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Tenn, William – “Generation of Noah” (1951)

02/14/2013

In which a rather tyrannical father-figure, obsessed with preparing for the apocalypse (and in touch with a network of similarly paranoid families!) is constantly threatening his children with corporal punishment if they fall behind in their preparations. The end comes (“Was that dim thump a distant explosion? There–another one! Like a giant belching. Who had started it? And did it matter–now?”) and he and his family scramble into their bomb shelter, along with the oldest boy’s girlfriend. The children expect to be punished for the sloppiness of their escape, but the father, shaken by the end of the world, exclaims:

“Swear! Swear that you and your children and your children’s children will never punish another human being–no matter what the provocation.

It doesn’t play much part in the story itself, but the title provides another example of the Biblical associations of this sort of end-of-the-age-of-Reason apocalyptic story.

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