Childhood's End | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Childhood's End | Chapter 22 | Summary



Eighty years after leaving Earth, Jan is returning. He spent a few days on the Overlords' planet, which was futuristic and made him believe that humanity was not ready to understand space. However, he has been warned that Earth will likely be unrecognizable to him. When the ship gets closer, Jan cannot see any cities or other markers of human life. On Earth, Karellen greets Jan and says he has been waiting.


While civilization is ending on Earth, Jan has traveled to the Overlords' planet and has seen some of the universe he once wanted to explore. However, Jan has come to the same conclusion as the Overlords; the universe is too great and awesome for most people to understand, and therefore space travel is not meant for them. This is why he chooses to return to Earth and go back to what he believes to be much the same dynamic he left behind, with the Overlords in charge and humanity treading water. As he gets close to his own planet, he realizes something has changed; there seems to be no one left on Earth.

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