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Literature Study Guides2001 A Space OdysseyPart 5 Chapters 39 40 Summary

2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 5, Chapters 39–40 : The Moons of Saturn | Summary



Chapter 39: Into the Eye

Bowman approaches the monolith, transmitting continuously to Earth. Suddenly the monolith appears to recede from him and then turn inside out. Bowman, in amazement, transmits the message: "The thing's hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God!—it's full of stars!"

Chapter 40: Exit

The Star Gate, which had opened, now closes. Bowman has disappeared, leaving Discovery in orbit around Japetus.


Bowman's brief worry he might disappear "into silence," with no one ever knowing what had happened to him proves prescient. However, it doesn't happen "through some breakdown in the relay system," but rather because he is transported through the Star Gate.

The stars he sees develop the theme of the vastness of the universe. In comparison, Jupiter and Saturn seem as small as the United States and Russia and their petty squabbles. The true nature of the universe is much greater than Bowman had ever imagined.

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