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The Children of Men by P.D. James

Posted by Sherry on 3/29/2005 in Current Events, General |

Imagine a world in which there are no children.
Imagine a world in which the youngest people are twenty-five years old.
Imagine a world in which all the males are sterile, and therefore no babies can be conceived.
Imagine a world from which God has withdrawn the blessing of procreation.
The Children of Men by P.D. James pictures just such a dystopia in which the human race is only a short time away from extinction. It’s a sad world in which women lavish affection on dolls and kittens because they can no longer devote their love and attention to children. Men and women lose interest in sexual relations that have been stripped of meaning. The elderly commit suicide because they are no longer needed or useful to a younger generation.
There is a story, which starts out as a sort of 1984ish (Orwell) resistance against the dictatorship that has become the government of England in this dying world. Then, something unexpected turns the plot into fugitives running from the state police in an attempt to live long enough to save the world. Enough said. James is an excellent writer, and this novel, while different from her detective stories with Adam Dalgliesh the intellectual Scotland Yard detective, is thought-provoking and applicable to our time.
I wonder how it would affect the social behaviour of human beings to live in a society in which children are no longer valued or sought after? I wonder how Chinese people are changed by their “one child policy”? I wonder whether those parts of the world in which the birth rate has fallen below replacement are pushing themselves into the kind of world James describes?
We’ve already passed 1984 and we’ve seen some of the things Orwell describes come true: doublespeak, totalitarian dictatorships that use torture to control their people.
Similarly, James’s book contains some scary truths projected into a 2021 world from which all children have vanished. People in Western industrialized countries are having fewer children. The implications of this birth dearth are yet to be realized. P.D. James does not paint a pretty picture of a world without children.

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