Study Guide

Childhood's End Transformation

By Arthur C. Clarke


Heraclitus was the guy who said you can't step into the same river twice, and the thought is meant to express that things are always changing. If he had read Childhood's End, he might have said you can't step into the same species twice because it isn't just the world around us changing: We are changing, evolving, every day, becoming something different than the people who came before us.

Sure, the novel is a work of fiction, so the transformation happens way quicker than it does in reality, but the idea that what we call mankind is fundamentally different than what was humanity a million, a thousand, or even a hundred years ago is where this theme expresses itself in reality.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Do you see the Overlords transforming in any way during the story? If so, how? And what do you think this signifies? If not, then why not? And why is this important in understanding this theme?
  2. Consider the transformation of Jeff and Jennifer from ordinary children to Overmind catalysts. What does this transformation tell us about the Overmind? And what does it tell us about the theme of transformation in general?
  3. At the novel's end, humanity transforms into the Overmind. How do you read this transformation in relation to the theme?

Chew on This

Physical transformations are very important in the novel and so are the transformations of whole races. The personal transformations of characters, however, are pretty rare occurrences.

Transformation in the novel blends the scientific transformation of evolution with the spiritual transformation of mysticism and religion.