Study Guide

Childhood's End Carina Constellation

By Arthur C. Clarke

Carina Constellation

The Overlords' home world orbits a star—the enticingly named NGS 549672—in the constellation Carina. Hey, maybe it's just us, but the fact that the constellation is singled out so often in Jan's story suggests that maybe there's a symbol hiding in those stars.

And, as it turns out, there is.

The name Carina comes from the Latin meaning keel, and for those of us not nautically inclined, the keel is the part of the ship that runs along the bottom—fore to aft—sitting beneath the water to provide buoyancy and stability. Visual learners can click here.

As it turns out, the constellation Carina is actually just one part of a much larger constellation, the Argo Navis, that was broken up into separate constellations a few hundred years ago. In mythology, the Argo was the ship Jason and the Argonauts sailed on in their search of the Golden Fleece.

Okay, but what does this have to do with the Overlords? Well, the Carina constellation represents the underside of the Argo, and the underside of a ship contains the parts that help it navigate to its destination. Specifically, the keel helps keep the boat afloat.

In the same way, the Overlords help keep humanity afloat, so to speak, as they prevent the silly humans from destroying themselves. The Overlords cut a path through space and steer our species toward the Overmind through the subtle manipulations of their World State.

Like the Argo, or any ship really, the Overlords bring humans to their destination.