Summary: An airsick and heartsick Bishop Aringarosa orders the pilot his chartered jet to change destinations. Only the bishop’s reluctant offer of his jeweled ring persuades the pilot to alter course for London.
Analysis: This brief chapter nicely subverts the symbolism of Aringarosa’s ring, established previously. Now, so far from being a symbol of the bishop’s power and status that he was nonetheless willing to sacrifice for the supposedly greater power of the Grail, the ring symbolizes crass material wealth that ironically showcases the bishop’s increasing powerlessness. “Everything had spiraled wildly out of control,” the bishop reflects (p. 339)—a reflection that ultimately leads him to accede to the pilot’s desire for the ring, in the hopes that he may somehow salvage the “house of cards” now “collapsing in on itself” (p. 340). The chapter, by casting the ring in this new symbolic light, highlights the futility of Aringarosa’s quest for personal power. The ring no longer hints at a greater power he can grab for himself, but for his apparent destiny as a man with far less power than that which which his scheme began.