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Apocalyptic novel; science fiction novel; social criticism; tragedy
Third-person omniscient narrator, with perspective shifting among the main characters
The narrator speaks in the third person, and switches from person to person, giving a complete picture of the events. The narrator primarily provides an objective viewpoint, telling what the characters look like and do and revealing few of their inner thoughts.
Sincere; sorrowful; warning
Primarily Dwight Towers and Moira Davidson, though Peter Holmes and John Osborne also have major roles
The characters cope with the reality that they are among the few people in the world left alive after a catastrophic nuclear war, and that within several months they too will inevitably die from radiation sickness
The characters get to know each other; the Jorgensen theory provides some hope that the radiation might subside; the mysterious radio signal from the Seattle area also provides home that some have survived; the submarine searches for life along the coast of northern Australia but finds none
The investigation of the Seattle radio signal finds that it has been a false hope; the Jorgensen theory is disproved
The submarine returns to Australia after the trip to America; the characters spend their last days in various ways; all ultimately commit suicide with pills as radiation sickness sets in
The epigraph to the novel quotes T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men," which indicates that the world will end "[n]ot with a bang but a whimper".