The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Theo and the Fishes leave the church, Theo considers getting away, calling Xan, and “putting an end” to the “frail” group’s twisted “adventure.” But realizing that he has already been “responsible for the death of one child” (Natalie), Theo decides to stay with the group and acquiesce to Julian’s desire to have her baby in private. At the car, after one last attempt to change Julian’s mind, Theo agrees to drive. Rolf reminds Theo that he is only with the group “because [being] the Warden’s cousin might be useful.” Theo and Rolf begin to quarrel, but Miriam begs them to put aside their differences for the sake of the mission.
Theo, though he hates to accept responsibility for the well-being of anyone other than himself, feels that he owes Julian his allegiance. His attempts to change Julian’s mind and convince her to have the child under the watchful eye of the government fail, but he acquiesces to Julian’s desire to have the child on her own terms out of a desire to lessen and perhaps even eradicate his own guilt and suffering over the death of his daughter.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Rolf instructs Theo to drive over the border and into Wales. He outlines a plan to drive by night, sleep by day, and change cars if possible. The SSP will soon be looking for Theo’s car. Theo tells Rolf that Jasper’s house is nearby. There, they might be able to switch cars and will certainly find some more food and supplies.
Rolf believes himself to be in control of the mission, but it is Theo who has a suggestion for a place to seek both supplies and shelter, putting a wrinkle in Rolf’s authority and sense of command.
Themes
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
At Jasper’s house, Theo finds that the gate is open. He and Miriam enter the house together, where they find that Jasper is dead, having shot himself in the head. A note nearby explains that there is one bullet left in the revolver. Theo instructs Miriam to gather linens from upstairs while he raids Jasper’s stores of food. Once Miriam is gone, Theo takes the revolver from Jasper’s grip, removes the last bullet, and places both the gun and the bullet inside his coat pocket.
Jasper’s death is a fatalistic act which feels like a bad omen for the group as they start out on their journey. Theo appears to taken the gun to help ensure his own protection, though he is supposed to be gathering supplies that will aid and protect the group as a whole. Theo does not yet feel entirely trustful of the Fishes.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
While Theo takes supplies from Jasper’s larder, he feels a twinge of sadness over Jasper’s death. He meets Miriam upstairs—she has taken medical supplies from the bathroom, and enough linens to provide Julian with a comfortable birthing bed. Miriam tells Theo not to let Rolf or Julian know that he has a gun. Once outside, Theo and Miriam lock up the house, and the group switches from Theo’s car to Jasper’s. On the way out, Theo locks the gate and tosses the key over.
The death of Theo’s mentor affects him, though he doesn’t have time to mourn. Jasper represented one of Theo’s ties to his love of history and to his old life—now Theo has one less thing tying him to the way things were. As he hurtles toward surrender to the unknown future, he does it with a totem of the past—Jasper’s gun—at his side for protection.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
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