Ely is an old man the boy and his father meet on the road who has the bearing of a monk or a prophet. The father is immediately suspicious of an old man, partially blind, traveling alone. The man suspects a trap. Ely seems like a religious man, but he possesses an odd demeanor. He has no belief in a god or gods, and he doesn’t seem to need other people. He is, in a sense, radically alone. He demonstrates this by refusing to give his real name, and in his ambivalence for the help of the man and boy. He is even ambivalent to food, though he eats what he is given. Nevertheless, he doesn’t seem to want or need anyone’s help. He discusses the end of the world freely, but without purpose. The name he gives is of biblical origin, but he is no prophet. His discourse on life and death is particularly dour. He does not believe gods could live when people live and die the way they do now. Death waits for Ely, but he doesn’t mind. He thinks death is the best thing for anyone in times like these. Ely is mystified by the boy’s charity but accepts it. He seems to respect the boy but does not understand his intentions or beliefs.