Childhood's End

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

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