Study Guide

Red Mars Part 6, Chapter 3

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Part 6, Chapter 3

  • Frank joins Zayk's Tuqan caravan a month after the treaty. The caravan is a mining operation, so Frank takes a prospector unit to scout ahead and just get away from it all.
  • Spending his time alone, Frank watches a lot of television, yelling his true feelings and opinions at it. Why not, right?
  • Zeyk invites Frank to afternoon coffee and talks with the other guys. Frank finds the language beautiful, and many of the conversations become educational for him.
  • But Frank is Frank. He argues with the others on occasion, such as when Zeyk claims that their culture has never splintered because their faith unites them. Frank shoots him a look that says he's not buying it.
  • The caravan moves again after the copper deposits dry up. Frank hits the road alone to prospect and compiles his notes on what he's learned about his Arab friends.
  • His dreams torture him. In one, he dreams of the time he saw John step onto Mars for the first time. Frank's at a bar thinking how even this will change things—how on Mars, it'll be different. Then while leaving the bar, Frank yells at a beggar to go get a job; once back at the caravan, he can't seem to talk with the others.
  • Suddenly, Frank suggests that Islam treats their women like slaves, which gets him a healthy dose of ire from the group, especially the elder Al-Khal. This leads to a conversation about the difference between Western women and Arab women—complete with the notable absence of women's voices to, you know, throw an opinion or two into the mix.
  • Frank says they should change their laws, and after an awkward silence, the conversation turns to something a little more… amenable.
  • After this, Frank goes out in the prospector again. When he returns, Zeyk invites him to dinner, and during the meal, Zeyk and his wife, Nazik, joke about her being his slave.
  • They admit they agree with what Frank said, but know that Mars offers them an opportunity at social progress, or as they call it "[t]he hadj to utopia" (6.3.78).
  • Frank feels better. One day, they awaken to find snow on the ground; changes are coming to Mars.
  • The days pass; the caravan travels. It's what they do. Much later, they pass an Amex mining station. Frank visits the tent himself and finds it's filled with folk from Florida. He feels like he's back in America.
  • He listens to their stories about work, and some of the guys are honest with him. They're here on a deal that's illegal by the laws of the new treaty—you know, Frank's treaty.
  • And they're coming to Mars by the thousands. Actually, make that tens of thousands. Frank realizes he's lost touch. Oops.
  • A guy doing bench presses tells him things are going to blow up soon. People are disappearing into the wilderness, going over to Arkady's side; for everyone else, it's life under the company's thumb.
  • Frank returns to the Arab caravan for a final trip. As he sits with his friends—the people who were good to him—and listens to their beautiful language, he knows he has to leave.