The Road takes place a few years after Lavos emerges.
The world ended in 1999? Very plausible. Bleak, desolate world nearly devoid of life? Check. A few ragged survivors, all slowly starving to death? Check. Mutants and robots running rampant? Not yet. Perhaps, there are automated factories still running, independently, developing AI over a few centuries and then, eventually, creating the genocidal robots and other advanced technology. The "mutants" are the sparse lifeforms that somehow manage to adapt for survival in a world with almost no resources. Pockets of bedraggled survivors, perhaps attempting to re-establish civilization or just to be near shelter, huddle in a handful of the world's ruined cities, where, presumably, they manage to persist in vain for three hundred years.
The boy is just a hallucination spurred on by the man needing a reason to live. When Ely asks "Are you a little boy?", he's only thinking that because the man was talking to someone else. Notice Ely never talks directly to the boy, or vice-versa.
Or rather the father was dead at the start of the novel. The father is a mental construct/hallucination of the boy, helping him deal with living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Anytime something "bad" happens like stealing, killing, and so on, it's the father that does it. In reality, the boy is doing everything, but he imagines the father is doing these bad things to help him retain his grip on his humanity.
Not much to add to this one. This theory showed up over at The Onion AV Club and demanded to be shared.
So there's an unspecified disaster that happened at some point before the book starts. It killed off trees, animals, cockroaches, sarcastic pimp-bots that look like Jude Law — and yet somehow a handful of humans lived through it. This is a huge clue that we're not supposed to take this as literally After The End; all the human characters are actually dead. The boy is actually an angel and he is helping the father ascend to Heaven (remember all that business about "carrying the light"). The father's death was actually his ascension, and the angel/boy will go on to save the people who show up at the very end.
- The main flaw is that, well, we actually do have something of an 'upper limit' known for a Yellowstone eruption (and for the rest of the supervolcano), and they wouldn't make things quite this bleak, world-wide... but Yellowstone can still work, though: the story takes place in North America, and the rest of the planet would very likely be in no shape to send help to any surviving Americans, what with needing to work hard to keep some semblance of civilization running during the years without summer.
- You would still see some life, though, if only the occasional insect blown in by the wind or patch of fungus from drifting high-altitude spores.
- Remember though, the other decent people had been following them for a while. They would've rescued him whenever the man died.
I mean, they travel across half of America, but there's more to Earth than just that. Africa? South America? Antartica? The Marianas Trench? I mean, the author keeps most of the book feasible, so I wouldn't be surprised if Greenland or Australia would have taken a pass. America (and likely China and most other major world superpowers) just got royally screwed with the crap end of the stick. That said, it wouldn't make the novel any less post-apocalyptic and depressing, as the boy probably won't ever hear of any surviving patches of Earth, even if they DID exist.
- We don't even know what happend in the verse of The Road. All we know is that there was no summer for as much as ten years. And if there was no summer in States for such long time, there was no summer anywhere else, that's how climate works. The impact of this climatic disturbance (if it was climatic disturbance) was enough to knock down one of the most populous countries into no-mans land ihabited with sparse groups of cannibals. Even if we assume that there are some nicer places than US, they are as much screwed by the sole fact of no vegetation.
- That's definitely not how climate works; the Earth is not a Single Biome Planet, and evidence from previous volcanic eruptions show that the effects are much more pronounced the closer to the disaster you are. There is a finite amount of ash, and the further it travels less of it remains. It's entirely possible that while North America is dying, the rest of the planet is merely suffering.
- So who was struggeling with it so much?
- In the book, at least, there are suggestions that some people live together in communes that are relatively peaceful in comparison to most of the wanderers. However, they are never actually seen, and it's possible that they could have all died off. It's possible that the family could be a member of one of these groups.
- Ely is Eli.
- I don't know, The Book of Eli was pretty explicit about taking place in a post nuclear apocalypse. Also I'm no expert on this, but if this post apocalyptic world has the worst thing on the West Coast being San Francisco's impressive lack of fog while the East Coast is a barren hell of ash and death then I think there's something seriously wrong.
- In a doomed attempt to strenghten this idea you can always assume that The Road takes place right after the war, hence the nuclear winter. Then you have The Book of Eli, many years after the war. Depending on the scale of the conflict, nuclear winter can take from a year to fifteen, so this crazy merging of universes could make sense. So instead of place being a factor, time is.
- This is completely plausible. In The Road, the boy is around, what, eight? And he was conceived before the end, born shortly after. In The Book of Eli, the main female character seems to be 20-25 and was born after the end, though I can't remember if it states how long after. That would give us at least a twelve-year difference between the timing of the films, a reasonable amount of time for things have bounced back. Not to mention, the east coast could have been hit harder than the west coast — DC is a major target, plus there's a higher population density in general on the east coast.
- Maybe... but The Road seems to be more of a case of a global cataclysm. Take Shelter seems to be more of a localized disaster that primarily effects people turning them insane. If anything it's probably closer to being connected to The Crazies.
- Or meant the ending when the prophesied big disaster may actually be happening.
- Artistic License Geography - atmosphere is all about closed circulation.
What makes meteors appear from nowhere? People playing Sburb. Clearly, someone in the world of The Road decided to start up an ill-advised session of everyone's favorite apocalypse "simulator".