The Children of Men


P. D. James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Children of Men can help.

The Children of Men: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Theo reflects on his first-ever holiday at Woolcombe. Theo was afraid that he’d be staying in the “servants’ quarters,” but instead Xan led him to an opulent room adjacent to his own. Even now Theo can remember the room’s “every detail.” Theo has not returned to Woolcombe since his mother’s death eight years ago, though he sometimes indulges a fantasy in which he himself, as an old man, returns there to die in his old room.
Theo remembers Xan’s former generosity with nostalgia. His memories reveal the depth of his connection to his own time at Woolcombe, as well as his tendency to linger in the refuges offered by both history and memory.
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Flashing back to that first day in his room at Woolcombe, Theo recalls how Xan tried to put him at ease by belittling the size and grandeur of his own home. Theo didn’t know then, he says, how deeply Xan loved Woolcombe. Theo often pictures what the world will look like once it is empty of humans, and is not touched by the thought of any of the great cathedrals or palaces standing empty, though he is touched by the thought of an abandoned Woolcombe. 
Woolcombe represented Theo’s childhood sense of hope, so the nursing home it has now become has turned it into a place of despair rather than one of revelation and excitement. Theo’s attachment to Woolcombe mirrors humanity’s attachment to the bygone days of (perceived) tranquility, peace, hope, and happy memories.
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon