Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.
Name: Ellie Linton
Ellie is the narrator and ‘voice’ of the Tomorrow Series. The entire story is told through her eyes.
Ellie comes from a cattle and sheep farm not far from the edge of the country town Wirawee. Details of character’s appearances are rarely present in John Marsden’s books, but Ellie tends to describe herself as stocky (“‘We’ll never get through that,’ Fi muttered. As she was the size of a rabbit and I’m the size of a Shetland, it was obvious who she meant by ‘we’.” Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 20) and plain-looking. She is loyal to her friends and her family, and loves the Australian farm life.
As the war rages on, Ellie’s sense of doubt is illustrated in-depth: constantly questioning what is right and what is wrong, she finds – to her surprise – her empathy prevailing during the toughest times. She tries to keep herself together for the sake of the group – a self appointed leader who feels responsible for her friends, and shows what humans are capable of when they’re given the chance of challenging themselves, especially in the most dangerous situations.
Every character of the Tomorrow Series goes through major changes, and Ellie is no exception. When forced to face the brutality of the war, she lets her rationality win over emotions (“I’m trying to be unemotional about this. Sometimes I feel I’ve had enough of emotions, and when that happens I shut down and try not to feel anything.” Darkness Be My Friend, Chapter 11), hoping to cause less damages to the group.
Ellie is brave…
“That was the first moment at which I started to realise what true courage was. Up until then, everything had been unreal, like a night-stalking game at a school camp. To come out of the darkness now would be to show courage of a type that I’d never had to show before, never even known about. I had to search my own mind and body to find if there was a new part of me somewhere.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 7)
Ellie was innocent…
“At that moment I stopped being an innocent rural teenager and started becoming someone else, a more complicated capable person, a force to be reckoned with even, not just a polite obedient kid.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 7)
“On the other hand, on this particular night, it didn’t suit me at all. I was so very tired, so utterly exhausted. I was all in. I knew I couldn’t go another step. I hated Robyn for saying that we had to. I waited for someone else to say something, though: I had too much pride to be the one. Then I realised no one was going to say it. Either they had as much pride as me, or else they weren’t as tired as me. Grimly, hating them all, I shouldered my pack.” (The Third Day, The Frost, Chapter 6)
“I didn’t confess how wrecked I was. Let them keep thinking I was superwoman if they wanted. I knew the truth.” (The Third Day, The Frost, Chapter 6)
“The wind was getting colder and fiercer and I honestly don’t know if it was stinging my eyes and making them water or if the tears were being pushed out by something else. But whichever it was I kept blinking till they were gone. No professional soldier was going to see me crying. Not to mention Homer.” (Darkness Be My Friend, Chapter 3)
“I had too much pride for that: even if it killed me I wasn’t going to scream.” (Burning For Revenge, Chapter 8 )
Ellie on relationships…
“I felt guilty even thinking about love while our world was in such chaos, and especially when my parents were going through this terrible thing. It was the steers at the abattoirs all over again. But my heart was making its own rules and refusing to be controlled by my conscience. I let it run wild, thinking of all the fascinating possibilities.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 13)
“So we talked, first time in a long time. We’d always been friends – we were practically raised together – but I’d been finding him suffocating in recent months, so I’d given him more room. Sometimes I just wanted to breathe my own air. Wherever there was Homer there wasn’t room for much else. We didn’t seem to have the time for relationships these days. No, not the time: the energy.” (The Third Day, The Frost, Chapter 4)
“They were the beats of my heart, the skin of my body, the breath that entered my mouth and nostrils. They were the beautiful friends who had taught me that love was the life-force.” (The Other Side Of Dawn, Chapter 11)
Ellie’s sense of doubt…
“I too had blood on my hands, like the Hermit, and just as I couldn’t tell whether his actions were good or bad, so too I couldn’t tell what mine were. Had I killed out of love of my friends, as part of a noble crusade to rescue friends and family and keep our land free? Or had I killed because I valued my life above that of others? Would it be OK for me to kill a dozen others to keep myself alive? A hundred? A thousand? At what point did I condemn myself to Hell, if I hadn’t already done so? The Bible just said ‘Thou shalt not kill’, then told hundreds of stories of people killing each other and becoming heroes, like David with Goliath. That didn’t help me much.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 16)
Ellie on future…
“Well, you can’t tell the future with emotions, that’s another way of putting it. So if it’s five o’clock Friday, which it is, and I’m going for a run at six o’clock which I wouldn’t mind doing by the way, if you’re up for it, it’s a waste of time for me to moon around now saying, ‘Oh I hate the idea of going for a run, I’m so tired and it’ll be so hard,’ because I don’t know how I’ll feel at six o’clock. At one minute to six I may get a sudden rush of energy and think there’s no better idea in the universe than going for a run.” (Circle Of Flight, Chapter 27)
Ellie on paradoxes…
“I think I was starting to understand one of the great paradoxes. I love paradoxes. I think they contain all the truth in the world. The only trouble is that I can’t understand them. ‘The more things change, the more things stay the same’. ‘The greater your knowledge, the less you know.’ ‘Most people aren’t brave enough to be cowards.’ ‘Every exit is an entry to somewhere.’ ‘Less is more.’ I mean, I understand those, but I have to work at it. I remember during the war Homer saying to me ‘I’m an atheist’, and then adding, ‘Thank God.’ (Incurable, Chapter 11)
Ellie on the war…
“It seemed that life was heading towards one extreme or the other. That was another thing I’d learned about war – it was big on extremes. Maybe that’s why the old men struck me as kind of excited when they talked about their wars. Sure they talked about the suffering and the fear and the grief, but you felt that underneath was a secret, and the secret was that the war was the biggest and most exciting thing in their lives.
I knew that whatever else happened I would never feel that way about this war. Maybe if no-one I knew had been killed, but this war had cost me so much that I could never think of it as exciting, or an adventure. It would always be the worst time of my life, and with all my being I longed for it to end.” (The Other Side Of Dawn, Chapter 6)
Ellie on life…
“Life’s about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It’s about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, love, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off. I don’t want to be happy. I know I won’t live happily ever after. I want more than that, something richer. I want to go right up close to the beauty and the ugliness.
I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all. The richness and the poverty, the joy and the cruelty, the sweetness and the sadness. That’s the best way I can honour my friends who died. That’s the best way I can honour my parents who brought me into this world. That’s the best way I can lead a life I can be proud to call my own. I want to experience everything it has to offer: LIFE!” (The Other Side Of Dawn, Epilogue)