The scornful 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". 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 god?" are we meant to see the son as a savior?
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The old man claims his name is Ely, though he later says this is not his true name. He claims to be ninety years old in order to protect himself from the bad guys--a tactic Ely admits does not always work. Ely has an extensive conversation with the man about the state of the world. “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave…. There is no God and we are his prophets” (143).
Ely does not consider people like themselves to be survivors, and he admits that he was surprised when he saw the little boy. The man replies, “What if I said that he’s a god?” (145). Ely rejects this idea and insists that it will be better when all humans are dead. “When we’re all gone at last then there’ll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He’ll be out in the road with nothing to do and nobody to do it to” (145-146).
Various clues point to the conclusion that the character of Ely, the only named figure in The Road (though he claims this is not his true name), is an allusion to Elijah the prophet. In biblical references, Elijah signifies the coming of the Messiah, the savior who will bring people out of their suffering. In the novel, this figure could be the boy, although Ely denies that the boy could be a god. Maybe Ely chose the name because of its similarity to “Elijah.” Also, Elijah is first introduced in the Bible in 1 Kings 17:1. In The Road, when some part or the major part of the catastrophe occurs, the man notices that all of the clocks have stopped at 1:17. Perhaps this is another allusion to the Bible and the figure of Elijah, letting us entertain the interpretation of the mysterious Ely on the road as a prophet, much like other traditional prophet-like old men.