Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Chapter 36

By Robert A. Heinlein

Chapter 36

  • Jill is outside Jubal's door the next morning, congratulating him like a bro in a frat house. She reveals that she is pregnant. She decided to have a baby because her job as a high priestess would be lessened, now that the church was razed to the ground.
  • Jubal meets Becky, Captain Van Tromp, and his wife in the kitchen. After some light-hearted dialogue, Mike enters and embraces Jubal. He takes his old mentor to a place to talk.
  • Mike has finished the Martian dictionary, although Mahmoud and others will still be refining it for years to come. Maybe in preparation for a Martian edition of Rosetta Stone, because that would be awesome.
  • It turns out Mike isn't bothered by the destruction of the temple—he claims said temple was like a diary with the pages filled, i.e. time for something new. 
  • Instead, what bothers him is his recent discovery that he was a Martian spy. Yeah, he had no idea. He learned the truth when the Old Ones copied his memories to grok and then cut off their connection.
  • Well that's kind of sad.
  • Mike tells Jubal the nature of the Old Ones. They might be considered something equivalent to ghosts or even hallucinations on Earth, but on Mars, they are as real as anyone else.
  • He believes Old Ones will more than likely grok to destroy Earth. But don't worry, they will grok the end in Martian time, meaning a long, long time from now. Mike's estimate: 5,000 years. You think the Martians have a word for procrastinate?
  • It seems Mike's initial goal for creating his church was to make humans into Martians both mentally and culturally. But as he tried, he learned it was impossible to do. In fact, he guesses it would literally kill us.
  • Why did his attempt to culturally reconstruct humanity take the form of a religion anyway? Answer: because it was the only way he could con humanity into considering it. In short, he worked them like marks at the carnival.
  • Yikes.
  • While trying to change humans into Martians, he learned that not only is it impossible but also unwise—even unwanted. 
  • Here's why: the male-female duality of human nature is something Mike considers of great value to humanity, perhaps the greatest product of the universe. 
  • All he wants to do is remove our jealous and hateful tendencies.
  • Back to the events! The police keep trying to land and get inside the hotel, but Mike sends them to nonexistence. He explains to Jubal that it is less like killing and more like putting them out of the game and moving them to the front of the line (for rebirth?).
  • Mike worries that he has failed. His close followers, like Sam, think the change is upon them and inevitable, but Mike is pretty pessimistic. 
  • Martians have their own form of weeding out the weak. Maybe human jealousy, war, and all that jazz is humanity's way.
  • Now it's time for Jubal's two cents: he says that Mike has not failed. The members of the Nest are better prepared for not only life in the Nest, but also for human society as a whole. 
  • And although Mike's message hasn't reached everyone, it will certainly help those who it did reach (though he does wish Mike hadn't called it a religion).
  • Mike groks the truth in Jubal's words and also knows that his waiting has ended.