The narrative viewpoint of the novel aligns itself with a number of different characters as the story progresses—at any given point the main perspective may be Jubal's, Jill's, Ben's, or any of the more minor characters. Given this, can Mike truly be said to be the main character of the novel? Why do you think that relatively little of the story is seen from Mike's point of view?
Heinlein chooses to begin the novel by aligning the narration with characters like Jill and Ben, whose perspective is far closer to our own than Mike's would be. Planet Earth may be a "strange land" to Mike, but it is home to us. Although the novel does take place in an altered future society, that society is clearly intended to be a slightly, satirically distorted version of contemporary American society. Heinlein only gives us glimpses of Mike's alien view of our society—instead, we learn about Mike's perspective mostly alongside, and vicariously through, Mike's Earth friends. Even when Mike has become reconciled with his humanity, for example, having learned to be a showman, or having learned to laugh, Heinlein still tends to align the narrative voice with others. All of Part Four, for example, is framed by Ben's conversation with Jubal about Mike. By showing us Mike through the eyes of Ben, we understand the experience of the average man learning to accept Mike's message, rather than the less universal experience of Mike trying to teach his lessons. Mike drives the action, but inasmuch we are led to develop more sympathies for the others, he could not accurately be called the protagonist or "main character."
As the story progresses, more and more of Mike's friends become his disciples in the Church of All Worlds. People who initially resist his teachings, such as Duke and Ben, become avid followers of Mike. Why does Mike's "father" Jubal, who supports all of Mike's endeavors, never join the church himself until the very end of the novel?
Although Mike loves and respects all of the friends he makes on Earth, Jubal is the only person to whom Mike looks for wisdom. Jubal is responsible for Mike's early education in the ways of humankind, before Mike becomes confident enough to strike out in the world with Jill to learn on his own. Mike thus treats Jubal as if he were one of the Martian Old Ones, someone so aged and wise as to be beyond any lessons that Mike could teach. Jubal's individualist philosophies, and his belief that he is too old to alter his ways, keep him from joining Mike's group. Rather than trying to coerce Jubal—treating him like a "mark" or a "chump"—Mike respects Jubal's wish to keep his distance for as long as he chooses. If Mike is a Jesus-figure, and Jubal is his "father," then Jubal is like a God-figure in the Church of All Worlds, and it would seem redundant for him to be a member of his own flock.
What is the significance of sexuality in the novel? In what ways does Mike's sexual awakening parallel his spiritual awakening? Do you consider the sexuality to be romantic? Explain.
The narrator tells us in Chapter XI that the Martians lack bipolar sexuality as we know it and that that is the most significant difference between their races and ours. Over the course of the novel Mike comes to the same conclusion. Initially Mike's interest in human sexuality is purely academic: upon laying eyes on a woman for the first time (Jill), he immediately wants to see her naked to better understand what makes her female. Soon enough, at Jubal's house, he is initiated in the ways of kissing, and then sex. In these physical intimacies, Mike discovers new forms of spiritual connections—"grokking"—between humans. Grokking is central to Mike's understanding of the Earthling concept of "God," so in a sense, lovemaking becomes for Mike the most powerful manifestation of God on Earth. Sex for Mike then is not romantic in the sense of an exclusive connection between two people who are particularly suited to each other. Although Mike has a deep bond with Jill, he chooses not to marry her, and Ben's desire to marry Jill is also thwarted in the interest of the greater good of sharing their sexuality with all of their friends, and thus maximizing their Godliness.