So. I read this last night for a change, instead of waiting for the day and posting as I go, which I've mostly been doing with this book because the sections are longer and I didn't want to forget things as I went.
So. Yeah. Um. Yeah. o_O That was... an ending. Yes. It certainly was.
I won't give overall impressions in this post since I really do want to do an overall post for the book on this one, but as for the ending... well, for one thing, I'm at least glad that the Father was willing, even eager, to suffer as much as he counseled the woman and her child to suffer. That somewhat makes up for his dickishness.
Rachel is certainly... interesting. I'm assuming she's supposed to be a sort of rebirth/recreation of the Virgin Mary, given the priest's thoughts, the thoughts on the immaculate conception, and so on. Which leads to a disturbing thought - given that Mrs. Grales seemed to be hinting at some sort of abortion in her last confession, does that mean the Second Coming of Christ was... aborted before being born? Maybe is this way mankind is being punished? Or does it mean that Man will die without someone to take on their sins for them?
I wonder why her last word to the priest is "live," when he's obviously not going to for very long. Unless it's just supposed to echo his exhorting the woman and her child to live with their affliction as long as they could.
I'm also wondering if there's a theme here with Rachel, and with the overall cycle of man as we see it in the book, that only in ignorance can there be innocence? Rachel is very innocent, but also completely ignorant of the world. And Mankind in this story only seems able to live with itself, and keep some sort of overall moral innocence, while they're living in relative ignorance. Although I guess this is delving more into the overall themes that I wanted to bring up in an overall book discussion.
But more to the point... are we to assume that mankind as a whole is now extinct, except for the colonies off-planet? Maybe even all land-based life is extinct? Or are we to assume that this is yet another cycle like before, and mankind has blasted itself back to yet another Dark Age? I'm a bit annoyed that we're left without even some hint at how widespread the disaster is, or, well, anything!
Anyhow, I guess anything else can wait for the overall post.