State of Wonder Chapters 8-9 Summary & Analysis

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Chapters 8-9 Summary & Analysis

Part 4: Marina’s Life at the Station and Discovering the Lakashi Secret

Chapter 8

In the weeks that follow her arrival, Marina settles into the routine of the station. She meets and becomes familiar with the other scientists who work with Dr. Swenson. Among these are a married American couple, the botanists Alan and Nancy Saturn, and an Indonesian researcher, Dr. Budi, who is in charge of clinical research organization. Marina too, is given a job at the station, running various tests in the lab. Because her luggage has not been found, she is forced to borrow another shift dress from the Lakashi, and scrounge together basic toiletries from her new colleagues.

Given that the deep jungle that surrounds them is so dangerous, the researchers are limited to the confines of the research station. Other than the weekly lab work, there is little to break the monotony, other than bathing in the river on the hot afternoons when the electricity goes out. Even the river has its perils; it is filled with dangerous Candiru fish, poisonous snakes, and various other hidden dangers. In spite of this, everyone, including Marina risks the swim, seeking relief from the heat and boredom in the waters.

As for the Lakashi, their cycle of work is routinely interrupted by what Dr. Swenson refers to as “vision quests.” In these so called quests, the Lakashi all gather together and head into the jungle where they imbibe a hallucinogenic mushroom as part of a tribal ritual, disappearing for long stretches of the night.

While no member of the research team ever accompanies them on these quests, Dr. Swenson reveals that Dr. Rapp, her mentor, used to, and even she made the trip herself in her youth. She recalls a ceremonial sharing of the mushrooms, much like a communion; however, she stopped participating in the ritual herself, not enjoying the inevitable vomiting that accompanied the ingestion of what was essentially a poison. At the remembrance of this experience, Dr. Swenson gets up suddenly, heads out the door, and vomits next to the front steps.

Later, Marina writes Mr. Fox a letter, detailing her…

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