The RoadThe sardonic blind man named Ely who the man and boy encounter on the road tells the father that, "There is no God and we are his prophets" (p. 170). What does he mean by this? Why does the...

The Road

The sardonic blind man named Ely who the man and boy encounter on the road tells the father that, "There is no God and we are his prophets" (p. 170). What does he mean by this? Why does the father say about his son, later in the same conversation, "What if I said that he's a god?" (p. 172) Are we meant to see the son as a savior?

Expert Answers
melkoosmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Ely says, "There is no God and we are his prophets," he is being cynical. He is calling people, including himself, prophets of a non-god. It is as if people are bound by their humanity to make a constant search for meaning in the inevitable meaninglessness of their world.


There is a suggestion that the boy is a savior of some kind in The Road, but it is subtle. In the world of the book, there is little chance that humanity can survive. If the boy is a savior, what is he supposed to save?

melkoosmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good point. Maybe "savior" isn't the right word for the son's role; he doesn't actually do any saving. However, he is the strongest moral figure in the book. He maintains his humanity in the face of a death sentence as most people in the book do not. The son pressures the father to give away food, for instance, and takes the attitude that some choices are not worth making, even if the alternative is to die.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prophets bring a message to the world.  Ely is telling them that they are all the messengers that there is no God.  Willing or not, aware or not, that the characters of the book spread the message through their ongoing extinction, through the nightmare of survival that has become their lives.  Ely has lost all hope, just like the boy's mother did at the very beginning.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interestingly, I saw the father as the saviour, rather than the son. It is he who knowingly sacrifices himself so that his son might live, even though he has to leave him to a rather perilous and uncertain future. Of course, we as readers know that it is a happy (?) ending, but the father would not have had any such certainty.

steve29h | Student

I believe many of the names in the book have biblical reference. The boy is the redemption of a dead world. The choice for Elijah, or Ely, here is also interesting. The return of Elijah is prophesied in the bible and his arrival is meant to signal the "coming of the great and terrible day of the lord". Ely is a harbinger and an eschaton for death, judgement, heaven and hell.

Malachi 4.X:

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, ” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. ...they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

The fact the father's heart "turned his heart towards his child", that he laid down his life to protect him, is what kept god from snuffing out the last flames on earth. That's my .02.

Also, Cormac is the greatest writer of of our generation. There is no question about that.

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The Road

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