What is Ely talking about in this quote from The Road, page 168? "People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn't believe in that. Tomorrow wasn't getting ready for them. It didn't even know they were there."

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Most of this particular book is a very sad, depressing, and bleak outlook on the future. Many books and authors try to give readers a bleak post-apocalyptic world, but The Road takes the genre to an entirely different level. Most of the humanity that existed within people is completely gone from the world. Most people are to be avoided because they are dangerous scavengers. Some people are not even opposed to capturing people in order to use them for food.

The quote from Ely provided is a line that perfectly fits the world that the author has created. The line is very bleak and quite fatalistic. Ely is suggesting that it didn't matter what people did to change the outcome of the world. The apocalypse came regardless. Ely's line also shows his outlook on the future. He doesn't believe in prepping for tomorrow, because it doesn't matter either way. I find the end of the line very reminiscent of Stephen Crane and other Naturalistic authors:

"Tomorrow wasn't getting ready for them. It didn't even know they were there."

Notice how Ely is personifying "tomorrow." It, as an entity or person, is completely unaware of humankind. "Tomorrow "is completely unaware of and uncaring toward the plight of man, so it does no good to fight against it or plan for it. Notice how that line of thinking is similar to the following short poem by Crane:

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

In The Road, "tomorrow" is equivalent to Crane's universe. Tomorrow, the universe will do what it wants to do regardless of how prepared anybody is.

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The world is an unrecognisable place. The boy and his father are looking for somewhere to stop for the night and the boy, much to his father's surprise, wonders about their "long term goals" - his father cannot answer that.  

The boy  and his "Papa" spot an old man of whom they are very wary, in case he's a "decoy."  The boy is anxious to help him and his father reluctantly agrees.

Ely is something of a confused, old man who thinks they may want to rob him. He is going blind and just lives for the moment. They strike up a conversation - a very limited conversation, clearly indicating a lack of trust.

Ely indicates to the man and his son that he knew "this or something like it " was coming.  It would have been no use getting ready for this catastrophe because the outcome of such events can never be favorable and then the old man indicates that, had he had more information about tomorrow, he may have "wish(ed) I had died."

This is what he wants the boy and his father to understand -that preparing for tomorrow didn't help anybody else who was always preparing and this particular tomorrow, which "wasn't getting ready for them" was not any ordinary tomorrow and so it could not have been anticipated.  The fact that tomorrow "didn't even know they were there" reveals the unexpected nature of this catastrophe that has taken place.

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