Mike comes to see Jill's show. Jill telepathically lets Mike know which customer is eyeing her most lustily. Mike peers inside this man's mind and vicariously experiences his longing. Mike mentally shows Jill what she looks like through the man's eyes, and she is stunned by the power of the experience. After the show, Mike groks human desire, and he and Jill take to seeing all of the naughty revues in town.

They move on to California, and Mike becomes obsessed by religion. He has been disappointed with Earthlings' science and philosophy, and he believes that religion must contain answers, but cannot find anything satisfactory. Mike worries that he is making no progress, and that rather than becoming more human, he is making Jill more Martian.

They go to the zoo. There, Jill throws a peanut to a monkey. A larger monkey steals the peanut and beats up the first monkey who, in turn, after sulking for a moment, finds an even smaller monkey to beat up. Perceiving the grotesque sadness of this, Mike laughs for the first time, hysterically. At last, he feels like he groks people: they laugh to soothe their pain. Understanding people, he feels ready to help them, and asks Jill what he has to do to be ordained as a clergyman.

Analysis

Having made his transition to adulthood in the last set of chapters, Mike now ends the part entitled "His Eccentric Education" by fully embracing Earth culture and his mission to be a religious savior. Though many people have been anxious to see him as a Jesus-like figure since his arrival on Earth, he previously has been unable to understand what these people might actually want from him. Now, grokking humanity—grokking its foibles, like gambling and pornography, and grokking the existential pain that causes laughter—Mike feels confident that he can be what many have wanted him to be: a healer of souls. When Patty compares him to Foster, whom she believes was a holy prophet, Mike is not shy about accepting the comparison. He uses his telekinetic powers to give her a tattoo of his kiss to precisely match Foster's. This is Mike's bold way of telling Patty that he is indeed a holy man.

The direct comparison in these chapters between Mike and Foster, rather than a more traditional figure like Jesus, does not necessarily seem flattering, given the portrayal of Foster, but Mike is not concerned with seeming dignified. Foster is portrayed as no more than a savvy cult-leader, aside from his ascension to Heaven, there is no indication in the text that Foster was a genuine "holy man." Foster's place in Heaven, alongside Digby, a known con man and murderer, seems to have been secured by the faith that he earned from people on Earth, rather than based on a life of exceptional purity. Heinlein makes the point that, though Mike does have genuine powers like Jesus, his claim to leadership is more based in his personal charisma, like Foster. Regardless of Foster's own moral ambiguity, or the hypocrisy of the Fosterites, Mike nonetheless can learn from Foster the art of attracting and nurturing a group of followers. Though Mike's "father" Jubal has no patience for the Fosterites, Mike recognizes them as fellow seekers of answers to eternal questions, and thus allies himself with certain of them, like Patty.

Mike has been a cipher throughout must of the novel, always crucial to the action but rarely the focus of the narration. However, in his oratory in Chapter XXIX, concurrent with his discovery of sense of purpose, he becomes a forceful and clear character in the novel. From the beginning of the book, the omniscient narrator has tended to explain the events of the story as filtered through the mindsets of Jubal, Jill, Ben, and others—we have rarely spent much time with Mike's point of view, and he has been entirely absent or in trance-state for many chapters of the action. But in his exposition to Jill regarding his search for answers in science, philosophy, and religion, we see Mike speaking for the first time in completely articulate English, explaining his concerns and his goals. His speech culminates in a mission statement about his plans to help humanity do nothing less than banish "pain and sickness and hunger and fighting." This bold and simple declaration is, in fact, the clearest and most direct language we will hear from Mike until the final chapters of the novel; he will mostly remain on the periphery of the narration's focus, as he has been until this point.