Study Guide

On the Beach The Home

By Nevil Shute

The Home

He had been submerged by that time for eight days; his crew were still fairly fit, though various neuroses were beginning to appear, born of anxiety about conditions in their homes. (1.51)

We can't imagine how we'd feel if we were in Dwight's shoes. When Scorpion submerged, everything was right in the world. When it popped back up to the surface, however, the crew was faced with the stark realization that nothing would ever be the same again. Even worse, these guys have to struggle with the knowledge that their homes—and everyone they loved—are gone forever.

"That's what you thought about the R.A.F. squadron leader," she retorted. "You know—I forget his name. The one who cried." (1.134)

Although this is pretty sad, we can't help but chuckle at the thought of Mary and Peter looking at each other with panic as a hardened military man weeps in their kitchen. But, hey—we'd probably feel the same way if something that awful happened to our homes.

The little church was very like the church in his own town, in Mystic, Connecticut. It even smelt the same. (2.14)

Dwight always goes to church, but he doesn't seem terribly religious. What's up with that? If you ask us, Dwight goes to church because church reminds him of being back home, and that comforts him a great deal. You can see that dynamic in action here.

"You don't want to remember how a person looked when he was dead—you want to remember how he was when he was alive. That's the way I like to think about New York." (2.195)

It would be heartbreaking for Dwight to see the condition of his home state. As long as he keeps his distance, he's able to keep his home perfectly preserved in his memory. If he sees it firsthand, however, he may have to actually reckon with the fact that those memories are just that—memories. For him, it's much better to turn a blind eye and keep hope alive.

"Most of the officers and the enlisted men, they must have been very near their homes. There was nothing they could do, of course." (3.294)

Here, Dwight is talking about the only other remaining American submarine, the Swordfish. And we certainly agree with him on this one: it must have driven those dudes mad to be so close to their homes yet unable to go ashore.

He turned to her. "Say, this is just like an avenue in a small town in the States!" (4.216)

Dwight always lights up whenever he sees anything that reminds him of America. In fact, that's one of the main reasons he loves hanging at the Davidson's farm so much.

"I'm sorry about jumping ship, Cap, but I'm glad to be home. [...] I'd rather have it this way, in my own home town, than have it in September in Australia." (6.137)

Can you really blame Swain for what he did? After all, he'd still die even if he had returned to Australia—the only difference is that he would have struck around for a few months longer. Plus, how valuable are a few months if you're alone in an unknown land? Swain answers that question with a resounding, "Not much!" through his actions here.

Back in their apartment on the hill she regained a little of her poise; here were the familiar things she was accustomed to. [...] Here was security. (8.171)

Mary Holmes begins to panic when she leaves the safety of her home. Now that the end is near, there are signs of impending doom written all over the walls. At home, however, she can at least go through the motions and pretend that things will be all right.

"Remember to turn off the electricity at the main," she said. "I mean, mice can chew through a cable and set the house on fire." (9.219)

Even at the end, Mary is concerned with the safety of her home. We know what you're thinking right now, by the way: "But Mrs. ShmoopMeister, this is irrational, because Mary won't be alive to enjoy her home!" Well, we say <em>Bah, humbug</em> to that. The concept of "home" is so important to us human beings that it straight up <em>defies</em> logic.

There was nothing now for her in her own home; if she went back to Harkaway she would find nothing there now but the cattle and sad memories. (9.280)

In contrast to Mary, Moira doesn't even want to return home in the end. With her parents already gone, there's nothing for her there—she'd much rather die as close to Dwight as humanly possible. In a way, he's come to represent the home that she'll never be able to have.