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Childhood's End | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Childhood's End | Chapter 20 | Summary



As the children evolve, the Overlords begin making plans to complete their mission, which Karellen explains to humanity. During his final speech to humankind, Karellen reveals that the Overlords came to Earth to stall human development so that humanity could evolve as the children have. The Overlords themselves are guided by the Overmind, a nonphysical entity that absorbs races. The children are being drawn into the Overmind, a process that will continue until human civilization collapses. Karellen announces that he will be taking the children with him for their protection, while the rest of humanity is left alone on Earth.


At last, the Overlords reveal their plan. Their goal was never to truly help humankind but simply to keep life on Earth safe until children were able to evolve into beings capable of being absorbed by the Overmind. To do so, progress had to be stalled so that humanity's energies were not spent with other tasks. Rather than being benevolent, the Overlords were simply fulfilling their role as guardians; they did not have to interfere much to ensure that humanity could survive without flourishing and that all the children of the next generation could reach this new state.

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