The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At daylight, Rolf, having left the group to explore their surroundings, announces that they cannot stay where they are for long—there is no real shelter, as the woods are not very large. Miriam and Theo bury Luke at the edge of the little forest, and Julian places his prayer shawl into the ditch with his body. Rolf makes no move to help the three of them.
Rolf’s refusal to help bury Luke reveals both his despair and his self-centeredness. His ego has been bruised deeply by Julian’s betrayal, but even in the face of the death of a friend and comrade Rolf is unable to overcome his own pride for the sake of his wife or their group.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Julian asks Theo to say the Burial Service, and hands him Luke’s Bible. Theo speaks an abbreviated version of the service, reading from a passage which describes God as an “everlasting refuge” who “turn[s] man to destruction” again and again, but still continues to create his “children.”
Julian’s attachment to ritual is something that Theo no longer finds ridiculous. He even takes comfort in delivering verses which speak of the eternal love of God and the continuous renewal and redemption of humanity.
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
Once the service is over, Rolf announces that he is going to get some rest. Tonight, he says, the group will find another car and get moving again. Theo, Miriam, and Julian pick wild blackberries from a hedge and eat them, then the four of them lie down together to sleep.
Rolf is the only one who did not help bury Luke, and the only one who does not eat the blackberries. This symbolizes his status as an outsider, and foreshadows his impending abandonment of the group.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon