Study Guide

Red Mars Part 2, Chapter 3

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Part 2, Chapter 3

  • The community continues to grow in their knowledge of each other.
  • On Easter Sunday, the crew learns who the Christians in the group are. John Boone has a debate with Phyllis Boyle on the subject: John thinks Jesus is less a historical figure and more a literary construct, but Phyllis, yeah, not so much.
  • News of the confrontation between John and Phyllis goes viral. Maya notices Frank talking with Hiroko on the matter and thinks Frank must be sowing seeds of discontent, perhaps in a bid to make John less popular back on Earth (where Christianity is still an important part of the culture).
  • A solar flare, um, flares from the sun. To protect life on the Ares, the crew battens down the hatches (so to speak) and congregates in the storm shelter in the central shaft.
  • While they wait for all that radiation to pass, Arkady gives a speech. He says they should make new plans when they get to Mars; after all, it'll be their planet, not Earth's.
  • For example, why make homes shaped the way they were on Earth? They could design a more circular home. Also, why give their leaders larger homes? They could make their society equal and do away with such notions as leaders and followers, upper and lower classes. In other words, why continue making Earth's mistakes when they can do something different?
  • Some people, like Maya, disagree, but others, like John, agree with Arkady. Frank just laughs.
  • John wonders how they let someone like Arkady on the mission and Arkady answers that he lied on the test.
  • The solar flare passes. They lose some of the animals and seeds, but the crew only gets a low dose of the otherwise lethal radiation.
  • Six months in space and no one has ever stepped outside. To help keep sane, Maya takes up working on the farm during most of her free time.
  • She learns about how Hiroko plans to keep the colonists fed on Mars and also a bit about Hiroko—both the person and process are basically enigmas surround by speculation.
  • Maya talks with Frank and John about the increasing number of arguments that arise the longer they stay in space. Maya wonders if they have too many leaders, but Frank feels that they aren't inundated with alpha males. They do, however, have a political body of differing opinions.
  • A week later, Maya is working on the farm when she sees someone she doesn't recognize, so she tries to chase him or her down but loses their trail. Does the Ares have a stowaway or is she hallucinating? To be continued… on the next page.