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Free Study Guide/Summary for On The Beach by Nevil Shute - Free Book Notes
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1. Why is On the Beach set in and near Melbourne, Australia?

a. Because it will be the last major city on earth whose inhabitants will die when the radiation fallout reaches there.
b. Because there are naval installations there, and it would be a logical place for a submarine to be berthed.
c. Because Australia is a country of highly educated, easy-going people who know how to enjoy life.
d. All of the above.

2. Why is there no petrol (gasoline) available in Australia?

a. It burned up in the war.
b. The enemy won’t sell any.
c. Because it was all imported from the northern hemisphere before the war.
d. None of the above.

3. Who were the parties to the nuclear war that killed everyone in the northern hemisphere?

a. The USA, the USSR, China, Egypt, and Albania
b. The USA, China, Croatia, and Niger
c. The USA, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan
d. Russia, China, France, and Great Britain

4. Why does Peter Holmes want to go to sea on the American submarine?

a. He’s always wanted to be a submariner.
b. He wants to get away from his nagging wife.
c. He plans to sink it and die that way.
d. He’s a navy man, and he welcomes the chance to do what he’s trained for, until closer to the end.

5. Why does Peter Holmes not want to go to sea on the sub after the first two voyages?

a. He doesn’t get along with the captain.
b. He’s developed claustrophobia.
c. He wants to be at home with his wife and daughter when the radiation sickness gets to Falmouth.
d. He doesn’t trust himself or his fellow crew members cooped up inside a submarine under the adverse conditions that exist in the world after the war.

6. How is Commander Dwight Towers getting along in Melbourne?

a. He’s depressed and spends every night and every weekend drinking.
b. He spends a pleasant time every night reliving his life in Mystic, Connecticut.
c. He devotes himself totally to his naval duties, and does not think of recreation or anything else.
d. After a few weekend drinking binges when he first gets to Australia, he spends most of his time with work duties, until he meets Moira and has dates with her as time permits.

7. Does Moira enjoy being a wild party girl?

a. Not particularly, but it keeps her from thinking about everything she’ll miss.
b. Yes, she wants to get in as much partying as possible before the end.
c. Yes, because she thinks it’s the way to get Dwight to forget about his wife and family.
d. No, but she might as well, since she can’t get a job.

8. Why would Dwight, who lives by duty, be interested in a wild girl like Moira?

a. He finds the contrast refreshing, and it enables him to let down his hair a little.
b. He discerns that underneath her wild manner there is intelligent curiosity and sensitivity.
c. Neither of the above.
d. Both a and b above.

9. Who is John Osborne?

a. Australia’s answer to Dale Earnhardt.
b. The author of Look Back in Anger and Twelve Angry Men.
c. A scientist with the Australian government’s science bureau, the C. S. I. R. O., who’s assigned to take radiation readings on the American submarine’s voyages.
d. A so-so driver with a great car, as well as a devoted husband and father.

11. Why does Mary Holmes spend so much time planning her garden?

a. She doesn’t have anything else to do.
b. She wants it to be a nice place for her daughter to play
c. The end of the world doesn’t seem real to her, but the permanence of her home and family are very real to her.
d. Growing her own food is the only way to be sure what they eat is not contaminated.

12. What do Moira’s parents think of Dwight?

a. He’s alright, but they’d rather she had an Australian boyfriend; Connecticut is too far away.
b. They think he’s a bit elitist and stuffy, because he doesn’t particularly enjoy coming to visit them way out in the middle of nowhere.
c. They like him very much because he enjoys working the pastures, and is easy to talk to.
d. They are thrilled that Moira has an American submarine captain for a boyfriend.

13. Why does Mary Holmes accuse her husband Peter of being unfaithful to her?

a. He goes into Melbourne when there is no work to be done in the dockyard.
b. It’s part of her hysterical reaction when he wants her to know how to put an end to her baby’s suffering if radiation sickness gets to them before he returns from Scorpion’s second voyage, or if he doesn’t make it back.
c. He has actually been having an affair with a secretary at the naval outpost.
d. Moira hints to Mary that Peter may have a girlfriend, and doesn’t really love his daughter.

14. Why has Sir Douglas Froude not gotten sick with radiation fallout when everyone else has?

a. His heart medicine gives him immunity, but doctors in 1962 don’t realize that yet.
b. He was on a scientific expedition when the radiation got to Melbourne.
c. He has a rare genetic mutation that enhances his body’s ability to filter out toxins.
d. He has been drinking port wine every day for months, and alcohol enhances an individual’s resistance to radiation.

15. Why does Commander Dwight Towers take his submarine out of Australian command, and sail it to international waters?

a. Moira gets wind of a rumor of espionage through John Osborne, and warns Dwight.
b. John Osborne re-calculates his data and determines that the Jorgensen effect is valid, and the sub is going to a latitude where human life is possible.
c. He is taking the crew to Antarctica, where there is probably no complete dissemination of fallout.
d. Dwight and his crew are Americans in the United States Navy, and they don’t want to leave the ship in a foreign country, with all its classified material, even if there’s no one to find it.

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