The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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Miriam Character Analysis

A former midwife and one of the members of The Five Fishes. She treats Theo “as if they were already conspirators” from their very first meeting. Miriam is strong, intrepid, and selfless. Before the novel begins, her brother was brutally imprisoned for petty theft. Her brother eventually escaped and tried to hide in Miriam’s house, but was captured and then murdered by the State Security Police. Miriam uses this anecdote to appeal to Theo to bring the Fishes’ list of grievances before the Council of England. When the Fishes are forced to go on the run, it is Miriam who comes (at Julian’s behest) to bring Theo along with them. Miriam is also the one who reveals to Theo that Julian is pregnant. In this way, Miriam acts as a kind of “midwife” to Julian in the book, helping and protecting her throughout her pregnancy. In fact, Miriam dies while playing this same role: after Luke’s death and Rolf’s abandonment, Miriam gives her life attempting to find supplies to help Julian through her labor.

Miriam Quotes in The Children of Men

The The Children of Men quotes below are all either spoken by Miriam or refer to Miriam. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Children of Men published in 2006.
Chapter 31 Quotes

“I killed her.”
Miriam’s voice was firm, loud, almost shouting in [Theo’s] ear. “You didn’t kill her! If she was going to die of shock it would have happened when you first showed her the gun. You don’t know why she died. It was natural causes, it must have been. She was old and she had a weak heart. You told us. It wasn’t your fault, Theo, you didn’t mean it.”
No, he almost groaned, no, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to be a selfish son, an unloving father, a bad husband. When have I ever meant anything? Christ, what harm couldn’t I do if I actually started to mean it!
He said: “The worst is that I enjoyed it. I actually enjoyed it! I enjoyed the excitement, the power, the knowledge that I could do it.”

Related Characters: Theodore “Theo” Faron (speaker), Miriam (speaker), Helena Faron
Related Symbols: Natalie
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miriam Character Timeline in The Children of Men

The timeline below shows where the character Miriam appears in The Children of Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...Rolf explains that the group uses first names only. He introduces himself, as well as Miriam, Luke, and Gascoigne. He explains that Miriam is an ex-midwife and Luke is a priest,... (full context)
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Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Miriam introduces herself to Theo and shakes his hand with a “half-humorous colluding glance, as if... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...first place. Theo asks the group if they’re a religious one, which Rolf vehemently denies. Miriam explains that while Luke and Julian are Christians, their group only meets in churches because... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
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Julian implores Miriam to tell Theo about her brother. Miriam describes how her brother was sent to the... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...dinner, Theo hears a knock at the door. He looks out the window and sees Miriam. He allows her in, and she immediately tells him that the police have captured Gascoigne,... (full context)
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Theo tells Miriam to get together a bag of food and supplies. He runs upstairs and collects his... (full context)
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Theo and Miriam get into Theo’s car and drive away. Theo asks Miriam how and when Gascoigne was... (full context)
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Theo tells Miriam that the Fishes have only lasted so long because Xan “wanted” them to—the presence of... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
A few minutes later, Miriam tells Theo that Julian is pregnant. Theo feels “irritation” and “disgust” at the fact that... (full context)
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As Theo and Miriam approach the church in a village called Swinbrook, Theo remembers having visited it with Xan... (full context)
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Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
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Miriam and Rolf both agree that Julian should have the baby on her own, away from... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...“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. (full context)
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Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope 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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 23
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Theo has to pull the car over several times so that Miriam can help Julian into the woods to relieve herself. On one of the stops, the... (full context)
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...sperm to get what they “need” from him and then quickly dispose of him. Luke, Miriam, and Julian return to the car, and Theo allows Rolf to take the wheel. (full context)
Chapter 26
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
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...the “self-regarding, sardonic, solitary” man who began writing it. He reveals that during the afternoon, Miriam found a second flashlight hidden in the backseat, but Theo is grateful that the group... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...and the Omegas turn on him. The Omegas beat Luke to death while Theo and Miriam, too, run away.  (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Theo and Miriam admire Julian’s unusual calmness, which Miriam attributes to her faith in God, and they wonder... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...is momentarily “physically weakened” by despair, but then feels a “renewal of hope.” He tells Miriam and Julian that their original plan holds even in the face of Rolf’s betrayal. They... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Theo takes the couple’s car from their garage, and heads back for Miriam and Julian. He wonders fretfully where the three of them should go, and how they... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Theo finds his way back to Miriam and Julian when he recognizes the blood-spattered road where Luke was killed. He offers them... (full context)
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...there is a woodshed there where the three of them can take shelter. He instructs Miriam and Julian to get in the car, and begins driving quickly back the way they... (full context)
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Miriam prepares a bit of food for the three of them, allowing Julian to eat more... (full context)
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As they move into the heart of the forest, Julian and Miriam get back into the car. Miriam spots a house, but Theo thinks that it is... (full context)
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...has died in the night. Theo switches off the radio, unable to bear his guilt. Miriam deduces that Rolf has reached Xan, but states that their group’s “one comfort” is that... (full context)
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...on some level, and having found the mission exciting. He lashes out at Julian and Miriam, asking “how many lives will [the] child cost before [it’s even] born, and to what... (full context)
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Miriam tells Theo to get a hold of himself. He suggests they dump the car right... (full context)
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Theo asks Miriam and Julian if either of them continue to think of Luke. Julian responds that there... (full context)
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...place of darkness and fear into a kind of “sanctuary.” At that moment, an elated Miriam spots the woodshed. (full context)
Chapter 32
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Theo, Miriam, and Julian enter the shed. It is larger than Theo remembered it, but less private,... (full context)
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...Theo builds a fire pit, feeling a childlike pride at having contributed something, and soon Miriam calls for Theo to hold Julian’s hand. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Miriam instructs Theo to heat the kettle so that Julian can have a warm drink, but... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...“never known such peace.” After a while, Julian asks how long it has been since Miriam left. Theo checks his watch and realizes that it’s been more than an hour. Julian... (full context)
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Theo runs through the woods, knowing that if Miriam has been captured by the SSP there is nothing he can do to help her.... (full context)
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...Xan is not expecting Julian to have given birth yet. He wonders if Xan had Miriam killed in a show of strength, as a way to bully Theo and Julian into... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
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...returns to the shed and finds Julian and the child resting peacefully. Julian understands that Miriam must be dead, and begins to weep. Theo urges Julian to “remember the baby,” and... (full context)