The Da Vinci Code: Chapter 76

Summary: As Teabing’s jet nears England, Langdon continues contemplating Saunière’s mysterious poem. He thinks the “headstone praised by Templars” is a literal stone head, not a grave marker, since Templars were falsely accused by the Inquisition of worshiping idols. Teabing suggests the phrase refers to Baphomet, a pagan fertility god whose image is the source of the modern horned devil. When Sophie points out that “Baphomet,” with its eight letters, cannot be the five-letter password needed to open the second cryptex, Teabing introduces the Atbash Cipher.

Analysis: This chapter is marked not only by yet another ingenious interpolation of a small detail relevant to modern readers that apparently legitimizes the novel’s extravagant conspiracy theory—specifically, the etymology given for the Thanksgving cornucopia: “The cornucopia or ‘horn of plenty’ was a tribute to Baphomet’s fertility…” (p. 343)—but also by an overt use of literary symbolism, as Langdon looks at the dissipating darkness outside the jet: “Langdon willed the light of day to bring with it a second kind of illumination, but the lighter it became outside, the further he felt from the truth” (p. 342). Ironically, as literal dawn is breaking, Langdon continues to feel lost in intellectual darkness.