Throughout the novel, Makepeace struggles with the corruption and potential inherent in humanity. She sees herself as a realist in comparison to her father. She does not live as a pacifist and kills people that threaten her life. Yet Makepeace has a nearly bottomless reserve of generosity. She is willing to work on Ping’s behalf to help her raise a child. Makepeace wants to believe that there is hope for the future of humanity. However, now that the order and government of the world has fallen, Makepeace sees the worst aspects of human nature all around her.
The conflict between what she sees and what she hopes for is introduced early in the story. Makepeace reflects that humans
will happily kill you twice over for a hot meal.... On the other hand, with a full belly, and a good harvest in the barn, and a fire in the hearth, there’s nothing so charming, so generous, no one more decent than a well-fed man.
Over the course of her travels, Makepeace observes few reasons to think of humans as anything other than selfish animals struggling to survive. As such, she rejects the teaching that people should turn the other cheek and argues that if someone hits her, she’ll hit back. Makepeace’s understanding of human nature allows her to survive the fall of Evangeline, the treachery of Horeb, and the prison barracks of the Base.
Hope and the Future
Although it is not clearly stated how the world ended, Makepeace believes that governments around the world have fallen. She reflects that this means that no one is left to carry on the knowledge and learning that humanity had spent thousands of years acquiring. In spite of the circumstances, Makepeace works for the future, likening her survival to the story of Noah and the Ark. Although Makepeace doesn’t believe that human beings behave well during hard times, she does believe that they have potential.
The planes best represent the potential that Makepeace sees in humanity. She refers to the creation of aircrafts as a miracle and admires their sleek design, which stands in contrast to the random lines of nature....
(The entire section is 900 words.)