Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Chapter 8

By Robert A. Heinlein

Chapter 8

  • More new characters! (Are you lost yet?)
  • Molly Wheelwright gossips with Jill about the new patient in K-12 and how Mrs. Bankerson shouldn't be in that room since she isn't rich.
  • This (along with her worry over Ben) further increases Jill's hunch that something is amiss.
  • Dr. Brush asks Jill to stay in K-12 while he takes an emergency restroom break. Hey, nature calls.
  • While he's gone, Jill goes in to check on Mrs. Bankerson only to find Mike in the room, smiling like a child. Mike is overjoyed to see his water brother again, but Jill is, for obvious reasons, worried at her discovery. She unlocks the side door and promises she will return.
  • Jill manages to talk her way past Dr. Brush, agreeing to keep it their little secret.
  • Mike Smith waits for Jill. While he waits, we get a small understanding as to how Martians think about time differently than humans do. In short, it's not a bother for them.
  • Jill returns, bringing with her a bundle of female nurse's clothes. She dresses Mike in the uniform and sneaks him out of the hospital, claiming he is her cousin Madge. Oh, and Madge conveniently has laryngitis and can't speak. 
  • It might just be the lamest escape ever, but it works.
  • Afraid of going to her own apartment, Jill takes Mike to Ben's place. There she gives him a bath and more shenanigans ensue. 
  • Mike is so overcome with joy at submerging himself in water—a privilege no Martian has had since water is so rare on Mars—that Jill thinks he'll drown. He also attempts to further understand the human female and gets a little grabby in the process.
  • Note to Shmoopers: When Mike uses the word "discorporation," he means death. The Martians don't die like humans; instead, they simply do away with their physical bodies and become what Smith calls "The Old Ones." Mike doesn't even have a word or conception for death at this point in the novel.
  • History Snack (yeah, we're full of helpful stuff right now): The original password to Ben's flat, Karthago delenda est, is Latin and translates to "Carthage must be destroyed." This was a popular saying in the Roman Republic during the Punic Wars (264 – 146 B.C.E.) when the city of Carthage was the main opponent. Carthage was eventually razed during the Third Punic War (149 – 146 B.C.E.). Feel a little smarter now? 
  • While Jill is trying to get Smith dressed, Berquist and a policeman named Johnson barge into Ben's apartment. 
  • When Johnson gets violent with Jill, Smith makes him disappear. Yep, he just disappears.
  • Berquist, naturally, freaks out at this and pulls a gun on Jill. Bad move, B. Smith winks him from existence, too. 
  • We'll get more into how Smith can do this later in the book, but for now, let's just accept it as another super-cool Martian power. 
  • Jill gets upset at watching two men disappear, and Smith groks that he made a mistake and reverts into himself like he did at the hospital.
  • Jill seems to have watched her fair share of cop dramas because she knows exactly what to do. She packs Mike's body into a suitcase and decides it's time to get lost.