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The Da Vinci Code | Chapters 71–81 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 71

Aboard Teabing's private jet, Langdon is again examining the strange writing under the box's wooden rose. As he puzzles over it, Sophie realizes it's mirror writing. Da Vinci had often used mirror writing. Sophie is able to read the four-line message without using a mirror.

Chapter 72

The mirror-writing message refers to Jesus's family, a headstone, the Templars, and an ancient Hebrew coding system (Atbash). However, they are still no closer to the password that will open the cryptex.

Chapter 73

The police storm into the control room at the small French airfield. Fache demands to know where the plane went. The terrified air traffic controller doesn't know. He tells Fache that Teabing frequently flies to a small airfield near London. Fache has a policeman phone the local English police. They must go to the airfield and be ready to arrest those on board after the plane lands.

Chapter 74

Meanwhile, Langdon urges Sophie to describe what caused the rift between her and her grandfather. She describes the sexual nature of the ritual she saw. Langdon explains that it's a sacred ceremony for worshiping the divine feminine. Sophie begins to understand the ritual in a new light.

Chapter 75

The airborne Bishop Aringarosa realizes the mission has gone terribly wrong. He worries about Silas. Aringarosa offers the pilot 10,000 euros in bearer bonds if he will reroute the plane to London. The pilot agrees, but Aringarosa is still worried.

Chapter 76

As dawn breaks, Teabing's plane reaches England. The group debates what the mirror-writing message means and how it relates to the keystone. Langdon suggests the reference to a headstone—or stone head—refers to the pagan god Baphomet, who was honored by the Templars. Teabing states that the Hebrew Atbash Cipher is the key to the cryptex password.

Chapter 77

Teabing writes out the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He then uses them to write the five-letter name Baphomet. He uses a substitution matrix to replace these letters with their secret corresponding letters. They have determined that the cryptex password is probably SOFIA.

Chapter 78

Sophie carefully rotates the stone slices of the cryptex to line them up to spell SOFIA. When she pulls gently on the ends of the cylinder, it opens. Inside she finds a scroll wrapped around yet another cryptex cylinder. They can hear that this small black cryptex does, in fact, contain a vial of vinegar. It therefore must also contain a papyrus scroll. Langdon reads the mystifying message on the scroll that wrapped the black cryptex. The message contains clues about an orb and a knight's tomb in London.

Chapter 79

Collet and the police are at Teabing's estate where they find no clues to the murder. Vernet phones to speak to Fache but hangs up when Collet answers. Collet realizes it was Vernet who fooled him when he transported Langdon and Sophie from the bank in the van.

Chapter 80

Teabing's plane is approaching the small airfield outside London. Teabing takes money from a safe on the plane. He uses it to bribe airport officials to allow Langdon and Sophie to enter the country. He tells Rémy to stay on board to guard Silas. The pilot receives a message from the airfield to land at the main terminal. Teabing becomes suspicious. He orders the pilot to land at his private hangar. The group knows law enforcement is likely awaiting them.

Chapter 81

As foreseen, local police are waiting for the plane to land. When the plane lands at Teabing's hangar, the police rush toward it. When the plane comes to a stop, Teabing emerges. He insists he has flown in without passengers. He cleverly talks the police into believing him, and Rémy disembarks. backing up his story. The police inspect the plane without a warrant. They find it empty. Teabing has cleverly hustled his passengers out of the plane and into a waiting limousine.

Analysis

The lies told by the Church in its conspiracy to hide the truth is another important theme fleshed out in this section. Teabing asserts that after the Council of Nicaea, the Church launched the Crusades in part to find and destroy Mary Magdalene's tomb and the documents (similar to the Nag Hammadi manuscripts) buried with her. The alternate view of Christianity contained in these documents undermined Church power. If found they would also expose the Church's lies. The Church had to bury the notion that Jesus was human and had a family. Had it not, its self-proclaimed power as the sole vessel through which people could reach God would fall apart. Teabing explains that the Church's conspiratorial lies are not generally known because of historical bias. "History is always written by the winners," he says.

On the plane Langdon explains the spiritual nature of the sexual ritual. The motif of sex and spirituality is explicit. Sophie has thought she had witnessed perversion or an orgy. Rather she had witnessed a sacred sexual ceremony in honor of the divine feminine. Langdon explains that the ancients worshipped the sacred feminine. They understood sex as a way to unite male and female so both could have "communion with God."

Langdon tells Sophie that those who knew the meaning and importance of the Grail used symbolism and metaphor to convey this knowledge to other initiates. These symbols and metaphors were placed in works of art—especially paintings, but also in movies—to reveal spiritual truth. The motif of art as a keeper and conveyor of secret truth clearly appears here.

The subtheme of sexism also emerges here. When Sophie asks to see the wooden rose, Teabing replies condescendingly, "Of course, dear." Teabing and Langdon debate what obscure language the message might be written in, but Sophie simply tells them what it says (it's in English). She is such an adept code-breaker that she immediately recognizes the message as mirror writing. She can even read the message without the aid of a mirror. One part of the message refers to the ancient Hebrew cipher code, Atbash. Using this obscure language substitution code, they eventually figure out the five-letter word that will safely open the codex. It is based on Baphomet, the ancient, horned god of fertility (another reference to sex and spirituality). The word SOFIA opens the codex.

The four-line message also mentions a "headstone praised by Templars" as a key to the truth. It's another puzzle they must solve to find the Grail. The motif of puzzles, or puzzles within puzzles, is revealed when the cryptex is found to contain yet another cryptex whose release code no one knows. This second, smaller cryptex is wrapped in a paper containing yet another puzzling message: "IN LONDON LIES A KNIGHT A POPE INTERRED."

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