Hopelessness is also represented with Rye’s inability to read. While Rye attempts to read a map she recalls, “[her loss of] reading and writing. That was her most serious impairment and her most painful. She had taught history at UCLA. She had done freelance writing. Now she could not even read her own manuscripts. She had a houseful of books that she could neither read nor bring herself to use as fuel” (412). For someone whose world revolved around the ability to read and write, losing that talent would be like a painter going blind, or a conductor losing their hearing.
Even in this desperate dystopian society, humanity has learned to adapt. The remaining population has developed some unique adaptations. People now use small objects to represent their names. Rye uses a pin in the shape of a large golden stalk of wheat, and her new acquaintance Obsidian uses a gold chain that he wears around his neck with a smooth, glassy, black rock pendant attached. The bus driver overcame the speech barrier by using pictures from magazines to show people what he will take in trade for a ride on his bus. No matter how hard life gets for the people in this story, they still try to overcome the obstacles put in front of them.
Rye also feels the loss of safety in this new dangerous world. Rye presents her hopeless thoughts when she has concerns about the 20 mile trip to Pasadena. The trip now takes a day one way if lucky, Rye says that “People making intercity trips like Rye’s from Los Angeles to Pasadena made plans to camp out, or risked seeking shelter with locals who might rob or murder them” (409). Rye also has a run in with one of the bus passengers that walks toward her suggesting that she should have sex with him and the other male passengers. Luckily for Rye he stops when she gestured for him to. Rye mentions that “society has now degraded to the point where most people would not attempt to help each other, whether the man attacked her or attempted to rape her, nor would anyone step in if she were to shoot him” (411) People in this dystopian world tend to look out only for themselves.
Rye may or may not be aware of her loss of hope for the future. She displays her hopelessness by initially turning down