The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While driving through the countryside at night, the Fishes’ car comes upon a large fallen tree trunk. As they attempt to maneuver the car around it, Theo realizes with horror that it is a “deliberate obstruction,” and the Fishes have fallen into a trap. A group of feral Omegas with painted faces descends upon the group and begins to perform a ritual dance around the car, beating the sides and the roof of it with bats and truncheons.
The illusion of safety and comfort that Theo just experienced with the Fishes falls away, as the reality of the world they actually live in sets in once again. The Omegas, with their bizarre and violent ritual, represent a mythology and an order whose origins and purpose are destructive but unclear—much like the regime which governs Britain.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Theo knows that these groups routinely kill one sacrificial victim, and that there is no chance of reasoning with them, even if they appeal to the Omega’s humanity by pointing out Julian’s pregnancy. Theo tells Rolf that when the Omegas inevitably crack up the car and force the group out, Rolf must take Julian and run for the trees. The rest of the group, Theo says, will join the Omegas’ dance as cover, and to stall them.
The group must work together to save Julian, their most precious asset. Theo’s willingness to put her safety before his own is another demonstration of the enormous personal growth he has experienced (and also the increasing depth of his feelings for her).
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
The Omegas break through the windshield, and Theo and the rest of the group join their dance. When one of the Omegas reaches for Julian, Rolf grabs her and they make a run for it. They must climb over a low wall, and one of the Omegas catches up to them as they do and grabs Julian’s clothes. Luke emerges from the crowd, screaming “Take me,” and the Omegas turn on him. The Omegas beat Luke to death while Theo and Miriam, too, run away. 
Though Theo’s plan to preserve Julian’s safety above everyone else’s works, it has devastating consequences. Luke’s willingness to sacrifice himself makes him into a Christ-figure and martyr for the group’s cause, deepening their responsibility to ensuring its success.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
On the other side of the wall, the four remaining Fishes watch while the Omegas, done with Luke, light the Fishes’ car on fire—sending all of their gathered supplies up in smoke.
The Fishes lose everything they have saved up in support of their mission to protect Julian. At the moment, things seem hopeless.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
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While the Omegas are distracted with the car, Theo and Rolf go for Luke’s body, which has been battered and torn beyond recognition. They bring it back to the forest, and Julian falls over Luke’s corpse. Rolf then asks Miriam whose child Julian is carrying, and when she does not answer, he becomes angry. Julian then tells him that the child is Luke’s. Rolf runs off in a fit of rage. Theo asks Miriam if she knew that Luke was the child’s true father, and she says that she did. Luke was never tested by the government; he had mild epilepsy as a child. Both he and Julian were “rejects” of the system, and their fertility was never discovered.
The revelation that Luke is the father of Julian’s child highlights several things: the failure of the government to institute programs that actually further the search for a cure for or a break in mass infertility; one reason for Julian’s attachment to religion and Luke’s rituals; and the fault lines and distrust which Theo sensed rippling through the group from his very first meeting with them. Luke’s role as a kind of miraculous Christ-figure then makes Julian seem more like a “Virgin Mary” character, bearing a divine child to save a broken world.
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
Theo and Miriam admire Julian’s unusual calmness, which Miriam attributes to her faith in God, and they wonder whether Rolf too will be able to calm himself. Miriam goes off to attend to Rolf, while Theo approaches Julian and asks her if she ever loved either Rolf or Luke. Julian tells him that she doesn’t believe she did.
Both Julian and Theo have been unable to love, or to find solace in romantic companionship. They bond in this moment over the gap that they seem to share, raising the question of whether they will find redemption through each other.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Rolf returns to the group, and tells them that they must bury Luke at first light. The group hunkers down beneath another fallen tree, but Theo cannot sleep. He can smell the drying blood on Luke’s coat, which Julian now wears.
The remaining Fishes attempt to rest, but they are haunted by both the physical and emotional presence of the devastating loss of one of their own.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon