'If I Forget Thee, O Earth . . . ' Themes

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The Aftermath of Atomic War

When Clarke published his story in 1951, humankind had already witnessed the U.S. wartime detonation of two atomic bombs as well as several atomic tests. As people realized the destructive capabilities of atomic weapons, many science fiction writers envisioned the potential aftermath of atomic war in stories like this one. When Marvin views his first earthrise, he refers to the atomic quality of the destruction. As the narrator says, "the glow of dying atoms was still visible, a perennial reminder of the ruinous past." Because radioactive atoms take a long time to die, they are visible from the moon even when their targets, the humans who fought in the atomic war, are long dead. Clarke was also familiar with the processes by which atomic radiation would eventually be cleansed from earth. Says the narrator, "[t]he winds and the rains would scour the poisons...

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This section contains 650 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the 'If I Forget Thee, O Earth . . . ' Study Guide
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'If I Forget Thee, O Earth . . . ' from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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