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Last Updated on July 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 634

"It was as though the whole world was thrown back six or seven hundred years without having the organizations those ancient peoples had."

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He paused, breathing heavily.

"Of course, there were many survivors who understood small skills. Some of them would repair small engines, but they couldn't manufacture them. They couldn't refine fuels. Fortunately, a good many doctors who had practiced in small towns and in the country survived. They had their medical books, but they could no longer get the drugs they needed. Anyway, medicine survived after a fashion. Then gradually little patterns of order began to appear and another Bureaucracy came into being."

Through this statement, MacLennan achieves two things. Firstly, he provides a highly detailed account of what a nuclear apocalypse, one which destroys a great part but not all of human civilization, might look like. He comments in particular on the practical challenges that would stem from a breakdown in communications, trade, and economics before commenting on how, eventually, the shared human need for organization and law would result in another government being established. Secondly, he introduces one of the key themes of his novel, that of the destructive circle of history. The world being "thrown back six or seven hundred years" leaves readers in no doubt as to the hideous price paid by humanity for its inability to learn from the past.

He was the only man I ever knew who could use words like honor, duty, and responsibility without making me feel like throwing up.

Timothy embodies for MacLennan the politically and socially active younger generation of the 1960s, a generation than in his opinion had become morally degraded due to its lack of discipline. Timothy’s contempt for "duty," "honor," and other virtues more often associated with earlier generations such as his father's indicates the Oedipal struggle at the heart of MacLennan's work, wherein the son comes to reject the discipline imposed by his father and the love offered by his mother.

"Now, Dr. Anderson, you've been telling us how the world began and how brilliant it was of all the scientists to be able to find it out."

He paused and deployed his most innocent smile.

"But of course there were no scientists around when the world began."

Another pause, "Now I have a question with which Science—I hope I'm not getting out of my league—may be more humanly involved."

Another pause.

While "the world" being discussed here refers to...

(The entire section contains 634 words.)

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