The Australian Grand Prix is moved up from November to August. John races in the qualifying heats, in which most of the drivers are amateurs and the track is wet and dangerous. Everyone is driving all different types of cars, and many of the drivers are injured or killed in the race. John, however, qualifies for the Grand Prix. His Ferrari is slightly damaged, so he takes spare parts from a Jaguar whose driver was killed during the race.


Even as the final days approach, Dwight still refuses to break any rules. He does not want Peter to put the submarine in dry dock because it would violate U.S. Navy regulations, even if the United States no longer exists. In most circumstances, good deeds are morally significant because they beget more good deeds. Now, however, nothing good or bad will live on after Dwight; his moral actions no longer have implications on the next generation. We might say that Dwight is choosing obedience over common sense. Allan Sykes, the director of the Fishing and Game Department, has to make a similar choice between obedience and common sense. Like Dwight, Sykes has a hard time breaking rules. Even though the circumstances are extreme, he has difficulty bringing himself to open the fishing season early. He wants to follow established laws instead of using his own moral judgment to alter the law. Because he is a government official, his inflexible attitude and behavior might be compared to those statesmen who participated in the nuclear war. If the officials used their moral sense, the war might not have reached the extremes it did. However, the war has apparently not changed Allan's thinking. In these episodes, Shute is warning that the government should not put its officials in a position in which they have to choose between being obedient or moral, because in most instances people will simply choose to be obedient.

This description of the qualifying heats for the Australian Grand Prix continues Shute's exploration of the dangerous relationship between humans and the machines. Even though technological gadgets are bringing the world to the end, humans are still in love with bells and whistled. At the racetrack, people are more concerned about proving the efficiency of their machines than the safety of the drivers or spectators. Like the people who created and used the atomic bomb, the racecar drivers are ready and willing to use technology, but are not willing to take responsibility for their potential dangers. The chapter ends with the gruesome thought that John will scavenge parts from the Jaguar for his car. The dead person inside the car appears to be less important than the machine. Human life is no longer valued because everyone will die soon—but it is not clear if has human life ever been valued at all. If human lives were ever valued, then humans should not be facing their own extinction.

Only at the very end, when there are only a few days left, do people start to leave their normal routine and begin to do what they really wanted. They no longer have to worry about money and other mundane items or tasks. It has taken the people a long time to finally end their normal routines and begin to really enjoy themselves. Even with this extra time, some people still do not accept their fate. Peter and Mary devote their time to their garden, despite the fact that they will be dead long before it blossoms and that there will be no one left to enjoy it. Mary remarks that it will be the best garden in Falmouth, showing that competitiveness—among the most common human traits—does not disappear, even in these circumstances.