Book 1, Chapter 15
Two weeks later, the group distributes notices, one of which is slipped under Theo’s door. In the notice, the group calls for five reforms: a general election, civil rights for Sojourners, the end of the Quietus, a halt to deportations to the Isle of Man Penal Colony and the improvement of the quality of life there, and termination of the compulsory semen-testing and gynecological examinations. The widely distributed letter is signed “The Five Fishes.” Theo wonders what they can hope to accomplish by this and speculates that, at most, people might skip their next sexual examination (which the government does not appear to care about that much anyway). He thinks about whether anything in the letter would anger Xan, admitting that even in the unlikely event that people did want to call a general election, Xan would almost certainly be re-elected.
Despite what the Council told him, Theo realizes that he could not have achieved even these reasonable reforms in his powerless advisory position, just as the Five Fishes will not be able to achieve them now. He recognizes that in a world without the Omega, these reforms might have been worth fighting for, whereas now everyone is just concerned with living out the remainder of their life in peace and relative comfort. The more he thinks about it, the angrier Theo becomes that the Five Fishes are trying to impose some sense of revolutionary morality on people who have simply lost hope. He tears up the notice and flushes it down the toilet.
The actions of the Five Fishes cause significant inner conflict for Theo throughout this chapter. On one level, he sympathizes with their insignificance, realizing that their frustrating inability to effect change is very similar to the position he found himself in as Xan’s advisor. At the same time, Theo feels angry that the Five Fishes are stirring up unnecessary trouble. Theo’s irritation with the group speaks to the deep impact that the Omega has had on the collective morals of society. Theo observes that when all people can hope to do is face the extinction of their species in relative comfort, there does not seem to be a point in social reform. Even as he flushes the pamphlet down the toilet in a symbolic rejection of hope, Theo feels a brief flash of sadness that he does not share the same sense of passion and hope that they do.