Mike is quite taken with their religion, and since it is portrayed so unflatteringly, we are led to wonder if Mike is merely naïve, or if he is perceiving a beauty that we—and Jubal, the consciousness through whom much of the narrative is filtered—are overlooking. This ambiguity will haunt him for the rest of the novel, and stands as one of the most intriguing questions that the story poses. Mike's fascination with the beauty of money also strikes an ambiguous chord. Certainly our culture tends to look on money as a thing of utility, not beauty. But Mike perceives money not from the human perspective, as something for which we are often forced to struggle and fight for, but rather from a cosmic perspective, as a connective tissue which, for better or worse, joins much of humanity together. This intriguing and valid way of thinking of money suggests that Mike's Martian perspective on other aspects of human culture might be equally valuable.

Regardless of Mike's ability to perceive beauty in odd places, Bishop Digby is clearly not a trustworthy character. The way he slyly is able to sneak Mike away from Jubal and Jill—and then lock the door—is the act of a con man. Digby does not tell Jubal and Jill that he needs a moment with Mike alone, but merely finds an opportune moment to abscond with him. Interestingly, Heinlein's narration leaves us on the outside of that door, with Jubal and Jill, while Digby makes whatever appeal he has prepared for Mike. We can safely presume that Digby tried to win Mike over to the cause of the Fosterites, but what exactly occurs in that meeting will prove to be one of the plot's great mysteries as it unfolds in future chapters.

PLUS

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