82 pages 2 hours read

Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Chapters 16-23Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 16 Summary: “The Stella Maris, 2031, Earth-Relative”

Five months into the voyage, Jimmy knocks on Emilio’s door one night. Jimmy asks Emilio how he handles celibacy. Apparently, Jimmy is having a difficult time being trapped on an asteroid and unable to date women. Emilio tells Jimmy to “take care of [him]self,” and admits that masturbation is what he’s done throughout his vow of celibacy, so that the thought of sex isn’t always “right in the front of the mind all the time” (184). Emilio continues:

 

Priests differ in their ability to hold themselves to the vow. This is common knowledge, yes? If a priest goes secretly to a woman once a month, he may be stretching his self-control to its limit and he may also be having sex more often than some married men. And yet, the ideal of celibacy still exists for him. And as time goes on, such a priest may come closer and closer to consolidating his celibacy. It’s not that we don’t feel desire. It’s that we hope to reach a point, spiritually, that makes the struggle meaningful (185).

 

Lying in bed, Jimmy thinks back to a conversation he had regarding Emilio and Sofia. He told Anne that it wasn’t fair for Sofia and Emilio to like each other, since Emilio is a priest.

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By Mary Doria Russell

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Mary Doria Russell
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Mary Doria Russell
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