Essay about On the Beach: Of Human Nature and Radiation

Submitted By creepykookyspooky
Words: 920
Pages: 4

Of Human Nature and Radiation Quiet a few social and political events influenced Nevil Shute Norway to write the satire that was On the Beach. Having been involved in the last few months of World War I, he went on to college and finally developed his own company that created aviation techniques for warfare. Once World War II started he helped work on a weapons project for the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. From the mid twenties and up until his death in the sixties he wrote novels, On the Beach being one of them. One could believe that Shute wrote the novel because of his views on war. He had experienced both sides of warfare during the majority of World War I it is safe to assume he had little to no knowledge about the situations of WWI. Whether his portrayals of human nature are accurate or not is for the reader to decide.

Shute experienced both sides of WWI and saw that there were different kinds of people and how they reacted to different crises. In the book he explored these different archetypes through the characters he created. Dwight Towers is an example of a person who would strongly live in denial, though how he throughout the story and until his death believes his family is still alive. He in passing mentions that he wants to get his daughter a pogo stick and that he must remain faithful to his wife when it is more than likely that they are dead. Moira Davidson is an example of a character who faces the reality of imminent death extremely poorly. She despairs as she realizes she will never be able to live out her life to the fullest extent as she wanted to. Never able to live out her dreams to travel and to have a family or do what she wanted to. So she began to drink to take away the pain of the reality that the world was indeed ending and that she couldn't fix it. Shute also explores that the possibility that one faced with a doomsday possibility would try to become a good person last minute with Moira's character, as later in the story she turns her life around. She stops drinking, regularly starts attending church and takes the secretarial classes she had planned to take prior to the war. The next two characters are more easily relatable for the reader. Peter and Mary Holmes are a couple with a baby, Jennifer, and they refuse to face the harsh reality that is set in front of them. The pair are meant to shadow those who don't actually pay much attention to media or tend to shy away from conversation that involves current events. Mary happens to be more unrealitistic than Peter, as she happily continues on with her life, being the classic nineteen-fifties housewife. Any mention of the apocalyptic situation brought her into hysterics, especially since there was the prospect of her having to kill her daughter when the radiation sickness sets in. Although Peter was more realistic and strong enough to face the fact he might have to euthanize his daughter he states that he cannot believe or even imagine that the world is going to end. Shute used these two to display the characteristic of ignorance even with the knowledge. The final character to examine is John Osborne. John is what Shute wanted to portray how the scientific community would react to a catastrophe such as a nuclear apocalypse. He knows for certain there is no way to fix the radiation issue and pursues his dreams which include becoming a member of an