One of the many recurrent motifs in the book is the portrayal of ships. This alludes to Noah's Ark — the subject of the first chapter — which plays a dominant role in the Abrahamic religions as an example of God's judgment. The woodworm who narrates the first Chapter questions the wisdom of appointing Noah as God's representative. The woodworm is left out of the ark, just like the other "impure" or "insignificant" species; but a colony of woodworm manage to enter the ark as stowaways and thus to survive the Great Deluge. The woodworm goes on to become one of the many connecting threads, appearing in almost every chapter, implying processes of decay, especially of knowledge and historical understanding.