Boekverslag : Nevil Shute - On The Beach
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 2617 woorden.

Title explanation:

On the beach, the meeting point of land and water. But the beach is also the last place where Moira sees Dwight. That's also the place were end the story, so she takes the pill, which kills her.


The action takes place in Australia, in the middle of this century. The exact location is unknown, but it's probably the southern part of this country.


Most of the world has been destroyed after a nuclear war. Northern America, Europe, Africa and most of Asia and South America is destroyed and you cant life there anymore, because of the nuclear radiation. All the people who lived there are dead. The only two places where life is still possible is Australia and the lower parts of Southern America. The people in Australia know that they are going to die soon too, because the radioactive dust is coming their way to infect everything. The wind blows the dust to Australia.

Main characters:

Dwight Towers is the captain of a nuclear powered submarine, called the Scorpion. The Scorpion is one of the two ships left of the USA Navy.

Dwight is an American, but his ship is now under the command of the Royal Australian Navy, because the USA Navy doesn't exist any more.

Dwight lives in Mystic, Connecticut, a little town close to the sea. He has a wife, Sharon, and two kids, a boy and a girl. The boy's called Dwight Junior and is 10 years old. The girl's name is Helen and she is six years old. He’s very loyal to his wife and the Navy. He doesn't do things the Navy wouldn't permit, even during the last days, he lives by the rules. He knows that his wife and children are dead, but he acts like they are still alive. For instance he buys them presents, when he and his crew go on a mission to the USA. He doesn't like to have nothing to do. Maybe because when he has nothing to do he starting to think about the things that have happened or the things that are going to happen. At the end, he takes his submarine and his crew to sink his ship of shore. He believes that is the way 'Uncle Sam' wanted him to do it. Peter Holmes is an officer of the Royal Australian Navy. He is married to Mary and he has a baby, named Jennifer. He is a nice guy, who wants the best for everyone. He likes it when things are taken care of. Like when he went on a mission with the Scorpion, he told Mary what to do if he wasn't coming back. At the end he is one of few who still feel good, but he takes a pill at the same time as Mary and his child, because he doesn't want to live without them.

Other characters:

Mary Holmes is Peter's wife. She is the daughter of an officer from the Royal Australian Navy, so se understands why Peter has to do the things he does, although she doesn't always like it. She always calls Peter a bad father for his child. She lives in some sort of dream world. She doesn't want to talk about the things that are going to happen. She pretends they aren't there. She works most of the time in the garden. She is always talking about how beautiful the garden is going to be next year. Probably this is the way, she deals with the problems, she simply denies them or pretends they aren't there. She got very sick at the end, and also took the pill, because she didn't want to go on like this.

Moira Davidson has an eye on Dwight. She's a young girl. Before she met Dwight she only went to parties and drank a lot. The idea that life is over in a couple of months frightens her. She never thought about getting married and getting children, but after meeting Dwight she wants to marry him. But she knows that he is a 'married' man, so she accepts that this never will be reality. She pretends to understand the decision of Dwight, but actually she doesn't. She helps Dwight with his illusion that his wife and children are still alive. She makes Dwight's life much nicer, although he still wants to go back to his family. She takes the pill on the beach, while she is watching Dwight and his submarine, going on their last cruise.

John Osborne is a scientist, specialised in radioactive radiation. This is the reason that the Royal Australian Navy puts him on the Scorpion. He has to investigate the radiation during the missions of this submarine. He has a Ferrari, with which he likes to ride. It even becomes an obsession. He competes in races. The reason for him to do this, is the fact that he likes the feeling after he almost got killed. For him getting killed during a race is a much nicer death, than to die of radiation decease. He is family of Moira Davidson, he is her nephew. At the end he takes his pill in his Ferrari, that's the way he wanted to die; behind the steering wheel of his car.

Behaviour Dwight and Moira are attracted to each other, although Dwight is 'married'. His marriage is the reason that Dwight doesn't want a relation with Moira, but he cares a lot about her. She in very much in love with him, but in a way understands and respects Dwight's decision not to get involved in a relation with her.

Dwight and Peter are put together on the submarine, but they like each other and at the end you could say they have become friends. They respect each other, as colleges

Peter and Mary are married to each other so they like each other (that's why they are married in the first place). But Mary thinks Peter is a bad father. Another problem is the fact that Mary doesn't want to understand the situation. Peter on the other hand understand everything very well. Peter is very realistic, but his wife lives in her own dream world.

On the beach: book report.

Peter Holmes, Lieutenant-Commander in the Australian navy, rides to Melbourne on his bicycle to receive a new appointment after being unemployed for several months. Since the atomic war two years before, all the fuel oil in the Southern Hemisphere has been used up, so that horses, bicycles and some electric trains are now the only means of transport. Dwight is now at the Australia because he was at sea when the war started and he couldn't get contact with any other base. On his voyage, he has learnt that the radioactivity is almost everywhere, except the south of the Southern Continent. The submarine is to make an 11-day cruise along the eastern and northern coasts of Australia to see if anyone is alive there. After that, they have to make a cruise of 2 months. Therefore Holmes hesitates to accept the job because he wants to be with his family during the last months. But his wife, Mary, would never forgive him if he didn't take the job. Holmes invites the American commander to spend a weekend at his house in Falmouth, near Melbourne. There Towers meets Moira Davidson, a friend of the family whose despair - she cannot stop thinking about the future she will never have. She is now on alcohol. After a party at the Holmes' she talks to Dwight about the approach of the radioactive dust, which has now reached the northern parts of Australia. That night she gets quite drunk. The next morning Dwight Towers goes to church alone. During the service he sits and thinks about his wife Sharon and his children Junior and Helen. Although he is aware of the fact that they are dead, he always thinks of them as living in the United States, waiting for his return. He even wants to buy presents for them. Back in Melbourne, Towers learns that John Seymour Osborne has been added to his crew. (Towers is always the last person to hear something. ) Osborne is a scientist. A few days before their departure, Towers shows Moira around in the vessel and takes her out for an evening in the city. Many people are enjoying themselves there, dancing and drinking. It is as if they feel it will be their last day. Before they depart, the Prime Minister tells them they have to get as much information as possible, with they are not allowed to take any risks. The only thing the crew of the Scorpion finds out during their short voyage is that nobody is alive on the coasts. They couldn't get ashore because of the radiation, but through the periscope ,they couldn't see anyone.

But one time they see a dog alive. Osborne's explains it, by telling that dogs survive longer than humans can. Rabbits can stay alive up to one year, while a human being on the other hand could only stay alive for a couple of days up to a week. According to Osborne's calculations, the radioactive dust will reach the south of Australia in six months' time. This is how the war started: Albania, Tel Aviv, Egypt was fighting with Russian bombs; There were 4700 atomic bombs dropped. After the Scorpion return Towers and Moira meet more often and become close friends. They go sailing and swimming together; he tells her about his family . They have brought back measles, so Mary is very concerned that Jennifer will become infected. While the Scorpion is being prepared for a long cruise to the west coast of North America, Towers spends a few days with Moira on her father's farm. He immediately feels good because of the Northern trees he sees around. These trees remind him of home. Moira cleans his clothes while he helps Mr Davidson with the farm work. Like so many other people, Mr Davidson finds it hard to accept the coming end, and continues making plans for his farm, just as Peter and Mary Holmes plan their garden for years to come. There is some hope for them: the Jorgensson effect, which means that the rain will wash the air and the dust will fall down and therefore not reach Australia. After a briefing at the Navy Department, Peter Holmes visits John Osborne and is surprised to find that John has a red Ferrari and eight barrels of fuel. His dream is to take part in a motor race before southern Australia is like the rest of the world. He has always wanted to race, but only now he can afford to do it, because the cars are worthless. On his way home Peter visits a chemist who shows him pills which people can kill them painlessly once they become ill from radiation. He also buys something for Jennifer. At home Mary Holmes is as usual more interested in the baby and in the garden than in the future. When Peter tells her she will have to kill the baby - because Jennifer might live longer. Later she realises that she will have to face the truth. Moira surprises Dwight by telling him she is taking a secretarial course; she intends to spend the last few months of her life in a more meaningful way. Moreover she has been drinking much less brandy. Towers shops for presents for his family: he buys a bracelet for Sharon and a fishing rod for Junior, but cannot find a pogo-stick for Helen. Moira promises to get one for him somehow. But then the Scorpion and her crew leave for the cruise to the USA. Almost a month later, the Scorpion approaches the North American west coast. The objectives of the cruise are to find out if there is any life there, what the radiation levels are, and who is transmitting radio signals in the neighbourhood of Seattle. But there is no life anywhere and radiation levels are high. One day they arrive at the hometown of one of the crewmembers. This man can not stand it any longer to be away from his friends and family , so he escapes and he swims away. Later on the see the man is fishing in a boat. Although he knows he going to die, he made the choice to die in his hometown. When they arrive in the neighbourhood of Seattle Lieutenant Sunderstrom goes in a protective suit and discovers that the radio signals are caused by a broken window frame that has fallen across the transmitting desk. One corner of the frame is resting on an overturned Coke bottle, so that it rocks the wind. A member of the crew leaves the ship without a suit. He wants to die in his country. On his return to Australia, Towers is promoted to Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Forces. There are no other American officers left. Having little work on his hands, Towers spends several days at Harkaway, the Davidson's farm, recovering from an illness. Moira gives him the pogo-stick she has had specially made for Helen. Osborne comes to visit in his Ferrari and tells him the radioactive dust will reach them by the end of August. More and more people stop working, in order to spend the last few weeks of their lives doing the things they like best. The fishing season is put forward - mostly on request of Moira because she wanted to go fishing with Dwight. Car races are organised to give those motorists who have some fuel left a chance to practice their hobby. Many drivers are killed because they take much greater risks than they normally would. Osborne manages to come in second place, thereby qualifying for the last Australian Grand Prix. While Peter and Mary take care of their garden and their baby, Dwight and Moira go on a fishing trip. On the radio they hear that John Osborne has won the Grand Prix. Everybody lives in a dream world of unreality until the first cases of radiation sickness in Melbourne are reported. Soon everybody is affected by radiation. John Osborne takes pills to kill him while sitting in his Ferrari. Peter Holmes gives Jennifer an injection so that she will die painlessly. Peter had recovered from the illness and he would have had another week to live. Then Mary and he take the pills together in bed. Dwight Towers sinks his submarine with most of the crew several miles from the beach. Moira watches him from the beach- she didn't go with him because that is against navy rules. She dies to because she takes the pill.


The atmosphere of the books is sometimes happily and sometimes sad. Sad because people know what is going to happen, but also happy, because people are doing things they want to do.

Kind of story:

The story is a future-fiction about a society, which goes under because of the results of a nuclear war.


A third person tells us the story.

The Author:

He is still alive. And I think he is a German civilian.


This was the time when countries (mostly the USA, China and the USSR) started to produce more and more weapons. The reason to produce more weapons was the fact that the others did it as well.


The whole story is sad the beginning and end to.

My own opinion:

I liked the book very much, but I found the book a little bit longwinded. It was a beautiful book because. I love story’s about war. I didn’t thought this was a book about war. But also you read feelings of other persons in the story.
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