Book 1, Chapter 17
Theo gets a visit from the State Security Police, though he is not arrested and they do not search his house. Two officers come to his house: an Omega and an older man who introduces himself as Chief Inspector George Rawlings. Rawlings mentions that he has a niece who attended Theo’s talks on “Victorian Life and Times” (the same class in which Theo met Julian). They are discussing the Tudor period and Rawlings’s religious grandfather when Rawlings abruptly tells Theo that the Council is concerned. Theo tells him that he is welcome to search the house, but Rawlings says there is no need and that he just wants to talk to Theo about recent events. He reveals that, though it has not been made public knowledge, small incidents have been occurring throughout the country; the last few Quietus ceremonies have been interrupted by bombs that have destroyed the docks, and the recent repatriation of a group of Sojourners did not go smoothly. Rawlings says that these events have raised concerns, particularly given the recent distribution of political pamphlets. When Rawlings produces the Five Fishes’ pamphlet, Theo admits to having received one. Rawlings wonders aloud about whether each member of the group is given a codename based on a fish, or whether it is a religious group since the fish is a Christian symbol. Theo questions what the fuss is over a mere pamphlet given the state of the world and the reality that there is no real opposition to the Warden. He also reminds Rawlings that Xan is his cousin; if he knew of any conspiracy against him, he would tell Xan directly. Both Theo and Rawlings know he is lying.
This chapter confirms that Theo did not successfully convince Xan that he was acting alone. Rawlings’s questions about Theo’s lecture are disconcerting, not only because that was where he met Julian but also because Theo is sure Rawlings knows that Theo took over the course for a friend. Rawlings’s feigned surprise that Theo did not choose the name of the lecture is a thinly veiled reference to Theo’s decision to speak on behalf of the Five Fishes. The interaction between Theo and the State Security Police also illuminates the level of control that the government wields: they keep alarming incidents out of the news, outlaw the dissemination of political materials to Sojourners, and are able to expend resources to track down even the most minor groups of malcontents. Rawlings represents the type of man who enables tyrants to stay in power: unemotional and ambitious enough to enjoy the small amount of power they get from their job, but not sadistic or brave enough to want to be the one in charge.