very own spaceship (aha, it's a spaceship owned by the Church, of course), will be launching to the Alpha Centauri colony with the Memorabilia.
  • The kicker? Zerchi wants Brother Joshua to lead the Leibowitz Order into space.
  • Brother Joshua doesn't know what to say, so he's given three days to decide. Maybe less. Depends on how that whole World War IV thing goes.
  • The two head for the new refractory, crossing the deadly, multilane highway to get there.
  • They bump into Mrs. Grales, who wishes to offer a tithe to Zerchi's poor box and ask a favor. Mrs. Grales wants her "sister," Rachel, to be baptized.
  • Zerchi says that's a matter for Father Selo, back at her own parish. During the conversation, Joshua swears he sees Rachel smile.
  • People say Grace at the new refractory. During dinner, Father Lehy informs the monks that "'Lucifer is fallen'" and other war announcements are given (25.145).
  • Zerchi tries to assure the monks that all-out WWIV might not be imminent. The leaders of the world have seen nuclear war before, they know what will happen, and this might keep them from fighting.
  • At the beggar's table, Zerchi spies an old man smiling at that claim.
  • After the talk, Zerchi asks the man who he is, and the man replies, "Call me Lazarus" (25.162).
  • That night, Joshua dreams of a surgery meant to separate Mrs. Grales from Rachel, but the head comes alive, stating it is the Immaculate Conception right before the scalpel comes down (25.170). Freaky.
  • Elsewhere, an entire city is wiped off of the Earth.
  • Also freaky. And sad. Very, very sad.

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