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On the Beach

Nevil Shute

Chapter Four

Chapter Three

Chapter Four, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

The next morning, Dwight and Moira go to church. Moira admits she rarely goes to church, but if she did, she might not drink so much. Peter and Mary stay home and talk about starting a vegetable garden. They plan to plant gum trees, even though the trees will not blossom for another five years. They even plan their garden for the next ten years, seemingly in complete denial of their fate.

After lunch, Peter and Dwight talk about their next mission. They have been instructed to investigate the mysterious radio signals coming from Seattle. Even though the messages are almost completely incoherent, their existence means a transmitter is still running and that there is a possibility that someone is alive there. When Peter, Mary, Moira, and Dwight gather together again, Peter tells them that someone is writing a history of the war and etching it on glass panels that will be sealed and placed on the highest peak in Australia. People are also preserving pages from books in glass panels. Moira asks, "What types of books are they preserving? All about how to make the cobalt bomb?"

Dwight tells Moira about his idyllic childhood and how he met his wife. Moira invites Dwight to her family's farm and urges him to bring all the clothes he has that need mending. Moira says that Dwight can help her father with work on the farm if he wants. Her father is preparing the pasture for the following year. After Moira tells her parents about Dwight's upcoming visit, they talk about how she has not had a male visitor since the war. Her mother, Mrs. Davidson, speaks about her wish for a marriage and children to come out of Moira's relationship with Dwight. Mr. Davidson reminds his wife that it is too late for such things.

On the ride from the train station to the farm, Dwight gets excited about the maple and oak trees he sees along the road. It is the first time he has seen Northern Hemisphere trees in Australia, and they remind him of home in Connecticut. Moira says she imagines the scenery is better in America and England, but Dwight assures her that the countryside around her home is beautiful by any standard.

Dwight meets Moira's mother and father. They talk about how the radiation is moving steadily south. Mr. Davidson remarks that he is surprised so few refugees have come from the north. The hotels in Melbourne are filled to capacity, but there are not as many people rushing down from the irradiated northern areas as he expected. Dwight says that people probably prefer to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes for their last days, but Mr. Davidson believes that people stay because no one believes it will happen to them until they actually start to become sick.

On the last day of Dwight's stay on the Davidson farm, Moira shows him a storeroom filled with her old toys from childhood. She has kept her toys because she was hoping one day to pass them on to her children—but now she knows she will never have children.

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