Character profile for Chris Lang from the Tomorrow
series by John Marsden
Note: As always these are just my opinions and thus
subject to change at any time. If you disagree, think I have missed
something, or have something to add, please use the link at the
bottom of the page to send me a note.
blows plot of "The Dead of the Night"
Please don't read on if this concerns you
"Chris was a lightly built boy with intense
eyes and a lot of nervous habits, like coughing in the middle of
every sentence. He wouldn't be into Commem Day or woodchopping competitions;
he was more into the Grateful Dead, Hieronymus Bosch, and computers.
He was also known for writing poetry and using more illegal substances
than you'd find in the average police laboratory. His motto was
'If it grows, smoke it'. Ninety percent of the school thought he
was weird, ten percent thought he was a legend, everybody thought
he was a genius" ("Tomorrow, When the War Began",
Ch 11, p154)
Chris Lang is a lesson in two parts:
First he is a lesson in the need to care for and look after each
other. At the end of “The Dead of the Night”
Ellie takes a share of the blame for the death of Chris, seeing
herself has not having made enough effort to reach him and pull
him out of his depressions. (extract 1)
Then he is also a lesson in the need to live your life to the full
and be willing to pay the price demanded. At the end of “Darkness,
Be My Friend” Ellie sees that willingness as the key
difference between Chris and the rest of them. (extract
Chris lacks the goad the others share of having his parents captive,
as they are overseas when the war begins. How well he gets on with
them is unclear anyway as Chris is just about the opposite of his
father in every way. As small and lightly framed as his father is
large and solid, as rebellious as his father is straight laced (extract
3), Chris is someone who obviously does not fit in and does
Regarded as a genius by all at his school; and good friends with
Ellie and the others, Chris Lang is never able to apply that genius
to their current situation. He never seems to connect with what
they are trying to do or the group he is in. He is a lonely, depressed
boy who - surrounded by people who are involved and willing to care
– withdraws from them more and more into his own head, into
his world of drugs (alcohol and cigarettes here), depression and
He drinks a great deal, scaring Ellie a lot, especially before
the attack on Buttercup Lane. Eventually his depression and unwillingness
to engage defeats the others and they leave him behind when they
go down the creek to explore.
While they are away he goes looking for booze and dies in agony
- slowly and by himself - when he rolls the Ute, his body laying
in the open for a month before his friends find him and bring what’s
left home to Hell for burial. Dying, and dying in such a futile
and pointless way, is the most important thing he does in the series
and it affects them all, but none more than Robyn who cracks for
the first and only time.
Chris is a lesson, a lesson in love and commitment and a reflection
of potential lost.
- used with permission
1: Ellie takes some of the blame for Chris' death
"The Dead of the Night", Epilogue,
"Anyway, that’s not the illogical part. The illogical
part is the way I feel about it all. About Chris. I miss him and
I feel terrible that he died like that and it seems so unfair and
such a waste. But I feel other things too, guilt especially. Guilt
that we left him on his own, that we didn’t try harder. When
he was in one of his moods we usually gave up and didn’t make
an effort to humour him out of it. I think we should have done more.
And I feel angry, angry at him. Angry that he was so weak and didn’t
try harder. Angry that he was such a genius and didn’t do
more with it.
Sometimes you just have to be brave. You have to be strong.
Sometimes you just can’t give in to weak thoughts. You have
to beat down those devils that get inside your head and try to make
you panic. You struggle along, putting one foot a little bit ahead
of the other, hoping that when you go backwards it won’t be
too far backwards, so that when you start going forwards again you
won’t have too much to catch up.
That’s what I’ve learned.
There is a rustle in the grass to the left of my tent. Some
little night creature, probably hoping to raid our food. Same as
us, I think, searching around the countryside, trying to avoid the
predators, just finding enough to keep ourselves going. I can hear
Homer snoring, Fi calling out in her sleep, Robyn breathing steadily.
I love these four people. And that’s why I feel bad about
Chris. I didn’t love him enough.”
2: Ellie on the why Chris' unwillingness to take a stand was a problem.
"Darkness, Be My Friend", Epilogue,
“From the first day of the invasion I knew that if we
were going to live with ourselves on the terms that we wanted, we’d
have to pay a price. Like the man in the poem. And we’ve paid
a price every day since. It’s expensive. The man in the poem
found that out. But I don’t want to live cheap, or live for
nothing. I have never wanted that and I’ve never liked it.
That’s one lesson my parents taught me. That’s why I
don’t like what I did with the boy in New Zealand. That’s
why I do like my friendship with Fi and Lee and Homer and Kevin.
It’s why I love and respect the memory of Corrie and Robyn.
It’s why I feel sad that Chris never learnt that lesson.”
3 - Chris' differences to his father
"Tomorrow, When The War Began”,
[Chris' dad is] "... a big guy who always wears a tie,
no matter where he is or what he is doing. He seems kind of heavy
and serious to me. Chris says his father was born on the corner
of Straight and Narrow, and that sums it up."