Characters

Dr. Theodore (Theo) Faron

Theo is the main character of The Children of Men. He narrates some of the chapters via entries in his diary. At the beginning of the story he is a professor of history at Oxford who has just turned fifty. Through his diary, he relates his childhood growing up with his cousin, Xan, who is now the Warden of England. Like Xan, Theo is highly intelligent and emotionally removed from those around him. It is revealed that Theo’s current life of isolation is, in part, the result of his childhood experiences, particularly the death of his father. Though Theo’s parents sought to shield him from the reality of his father’s deteriorating health, they ended up making him feel excluded, and as a result he was never able to grow close to either of them. Later in life, Theo married Helena and had a daughter, Natalie. This turned out to be a terrible mistake, and Theo acknowledges that the marriage was already failing when he accidentally ran over his baby daughter in his car. Theo later admits that he never truly loved his ex-wife or even his daughter and that he has never actually experienced love. By the time the story begins, Theo has grown accustomed to a life of total isolation and is utterly repulsed by the idea of someone depending on him.

When he initially joins up with the Five Fishes, Theo acts arrogant and superior, often cynically disparaging their idealistic beliefs. Over time, he begins to soften and open up, especially toward Julian. As the novel progresses, Theo’s interest in Julian turns to romantic love. Increasingly dissatisfied with his selfish and lonely life, Theo ultimately chooses to leave his boring routine behind, risking everything to help Julian. By the end of the novel, Theo’s passion for life has been awakened, and he is able to form the close relationships that eluded him his whole life. Though Theo’s transformation is in many ways a positive one, as he becomes less aloof, we also see his ambition and desire to be a leader grow. He frequently butts heads with Rolf over the leadership of the Five Fishes, and in the end he kills Xan, intending to rule England in his place. Though Theo has learned to be selfless, his refusal to take off Xan’s ring at the end of the novel suggests that he, like Xan and Rolf, is vulnerable to the intoxicating thrill of power.

Xan Lyppiatt

Xan is Theo’s cousin and the Warden of England. Though Xan was initially democratically elected, he has retained his position without holding new elections, a fact that upsets the Five Fishes. Xan was a baronet’s son, and Theo came to spend summers at his home throughout their childhood. Though they spent much time together, they never felt especially close—in large part due to their mutual tendency to shun emotional attachments. Xan, like Theo, was a clever child but often chose to behave unconventionally to throw people off balance. Though growing up, Theo achieved more quantifiable success than Xan—receiving high grades and a place at Oxford—the family all seemed to expect Xan’s achievements to far outstrip Theo’s. Theo himself believes that this preference was only natural given Xan’s unique ability to captivate and manipulate the people around him.

Xan joined the army and became the youngest colonel in modern history before turning to politics. He rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Omega by promising comfort and security to the people of England. Despite the fact that he has become a despot, Xan enjoys a great deal of popular support, and Theo admits that he would probably be reelected if a free election were held. Xan likes to have Theo around and employed him as an advisor for several years before Theo resigned. Xan felt betrayed by Theo’s abandonment, a fact he makes clear when Theo attempts to relay the concerns of the Five Fishes. Xan reveals that he no longer really enjoys being in charge but, nevertheless, feels that it is his duty. Though Xan appears to still care what Theo thinks, he warns him that he will do whatever is necessary to stay in power. When Xan learns that Julian is pregnant, he hunts her and Theo down, killing Gascoigne, Rolf, and Miriam in the process. In the end, Xan is killed by Theo.

Julian

Julian is a member of the Five Fishes and is the one who initially reaches out to Theo. She is married to the group’s leader, Rolf. Unlike Rolf, Julian is a religious idealist who attempts to see the beauty in everything. Against his better judgment, Theo is intrigued by Julian, whose outlook on life is so very different from his own. Once Theo realizes she is pregnant, he commits to the group’s mission and abandons his life to help her deliver the baby away from the Warden. Though he finds himself becoming increasingly attracted to Julian, Theo often treats her like a child, believing her unwavering idealism and faith to be foolish. Despite his cynicism, Theo cannot help but put Julian on a pedestal, believing her to be the epitome of kindness and empathy. This perception is shaken when it is revealed that Luke, not Rolf, is the father of Julian’s baby. Julian reveals that she never truly loved either of them, showing herself to be much more similar to Theo than he initially realized.

After Rolf abandons the group, Julian grows extremely close to Theo, and Miriam openly tells Theo that Julian is beginning to love him. Julian’s faith indicates the religious significance of her character. Like the Virgin Mary, Julian’s miraculous pregnancy promises redemption and salvation for mankind. At the same time, Julian’s character redeems Theo by teaching him to love selflessly. By the end of the novel, Julian has come to depend on Theo more than on anyone else, and they bond deeply during the birth of her son. In the last moments of the book, a shadow crosses Julian’s eyes when Theo refuses to remove Xan’s ring, perhaps indicating her realization that, like Rolf and Xan, Theo may be susceptible to corruption by power. In the end, Julian decides to name her son after Theo. That the book ends with Theo christening the baby indicates that Julian may have finally resurrected his long-lost faith.

Helena

Helena is Theo’s ex-wife and the mother of their deceased daughter, Natalie. Theo was not in love with Helena but married her anyway, reasoning that this was probably the closest he would ever get to love. Theo naively felt that they would be compatible simply because they were intellectual matches, having gone to the same university and studied the same subject. Theo was especially drawn to Helena because she was the daughter of a prominent university professor, demonstrating his selfishness. Unsurprisingly, the marriage was not successful, and Theo later admits that he was far too selfish to ever be a good husband or father. Despite...

(The entire section is 2814 words.)