Book 2, Chapter 33
Theo lies with Julian and the baby for a time, but they soon realize that Miriam should have been back by now. Julian, fearing something terrible has happened, begs Theo to go out in search of her. Theo leaves reluctantly, knowing it is only a matter of time before Xan finds Julian. Eventually, he sees an old farmhouse and carefully opens the door. Flipping on the lights, he sees Miriam’s garrotted body. He vomits in horror and immediately realizes that he needs to get back to Julian. Taking a moment to arrange Miriam’s body, Theo vows that he will avenge her death. As he rushes back, he knows they have been discovered by Xan, who Theo expects will be accompanied by a small party. He reaches Julian, who immediately realizes that Miriam is dead. Julian is extremely upset, more so than when Luke died. They eat some of the canned food that Miriam gathered and talk about Miriam’s death. Theo promises Julian that they won’t be separated, and they wait.
Eventually, Julian says she thinks people have arrived. Theo tells her to stay inside, loads the revolver with his single bullet, and goes out to meet them. He finds Xan alone, wearing simple clothing through which the bulge of a holster is visible. The ring of England glitters on his hand. Xan tells Theo that he doesn’t want to frighten Julian and that he has brought the best doctors and midwives to help her. He also reveals that Rolf and Gascoigne are dead, meaning that all the people who know the truth about the child have been eliminated. Xan tells Theo that he has no desire to kill him, because he knows Theo can help him with Julian. Xan also reminds Theo that if the child is a fertile boy, they will be able to impregnate female Omegas. He promises to redouble the search for fertile males in the hope of finding others like Luke. When Theo asks what will happen to Julian, Xan casually replies that he will probably marry her. He tells Theo to go wake her and convince her to come out. Theo refuses and draws his gun.
Xan warns Theo not to romanticize Julian, but Theo refuses to back down. Finally, Xan pulls out his gun and takes aim, but just before he shoots, the nearby baby wails, surprising Xan and causing his bullet to miss Theo. Just as Xan’s expression becomes triumphant—he realizes the baby has already been born—Theo shoots him through the heart. In a daze, he walks to Xan’s body and removes the coronation ring. Slowly, members of the Council begin to emerge from the woods, followed by soldiers. Theo puts on the ring and declares that the Warden of England is dead. The group follows him to the woodshed, where he makes them wait outside. Julian is overjoyed to see him but asks what will happen now. Theo replies that they will take her to a hospital to be looked after. He says no one will ever separate them. He allows the Council members to enter the woodshed, and the women begin to cry upon seeing the baby. Theo looks at the ring on his finger and thinks to himself, “It begins again.” With Xan dead and the Council leaderless, Theo tells himself that he must take Xan’s place, at least for a little while. He feels a sudden rush of power and wonders if this was what Xan felt. The Council members leave, and when Theo is alone with Julian, she notices the ring and remarks that it was not made for his finger. Theo feels a flash of irritation and tells her that he will take it off in time. Julian decides to name her boy after Theo and asks him to christen the baby. His fingers stained with blood and tears, Theo makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s head.
In the novel’s final chapter, we see the end of Theo’s emotional transformation. When he discovers Miriam’s body, he goes out of his way to tidy her up and make her look at peace despite his revulsion. This stands in direct contrast to Luke’s burial, which Theo felt was impractical and somewhat unnecessary. Theo’s close bond with Miriam shows the extent to which he has emotionally opened up—not just to Julian but to others as well. When he returns to Julian, Theo marvels at how he once found her disfigured hand repulsive. His willingness at the end of the chapter to clean up Julian’s blood shows how far he has come from Luke’s burial, where he found even the act of Julian squatting to be undignified and disgusting.
Theo’s final confrontation with Xan echoes his recollections of their childhood. By killing Xan and taking his ring, Theo proves that his grandparents were right to wonder whether he might end up being more successful than Xan. That Xan missed while Theo did not ties back to Theo’s childhood memory of shooting with Xan, one of the many activities in which Theo demonstrably outstripped him. The ease with which Theo kills Xan and takes control confirms that Theo has been underestimated his whole life. In behavior, shooting, and academics, Theo has always outsripped Xan, and now we see that Theo’s desire for power may outstrip Xan’s as well.
We have seen throughout the novel that as Theo has achieved emotional growth, his desire to be in charge has also grown. When he puts on the ring, he feels a thrill of power and decides, after a moment of hesitation, not to remove the symbol of power he once scorned Xan for wearing. When Julian questions his choice to wear the ring, a flash of irritation breaks through Theo’s feelings of love, suggesting that the desire to keep power has already taken hold of him. Julian seems content with his decision, but Theo notices a shadow in her eyes. These subtle clues indicate problems on the horizon and call into question what sort of leader Theo will be. As Theo and Carl note, the baby’s birth marks a new beginning. Just as humanity is resurrected, so too is the inherent greed and ambition in human nature. The cycle continues.
(The entire section is 1066 words.)