Why did Joel save Ellie

Updated: Aug 29, 2020



In front of the obvious choice of possibly saving the world with the minimal price of sacrificing the life of a little girl, Joel chose to save her life. Why?


Philosopher Harry Frankfurt pointed out that our love for our children is the purest kind of love. Our kids certainly transform our life to become something truly colorful, adds more weight and meaning to our life. It gives each parent a completely new identity, reason to live for and the child even physically and psychologically become part of the parent. What happens when all of these are taken away all of a sudden, for no reason?


Joel’s daughter Sarah was killed by a soldier while fleeing from the chaos. Joel lived in the pain of unable to protect his daughter for 12 years until an incident happened, he needs to retrieve his cache from the rebel militia fireflies with the price of smuggling a teenage girl Ellie to them. As Joel and Ellie conquered countless obstacles and truly witnessed the annihilation of human nature in front of ‘Survival’, they grew much closer and care for each other. At this stage, Joel does not notice how much Ellie is like his daughter. He did not realize how Ellie is gradually becoming a part of his life and he would give up his life to protect Ellie because he failed to do so for this daughter, as a path of salvation.


All the previous events lead to the final decision when Joel knew that Ellie will die after the process of extracting the infection portion off Ellie’s brain. One sacrifice and the world could possibly be saved, however, Joel decided to rescue Ellie and hide the truth away from her. There can be a few possible explanations behind the decision. As Ellie grew closer and closer to Joel, she secretly filled in the broken part in Joel’s heart. Joel failed to protect his own daughter and he doesn’t want to lose another person who already became a part of his life. Moreover, Ellie’s existence possibly directed Joel’s conception of the world into a completely different direction. As the chaos took place, having forced to change the status quo for everybody, how do you find meaning in life and what else is there to treasure in the world? The question lies on what is Joel’s conception of the world, is there really a point for Joel to save a world that he won’t find a sense of belonging to anymore? Ellie brought a completely new meaning to his life and helped shape a brand new identity that he prefers over the previous one, he wants to protect his new identity and he does not want to experience the pain of losing it again.


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