The Da Vinci Code: Chapter 51

Summary: Stopping momentarily in an effort to bend back the armored truck’s bumper, which was damaged in their escape, Langdon and Sophie plan their next moves. They cannot return the Keystone to the Priory, for the night’s four murders prove that the Priory has been compromised. Realizing they need professional help in opening the Keystone, Langdon suggests they go to Sir Leigh Teabing, a wealthy religious historian who specializes in Grail lore. Sophie is initially dubious, and seeks repeated assurances from Langdon that Teabing is trustworthy. Convinced that Teabing would have no financial interest in turning them over to the authorities, and that his abiding professional interest in the Grail will be motive enough, Langdon persuades Sophie that Teabing is their best potential ally. He does compromises by suggesting that they need not tell Teabing about the Keystone at once, but that they can use his estate as a place to regroup. What seems to seal the deal, however, is the promise that Teabing, together with Langdon, will at last be able to give Sophie the full, true story of the Holy Grail.

Analysis: Brown lays more groundwork in this chapter for the introduction of Sir Leigh Teabing—the “knight” who will aid Langdon and Sophie on their “Grail quest” (p. 238). As he did earlier, Brown uses the method of characterization in which other characters talk about the character being developed: e.g., “Teabing’s life passion is the Grail” (p. 235); “Considering the circumstances, Teabing would probably trip over himself to help them as much as possible” (p. 236); “Leigh Teabing knows more about the Priory of Sion and the Holy Grail than anyone on earth” (p. 237); “He’ll be in no hurry to cooperate with Fache” (p. 237). In short, Brown—like Langdon—persuades readers to believe that Teabing will be nothing other than a reliable source of expert information and a helpful ally in Sophie and Langdon’s efforts to unravel the mystery in which they find themselves embroiled. Clearly, then, careful readers of The Da Vinci Code will know by now, roughly the novel’s half-point, that all about Sir Teabing will not be as it seems! In his efforts to establish Teabing as a character before readers have met him, the author (with apologies to Shakespeare) may be protesting too much. He may be telegraphing too broadly the turn that Teabing will take before the narrative is through. At any rate, in this chapter, the decision to go to Teabing not only advances the plot—the importance of accomplishing that task cannot be underestimated in the genre of the modern technological, procedural thriller—but also whets readers’ appetites, just as Sophie’s is wetted, for a fuller unveiling of the Grail’s secrets.