| Quote #4
He pulled one of the boxes down and clawed it open and held up a can of peaches. [The Man:] It's here because someone thought it might be needed.
This passage outlines another principle in their code of ethics: Don't take things from people unless they can't use them. It really is quite amazing that The Boy, even though he's near starvation, makes sure he does right by other people. Come to think of it, if there's a weak point in his character, it's that he's too conscientious. He seems almost unbelievably saintly at times.
| Quote #5
[The Boy:] Do you think we should thank the people?
This is yet another example of The Boy's pretty simple code of behavior: Don't steal from other people. But we also want to point out how The Boy begins his prayer with the words "Dear people" instead of "Dear Lord." How linked are compassion and faith for The Boy? Does a belief in God push him to compassion, or does compassion push him to faith?
| Quote #6
The old man [Ely] fitted the tins into his knapsack and fastened the straps. You should thank him you know, the man said. I wouldnt have given you anything.
For starters, we love Ely's crotchetiness ("Maybe I should and maybe I shouldnt"). There's also a telling exchange here about The Boy, which helps explain – though only a little – his singular compassion in the face of such a dismal world. When The Man says he's not sure he understands The Boy's compassionate nature, Ely responds that maybe he believes in God. The Man doesn't commit one way or the other, but he does remain firm on one point: The Boy won't "get over" this kindness. As readers we can hold onto this tidbit from The Man. Whatever happens to The Boy, his kindness defines him. (Side question: Is kindness also what defines The Boy and The Man as a group? Is it the thing that differentiates them from other people on the road?)