Book 1, Chapter 6

Summary:

This chapter, written in third person, illuminates what life is like in the wake of the Omega. The Council of England has mandated that all citizens be trained in various skills to help them prepare for the time when the state inevitably fails and they become an elderly, remnant population. Theo chooses to help out in a hospital and learn home maintenance. As he is walking to church, Theo passes a woman with a pram in which she is proudly displaying a doll. Once people began to realize that no more children would ever be born, toy makers began mass producing dolls to fill the void for newly barren couples. These quasi-parents treat their dolls like actual children, and some even bury their broken dolls in consecrated ground. Though having a doll-child was once very popular, it has now fallen out of fashion. Feeling both pity and contempt for the woman with the pram, Theo watches as another woman approaches. Though she initially appears to admire the doll, she suddenly grabs it from the pram and smashes it upon the ground. Distraught, the doll’s “mother” wails in agony, but Theo decides not to console her.

When he arrives at church, Theo recognizes a young woman in attendance as one of his former students. Even though she only attended one class, he remembers that she sparked a lively debate among his mostly middle-aged students. The anthems in the church are recordings sung by young boys. The sound is a painful reminder of the world’s lost children, and a man near Theo silently weeps. When Theo leaves the chapel, the young woman approaches, introducing herself as Julian. Theo notices that her hand is deformed, which means she would be exempted from the government-mandated, twice-yearly...

(The entire section is 606 words.)