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Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Chapters XVII–XIX

Chapters XIV–XVI

Chapters XX–XXI

Summary

Chapter XVII

Jubal begins dictating a story entitled "I Married a Martian." Another two squad cars arrive, and Jubal orders the door bolted. Jubal decides to change the story title to "I Married a Human," and then a phone call comes in from Douglas. Jubal tells Douglas that he is acting as attorney for Mike. Jubal tells Douglas to have the police at the door called off so that they can negotiate properly. Jubal allows the door opened. He has the police sergeant—who has come to arrest him—speak directly to Douglas over the phone. Douglas orders the sergeant to desist and leave.

Douglas and Jubal arrange to meet. Jubal insists on bringing a small delegation, and claims that he has been instructed by Mike that Ben must be part of their group. Douglas objects, as he finds Ben's writing offensive. After heated discussion, Douglas relents. Jubal lets Douglas know that he also needs to find Ben. Jubal, as a private citizen, has been unable to, but with the resources of the police, Douglas should have no problem.

Jill kisses Jubal in gratitude, and kisses Mike in delight. Jubal is impressed at Mike's kissing ability. Mike explains that kissing is a kind of water- sharing, and a "growing-closer." Mike offers to kiss Jubal, but Jubal instead suggests that Mike kiss Dorcas. They kiss, and Dorcas faints. Anxious to experience his kissing skills, Anne and Miriam try kissing Mike.

Mackenzie calls and, for his help, Jubal rewards him an exclusive interview. Duke returns and helps to repair the damaged transmission to the networks. Duke tells Jubal that he has come to the conclusion that Mike's eating habits are his own business. Reporters come and conduct brief interviews. Douglas calls and tells Jubal that Ben has been found, supposedly having disappeared to Mexico on a drunken bender.

Ben arrives, drunk though he does not remember drinking, since he has been drugged by the police. Jubal talks to him briefly and sends him to bed. Jubal asks Anne what makes Mike's kissing special. Anne explains that unlike Earth men, Mike is able to give a kiss his full and undivided attention.

Chapter XVIII

Mike and Ben share water. Annoyed by her closeness to Mike, Ben proposes marriage to Jill. Jill tells Ben she cannot and Ben realizes that her attachment to Mike is deep and nurturing. Jubal tells Ben that he has an idea that Douglas can be made an ally, and he asks Ben not to attack Douglas too scathingly in his column. Ben asks Jubal about Mike's Martian beliefs. Jubal says he does not endorse the Martian belief system himself, but he respects Mike's right to believe what he chooses.

Chapter XIX

Mike and company fly to Douglas's Executive Palace. Upon arrival, Jubal insists that one of Douglas's assistants bring Douglas a letter that Jubal has spent the previous night drafting. Mike holds a press conference. A reporter asks him what he understands about inheritance law, and Mike begins quoting lengthy definitions he has read in Jubal's law books.

Mike is reunited with Dr. Mahmoud, a semantician who had been on the Champion mission to Mars and had studied the Martian language. Mike and Mahmoud converse in Martian. Mahmoud is a Muslim, raised in proper British society. He and Jubal are suspicious of each other, but treat each other courteously. Mahmoud is impressed to find that Jill has learned the Martian word for "water-brother."

Upon discovering that Douglas is planning to have their meeting in a large hall, attended by many representatives of Earth, Jubal insists that their Martian delegation be granted equal seating in the room. Jubal also insists that a Martian flag be flown alongside the Federation flag—there is no Martian flag, but Jubal demands that one be improvised. Jubal similarly insists that a Martian anthem be played after the Federation anthem. Jubal gets Champion crew members and others to sit on their side of the table.

Senator Boone invites Mike, on behalf of the Fosterite Bishop Digby, to attend a Fosterite service. Jubal tells Boone that Mike has expressed interest in the Fosterites, and that they will take him up on his invitation—Jubal intends to go with Mike and protect him. A voice announces Douglas's entrance.

Analysis

When Jubal begins to dictate an exploitation story entitled "I Married a Martian," it is almost as if Heinlein is stepping out of the story to point out the multiple levels at which his narrative is operating. Jubal starts weaving his tale at a most inappropriate moment, shortly after some police officers have been disappeared from existence, and shortly before another group of officers is about to arrive. Heinlein deflates the most suspenseful moment in the adventure story to have a character start dictating an adventure story. Though the suspense that Heinlein has been creating is effective, it is clear in this moment that Heinlein's story is far more complex and self-reflexive than Jubal's "I Married a Martian." It is telling, however, that Jubal amends his title to "I Married a Human"—just as Heinlein certainly has with this novel. Jubal thinks of a way to twist a typical science fiction convention to be seen from a new perspective.

Since Heinlein's narrative is operating on multiple levels, we can never be certain exactly where he is leading us. He throws in a number of red herrings throughout. The political drama that comes slightly more into focus in these three chapters is extremely complex, and obviously well thought out by Heinlein, but we are never allowed to catch more than glimpses of it. We know that Douglas fears losing his political power to an organization called the Eastern Coalition and we can assume that Heinlein only mentions such peripheral political intrigue as a means of setting in motion plot gears that will become important later. It is easy to imagine a science fiction narrative, for example, the kind that Jubal might write for a magazine, in which Mike becomes the focal point of a massive global power struggle. In this case, however, the politics are there to be examined and dissected if we are interested, but Heinlein's attention will shift, suggesting that global politics are less interesting to him than interpersonal relationships.

Sexuality has been thematically lurking in the background of the novel, but with the revelations of Mike's kissing abilities in Chapter XVII, Heinlein suggests that Mike may have sexual super powers as potent as his telekinetic powers, and sex comes firmly to the forefront of the novel's concerns. Though there has been a good deal of jocular flirtation from all of the characters heretofore—Ben has spoken suggestively to Jill, Jubal has leered at his beautiful secretaries, and Mike has demonstrated innocent fascination with women's bodies—it is only in the series of kisses in Chapter XVII that Mike becomes a fully sexualized character. If he can kiss in a way that makes all the women swoon, we can imagine it is only a matter of time before his sexuality becomes central to his identity and the way he relates to the other characters. For a man who has been raised as the only member of his species, his introduction to sexuality also is a major step on his journey toward full integration into humanity.

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Apollo =/= Mars

by Brags753, July 10, 2013

The summary incorrectly states that Apollo is the Greek "word" for Mars. Actually, Ares is the Greek name for the god known as Mars in Latin.

Apollo is one of the few classical gods known by nearly the same name in Greek and Latin. In English, he is called Apollo in both contexts.

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