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Fache leads Langdon through the darkened Louvre to the Grand Gallery, where Saunière’s body lies. Saunière is revealed to have been a connoisseur of goddess iconography— relics related to religions that worship the sacred feminine—and that Langdon is writing a book on the same subject. Langdon’s book has been kept a secret because he believes that some of his interpretations will be controversial. Fache seems unpleasant and fairly hostile. Langdon notices that the police inspector is wearing a crux gemmata, a religious pin depicting Jesus and his twelve apostles.
Saunière’s body is surrounded by a metal barricade, part of “containment security,” a measure used by the museum to try to trap thieves on the premises. Fache makes Langdon climb under the barricade with him, and Langdon clumsily bangs his head.
Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, the president-general of Opus Dei, packs his bags and leaves his organization’s luxurious headquarters in New York City to board a plane headed for Rome. Though he is dressed modestly, he wears an elaborate bishop’s ring. While in the air, Aringarosa reflects on the history of Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic organization started early in the twentieth century. Lately Opus Dei has been besieged by critics who say that the organization is a religious cult. But as of five months ago, the biggest threat to the organization wasn’t coming from the media or from the organization’s critics, but from a different source, one not yet revealed to the reader. While in the air, Aringarosa takes a phone call from someone who reports Silas’s discovery that the keystone is hidden in the Church of Saint-Sulpice. The Bishop agrees to pull some strings to gain Silas access to the church. Meanwhile, Silas is preparing to retrieve the keystone. He is excited about this mission in a way he hasn’t been since joining the church. His excitement makes his violent past come flooding back to him.
Standing in front of Saunière’s body, Langdon explains to Fache the significance of the way Saunière arranged himself before dying. The curator drew a pentacle on his stomach with his own blood. The pentacle, a five-pointed star that symbolizes the pagan goddess Venus, has often been misinterpreted as a sign of devil worship. Fache shows Langdon that Saunière is clutching a glow-in-the-dark marker that the museum staff uses to make maintenance notes on paintings. With the help of a black light, a message is revealed. Fache asks Langdon to help him understand it. Meanwhile, Collet is taping this conversation from Saunière’s former office.
Sister Sandrine, the keeper of the Church of Saint-Sulpice, is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from her boss, who tells her that Aringarosa asked him to let a member of Opus Dei come to the church immediately. She is taken aback by this request, but she does as her boss asks. Sandrine, a pious woman, does as her superiors ask. Still, she is mistrustful of Opus Dei. She is disturbed by the sect’s practice of “corporal mortification,” or physical self-punishment, and she disapproves of their discrimination toward women.
As Collet continues to survey the scene from afar, Langdon takes in the cryptic message that Saunière has written next to his body:
Langdon is confused by the code’s contents and by the fact that it is written in English and not French, Saunière’s maiden tongue. With the help of a black light, Fache reveals that Saunière has also drawn a circle around his naked body with invisible ink. The way his nude body is splayed within the circle suggests Da Vinci’s famous drawing, The Vitruvian Man. Fache interprets the symbol as a reference to devil worship. Da Vinci had a complicated relationship with the church and included subversive codes or elements even in the religious paintings he was commissioned to create.
In his office, Collet eavesdrops on Fache’s and Langdon’s conversation using audio equipment. Collet reflects on Fache’s devotion to the Catholic Church and on the amazing instincts with which he solves crimes. Apparently, prior to Langdon’s arrival, Fache announced to his men that he thought he knew the identity of Saunière’s killer. In addition to monitoring the audio equipment, Collet is monitoring the GPS tracking system.
Sophie Neveu shows up at the Grand Gallery claiming that she has deciphered the code. Fache, who turned off his phone and told Collet not to let anyone in, is angered by this interruption. He is particularly annoyed at being interrupted by Neveu, because he does not think that women should be allowed to do police work. He considers them physically weak and distracting to men.
As soon as Sophie arrives, she gives Langdon a message to call the U.S. Embassy, which has been trying to contact him with news. However, Langdon discovers that the number she has given him is not the U.S. Embassy at all, but Sophie’s own answering service with a recording telling him that he is in trouble.
The narrative structure of The Da Vinci Code allows the reader to put together clues alongside Langdon and the police investigating Saunière’s murder. At this point, the clue about Saunière’s secret involving the “sacred feminine” remains to be solved. The account Langdon gives of it is not thorough, and Langdon himself does not understand how the written message relates to the theory of the sacred feminine. What is clear is that Langdon has unwittingly gotten involved in the conspiracy.
It’s also clear that although Sophie does not specify the source of danger, it is related to Fache and his men. Brown casts suspicion on Fache not only by making him unpleasant and sexist, but also by linking him to the Catholic Church. Thus far, Brown has portrayed the members of Opus Dei unfavorably. In his description of the headquarters of Opus Dei and of the Bishop’s penthouse apartment and elaborate ring, Brown associates luxury and worldly goods with a sinister force. The Bishop’s amethyst and diamond ring contrasts with his own description of Opus Dei as a society dedicated to helping people live their lives in service to the Catholic Church. By juxtaposing the group’s declared intentions with its luxurious trappings, Brown suggests that Opus Dei is not necessarily interested only in spiritual wealth.
Sister Sandrine embodies the Catholic Church’s passive attitude toward the Opus Dei sect. Although Sister Sandrine is pious and godly, and although she has suspicions about Opus Dei, she feels she cannot call the sect into question because the Pope himself has sanctioned the organization. However much she may worry, she will do whatever her boss asks because she considers unquestioning obedience part of her faith and duty.
Brown tackles the issue of sexism in this chapter by explaining Fache’s attitude toward Sophie Neveu. Fache seems threatened by Sophie’s education and self-possessed attitude. Fache’s annoyance at Sophie’s arrival at the crime scene and the message she has left for Langdon suggests that he plans to put Langdon in danger. It also raises questions about the detective’s connection to Opus Dei.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Da Vinci Code!