Study Guide

On the Beach Family

By Nevil Shute


Is there anything more important than family? That's the question the characters of On the Beach ask themselves as they fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. There's Peter and Mary Holmes, who struggle to stay together despite overwhelming odds. There's Dwight Towers, who copes with his family's deaths in some unusual ways. And then there's the young Moira Davidson, who's just on the cusp of adulthood and devastated by the thought that she won't live long enough to have a family of her own. Although it isn't always pretty, On the Beach shows us how important family bonds are when the chips are down.

Questions About Family

  1. Does Peter see his family as a "burden"? Why or why not?
  2. What is Moira's relationship to Dwight's family?
  3. Do Peter and Mary have a good marriage? Explain.
  4. In what ways is family important to John Osborne?

Chew on This

Although Mary and Peter butt heads at times, they provide a strong example of a happy, healthy family.

Moira's respect for Dwight's family is an extension of her affection for him.