The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Two weeks later, Theo discovers a pamphlet written by Julian’s group that has been dropped through the letter slot along with the rest of his mail. The missive is addressed “to the people of Britain,” and it outlines the group’s demands of the Warden: the calling of a general election; full civil rights for Sojourners and the ability to remain in Britain at the end of their service; the abolition of the Quietus; no more deportation of convicted offenders to the Isle of Man Penal Colony; and the end of examinations of healthy young men and women as well as the closure of the public porn shops. The letter is signed “The Five Fishes,” and there is a small Christian fish on the top of the pamphlet.
The discovery of the pamphlet sets off a new chain of events, and alerts Theo as to how serious Julian and her group—now publicly naming themselves The Five Fishes—actually are about addressing social and political change. Julian has ignored his advice, and has taken her and her group’s desires to the streets and to the people. Their demands are clear, their language is direct, and the Christian imagery of bounty, renewal, and benevolence is inherent in their logo and name (a reference to the Bible, in which Jesus miraculously transformed five fishes and two loaves of bread into a feast for a crowd).
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
After reading the pamphlet, Theo is floored by the “humanity” of the words, and feels they must have been written by Julian. Nevertheless, he feels that “no good” can come of the pamphlets. He reads it through once more and considers the bind humanity faces: had Year Omega never happened, humankind might be prepared to fight to right these wrongs. However, no one is prepared to stand up against the “evils” of Xan’s regime because there is no hope for a future. Frustrated and “drain[ed] of his sympathy” for the Fishes, Theo takes the pamphlet into the bathroom, rips it up, and flushes it down the toilet.
Theo’s fear of keeping the pamphlet in his possession betrays just how deep his fear of persecution at the hands of the government is, despite Xan’s assurances that Xan will be able to “protect” Theo. He is drained and full of despair, not to mention anxious, and perhaps annoyed or even jealous that Julian has proceeded in her acts of resistance without his help or guidance.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon