The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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The Coronation Ring Symbol Analysis

The Coronation Ring Symbol Icon

The Coronation Ring, or “the wedding ring of England,” as Theo refers to it, is an ornate and “vulgar” bauble which Xan wears as a symbol of his absolute, unquestioned power as the Warden of England. Theo, at his meeting with the Council, tells Xan that there was a time when he would not have felt the need to wear the ring at all—but Xan merely deflects, ensuring Theo that he is only remaining in power for the good and stability of the people. When Theo kills Xan at the novel’s end, after Xan attempts to kill Theo himself, Theo removes the ring from Xan’s corpse and dons it himself. He assures himself—and Julian—that he will only wear it “for a time,” while there are still “evils to be remedied.”

However, when Julian questions why Theo chose to put the ring on at all, he feels a marked “irritation” toward her. The ring, then, symbolizes the dark allure of power; its irresistible, gleaming quality, but also the heavy burden of responsibility its bearer takes on. Whether Theo will be able to carry the weight of the ring, no one is sure—but in taking it on, he has renewed the cycle of self-proclaimed power, which kept Xan in control of a chaotic, unjust, and despairing England for so many years.

The Coronation Ring Quotes in The Children of Men

The The Children of Men quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Coronation Ring. 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 33 Quotes

Carl looked down at the child with his dying eyes. “So it begins again.”
Theo thought: It begins again, with jealousy, with treachery, with violence, with murder, with this ring on my finger. He looked down at the great sapphire in its glitter of diamonds, aware of its weight. Placing it on his hand had been a gesture to assert authority and ensure protection. For a time at least he must take Xan’s place. There were evils to be remedied; but they must take their turn. He couldn’t do everything at once, there had to be priorities. Was that what Xan had found? And was this sudden intoxication of power what Xan had known every day of his life?

Related Characters: Theodore “Theo” Faron (speaker), Carl Inglebach (speaker), Xan Lyppiatt
Related Symbols: The Coronation Ring
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

Julian looked up at him. For the first time she noticed the ring. She said: “That wasn’t made for your finger.”
For a second, no more, he felt something close to irritation. It must be for him to decide when he would take it off. He said: “It’s useful for the present. I shall take it off in time.”
She seemed for the moment content, and it might have been his imagination that there was a shadow in her eyes.

Related Characters: Theodore “Theo” Faron (speaker), Julian (speaker), Xan Lyppiatt
Related Symbols: The Coronation Ring
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Coronation Ring Symbol Timeline in The Children of Men

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Coronation Ring appears in The Children of Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...hands folded on the table. He wears the Coronation Ring, the ornate and heavy wedding ring of England, on his left hand. Xan notices Theo eyeing the ring, and insists that... (full context)
Chapter 33
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...and exits the shed. Xan is standing outside, alone. Theo can see that he is wearing a holster beneath his sweater. The Coronation Ring “glitter[s]” on Xan’s left hand. Xan asks... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...The Council members emerge from the woods, along with six Grenadiers. Theo holds up the ring and “deliberately” places it on his finger, announcing his power to the Council. He informs... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
“It begins again,” Theo thinks, “with jealousy, with treachery, with violence, with this ring on my finger.” He considers the Coronation Ring, and how he donned it as “a... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...leave him and Julian alone. After the Council members leave the shed, Julian notices Theo wearing the ring, and tells him it “wasn’t made for [his] finger.” Theo feels a twinge... (full context)