But still, now she has to scavenge. Kepperness was right. Her grandfather isn't well. He won't last […] She has to make as many creatures as she can so that he can use them to barter with and survive. She presses on. (3.43)
Keep calm and carry on, Pressia. Pressia takes on the role of the head of the household here, which pretty much embodies the whole mindset of outside the Dome.
"I'll give it to my son. He won't last long […] This will brighten him up some." (3.35)
This man buys a toy for his dying son. Wow, that's depressing. But touching, don't you think?
She has to go. But before she does, she draws a circle, then two eyes and a smiling mouth with her finger in the ash collected on the cabinet door. She wants it to mean, I'll be back soon. (11.50)
Some might see this as a release of Pressia's childish side, but it seems more like this is a symbol of hope. Even while facing evil she can still stay upbeat. That's not childish. That's just strong.
She wants to cry, but backhands the tears. She doesn't want anyone to see. Keep at it, she thinks to herself. Keep at it. (22.49)
Holding back tears and emotions is one of the hardest things to do. Lyda's perseverance in the mental hospital almost parallels some the perseverance seen outside the Dome. Hope might seem lost for her, but she still "keep[s] at it."
Only now she has hope—real hope—that she might actually meet her mother one day. (39.18)
The book often suggests that there's a difference between manufactured hope and real hope. Real hope is limitless, but manufactured hope has boundaries.
"We've gotten this far," Partridge says.
"Maybe we'll get lucky," El Capitan says. (47.34)
Luck is another way to persevere in rough times. Though El Capitan isn't always the most hopeful, he always puts his trust in luck.
"The fact that his heart is beating helps to keep me alive." (53.23)
Aribelle's body is ravaged, her kids are gone, and her lover is lost. Yet, the simple fact that she knows they're alive helps her stay alive.
"That would be like hiding the truth. My body is the truth. It's history." (54.23)
Embracing their scars is another way that people outside of the Dome keep calm and carry on. Turning a negative into a positive can be a tremendous strength, and the wretches will find any way to gain an advantage.
The truth is that Helmud's weight hasn't only made him stronger. It's kept him pinned to the earth, as if without Helmud, he'd have floated clean off the planet by now. (59.98)
Helmud might be fused to his back, but El Capitan needs him. Relationship, company, and a sense of togetherness: all important ingredients to maintain hope.
And life resumes because it has to. (59.125)
Sure, maybe life seems unfair. Maybe it seems hopeless. But it "has" to go on, because there's no other alternative.