The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Children of Men: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Theo, Miriam, and Julian enter the shed. It is larger than Theo remembered it, but less private, and Theo worries that if Xan comes looking for them in Wychwood they will be found quickly. Theo and Miriam decide to put off lighting a fire, since smoke could give away their cover. Miriam constructs a makeshift bed for Julian and helps her lie down, then tells Theo to “take a walk”—she will not need his help for some time.
Theo, seized with hope and desire to ensure Julian’s safety, is perhaps a little too anxious. Miriam helps to soothe his nerves by suggesting he take some time for himself. Theo, once “self-obsessed,” now can hardly even conceive of putting himself first, signaling that he has undergone a major change.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Theo sits outside and enjoys a moment of peace, though he keeps his ears open for the sound of any approaching sirens or helicopters. He comprehends, “for the first time,” Julian’s need to give birth in private. He thinks deeply about the role God has in Julian’s life, and decides that the “gulf” between the two of them might be bridged by love. Theo admits that what he feels for Julian is both “mysterious” and “irrational,” but knows deep down that he would give his life for hers.
The love Theo feels for Julian is total and unselfish—he has finally allowed himself to be open to the burden of shouldering someone else’s happiness, comfort, and safety, and finds that despite the differences between them there is only the desire to more completely bridge those differences.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
From inside the shed, Theo hears “a sharp cry”—he runs back in, asking what he can do to help, and Julian tells him to build the fire so that it will be ready to light. Theo builds a fire pit, feeling a childlike pride at having contributed something, and soon Miriam calls for Theo to hold Julian’s hand.
Theo is desperate and proud to help in any way he can, revealing the unselfish and outwardly-oriented nature he has developed over the course of the events of the novel.
Themes
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
The late stages of Julian’s labor begin, and Miriam instructs Theo to kneel behind Julian and support her while she pushes. Theo is “both participant and spectator” in the event, and wishes with “anguish and envy” that it was his child being brought into the world. Soon, the child is born: it’s a boy. Miriam hands the baby to Julian and her exultant joy is “almost too much for [Theo]” to bear.
Theo retains a little bit of selfishness, though, in the face of the actual realization of the event he’s waited for so long: the birth of Julian’s child. As “spectator,” he is neither the father of the child nor Julian’s lover, and is firmly on the outside. This causes a twinge of jealousy within Theo, despite his joy and awe.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
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Miriam instructs Theo to heat the kettle so that Julian can have a warm drink, but as Theo prepares to light the fire he knocks the kettle full of water over in his excitement, leaving them with nothing to drink. Miriam comforts Theo as he starts to chastise himself, and she offers to go out and get more supplies. Theo insists Miriam stay behind and offers to go in her place, but Miriam tells him that Julian wants Theo with her most now. She instructs him to try and get the baby to latch to Julian’s breast, and prepares to go. Theo thanks Miriam and embraces her. When he releases her she runs into the woods. 
Miriam leaves Julian and Theo despite knowing the dangers that await her out in the woods. Her faith in Theo’s abilities to care for Julian and her child, though, reveal that the change in Theo is readily apparent to others, and that he has been truly redeemed by his love and compassion for Julian.
Themes
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon