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Childhood's End

Arthur C. Clarke

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Childhood's End

author ·  Arthur C. Clarke

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Science fiction

language ·  American English

time and place written ·  1950–1953, America

date of first publication ·  1953

publisher ·  Ballantine Books

narrator ·  3rd person omniscient

climax ·  The climax occurs when the children of the last generation of humanity are assimilated into the Overmind, destroying the Earth in the process.

protagonist(s) ·  Karellen; Stormgren; George Greggson; Jan Rodricks

antagonist ·  There is not really any true "protagonists" in Childhood's End, although it can be argued that both the Overlords and the Overmind fulfill a kind of antagonic role.

setting (time) ·  Late twentieth century; 2050s; 2130s

setting (place) ·  Earth

point of view ·  The narrator maintains a fairly straightforward manner of third-person narration.

falling action ·  The Overlords watch as the Earth is destroyed, then continue on their way to serve the Overmind.

tense ·  Immediate past; that is, real-time narration

foreshadowing ·  There is much foreshadowing in Childhood's End. One good example is that since the Overlords resemble a medieval conception of "the Devil," they can be read as foreshadowing the Overlords' role in the ultimate destruction of humanity.

tone ·  The tone of the novel is fairly neutral.

themes ·  Technology and power; the limits of knowledge; evolutionary purpose; the problems of utopian society

motifs ·  Deception; Christian imagery and folklore; collective unconscious; racial memory

symbols ·  The Overlords; the Overmind; New Athens

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My remembrance of reading the story in 1957

by AlofACC, December 17, 2015

Karellan comes from behind the screen to the shock of the main character and explains that their race has been visiting earth for centuries - sent whenever we are in danger of extinction to use their powers to alleviate the issue so are often seen, causing humans to mistakenly associate them with causing the problems - hence devils, but a bum rap.

At the end the children coalesce into a single life form and suck up the resources of the earth to be their energy source, and sail out into the universe as their new playground. The actual ... Read more

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