Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 27

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 27

  • Zerchi listens to a radio announcement about the recent nuclear attack.
  • The announcement mentions the government's Mori Vult ("He will die") laws. These laws require those who desire euthanasia to be properly certified, and to report to the nearest Green Star Relief Camp.
  • Yikes.
  • The abbot mentions to his visitor that he considers the process "state-sponsored suicide" (27.9).
  • The visitor, Dr. Cors, says he doesn't want to argue moral theology. He simply wants to set up a relief station at the abbey since the courtyard is filled with sick refugees.
  • After some back and forth, Zerchi agrees to allow Dr. Cors access to the abbey, under one condition: he cannot recommend euthanasia to anyone. Period.
  • Dr. Cors agrees, albeit reluctantly.
  • Zerchi receives a letter informing him that Brother Joshua and the others have left for an unspecified location and that the government has gotten word of the Church's intent. (It's illegal to launch a ship without approvals, so they're in hot water. Or, um, hot space stuff.)
  • Later, Zerchi is told that Green Star Relief is setting up a camp down the road. Zerchi is happy to hear this, since he's had to turn away three trucks of refugees already.
  • He climbs the abbey's tower to read a book by Saint Poet, a "satirical dialogue in verse between two agnostics who were attempting to establish by natural reason alone that the existence of God could not be established by natural reason alone" (27.83).
  • You know, just for fun. (A Shmooper after our own hearts. Aw.)
  • He observes them setting up MERCY CAMP 18 (27.88).
  • At first, he is confused by the pottery, but soon realizes they are urns. He puts two and two together, and figures out what the mercy camp is all about.
  • Then he finds Dr. Cors, but the doctor doesn't have anything to do with MERCY CAMP 18, and so he can't move them out of the area… not that he would if he could.
  • Instead, he calls for Brother Pat. He has the man gather five novices for a good, old-fashioned picket line.

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