In these chapters Ben plays a kind of devil's advocate role for readers skeptical of Mike's idealism. It is as if Heinlein was anticipating readers' uneasiness about Mike's submersion in his role as a prophet and wanted to address it in the framework of the narrative. Though Part Three may have accustomed us to regular nudity and a free love ethos, Ben is still shocked by these things, hedging about whether to take his own clothes off. Though the church members treat Ben with unfailing kindness and acceptance, he nonetheless seems to be uncertain of whether or not they deserve his trust and respect. This alienation is heightened by the church members' eerie tendency to speak in Martianisms they have learned from Mike. This parroting of their leader gives the impression that, like many cult members, they have been brainwashed—certainly Mike has great hypnotic powers. Although Ben trusts the goodness of Mike's intentions, the external cues seem to him—and perhaps to us—to suggest sinister undercurrents.


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