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Literature Study Guides2001 A Space OdysseyPart 4 Chapters 29 30 Summary

2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 4, Chapters 29–30 : Abyss | Summary



Chapter 29: Alone

Discovery speeds along. Bowman ejects the bodies of the dead crew members into space and repairs an antenna. He manages to close the airlock and get the ship running again. He points the antenna at Earth, relays a report of what happened and waits for a reply.

Chapter 30: The Secret

When Dr. Heywood Floyd gets Bowman's message, he sends back reassurances that Bowman did the right thing in response to the crisis, and then gives him an overview of the "secret" purpose of the mission. He reveals that the signals emitted by TMA-1 were aimed at Saturn, and that the solar-triggered device seemed to be deliberately buried on the moon as "some kind of alarm" that was triggered when humans unearthed it. The Discovery mission was intended to be a scouting trip to find out more about the creatures who made TMA-1, and Dr. Kaminski's team (the hibernators) had been trained to perform this mission. Now, Bowman will have to complete it alone. He must proceed to Saturn's moon, Japetus, and send back data about it.


The structure of 2001: A Space Odyssey is a larger story composed of smaller stories. Each part has a story arc, including rising action, climax, and falling action. The climax of this part, then, is the confrontation between Hal and David Bowman, and Bowman's victory over the malfunctioning computer system. These two chapters—Chapter 29 and Chapter 30—are the falling action of Part 4. The crisis averted, Bowman cleans up the ship, begins repairs, gives his crew a burial of sorts, and contacts Earth.

However, each part also foreshadows the next, showing the interconnectedness of all time and allowing the novel itself to evolve in a sense: Part 1, human weaponry's effect on human destiny; Part 2, the monolith's communication across space; Part 3, the vastness of the universe Bowman and Poole have only begun to explore. Part 4's conclusion shows how limited human understanding remains. Dr. Floyd deduced the purpose of the monolith buried on the moon, but no one knows whether the Pandora's Box of TMA-1 was sending out a signal of "hope or fear;" it is up to the Discovery to discover.

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