Literature Study Guides2001 A Space OdysseyPart 2 Chapters 13 14 Summary

2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 2, Chapters 13–14 : TMA-1 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 13: The Slow Dawn

At the TMA-1 site, Dr. Floyd dons a spacesuit and accompanies Dr. Michaels out onto the moon's surface. The sun slowly rises. Reaching the monolith, Dr. Floyd examines it up close with his own eyes. Standing between the emerging sunlight and TMA-1, Floyd observes that the object absorbs all the light that falls on it. Floyd considers this possible evidence that the object uses solar energy, but he then wonders why such an object would be deliberately buried. Suddenly the object emits five loud electronic shrieks, greatly startling Floyd and the other scientists.

Chapter 14: The Listeners

The setting shifts to space, where human-deployed space probes pick up a "faint yet unmistakable disturbance rippling across the Solar System" and dutifully transmit this information back to Earth. Computers and analysts on Earth analyze the disturbance and conclude that energy "like the wake of a racing speedboat, had leaped from the face of the Moon, and was heading out toward the stars."

Analysis

The contrasting imagery in these chapters supports themes of humanity and the vastness of the universe. Dr. Floyd, a single human being, is presented with the symbolic representation of the mysteries of the universe—the monolith—and immediately has a "sense not only of awe but of helplessness" as he approaches it. This image shows the smallness of humans in comparison with the secrets held by the monolith and the stretches of outer space. In another example, because of the monolith's light-absorbing qualities, Dr. Floyd does not even cast a shadow on it. This image emphasizes that to the impersonal and ancient monolith, one human is so small as to be insignificant. In addition, the description of the awkwardness of taking a photo to mark a moment in human history is contrasted with Dr. Floyd's ruminations on the unbelievable age of the object.

Furthermore, the change in setting from Chapter 13 to Chapter 14 emphasizes the enormous size of the solar system and universe, just as the final chapter of Part 1 emphasized the enormity of time.

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