Study Guide

On the Beach What's Up With the Title?

By Nevil Shute

What's Up With the Title?

For a three-word title, On the Beach packs in a whole lot of meaning. Don't believe us? Read it and weep, suckas:

First, our title references T. S. Eliot's poem, The Hollow Men, which is quoted as the novel's epigraph. We delve into this bone-chilling poem in our "Epigraph" section, so check that out if you're interested, but it's worth noting that many see The Hollow Men as a response to World War I.

Second, "on the beach" is a phrase used in the British Navy to mean "retired." And hey, On the Beach just so happens to be about a bunch of Navy dudes doing a bunch of Navy stuff.

Finally, the phrase "on the beach" evokes the image of people sitting by the ocean, lounging around, right? Well, this actually happens a lot in the novel, as the characters wait for the apocalypse mostly by chilling out.