Why is Ely important in The Road?

Ely is important in The Road because he points to the goodness and innocence of the boy, suggesting the boy's role as hope for the future.

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The man and the boy meet Ely on their travels and share some food with him. He is important because he represents the typical hopelessness, fear, and isolation of this desolate new world. He makes up the name Ely, fearful to share even his real name with anyone else. He...

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The man and the boy meet Ely on their travels and share some food with him. He is important because he represents the typical hopelessness, fear, and isolation of this desolate new world. He makes up the name Ely, fearful to share even his real name with anyone else. He says, after the boy gives him a few cans of food, that he wouldn't have done the same.

Ely, whose name evokes the Biblical prophet Eli, is also important because he points to the importance of the boy as a symbol of hope. Ely says he thought he was dreaming when he saw the boy, because he thought there were no more children in the world—children are symbols of hope that the human race will survive.

Ely represents one of the rare human interactions the man and the boy have with others on the road. Ely's presence highlights the importance of the boy. He notes the boy's goodness and wonders if he believes in God. In giving Ely the cans of food, despite the man and boy needing it for their own survival, the boy represents generosity and innocence. He does this act, not for thanks or because he expects reciprocity but because it was the right thing to do for another human. At the same time, the boy knows Ely is going to die, making the gesture futile. The fact that the boy does this generous act without thanks and knowing that it won't save Ely suggests that the boy is a spiritual figure who can transcend the barbaric mentality of this world.

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