Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan: Page by Page, Chapter by Chapter Review: Chapter 10 – An Age of Miracles

Chapter 10 describes Rumfoord’s Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, which shares many of the themes and tropes of self handicap that Vonnegut would go on to explore further in the short story Harrison Bergeron. Other deep topics raised in this chapter include;

  • Profiteering from religion
  • Exploitation of people – Unk, the Martians, Rumfoord’s church
  • Free will
  • Equality and equity – all a prelude to the free-standing themes introduced here and then pursued more in Harrison Bergeron


  • Unk arrives to West Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA after 3 years banished to to Mercury, where he is received by an awaiting minister at the Church of God The Utterly Indifferent – founded by Winston Niles Rumfoord.
  • The congregation, like billions of people on Earth, handicaps themselves so that they are all equal – with the strong wearing lead shot to make them weak – this is similar to the theme of Vonnegut’s 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron.
  • Unk is taken to Newport, where a Winston Niles Rumfoord materialization is set to occur. WNR has built a church around the invasion, and Unk / Malachi Constant plays a prominent role as the ‘Space Wanderer’.
  • Bee and Chrono work in concessions at the Newport estate with many other Martian survivors – Chrono still has his good luck piece.
  • Unk / Malachi Constant / The Space Wanderer emerges into a raised stage and is reunited with Bee and Chrono – all the while eagerly hoping to see Stony Stephenson, who he murdered while on Mars but does not remember.
  • Unk/MC/TSW is looking forward to a good life on Earth, but foreshadowing lets the reader know this is not to be.

Begin – Page 218

“Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last.” Page 218, an epistolary from a Sermon by The Referend C. Horner Redwine

“Earth was most fertile where the most death was.” Page 219

Break 1 – Page 219

“There was not a country in the world that did not have graveyards with Earthlings and Martians buried side by side.” Page 219

“The church, which squatted among the headstones like a wet mother dodo, had been at various times Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Universal Apocalyptic. It was now the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent.” Page 219

“The only garment he wore was a clinking breechclout made of wrenches and copper wire.” Page 220

“But stones that were wet, stones that were mossy, stones that were squared and written on by men – he hadn’t felt stones like that for a long, long time.” Page 220

“He was filled with the heedless, tender violence of a man who has had his lifetime cruelly wasted.” Page 220 – Unk, landed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA at age 43, having fled his banishment to Mercury.

Break 2 – Page 220

“The subtitle was justified by this prophecy: That a lone straggler from the Army of Mars would arrive at Redwine’s church some day.” Page 221

“It was one piece, lemon-yellow, rubberized, closed by a zipper, and ideally skin-tight.” Page 221

“The garment was not in the mode of the day. It was a special creation to add glamour to the miracle.” Page 221

“When the bell was rung madly, the parisioners were to feel ecsctacy to drop whatever they were doing, to laugh, to weep, to come.” Page 222

“Ten screams would mean that the Space Wanderer had arrived.” Page 222 – the joyous West Barnstable fire department had a special signal for when the SW finally returned.

Break 3 – Page 222

“The good rain wet the old Paul Revere bell in the steeple, trickled down the bell rope, soaked the wooden doll tied to the end of the bell rope, dripped from the feet of the doll, made a puddle on the steeple’s flagstone floor.” Page 222

“It was called a Malachi.” Page 223

“There were similar bags of shot around his ankles and his other wrist, and two heavy slabs of iron hung on shoulder straps – one slab on his chest and one on his back.” Page 224 – the Redwine weights.

“A stronger person would have carried more, a weaker person would have carried less.” Page 224

“On Sundays, the entire congregation slapped the flea in unison.” Page 225

“In the clanging bedlam of the bells, Redwine heard the words that the Master of Newport said all bells spoke.” Page 226

Break 4 – Page 226

“Again the navigator argued stupidly with itself, tried to shut itself off. When it found that it could not shut itself off, it made dirty yellow smoke.” Page 226

“Everyone wore handicaps of some sort.” Page 227

“The dark young man’s wife, who had reason to be vain about her Phi Beta Kappa key, had handicapped herself with a husband who read nothing but comic books.” Page 228

“There were literally billions of happily self-handicapped people on Earth.” Page 228

“The expression of the face that looked back at Redwine was strikingly like the expression on the face of an intelligent ape in a zoo.” Page 229

“Unk had decided not to be afraid.” Page 229

Break 5 – Page 229

“Unk did not yet know that no one else in the world was dressed like him. He assumed that many people had suits like his – question marks and all.” Page 229

“Why thank God?” said Redwine. – In response to Unk’s ‘thank god’ on page 230

“In those days, Redwine and all the other young proselytizers had threatened unbelievers with the righteous displeasure of crowds – righteously displeased crowds that did not then exist.” Page 230-1

“The disciplinary arm of the Church was in crowds everywhere.” Page 231

“Unk had been planning to say almost exactly what Redwine had warned him against saying.” Page 231

“They will ask you two questions and you will answer them to the best of your ability.” Page 232


“The doll was of a special sort that could be bought only in Newport.” – Page 233

“Accidents!” he yelled in response to, “what happened to you?” from the crowds on Page 234. Unk is happy to be back with people, back with crowds.

Break 6 – Page 234

“A greased eel couldn’t have squeezed in.” Page 234

“Handicaps of the most imaginative and effective sort were displayed everywhere.” Page 235 – another call out to the self-handicap theme of Vonnegut’s 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron.

Break 7 – Page 235

“Bee bought them from a religious supply house for twenty-seven cents apiece and sold them for three dollars. She was an excellent businesswoman.” Page 235

“Chrono would not socialize well with other children, and his reputation for dealing with life courageously and directly was so bad that only a few very foolish and very pretty little girls were attracted to him.” Page 237

“Winston Niles Rumfoord had sent the helicopter to just the right place at just the right time.” Page 238 – the helicopter finds a staked mother and sun who had been lost in the Amazon.

Break 8 – Page 238

“Put it in the picture window, so all your neighbors’ll know you’ve been to Newport.” Pg 239, Brackman – Unk’s former platoon sergeant on Mars, selling fountains.

“What was reputedly the longest free-standing ladder in history leaned against the column, led giddily to the door of the ship.” Pg 240 – Why is the ladder there?

“It was his way of saying, “Thanks.”” – Pg 241, the Martian survivors got the best concession options

“There weren’t many survivors – only fifty-eight in the United States, only three hundred and sixteen in the entire World.” – Pg 241

“He was cleaning his nails with the strangely bent, drilled and nicked piece of metal that had been his good-luck piece on Mars. It was still his good-luck piece on Earth.” Page 241

“Actually, most of them thought the new religion was probably a pretty good thing.” Page 242

“The trolls in the twilight of the booths refused to peek.” Page 243

“When Rumfoord staged a passion play, he used nothing but real people in real hells.” Page 243

Break 9 – Page 243

“He was touching the area over his antenna, over the antenna that had once done all his important thinking for him. He missed the signals.” Page 244 – Brackman watching the Space Wanderer meet Rumfoord.

“Thanks very much for the information,” Winslow had told the committee. “Now I don’t have that lost feeling any more.” Page 245 – On the identification of a Martian and his origin.

“Could we have done any better if he’d left us in charge of our own lives?” said Bee. Page 246

“That’s your privilege,” said Brackman. Page 247

“We’re all used up. We’ll never be of any use to him again.” Page 247

Break 10 – Page 247

“Have you ever considered the possibility,” said Rumfoord, “that everything went absolutely right?” Page 248

“The idea did not startle him, could not startle him – since the idea proposed was so far beyond the range of his jerry-built philosophy.” Page 248

Break 11 – Page 248

“Television cameras and microphones on booms could follow the system anywhere.” – Page 249

Break 12 – Page 249

“An assistant had now been dispatched to the Malachi booth outside to bring in the thirty-second and thirty-third persons to share the eminence.” Page 249

“But on and on the famous smile went.” Page 249 – Describing Rumfoord.

“He was now a captive of a crowd that thought he was a marvel.” Page 250 – Malachi / Unk as he enters the outdoor cathedral.

“He wasn’t much interested in the Space Wanderer as a person – hardly looked at him.” Page 251 – Malachi/Unk is just a tool to Rumfoord.

“Ruumford read the Space Wanderer’s mind, “They’d like it just as much the other way around, you know,” he said.” – Page 251

“It’s the thrill of the fast reverse -” Page 252

“During the lull, the Space Wanderer felt the first real tickle of plans for a good future on Earth.” Page 252

“It was undeniably great theater, notwithstanding Dr. Maurice Rosenau’s carping comment (op. cit.): The people who watch reverently as Winston Niles Rumfoord goes dancing over his golden jungle gym in Newport are the same idiots one finds in toy stores, gaping reverently at toy trains as the trains go chuff-chuffa-chuffa in and out of papier-mache tunnels, over toothpick trestles, through cardboard cities, and into papier-mache tunnels again.” – Page 253

“None of the three had any reason to be pleased with the reunion.” – Page 254

“Young Chrono hated the bearded intruder on his sublime relationship with his mother.” – Page 254

“The ladder was painted gold, too.” Page 255

“Maybe Stony Stevenson was in the crowd somewhere.” – Page 255

End – Page 256

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