Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 4

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 4

  • Abbot Arkos talks with Father Cheroki, assuring him that he did the right thing.
  • The abbot is super upset at the whole situation.
  • Francis's story has spread throughout the abbey, and the fellow monks are adding all sorts of embellishments to it with each re-telling. You know how games of telephone go…
  • In some versions, Leibowitz himself told Francis where to look for the Memorabilia.
  • (Is this foreshadowing or some other kind of literary hint we should be paying attention to? Hm.)
  • The abbot fears this will hurt Leibowitz's chances of being beatified as a saint by New Rome.
  • Later, Francis is sent to the abbot's chambers. Arkos tries to get the novice to deny the old wanderer's part in the story.
  • Francis doesn't, and Arkos goes all "spare the rod, spoil the child" on Francis's behind.
  • Afterward, Francis tries to explain how he never said it was Leibowitz. In fact, he doesn't think that the blessed Leibowitz would chase a man with cudgel. That'd be pretty wacky, right?
  • Arkos mentions no stranger passed by the abbey, and Francis suggests that novices sometimes daydream while on tower duty. So who knows what he really saw?
  • The abbot tries to determine whether Francis believes the old wanderer was natural (of this earth) or supernatural.
  • But those are the same thing for Francis, so the whole debacle keeps spinning out of control with its circular logic.
  • So Arkos kicks Francis out. Harsh, dude. Real harsh.