In an atheist reversal of the usual religious theme of prophets, Ely suggests that he and others are here to preach the central message of the reality of this world: that it is the only world, and a sad one at that. Prophets are necessary in order to correct the usual ways of the world. If the atheists are prophets, it is because they are correcting an error such as human hope. In this view, humans shape civilization of their own accord and do not possess any divine comprehension of life or of the universe. To Ely, it seems that the universe is so indifferent to humans that humans need to learn this basic lesson in order to honestly confront reality. The boy has always been a Christ-figure throughout this story. He is the only goodness left in a diseased world taking its last breath, If he (the boy) is not the word of God God never spoke.