The Children of Men by P.D. James

Title: The Children of Men
Author: PD James
Started: 02/05/2010
Finished: 02/10/2010
Source: Library

“Early in the morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.” So starts the dystopian novel, “The Children of Men”. Mankind is infertile, has been infertile for 25 years. Without hope of a future, the mankind has fallen into despair and apathy. Without faith and belief, mankind is alone and lost.

The book is comprised of two parts: Omega and Alpha, the End and the Beginning. In the first part, Theo Faron, the narrator, is haunted by his own personal tragedy that reflects the tragedy that has befallen the entire world. The people of England, and we can assume the same thing has happened over the entire globe, are only interested in their present comfort and gratification. They have abdicated their responsibility and allowed a despot to rule who promise peace and safety even if it means the loss of personal freedom. Without children the population implodes and society with it. Why work. Why care. And just as nature begins to reclaim the natural world, so also mankind and civilization devolves.

In the the second part of the book Theo joins a small group of “revolutionaries” who challenge the state to restore freedom and respect human life. In the events that follow, each character will be called on to choose between good and evil, to sacrifice self or not. As the title of this second part suggest, this is the beginning.

The story leaves me with more questions than answers, which is not a bad thing. Did ‘hope’ return simply because of fertility returned? Theo makes a number of statements to how the Church had collapsed along with society and even though there were a number of allusions to faith, the title of the book, the priest celebrating mass, the baptism of the child, in the end it is the child who brings hope, it will be the children of men who bring salvation not God.

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