The Da Vinci Code: Chapter 69

Summary: As they fly toward England, Teabing impresses upon Sophie and Langdon the peril of the quest they have undertaken. He warns them against trusting even the Priory’s Brotherhood, since the Priory has obviously been infiltrated by a sinister secret agent. He presses Sophie, now the holder of the keystone, to make the decision to reveal the Grail documents, when found, to the world. Sophie only responds that she believes that, when the time comes, she will know what to do.

Analysis: Readers may well wonder about the purpose behind Teabing’s “few words” (p. 317) at the outset of the fugitives’ flight. Is he truly trying only to remind Sophie and Langdon that the Priory keystone “cannot fall into the wrong hands” (p. 318)… or, as seems likely, is he trying to convince Sophie that only his own hands are the right ones? Notice how, following Sophie’s affirmation that she is willing to continue pursuing the Grail, Teabing “looked encouraged but unconvinced” (p. 318). The narrative is offering another clue to the still hidden reality of Sophie and Langdon’s situation. Teabing wants to be “the keeper of a truth that man has sought for centuries” (p. 319). He does not want to cede that honor to Sophie, let alone to Langdon. Thus we can infer that Teabing—like Fache, like Collet, like Aringarosa; even like Vernet, in the bank manager’s limited way—Teabing is motivated by pride. In Teabing’s case (and more like Aringarosa and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Fache), the pride may well be what the ancient Greeks called hubris—over-extending, fatal pride. Readers may remember how, in Greek drama, the flaw of hubris was sometimes associated with physical flaw (think, for example, of Oedipus and his club foot, followed by his self-blinding). In contrast, note Sophie’s humility in the face of her task: “To quote your words, ‘You do not find the Grail, the Grail finds you’” (p. 320). In a way, the conversation with Teabing on the plane in this chapter is yet another test of merit—and, yet again, Sophie succeeds in proving herself virtuous and worthy. Unlike the other—male—characters Teabing and Aringarosa, Sophie does not wish to possess the Grail, but to serve it. She is truly a lover, not of power, but of truth.