Childhood's End | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Childhood's End | Chapter 9 | Summary



After the party, Rashaverak tells Karellen about what he has seen. He indicates that some of the books he looked at could document a "partial" or "probable" "break-through." He expresses interest in Jean, whom he sees as a Prime Contact: someone linked in some way to the next world. He says she might be "the most important human being alive" because of this. Karellen is more interested in Jan, who now has a sense of where the Overlords could be from. Meanwhile, Jan goes to London to try to learn more about NGS 549672. He finds a possible star that could be the Overlords' sun, a powerful piece of information that he alone possesses.


In this chapter, the motivations of the Overlords—rather than how humanity sees them—take center stage. Although it is unclear what or who they are talking about, the Overlords clearly have a mission related to contact with some other being or another world. They believe that paranormal sightings and occult practices could be related to contact with this being or world and that Jean's sensitivity indicates that she is a possible conduit. In addition, Karellen validates Jan's discovery of the Overlords' star by suggesting he be watched, even though neither he nor Rashaverak think Jan will get far with the little information he has. This suggests that while they want to learn from the humans, the Overlords ultimately do not think humankind is intelligent or advanced enough to make true sense of their discoveries.

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