The Da Vinci Code
Summary: Chapter 38
Langdon explains to Sophie that the documents the Priory protects are called the Sangreal, or Holy Grail. The Grail is not just a cup, as it is most commonly portrayed, but this group of documents. The cup, he explains, is an allegory for something. Langdon remembers showing his manuscript about the Holy Grail to his editor, who reacted dubiously to his theory. (Though Brown does not reveal what this theory is, he makes it clear that it is a controversial theory that does have supporters). Many prominent historians have written about this theory, but it never gained legitimacy because it was not supported by the Bible or the Church.
Sophie realizes that their cabbie is about to turn them in. Holding him at gunpoint, she forces him out of his cab and makes Langdon take the wheel. Langdon can’t drive a stick shift, but they manage to get away.
Summary: Chapter 39
Silas sits in the room at the Opus Dei safe house, fretting over the fact that even though he killed all of the brothers, he doesn’t know where the secret is. He is also worried that by killing Sister Sandrine, he has put Bishop Aringarosa in danger. Silas considers killing himself. He feels he has let down the only man who has ever helped him. Silas remembers how the Bishop told him that Noah of the Ark was an albino, white like an angel. The Bishop said Silas, too, was destined for great things.
Summary: Chapter 40
Sophie takes the wheel, and they continue driving toward the address written on the key. As Langdon looks at the key, he thinks about the equal-armed cross engraved on it. The cross is very similar to the symbol used by the Knights Templar, the guardians of the Holy Grail. Nobody has seen the Grail since 1447, when a church fire forced the Priory of Sion to relocate it. Langdon is certain that when Leonardo presided over the Priory of Sion, he knew of the Grail’s whereabouts. Langdon thinks the Grail probably hasn’t been moved since then. Many historians study Leonardo’s work closely in the hopes of discovering the secret of the Holy Grail’s hiding place. It was recently discovered that one of Da Vinci’s paintings, Adoration of the Magi, was painted over after his death in order to cover up a secret message. This discovery has fueled a lot of speculation about the conspiracy around the Grail.
Sophie wonders if the key is to the Grail itself, but Langdon thinks it unlikely that Sophie’s grandfather was so high up in the hierarchy of the Priory of Sion that he had access such classified information. Sophie, remembering the traumatic event in which her grandfather participated, believes it is perfectly plausible that her grandfather had access to such information. They finally reach the address on the back of the key. It is the Depository Bank of Zurich, a Swiss bank.
Summary: Chapter 41
Bishop Aringarosa arrives at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence, where he meets with the Secretariat Vaticana, the man in charge of Vatican City’s legal matters, as well as with two high-ranking cardinals. They present Aringarosa with a suitcase filled with the Vatican bonds he requested. The Church officials are uncomfortable giving him such a large sum of money, which could easily be traced back to the Church. They don’t know what the Pope will use the money for. Bishop Aringarosa signs an official document, which appears to be his resignation.
Summary: Chapter 42
In the Depository Bank of Zurich, Sophie and Langdon use the key to get through the elaborate security measures—gates, metal doors, and so on. They arrive at the front office, where a guard greets them and points them to an elevator, which will take them to their vault. The guard recognizes the pair from the news and calls Interpol and the bank’s president, Monsieur Vernet. Sophie and Langdon make it to the vault only to find that they need an account number to access the box. They don’t realize that they have been discovered—or that they are locked in the vault. Fache sends Collet to the bank to apprehend Langdon and Sophie.
Summary: Chapter 43
André Vernet, the bank’s president, hurries to the bank after hearing that the police are after high profile clients. Part of Vernet’s job is to keep the bank’s name out of the press, and he hopes to diffuse the situation. When he enters the vault, he can’t hide his surprise at seeing Sophie. He tells her that he was a good friend of her grandfather’s. She shocks him with the news that her grandfather has been killed.
Sophie begs Vernet for the account number, but he refuses, saying that only the clients know their own account numbers. He promises to smuggle them past the police, but Sophie and Langdon do not want to leave until they have opened the safe deposit box. While Vernet goes up to the lobby to try turn the police away, Sophie and Langdon remain in the vault and try to figure out the account number. Langdon realizes that the number must be the string of digits Vernet wrote on the floor before he died.
Summary: Chapter 44
Langdon and Sophie have only one chance to enter the correct account number into the computer. Sophie looks over the numbers once more and decides that the account number must be the Fibonacci sequence. The number works, and the electronic system retrieves a safety deposit box from the basement for them. Inside is a small, heavy rosewood box with a rose inlaid on the top: the Priory’s symbol for the Holy Grail. Sophie and Langdon are surprised when they hear gurgling noises coming from inside the chest.
Though both Robert Langdon and Bishop Aringarosa are on a quest to find the Holy Grail, they are interested in it for different reasons. Brown dispenses hints that Langdon has had entanglements with the Church in the past, but Langdon’s motivation seems to be essentially academic. In contrast, Aringarosa wants to find the Grail in order to cover up the truth and secure Opus Dei’s power.
Silas’s devotion to Bishop Aringarosa is extreme. He views the Bishop as his savior and finds his life’s meaning in serving him and Opus Dei. His devotion is not only unhealthy, but dangerous. It returns him to the violent state of mind he was in before his conversion to Christianity. Silas’s moral quandary over the killing of Sister Sandrine initially seems to be a sign that he has repented and realized how wrong he was to kill indiscriminately. But then it becomes clear that Silas is less upset about Sister Sandrine’s death than about Bishop Aringarosa, whom he credits with his salvation. It seems that for Silas, anybody associated with Opus Dei is precious, and anybody outside of the fold is expendable.
Aringarosa feels contempt for Church officials not only because of their status as members of the new, more liberal church, but also because they are, in his opinion, weak men incapable of saving the church from catastrophe. He decides to implicate them in the plan himself because he is not sure that, given the choice, they would implicate themselves.
Brown again writes Sophie and Langdon, who are trapped in the Swiss bank, into a seemingly inescapable situation. By playing up the impressive trappings of the bank, Brown emphasizes the contrast between Sophie and Langdon’s naiveté and the bank’s sophistication. Brown wants to portray Sophie and Langdon as underdogs so that if they do prevail, their triumph will be that much more impressive.
André Vernet’s appearance is something of a deus ex machina—a device from Greek plays in which a god suddenly descends from the sky and straightens everything out. Vernet is probably the only person who could have helped Sophie and Langdon get out of the bank vault without being arrested. Brown’s reliance on characters like Vernet is convenient, but it might strike some readers as a bit of a cop-out, a too-handy device for a thriller writer who needs to get his characters out of a mess. More satisfying, perhaps, would be a scene in which Sophie and Langdon manage to extricate themselves without help.
Sophie’s role as the intuitive member of the duo is emphasized again when she guesses her grandfather would have used a code number with meaning. At this point, Sophie is not only the person who uses common sense to get herself and Langdon out of scrapes; she is also the one who is better at interpreting human nature. Here, she takes on a more stereotypically female role, while Langdon plays the part of the non-intuitive, analytical male.
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