In Arthur C. Clarkes novel Childhoods End, people or beings use each other for selfish reasons. Sometimes it is subtle, even subconscious; other times it is a blatant usage. Three obvious examples occur and kind of chase each other around in a triangular fashion. 1) The Overlords use humans/humanity. 2) The Overmind uses humans. 3) The Overmind uses the Overlords. Humans also attempt to use the Overlords even though the Overlords are omnipotent and seem to already have humanitys fatal future planned out.
Other than these overlying uses, small examples exist between characters throughout the novel. These will be cited and explained in a somewhat chronological One of the first instances is Wainwright and the Freedom League using Stormgren for information about the Overlords. Next time you speak with the Supervisor, Mr. Stormgren, ask him that! (17), says Wainwright referring to why Karellen wont show himself. Wainwright and the league want information like this so they can form their revolt against the Overlords takeover.
This brings about one of the bigger uses: The Overlords need a human mediator to communicate with the rest of the world on a personal level. On page 36, Joe says, …but the Overlords have to use human agents. Karellen uses Stormgren to speak to In the chain of events surrounding Stormgrens capture, Joe and the kidnappers are holding Stormgren hostage. They use him to try and gain information. You know what our motives are here…you are the only man who can tell us anything of the Overlords, (40) says one of the leaders. This turns into a reciprocal situation when from Stormgrens thoughts it is written, There were acute minds here, and perhaps they could uncover something new (41). Also, …he [Stormgren] was hoping that they might help him unravel Karellens secret (42-43).
So, while this undercover organization seeks information from Stormgren, he takes advantage of the circumstance in an attempt for the acute minds to help him solve his puzzle. These little reciprocal use situations take place many times throughout the novel. While Stormgren is reminiscing the events of the kidnapping, he realizes that with all of Karellens power, Karellen could have saved him at anytime. He thinks, It was more than obvious now that Karellen had used him as bait (49). Then, Karellen puts a tracer on the terrorists and lets them go. He gives them their freedom, but uses this to his advantage.
I can trace their movements anywhere on Earth…far better than locking them Despite the small examples cited in the first section of the novel, the larger theme is the Overlords getting the human race to conform to their ideas. The Overlords are turning the inhabitants of Earth into a well-oiled machine. This process will allow them to use the planet and people–whether it be for research and knowledge or the collection of specimens–how they want before its future end. Right from the start, …with a human child resting on either arm, (68) Karellen uses children as an additional cover for his alarming body structure.
This brilliant idea Rupert is a rich selfish prick who uses all the material goods he can to impress his guests. He greets George and Jean with his image projector and Georges reply is, Have you ever known Rupert not to get anything he wanted (78)? The couple go on to discuss how nice his new house is. Rupert refers to Rashaverak as Rashy around his guests and treats him as an equal at most. Concerning this, George states, …[Rupert] likes to show Rupert uses his guests for self-gratification. Clearly, the majority of the people in attendance are mere acquaintances who get the opportunity to spend an elegant night at Ruperts. The narrator suggests, [a]bout three-quarters…[are] perfect strangers (79).
On a reciprocal note, Rupert also uses the Overlords and the Overlords use Rupert. Rashy gets to read from the psychic phenomena library, and Rupert gets an image projector for personal use. Just a bit of bargaining (87), explains Rupert, to strike The other significant example from the second section of the book is Professor Sullivan helping out Jan. Jan goes five kilometers deep in the ocean because he thinks he can use Sullivans position and wisdom to get aboard an Overlord ship. After the initial meeting and exchange of ideas, Jan thinks, Right into my hands (120), referring to George uses Jean.
He might have been in love with her once, or thought he was–at least enough to live and raise a family together. Now, their partnership has allowed them to move into Athens and appear to be upstanding citizens. It seems Georges intent to move there was with disregard for Jeans ideas or happiness. Granted, she ends up being quite happy, but Georges push to move was so he could take part in Genes interest is for the children. [T]he children would love it. That…was all that mattered (142), she says. A kiss from George is described as perfunctory (143). He is busy with plans for the future, …too much occupied by his work and his children This passage from George sums up his thoughts for Gene and their partnership: George looked down at her with sympathy, but nothing more. He was fond of her: she had borne his children and was part of his life.
But, of the love which…George Greggson had once known towards…Jean Morrel, how much remained? His love was divided between Jeff and Jennifer…and Carolle. He did not believe that Jean knew about Carolle. (165) Since the Overlords found out that Jean was special at Ruperts party, theyve been monitoring her. Theyve waited for her offspring so they could observe them and possibly further their understanding of the Overmind. This is quite possibly the entire reason the Overlords use the human race.
They appear to be helping humanity when all along they were preparing the world for the Overmind. They were selfishly playing God so that when the children started to mutate, the Overlords could examine them and maybe gain more knowledge about their own masters. Why else would they have saved Jeff from While the Overlords are carrying out their various side projects to gain knowledge, the Overmind is using them. And you [Rashaverak] do not resent being used as a tool by the Overmind, (206) asks Jan.
For whatever specific reason the Overmind needs the Overlords, it is unclear, but it is evident that the Overmind must have the Overlords for the implementation of their harvesting process. In a similar way the Overmind uses the human race. In its higher power of existence, it preys off of colonies of beings. The Overmind continues to search for more overall power, maybe? Whatever its reasons are, with regard to human morals, the Overmind uses humanitys last offspring to further the development of its being.