The Da Vinci Code: Chapter 98

Summary: Langdon and Sophie consider Newton’s tomb, and discover an ominous note from the Teacher, who claims to have Teabing and instructs the two fugitives to exit through the Chapter House to the Abbey’s public garden. Because portions of the Abbey are closed to the public for renovation, the two must make their way through dark, empty cloisters. When they emerge into the Chapter House, however, they find themselves trapped at a dead end, and facing a revolver-holding Leigh Teabing.

Analysis: This chapter at last reveals the Teacher’s identity. Not surprisingly, the moment of revelation focuses, in good symbolic literary fashion, on Teabing’s physical flaws and disability: “The lone man… was portly and was propped on a pair of aluminum crutches” (p. 436). By reminding us of Teabing’s disability—one of the few things about this man that must be true—the text reminds us of earlier doubts we should have had about his trustworthiness (again, according to the symbolic functions of physical flaws in literary characters—not in real people). In addition, this chapter provides “the first faint wisps of possibility” (p. 432) regarding the resolution of Saunière’s riddle: as Sophie reminds Langdon, the Priory was supposed to have revealed the truth “about ‘the Rose’ and her fertile womb’” (p. 432) at the turn of the millennium, at the “age of Aquarius”—a possible astronomical connection to Newton’s tomb. But Langdon ultimately rejects this line of reasoning as too complicated—somewhat ironic, considering the complexity of Saunière’s message on the Louvre floor! While it is true that “[t]he Grand Master’s previous solutions had all possessed an eloquent, symbolic significance” (p. 432), it makes little sense to suggest that such Saunière could or would not draw such eloquence from astronomy, as he could and did from fine art. Of course, Langdon’s reasoning may itself be an authorial red herring, designed to conceal the truth from his readers for just a while longer.