Study Guide

Tomorrow, When the War Began Wisdom and Knowledge

By John Marsden

Wisdom and Knowledge

"If you were going to invade, that'd be a good day to do it," Lee said. "Everyone's out celebrating. […] Who's running the country?" (4.44)

Lee uses what he knows about war to come up with a pretty decent account of what could have happened while the teens were blissfully camping. And you know what? He's right.

It was a pretty typical conversation I guess, but for some reason it was getting on my nerves. I got up and went down to the creek […]. (4.46)

Ellie's wisdom gives her an annoying feeling that something isn't right. Sometimes our minds recognize new knowledge before we're ready to fully accept it as a possibility.

Why did people call it Hell? I wondered. All those cliffs and rocks, and that vegetation, it did look wild. But wild wasn't Hell. Wild was fascinating, difficult, wonderful. (4.74)

Great show of logic here. Ellie reasons out that what something is called doesn't actually represent what that thing is, because things mean something different to different people. Some people are so afraid of uncontrolled places that the wilderness is Hell to them.

No, Hell wasn't anything to do with places, Hell was all to do with people. Maybe Hell was people. […]

No place was Hell, no place could be Hell. It's the people calling it Hell, that's the only thing that made it so. (4.74-76)

This is classic Ellie wisdom. She sees through human constructs, realizing how arbitrary the values are that humans assign to things and recognizing that really, things are pretty neutral.

My worst fight was really stupid. I don't know, maybe all fights are really stupid. (5.25)

Do you think Ellie's right about this? Why or why not?

I suddenly made myself leave the darkness and go for it […] It was a dance of courage. I felt then, and still feel now, that I was transformed by those four steps. (7.65)

Facing fears leads to personal growth and courage. Here, Ellie learns that she is braver than she previously thought, capable of acting boldly and decisively in terrifying situations.

"The biggest risk is to take no risk. Or to take crazy risks." (9.41)

Homer is getting pretty good at this thinking business. Here he recognizes that not doing anything is just as dangerous as doing something completely over the top.

But his big motto is "Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted." (7.23)

Corrie's dad is wicked wise, and fortunately, the teens are smart enough to recognize this and take his advice to heart. By doing so, they learn a lot from spying about what's going on.

There were a lot of things to be unhappy about, but somehow the paper I'd read in the Hermit's hut, and the long beautiful kiss with Lee, had given me a better perspective on life. I knew it wouldn't last, but I tried to enjoy it while it did. (16.26)

Few things are wiser, in our humble opinion, than being able to appreciate the moment.