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Childhood's End | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Childhood's End | Chapter 17 | Summary



An Overlord named Thanthalteresco, called the Inspector, arrives on New Athens to observe what humanity has been creating. While touring a New Athens school, the Inspector likens the relationship between Earth and the Overlords to the one between India and Britain during colonization; he also reveals that the Overlords will someday abandon Earth the way that Britain left India. Although George is unable to talk to or meet the Inspector, Jeffrey heard him talk and says that the Inspector was the voice in his head. Back on their ship, the Inspector, who seems to have enjoyed what he saw in New Athens, reveals that nothing in New Athens will change the course of humanity, and therefore it can be left alone.


This chapter clarifies the way the Overlords see their relationship to humanity, illuminating their less-than-benevolent aims. The Inspector, who acts pleasant while complimenting the humans' creative efforts on New Athens, shows that the Overlords have no real interest in the accomplishments of humanity. Historically, colonization was predicated on the colonizers taking valuable resources from the land and people they colonized, so this suggests that the Overlords see a resource on Earth that they want to take. Further, when they have taken it, they will have no reason to stay and will leave behind a largely depleted human race.

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