Childhood's End

Summary

Chapters 7–8

Summary Chapters 7–8

Chapter 7 also introduces the character of George Greggson and Jean Morrel, who will be important characters for the rest of the novel. George in particular will be important as an observer. He will have little or no part in the developments of the plot, but he will provide an eyewitness account of what happens. Since he is skeptical of things such as the paranormal, George is a good character to use as an observer, since his perception of what happens will not be troubled by bias. For instance, in the scene with the Ouija board, George tries to think of a logical explanation for why the board is answering so many questions correctly; he suggests that perhaps people are subconsciously directing the Ouija board's needle. Jean, on the other hand, firmly believes in the paranormal, so her observations might be biased: she might jump to conclusions or make guesses about what is going on that would confuse the reader.

Jan Rodricks is the other character who will become very important for the rest of Childhood's End. He is a young astrophysicist who dreams of going into space. Jan represents the tendency of some humans to become restless in any situation, no matter how well things are going. While the Overlords have brought peace and prosperity to Earth, they have taken away some of the sense of purpose in human life. The narrator points out that, "When the Overlords had abolished war and hunger and disease, they had also abolished adventure." This is the problem that confronts Jan. The Overlords have left humanity with nothing to work on. The Overlords have all the answers, so why bother looking for them? Why continue to study anything, particularly the stars? As an astrophysicist, Jan has even more reason to be bitter than most scientists. The Overlords have forbidden mankind to work on spaceships. Scientists can only watch, from distant telescopes, as the Overlords vanish into space in their light speed ships. Jan wants to visit the stars and other planets. In his restless desire to explore, Jan represents the inability in many humans to accept any kind of limits, no matter how kindly they are imposed. While the Overlords may have made a heaven of life on Earth, they also seem to have eliminated any possibility of moving beyond that heaven.