2001: A Space Odyssey

by: Arthur C. Clarke

Part Six (Chapters 41–47)

This final event brings the book back to its central didactic theme. Just as nuclear weapons are mentioned as a potential danger toward the end of the first part of the book, they are presented as a grave danger that finally is realized in this final scene of the book. Luckily for those on Earth, the Star-Child is there to keep the nuclear weapons from actually descending to Earth and causing destruction. In the real world, there is no omnipotent force that we could reasonably expect to diffuse a nuclear warhead flying through the air toward a target. While the end of this book presents a hopeful scenario, in that the world is not destroyed by nuclear weapons, it paints a grim picture. After all, nuclear weapons are released. And, in our world, once the weapons are launched, the destruction will take place. This final scene, then, emphasizes the warning that this book is intended to convey. We are teetering at the edge of a nuclear catastrophe. We must do everything in our power to ensure that one does not occur.