2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 6, Chapters 43–44 : Through the Star Gate | Summary



Chapter 43: Inferno

Bowman continues to watch the white dwarf star and the red sun and even observes what looks like bright points of light flowing like a school of fish—some kind of life form. He sees them migrate from one star to the other.

Chapter 44: Reception

As he watches the suns, Bowman notices a material "like smoked glass" thicken around him, and suddenly senses that he has landed. When he is able to see outside his pod once again, he finds himself in a hotel room. Eventually he ventures outside the pod and finds that the hotel room is fake, but not dangerous. He eats some strange blue food provided for him, drinks some water, and showers. He lies down on the bed and watches some Earth television programs. He realizes the "reception area" had been prepared for him, using ideas of Earth life gained from television shows: "His feeling that he was inside a movie set was almost literally true."


Bowman feels the limits of his human mind as he continues to take in the wonders around him; he sees things that he cannot begin to understand and reconciles himself to the fact that he may never understand them. His attitude is one of calm acceptance, wonder, and gratitude for the privilege of witnessing these things. Here, Bowman exhibits all the best qualities of humanity, including an insatiable curiosity and awe toward the natural world with none of the human weaknesses shown so starkly in the fear and violence of Moon-Watcher and Hal.

These chapters rely heavily on contrasting images. The images of the red sun and the white dwarf star are juxtaposed with the very familiar images of a hotel. The utterly unfamiliar, which Bowman thinks is a "new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed ... realms of fire, which he alone had been privileged to glimpse" is contrasted with the utterly familiar. Bowman discerns that the familiar surroundings of a hotel is intended to reassure him, not deceive him.

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