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Job: A Comedy of Justice Book Summary

by Robert A. Heinlein

Job: A Comedy of Justice

Robert A. Heinlein


Job: A Comedy of Justice follows the extraordinary journey of Alexander Hergensheimer, a devoutly religious man, as he is repeatedly ripped from one reality to another by seemingly omnipotent beings. Each reality presents a different version of Earth with varying social, political, and religious landscapes. As Alex navigates these tumultuous shifts, he grapples with questions of faith, free will, and the nature of reality itself, all while searching for his beloved Margrethe.

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Author & Writing Background

Robert A. Heinlein was a highly influential American science fiction author known for his thought-provoking and often controversial works. He explored themes of individualism, libertarianism, and social structures in his writing. Heinlein’s background as a naval officer and engineer informed his meticulous world-building and technological details. Some of his other notable works include “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

Key Takeaways

Shifting Realities

The book’s central theme revolves around the concept of multiple realities or parallel universes. Alex’s experiences challenge his understanding of the world and force him to question the nature of existence.

Religious Satire

Heinlein employs satire to critique organized religion and blind faith. Alex’s encounters with different religious doctrines and practices highlight the inconsistencies and absurdities of human belief systems.

Free Will vs. Determinism

The novel explores the philosophical debate between free will and determinism. Alex’s journey raises questions about whether individuals have control over their destinies or if their lives are predetermined by external forces.

Love and Relationships

Despite the chaotic shifts in reality, Alex’s love for Margrethe remains a constant. Their relationship serves as an anchor amidst the uncertainty and provides emotional depth to the story.

Social Commentary

Heinlein uses the various realities as a backdrop to comment on social and political issues such as war, government control, and the role of technology in society.

The Nature of God

The book delves into theological questions about the existence and nature of God. The portrayal of the “gods” as manipulative and flawed beings challenges traditional religious beliefs.

Humor and Irony

Despite the serious themes, the book incorporates humor and irony to create a darkly comedic tone. This approach adds depth to the narrative and makes it more engaging.

Individualism and Self-Reliance

Heinlein emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility and self-reliance. Alex’s experiences highlight the need to think critically and make independent choices.

FAQ about Job: A Comedy of Justice

Is ‘Job: A Comedy of Justice’ a religious book?

While the book deals with religious themes, it is not a religious book in the traditional sense. It uses satire and irony to critique organized religion and explore philosophical questions about faith and the nature of God.

What is the significance of the title?

The title references the biblical story of Job, a righteous man who endures immense suffering as a test of his faith. Similar to Job, Alex faces numerous trials and tribulations that challenge his beliefs and understanding of the world.

What are some of the different realities that Alex experiences?

Alex encounters a wide range of realities, including a Puritanical society, a world ravaged by nuclear war, and a technologically advanced utopia. Each reality presents unique challenges and opportunities for Alex to explore.

Job: A Comedy of Justice Quotes

  • ”Belief gets in the way of learning."
  • "You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic."
  • "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”