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Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein


Chapters XX–XXI

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Chapter XX

Jubal signals Mike to stand, along with everyone else, for Douglas's entrance into the hall. The "Martian anthem" that Jubal has demanded is played, and everyone stands except for Mike; Jubal believes that this gesture sends the political message that Mike represents a sovereign nation. Douglas delivers greetings to Mike, and Mike responds with a prepared speech, in Martian and English. Jubal has a note delivered to him from Douglas, in response to the letter he had had delivered before the conference. Douglas's response is simply, "Yes."

Jubal explains to everyone present that Mike's vast wealth is such that managing it will be a full time job for someone, and that he is not up to the task. Jubal explains that Mike has requested that Douglas take the job of managing his business affairs. If Douglas refuses, Mike's second choice is Ben. Douglas asks Mike if these are indeed his wishes and Mike confirms that they are. An assemblyman asks about the Larkin Decision, the legal precedent that suggests that Mike owns Mars. Jubal says that Mike does not own Mars. The Larkin Decision, Jubal argues, is irrelevant, as Mars had already been inhabited by the Martian race long before Mike was ever born there.

Chapter XXI

The "Martian delegation" retire to a hotel. Jubal has Miriam bring drinks for himself and the Champion crewmen who have accompanied them: Captain Van Tromp, Dr. Nelson, and Mahmoud, also called by the nickname "Stinky." The men discuss the attractiveness of Jubal's secretaries, and Jubal teases Mahmoud about his bachelorhood. Mahmoud tells Jubal that he would never marry outside of the Muslim faith.

Mahmoud, who has learned to speak Martian, expounds on the word "grok." It is, he says, the most important word in the Martian language, and he expects to spend years studying it. Mahmoud explains that one would need to truly think in a Martian way to fully understand "grok." Mahmoud describes his own difficulty, in youth, learning to think in English after having grown up speaking Arabic—and Mahmoud suggests that the mental leap to thinking in Martian would be a far more complex and difficult task for an Earthling. Mahmoud explains that the literal, original meaning of "to grok" in Martian is "to drink;" but that "to grok" is also "to fear," "to love," "to hate," and "to be identically equal." "Grokking" is the Martian equivalent of religion, philosophy, and science rolled into one. Mike complements Mahmoud on his understanding of Martian and tells him, "Thou art God." In his own faith, Mahmoud perceives this as a blasphemy, though he knows that Mike does not mean to offend.

Mahmoud finds himself attracted to the secretaries, but does not allow himself to follow this thought process too far. Dr. Nelson asks Jubal how Mike has gotten so muscular so quickly. Mike explains that he "thinked" his muscles into being. Speaking to van Tromp, Jubal explains why he maneuvered Douglas into taking the job of being Mike's financial manager. Jubal had no interest in being saddled with Mike's business affairs, but he knew that Douglas was already accustomed to the life of tremendous power combined with great stress that would make him ideal for the task.

Jubal also explains his strategy vis-à-vis the Larkin Decision controversy. He had not wanted Mike to be politically burdened with ownership of Mars, nor did he want to appease the Federation by relinquishing Mike's rights to them. So Jubal had forced the Federation to treat Mike as a sovereign nation, but then had suggested that Mike deserved sovereign treatment not for his own power but as a representative of the ancient Martian race. Thus Jubal had trapped the Federation into recognizing the Martians' ownership of their own planet, and political contentions had been defused.

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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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