Childhood's End | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Childhood's End | Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

During a press conference on Earth, Karellen announces that Jan has been discovered on the Overlord supply ship. Although he is not sure, he believes Jan will be sent back to Earth soon. He also tells the press that humans cannot go into space because they cannot fathom what they would observe. Space is too vast and difficult to understand, and humankind is still not ready to observe it. Back on his ship, Karellen looks down on Earth and notes to himself that the Golden Age they have been living through will soon come to an end.

Analysis

This chapter further explains the dynamic between Jan's plan and the Overlords, who immediately after the ship takes off announce that Jan has been found. There is no reason the Overlords would have examined the display if they had not known about Jan's plan, although humanity has no reason to know this. Karellen takes this opportunity, however, not to talk about disobedience—which seems to pose no danger to the Overlords—but to talk about the nature of space. He explains that humanity is not advanced enough to understand what they are looking at when they observe the universe, which will likely deter other men and women from having ambitions similar to Jan's. However, when he is alone, Karellen expresses sadness at what lies ahead for humanity, suggesting that they will never have the chance to reach a level of advancement that makes them ready to observe and understand the universe around them.

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