The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Theo goes back out to the car, where Hedges is waiting for him. Xan is “suddenly” at Theo’s side, though, and instructs Hedges to drive to a nearby statue on the other side of the park. He and Theo, he says, will meet him there after a walk through the park.
Xan is able to stealthily control both Theo and Hedges, eager to speak with Theo after having mysteriously created a situation in which Theo was judged and assailed by the other members of the Council.
Themes
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
As they enter the park, Xan tells Theo that it was “unwise” of him to come before the Council—“there’s a limit,” he says, to his ability to “protect” Theo, or the people whom Theo has “been consorting with.”
Xan knows that Theo has to have been influenced by someone—or something—other than himself, but warns Theo not to get in too deep and lose sight of himself.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Theo asks Xan why he would possibly want the job of Warden; Xan replies that he wanted it originally because he thought he’d enjoy the power, and also because he could “never watch someone doing badly” what he knew he could do very well. Xan admits that he hasn’t enjoyed the job in a very long time, but that it’s “too late” now. The only other person who could do the job, he says, is Carl, but Carl is dying. Xan confesses that he keeps the job because he’s never bored.
Xan’s candid discussion with Theo about the nature of his desire for power and the realities of his leadership paints a picture of him as a rational man able to track his own thoughts and emotions despite his hunger for authority and his need for total control of those around him. 
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Xan asks Theo who he’s been speaking to about all of the grievances he brought before the council—he knows that Theo didn’t come up with all of these ideas on his own. Theo insists that no one “specifically” has “gotten” to him. He tells Xan that as someone who lives in the “real world” he hears complaints and concerns everywhere.
Theo makes a crucial decision to protect Julian’s group even in the face of direct questioning from Xan. In fact, he uses his one advantage over Xan as a cover—his defection to the “real world,” and his communion with the common people.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
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Theo asks Xan to stop the compulsory testing of sperm and to shut down the pornography centers, but Xan deflects Theo’s requests. Theo then asks if Xan ever returns to Woolcombe. Xan tells Theo that he now thinks of it as a “living mausoleum.” He has not been back since his mother’s death five years earlier. Xan asks Theo what the two of them would do if they were the last men on earth. Theo imagines they would “salute the darkness, shout out a roll-call [of humanity], and then shoot [them]selves.” Xan suggests they recreate their happy summers at Woolcombe, shooting guns off the bridge at sunset.
Unable to agree on an acceptable course of action for the nation, Theo and Xan retreat into their shared past, and then together imagine a moment in the future in which they are able to reconvene at a place that meant so much to each of them—as equals and friends. The two men clearly have a kind of love for one another, but are too divided by their ideals—and Xan’s almost compulsive ambition—to believe that any of their fantasies will ever come to fruition.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
The two arrive at the statue, where Hedges is waiting. Xan tells Theo to “tell [his] friends, whoever they are, to be sensible [and] prudent.” He says he is “not a tyrant,” but “can’t afford to be merciful.” He will do whatever he has to do to ensure order.
Xan, for all the happy reminiscing he’s just involved Theo in, is still a threatening entity and a man who is not prepared to allow anything or anyone to threaten his power.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon