Study Guide

On the Beach Chapter 2

By Nevil Shute

Chapter 2

  • Peter and Mary are up at the crack of dawn: the reality of being new parents. Peter heads over to pick up milk from the farmer and also drops off some brand spankin' used motorcycle tires.
  • Dwight is awake when Peter returns. Moira, understandably, is still plastered to her bedsheets. Our hunky American isn't waiting around for her, however, as he's going to a nearby church.
  • The church reminds Dwight of "the church in his own town, in Mystic, Connecticut," which is both good and bad (2.14). Mostly, it just makes him think about his wife, Sharon, and his children, Junior and Helen.
  • Dwight returns to the Holmes abode to find Moira awake and chilling on the veranda. They flirt a bit more and set a date for Moira to take a tour of the submarine.
  • Later that day, Moira returns home to her parents' spacious farm. They nag her about her hard-partying habits—habits that seem pretty understandable in these circumstances.
  • Meanwhile, Dwight has returned to work on Sydney. He learns that a twenty-something Australian scientist named John Osborne will be joining the crew, though he doesn't know why.
  • John shows up a few minutes later. His job on Scorpion will be to measure radioactivity levels and all that other fun science-y stuff.
  • The next two days are a "turmoil of activity" (2.101). The entire crew hustles to prepare the submarine for its upcoming journey, taking a quick test run before receiving approval.
  • Dwight hits Moira up that evening, and they arrange for her to visit the submarine on Saturday. Moira also reveals that Osborne is her cousin and is, in her words, a little "'dippy'" (2.120). Lovely.
  • Dwight and Moira meet the next morning. She looks great, but Dwight realizes that an all-white outfit probably isn't the best thing to wear into a filthy, greasy submarine.
  • Naturally, Dwight and Moira stop off for one (or two, or three, or…) at a bar before heading over to the naval base. Or, rather, Moira does. Dwight doesn't have anything.
  • Although she's tipsy, Moira manages to charm the boys of Scorpion. When she sees Osborne, however, she goes into full-on cousin-teasing mode, which is kind of charming.
  • Dwight tells Moira to put on a "boiler suit" before entering the Scorpion to protect her clothes (2.160)—she can change in his room. And you better believe she's going to need that boiler suit, 'cause things are getting steamy up in here.
  • Moira enters Dwight's cabin and notices multiple pictures of a woman and two small children. She immediately realizes that this is his family, who are presumably...gone.
  • As Dwight shows Moira the ship, he briefly explains their plan: they'll be going to Cairns, Port Moresby, and Port Darwin. Naturally, the conversation eventually turns to the horrors that await anyone who would travel to the Northern Hemisphere.
  • By the end of the tour, Moira is eager to see the sunlight. She runs into John Osborne on the deck, and they start talking about the movement of the radiation cloud.
  • Although scientists expect the cloud to reach them by September (it's the beginning of January right now), the radiation could reach them "plus or minus about three months" (2.230).
  • Afterward, Dwight and Moira hit the town. They get drinks, eat dinner, and even go out dancing.
  • Moira talks about her life: she isn't doing much besides partying (as if we didn't already know that). She had been taking a course for secretarial work before the war, but she stopped when everything went down. Dwight encourages her to give it another shot.
  • Dwight and Moira part at the end of the night after making plans for another date. As Moira walks away, Dwight thinks about how much Moira reminds him of Sharon.
  • After church the next morning, Dwight meets with the crew to prepare for their two-week jaunt.