On and uninhabitable. Only in Australia still live people.

On the beach      – book report English – Anneke Wigboldus (5Vb)

General data

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The author
of ‘On the beach’ is Nevil Shute. He was an English novelist and aeronautical
engineer. He is born is London in 1899 and he died at the age of 60 in 1960. In
the Second World War, Nevil Shute was involved in developing various armament
systems for the air force. Nevil Shute based most of his novels on his own war
experiences (he fought in both world wars). The publisher of ‘On the beach’ is
Heinemann and the year of the first publication is 1957.


The genre of the book
is post-apocalyptic fiction, a subgenre of science fiction. The entire book is
about the end of the world. I’ll illustrated by the following quote of the

not the end of the world at all,” he said. “It’s only the end for us.
The world will go on just the same, only we shan’t be in it. I dare say it will
get along all right without us.” ~ John Osborne

clear that this quote is about the end of the world and that’s why this is a
post-apocalyptic fiction book.


year before the story begins, there was a nuclear war. The whole northern
hemisphere is destroyed and uninhabitable. Only in Australia still live
people.  Peter Holmes and his wife Mary
live in Melbourne. The radioactivity will also slowly come to southern hemisphere,
the radiation reaches Melbourne in circa six months.  Peter Holmes is going to work on a submarine,
the Scorpion, which is captained by Dwight Towers. They are going to see what
the situation is in the rest of the world. There he meets Moira Davidson. Peter,
Moira and John Osborne (a scientist) investigate the radioactivity in different
places. On their first trip, the only living creature they see is a dog. They
don’t see living people. Nobody knows how the war has started. Probably, the
nuclear war began between China and Russia. Moira is in love with Dwight, but
Dwight has a wife in the USA and he don’t know if his wife and children are
still alive. That’s why they don’t have a relationship. There are radio signals
from New York caught and Dwight and Peter next mission is to investigate the
radio signals. The radio signals seem to come from San Francisco. They go with
the submarine to San Francisco, because there is a let of radiation they wear
protective clothing. They don’t see live in San Francisco and the radio signals
means nothing. A man of the crew goes to his family without protecting clothes.
He sees his family dead in their house. He can no longer join the submarine,
because he would infect the rest of the crew. The man dies in the USA. The
radiation will come soon and everyone do things they want to do in their last
days. John Osborne drives with his Ferrari in the Australian Grand Prix. Much
drivers takes a lot of risks and crash in the race. John wins the race. At the
end of August, everyone is ill. Many people take a suicide pill. John takes the
pill while he is sitting in his Ferrari. Peter kills Jennifer and Peter and
Mary take the pill together in their bed. Dwight and other crew members let
themselves sink in the submarine. Moira takes the pill when she sees that the
submarine is sinking.




Themes & message

main theme is the end of the world. What will the main characters do when they
know they know they have only a few months to live? How are they dealing with
their thoughts and what are they going to do in the last few months? A related
theme with the end of the world is dreams. What are their dreams? What want they
to do in the last months of their live? An example are Peter and Mary, who are
planning their garden. They want to change their garden next year, despite they
know they won’t be there next year.


book is called ‘on the beach’. The beach is a place where water and earth meet
each other. The beach is often associated with the begin and the end. The book
is also about the end. So that’s why the book is called on the beach. It also
refers to the end of the book, when Moira takes a pill on the beach and died.


Peter Holmes

Peter is a hard-working man on the submarine and when he doesn’t have to
work at the submarine, he is helping his wife Mary.  He is strong enough to kill his daughter with
the pill. Peter is a friendly man and he always wants the best for everyone.


Mary is the wife of Peter. She likes gardening and do things around the
world. She takes care of her daughter Jennifer. Mary wants to think as little
as possible of the world’s perishing.

Dwight Towers

Dwight is the captain of a submarine which is called Scorpion. He is a
loyal man and continues to believe that his family is still alive, despite the
nuclear war in America. That makes him optimistic. He remains nice even though
his family is probably dead.

Moira Davidson

Moira is a friend of Peter and Mary. She tries to escape the reality
with dancing and drinking. Moira is also good friends with Dwight, but they
don’t have a relationship, because Dwight doesn’t know whether his wife is
still alive.

John Osborne

John is a scientist on the submarine. He likes to drive with his Ferrari
and traveling with the submarine. At the least months of his live, he would to
fulfil his dreams. He tries to hide his fears and he is easily nervous.


Place and time

story takes about six months. It takes place after a nuclear war. The book is
set in Australia, especially Melbourne. Twice, people make a trip with a
submarine if there’s somewhere life in the world outside of Australia. The
story is told in the third person. It switches from person to person, so you
see know the whole story.  It’s in
chronological order and there’re a few flashbacks. There are also a lot of
dialogs in the story.