If I Forget Thee, O Earth . . . Characters

Arthur C. Clarke


(Short Stories for Students)

Marvin is the main character, a boy in a moon colony, who sees the post-apocalypse earth for the first time during an earthrise when he is ten. The narrator tells the story through Marvin’s eyes, revealing details as Marvin observes them; as a result, readers experience the shock of the ruined earth at the same time as Marvin does. Marvin is excited when he finds out his father is going to take him outside to the moon’s surface. When they get into the scout car and start driving, Marvin is even more ecstatic. He has seen the surface of the moon in photographs and on television within the moon colony, but the surface is even more spectacular up close. The same is true for the stars, which Marvin and the others in the moon colony cannot see while they are inside the colony. However, when Marvin sees his first earthrise, his happiness turns to dread. Although the lighted half of earth looks perfectly normal, and Marvin imagines the lush forests and oceans that he has heard about, the half of earth that should be dark is glowing—a sign of the radioactive aftermath of atomic war. Marvin’s father tells him how humanity destroyed itself, leaving only the small colony of humans on the moon. Now, they must wait hundreds of years until the radioactivity subsides, preserving the human race in the moon colony, before their descendants can make their way back to earth.

Marvin’s Father
Marvin’s father, one of the initial...

(The entire section is 426 words.)