The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Theo returns to the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford, the designated meeting-place for him and for Julian. While waiting for her to arrive, Theo takes a look through the exhibits, which contain artifacts culled from all over the world. He marvels at the unlikely but undeniable links between different people, different countries, and different eras.
The museum represents the solace Theo finds in the past. As he looks through the exhibits he considers the world’s isolationist present moment versus its (relatively) interconnected, symbiotic past.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Julian arrives and, without even greeting Theo, asks if he’s met with Xan yet. Theo explains that he saw the Council, then spoke with Xan alone, but has done “no good” for her group’s cause, and may even have “done some harm” since Xan knew that Theo’s visit was not unprompted. Julian asks whether Xan was amenable to any of the group’s demands, and Theo tells her that it seems very unlikely. Julian says that the group will have to continue to “do what they can.” Theo protests, explaining that all the group can “do” is get themselves killed or sent to the Isle of Man. 
Though Julian still retains a sliver of hope for the group’s mission, Theo is wary of what will happen to them should they continue to grow and resist. He urges Julian to separate herself from the group, fearing for her safety as well as the rest of the group’s well-being. Theo did not take Xan’s parting words to him lightly at all.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Julian wonders aloud whether a group getting themselves sent to the colony intentionally could change things from the inside, but Theo tells her that the idea is a “folly.” He urges her not to “waste her life on a futile cause”—things will be over soon enough. Julian insists that she wants humanity to die “as human beings, not devils,” and bids Theo farewell.
In the face of the destruction of her hope, Julian swings out wildly at any other possibility for revolution and revolt, though Theo believes she is being foolish and stubborn, and is clinging to a vision of a future that cannot exist.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Theo, making “one more effort,” tells Julian again how poorly equipped the group is—they are all motivated by different things, and have no money, influence, or backing. He warns her of getting sucked into Rolf’s grab at ambition. Julian tells Theo that she cannot leave Rolf, and that she is not just with the group because she is with her husband. She says that God wants her to do something, and when Theo mocks that belief, she thanks him for his help and tells him goodbye.
The implication that Julian has a larger mission—one both intertwined with and somehow separate from the goals of the rest of her and Rolf’s group—does not inspire any hope or faith in Theo, but rather causes him to see her as a foolish, self-centered person unable to admit defeat.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
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Theo worries that, if Julian is caught, Xan will take action against her. He worries, too, that he has misjudged his “intelligent, charming” cousin, not wanting to believe that Xan is an evil person.
Theo must now reckon with the reality of the situation he’s embroiled in: there is a true battle between forces of good and evil, just as there is between fatalism and hope for change.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon