The military in Australia receives the radio signal that those aboard the submarine are alive. Mary calls Moira to share the news that the crew is safe, and Moira almost faints from relief. They meet each other and talk about how crazy it is to garden or learn shorthand under the circumstances. Moira says that because of Dwight's influence she does not drink as much as she used to. She would want to marry him, but he still thinks he is going home to his family in September. Normally, Moira would use every dirty trick imaginable to get him, but not when there is only a few more months left to live. Mary cries when she tells Moira about Peter's instructions that she use the syringe on Jennifer if the baby gets sick.

The submarine returns to Melbourne and reports the disappointing news that they had disproved the Jorgensen effect—precipitation has not cleared the air of radiation in any area they have visited. Dwight receives a message informing him he is now the Commanding Officer of the United States Naval Forces. The previous Commander has apparently died from radiation, which has reached Brisbane; he refused to abandon his crew and move south on his own. Dwight tries to radio Brisbane, but finds that he is no longer to make contact with anyone there anymore.


Millions of people have died in the war, but we do not see a single dead body until this chapter. Although Shute could easily be more graphic, his writing is restrained as he describes the decomposing bodies Sunderstrom encounters onshore. In fact, the lack of detail is in a sense more terrifying than specific descriptions. Shute does not have to say that radiation sickness forced people to spend their last days throwing up or suffering from diarrhea. He merely hints at the messy deaths by saying that Sunderstrom comes across a body sprawled out of a latrine. The suspense is especially palpable when Sunderstrom comes across the group of people sitting on the verandah; it is left to us to imagine the horror the soldier feels.

The scene with Sunderstrom and the window frame resting on the transmitter is almost comic. He looks at the window frame and thinks that it "was not damaged and could be repaired and put back in place quite easily." He is feeling a need to fix the unfixable. Even when he is surrounded by death and destruction, it is surprising that Sunderstrom still has time to admire the transmitters sending the messages. He even goes as far as to look for the name of the manufacturer of the equipment. He hates the idea of the machine wearing out and breaking, so he turns it off, giving it a more humane death than that experienced by most of the war victims. Though such efficient, anonymous machines have led to the destruction of humanity, Sunderstrom, like many other characters in the novel, is still in awe of such gadgetry. Yeoman Swain also cannot resist the charm of machines: even though he has just found all his loved ones dead, he is still happy because he has a car and a motorboat. He has cared so much about everyday technology that now machines are his final companions. Although such a sentiment is ironic, Shute does not mock humanity's love for their machines; he merely states that this love exists.

Back in Australia, we see that Moira is growing up, that she is doing so more quickly than she would have liked. Although she insists she does not do anything restful, Moira is finding peace with her situation. She, too, has turned to work as salvation. She knows sin and trouble too well, but she has not become bitter. She knows sorrow, but she has not become sad. Even with the knowledge that she will die soon, she displays a determination to make the best of herself in this situation. While Mary makes no attempt to face reality, Moira is now brave and honest enough to admit that everyone is "all going mad in our own way." Shute likes to write about decent, honest and principled people; here, he lets Moira grow into a person whom anyone could admire.