Good Example Of Literature Review On A Literary Analysis Of "The Star" By Authur C. Clarke
“The Star” is a science-fiction story written by the English author, Arthur Clarke. The short story features an unnamed Jesuit priest who is the chief astrophysicist of an outer space expedition. Clarke’s sci-fi short story intends to discuss human nature and to present the challenge that every man experiences- conflict between his faith and science. The author attains this purpose by using vivid imagery, symbolism and elaborate characterization.
Characterization plays a major role in shaping the theme of Clarke’s sci-fi story. The author uses a Jesuit priest as the protagonist to convey his point that even the man who possess the deepest of faith sometimes undergo experiences that are meant to challenge his belief. The priest confronts two contrasting ideas- the ideals of his religion and the truthful revelations of science.The protagonist possess two attributes that are completely contradictory. Being a scientist and being a religious man is a difficult struggle that the narrator have to deal with. He assumes two contrasting roles- chief astrophysicist of a highly advanced space expedition and a Jesuit priest. This contradiction troubles him and keeping his faith becomes a very difficult decision to make. He says, “AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM, the message runs, but it is a message I can no longer believe.” (Clarke p.2)
Clarke tells the readers that the protagonist excel in his two different roles. His intelligence in the field of science is revealed in his works on astronomy and geophysics through his scientific studies in the Astrophysical Journal and his five Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (Clarke p.1) His great inclination to science equals his deep faith in God until he discovers the mystery of the Phoenix Nebula. The treasures in the Vault makes him question why a good God will wipe out a beautiful civilization who has done nothing evil. “They were not an evil people: I do not know what gods they worshiped, if indeed they worshiped any. But I have looked back at them across the centuries, and have watched while the loveliness they used their last strength to preserve was brought forth again into the light of their shrunken sun. They could have taught us much: why were they destroyed?” (Clarke p.3) The ruthless destruction of such a wonderful race, leaving no survivors is a harsh reality that challenges his belief on the goodness of God. While the Bible celebrates the Phoenix Nebula as it signifies the birth of Jesus Christ, their scientific discovery proves that this star have killed all the innocent inhabitants of a distant planet.
His discovery of the time of explosion forces him to alter his belief regarding the existence of God. It becomes difficult for him to choose between two beliefs- whether he would believe in an impersonal Universe where all events are random or a Universe created by God who have burned up a whole civilization just to attain His purpose. A purpose that only Him knows. It is important to note, that there were millions of stars that He can use to wipe out all life forms in that planet, but He chose the Phoenix Nebula. His scientific discovery poses two questions: is God evil? Or Does God exist? However, he does not answer these questions. He says that man should never question God’s intention. This is because “He who built the Universe can destroy it when He chooses.” (Clarke p.3) This statement does not suggest his lost faith, but it signifies his refusal to believe in a chaotic and evil God.
Clarke blends imagery, symbolism and excellent characterization in order to present his main argument that it is human nature to struggle with his faith. The surprising discovery about the Phoenix Nebula that destroyed a civilization which is the same star of Bethlehem further suggests that scientific knowledge brings in confusion to man and makes it hard for him to see the real purpose of the divine plan. The unnamed narrator of Clarke’s sci-fi short story symbolizes a modern man who would always be challenged by the conflict between religion and science.
Arthur, Clarke. The Star. PDF.