Up to this point in the story, I’ve sort of gotten a feeling of the Three Stooges meet Planet of the Apes. There has been a dramatic effect–whatever the cause–on the two societies which we are seeing. Both are mistrustful and readily hurt one another with little provocations. But there’s an underlying sense of knowing that whatever happened, these people have adjusted to their new world in what appears to be a universal outlook. This, from John Smith, gives it voice:
It’s good to have someone to like in a time and place in which nature whispers to your heart, Like nothing, care for nothing, respect nothing, believe in nothing, attach yourself to nothing but the wish to live. (p. 142)
That’s powerful. And, it is sad. I dont’ know exactly the time frame here, at which point the event has happened and the time since, so it’s hard to guess at what stage these people are in recreating their lives. It seems that they’ve gone through their resources in Manhattan and are looking elsewhere, exploring further south. The Indians appear to have adjusted to whatever poisonous substance ruined a good amount of food and water.
But this is more than despair. This is an acknowledged way to survive.