The apocalypse mostly serves as a way to turn up the contrast on a hero's solitary battle to adapt and sally forth. Stripping away the complications and distractions of the modern world, what is our protagonist left with? The same melancholy and longing he or she always had, of course, but with far more of an excuse to feel these heavy emotions at every turn. Instead of injecting desperation, romance, solitude, and morbidity into a banal tale, these qualities are encoded in the apocalyptic novel's DNA, minimizing the trivial clutter and heightening the stakes. Values and ideas about morality are stripped down to their essential nature: Kill or be killed? Conform and tolerate oppression or escape and risk death?