Study Guide

Childhood's End Manipulation

By Arthur C. Clarke


In Childhood's End, the manipulation just doesn't quit. Sure, the Overlords manipulate humanity… but who manipulates the Overlords? The Overmind. And who manipulates the Overmind? Well, we never find out the answer to that question, but since we're surprised to discover that the Overlords aren't actually running the whole show, we wouldn't be surprised to discover that the Overmind isn't either. And so on and so forth. Is there such thing as the Oversoul? The Overlord-Mind 9000? Who is the ultimate master manipulator?

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Jan wonders if Karellen is a master manipulator or a brilliant improv artist. What do you think the answer is? Provide evidence from the text to support your answer.
  2. Stormgren was honest enough to pay Joe the IOU from the poker games, but do you think he was manipulative in his dealings with Karellen? Why or why not?
  3. Is anyone truly acting of their own accord in Childhood's End, or is everyone just responding to manipulation by someone else? Explain, yo.

Chew on This

Jan is Karellen's manipulative human counterpart—he uses the same strategies and technological techniques to meet his goals as the Overlord.

Ben Salomon is just as manipulative in developing his colony as Karellen is in developing the World State. The only difference is their end goal and some cosmetic alterations.