Earth Abides - Part 2: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 967 words
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Part 2: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary

In the ending of Year Twenty-One, Ish, as usual, is thinking about the future of his "tribe," as they've been calling themselves for years. The children scatter to scavenge boards and to find a can of gasoline to start a fire for the celebration. Later, some of the children will throw bullets into the fire to hear them combust. Ish considers that the stock of these supplies is not being replenished and that there'll come a time when there are no more bullets, no more gasoline and no more canned food. There are constant conversations in which George wants to move a gas refrigerator to their neighborhood and the children, having never had ice, see no need in it. Then Ish typically points out that they must become proactive rather than sitting around doing nothing. At one point, Ezra seems to agree with him but Ezra says that it would be wonderful to have an opportunity to see a movie in a theater. He wonders if there might be a way to get a projector rigged to show movies, saying that the kids would get a kick out of it. Each conversation ends with nothing changing though Ish continues to say that something will happen soon.

Other things concern Ish as well. He's suddenly aware of the intellectual ability of his youngest son, Joey. He also thinks of Evie, at the opposite end of that spectrum. He wonders whether their keeping Evie alive had been cruel or kind. In the end, he notes that there's no one in their group who is qualified to make that decision.

Ish says that Em is worried that he'll give himself ulcers worrying over the future but he notes that it's these observations that keep him interested in life. He continues to say something will happen until the day the water stops flowing into their homes. Even Ish then admits that they were forever talking of doing some particular thing but never seemed to get around to it. He says that through all the years, he's never once said that this is the day he should do something about the water supply. They make the trip to the reservoir in wagons pulled by dogs and Ish says that he's never ceased feeling a little ridiculous though it's the best mode of transportation readily available. They find the reservoir dry and quickly adapt to life without running water though Ish uses the opportunity to say again that they should be doing something. He suggests an "expedition" across the United State and it's quickly decided that Richard and Robert, sons of Em and Molly, will go. Ish is rather surprised that this is the course of action the group picks up but is pleased that there's to be any action. The next step is in planning the trip and Ish takes over. Em objects, saying that it's easier to just go on opening cans and living as they are but Ish continues to argue that this way of life will eventually end and that they must do something to be prepared. He hopes the boys will bring back information that will help when that day comes.

The people still depend on goods canned from years ago though they depend heavily on meat. Ish notes that the younger ones know nothing else. They have coffee though it's no longer fresh, with canned milk and corn syrup for sweetening. He wonders about vitamins but they don't supplement their diets.

Part 2: Chapters 1 and 2 Analysis

It really seems that Ish is looking forward toward the days of the civilization he grew up in and wanting only a return to that time. It seems that he should be spending his time in pursuits that will benefit them now rather than harping on the need to get civilization - as it existed more than two decades ago - up and running.

It's interesting to note that he wonders if Evie's life has been worth living. He says that it's impossible to tell that she's happy or that she's not. He does say that there's no one qualified to remove her from the group though there will come a time when the members of the group do make that decision in the case of another person.

It's also interesting to note that until it was pointed out that Joey could read and that he'd had no more teaching than the other children who could barely read, Ish had had nothing more than a passing notice of the boy. Suddenly, he feels that Joey is his soul mate and Ish will soon put all his hopes of a bright future on this one little boy.

As it happens, something changes simply because of the breakdown of manmade objects over a period of time. A pipe, which supplies water to the houses on San Lupo Drive, has leaked for many years though it's just been a trickle. Over the course of time, the puddle has become a watering place for animals and the ground under the concrete supports has eroded. Then comes the day when the concrete collapses leaving the leaky section of water pipe unsupported. That day, the families no longer have the convenience of running water. They first think there's a simple problem but finally go to the reservoir which has been emptied by recent droughts and no longer being fed by the broken pipe. It's noteworthy that the initial response was worry but the younger children all knew where nearby streams and springs would yield water. They carried enough for that first day and began digging outhouses. It was a matter of days before these became routine and no one really cared to even try to fix the water supply.

This section contains 967 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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