Chapters 27–37 Summary and Analysis
Last Updated on January 22, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1025
It is seven years before the end of the world. Jeevan, now trying to become an entertainment journalist, books an interview with Arthur. He worries Arthur will know about his conversation with Miranda, but he doesn't; he just asks how Jeevan got into this industry. He is tired of talking about himself, still finding the attention embarrassing.
Arthur says he will tell Jeevan something if Jeevan will keep it to himself for twenty-four hours. Arthur says he is leaving his wife for Lydia Marks, his newest co-star. Elizabeth doesn't know. He can't tell her, but if the story is due to break in a day, it will force his hand. Jeevan is to say that their son, Tyler, is their first priority.
Eight days after Arthur's collapse onstage, Jeevan is in his brother's apartment, trying to recall the details of the interview. Frank is ghostwriting a memoir; Jeevan is thinking about his girlfriend. Cell phones have stopped working, and snow falls outside.
Jeevan is glad that, for once, he kept his word and kept Arthur's secret for twenty-four hours. He finds it strange now to think about the night he photographed Miranda outside her garage.
Frank and Jeevan were glued to the news for days, but now the numbers seem impossible, and everyone outside seems terrifying. They barricade the door and tape plastic over the air ducts. The expressway is packed to a standstill with cars.
They stop watching the news by Day 5. Soon all the stations have gone off air anyway. Next, the Internet disappears. Frank is still working on his memoir, despite everything, until the electricity goes off and he has to work by gray daylight.
Jeevan suggests they wait this out until the Red Cross shows up or the lights come back on. Frank asks what makes him think this will happen.
The interview between Diallo and Kirsten continues. Diallo asks about the night of the collapse, and Kirsten tells the story of Arthur's heart attack and the mystery man who ran on stage. Neither Kirsten nor Diallo know his name.
Sometimes Jeevan hears gunshots at night, and the food is running out. Eventually they will have to leave, but Frank is in a wheelchair, and neither of them can hunt or fish. Frank says he thinks Jeevan should go out and try to survive but that he, Frank, will "leave first."
Diallo has the issue of The New York Times with Arthur's obituary, but it doesn't mention Jeevan's name. Kirsten remembers looking for her minder but not her minder’s name. The minder gave Kirsten the paperweight she still carries and drove Kirsten home to her brother, but her parents had vanished. They waited.
Jeevan asks Frank to read something from the book he is writing. Frank reads a passage about immortality, the joy of watching long-dead actors on screen, because it means they will never truly die. Everyone wants to be remembered.
Diallo asks what it was like in the last days in Toronto. Kirsten says she watched television until the day her brother, Peter, said they had to go. They hotwired a car and drove until the roads were clogged. Then they walked down into the United States.
Frank euthanizes himself. Jeevan waits for darkness to fall, takes a page of handwritten work from Frank's desk, and leaves with a backpack of provisions. The streets are very dark. He hears faint gunshots and thinks of Frank, Laura, and his house. Eventually he makes a shelter and sleeps.
After five days of walking, he sees three young men and an older woman, Ben and Abdul and Jenny, the first people he has seen. Ben has buried his whole family. The group travels together for a week, until the others want to enter a town and Jeevan does not. He moves south alone, occasionally bumping into other people.
It's silent everywhere apart from gunshots ringing out, and the roads are filled with travelers stepping over corpses. Jeevan takes canned goods from country houses and reminds himself who he is: Jeevan Chaudhary, a photographer from Toronto. He keeps walking.
Kirsten tells Diallo she remembers nothing of the first year, except that she and Peter walked without stopping. She remembers very little of the time before the collapse, either, just impressions of her parents, computer screens, and opening a refrigerator or freezer. Diallo confirms for her that refrigerators had lights inside.
The fragmentary nature of this section, with its very brief chapters and the shifts in perspective from Jeevan, before the collapse, to Diallo and Kirsten afterward, lend it an almost cinematic feel. Jeevan and Frank allude to this in their conversation: Mandel highlights to the reader that the thread of the narrative is not original but echoes many disaster movies and books that have come before. This, however, does not make things any easier or less terrifying for Jeevan and Frank as they experience the early days of the newly destroyed world in Toronto. In disaster movies, there is always a certainty that there will be something after the disaster and that there will be survivors. As Frank notes, this is not a certainty for himself and Jeevan—and disaster movies never consider people like Frank who, because of their disabilities, cannot walk for days and weeks as others can.
The cinematic element is also heightened by the disconnect between Kirsten, who is struggling to remember the name of the man who helped her on the night of Arthur's death, and Jeevan, who was that man and who surely remembers Kirsten as a child. To the reader, the whole picture is becoming clear, but even as the finer details of the first days post-collapse emerge, Kirsten, who lived through them, is explaining to Diallo that she can barely remember anything. The perspective of someone who was a child in those days, clinging to pitiful fragments of memory, is juxtaposed against the perspective of the adult Jeevan, who knows exactly what he has lost—and yet both of them began their new lives by walking, the only thing anyone can do.