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...

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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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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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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