Childhood's End

by: Arthur C. Clarke

Chapters 9–11

Summary Chapters 9–11

Arthur C. Clarke wrote several stories that dealt with such utopian societies. In several of them, there is usually some character that decides to rebel against his world, claiming that it has made everyone boring, complacent, and purposeless. In a way, that is what Jan Rodricks is doing: resisting the pleasures of a utopian existence simply because it is a closed system. There is nothing to fear or lose, but there is nothing to look forward to or strive for either. In many of Clarke's stories, humans eventually escape from the "frog pond" of Earth and begin to explore and colonize space. They become, in a way, Overlords themselves. But Childhood's End is unique among Clarke's novels because this is not what happens. Rather than mankind learning to build spaceships and reaching out into space, they are denied all access to space by the Overlords for no apparent reason. While the reasons will be explained later in the story, for the time being people like Jan Rodricks must suffer in a utopia that is, for all its benefits, going nowhere. Clarke's utopian Earth is a somewhat cynical one, but more significantly, it is an artificial one. A utopia as Clarke imagines it in Childhood's End would be virtually impossible without the "divine intervention" of the godlike Overlords, whose powers seem limitless. Of course, the novel still has one great irony: the revelation, at the end of the book, that for all their power, the Overlords are a stagnant race and that humans have a potential far greater than they.