He serves as a primary protagonist in the story.
Eli was in Tacoma, Washington, around the time of the epidemic. He tried to stay in Tacoma and combat the nearby gangs with his girlfriend, but she was killed. Jed took him in and he headed south towards San Francisco.
He expressed bravery when he believed his friends had been kidnapped by farmers, and tried to rescue them with an empty pistol. This was a futile effort, however, because the kidnappers were actually catholic farm girls, who were hosting his friends.
When the group came to Eugene, they encountered a vicious militia, and Eli was able to herd several of the younger children away, though they all scattered on their way out. He found Romello, and the two had a brief encounter with the militia before escaping.
After Jed's death, he and Romello both considered taking lead of the remaining group, though neither wanted the position. They rescued a boy named Gary from a group of cannibals, and adopted him into their group. He became severly depressed until they found Natalie and AJ on the road.
He, Romello, Natalie, AJ, and Gary, were all taken prisoner in New Ashland. After the execution of AJ and Natalie, and Romello's escape, Eli was exonerated and set free. He spent the rest of the day socializing with the people of the camp. His allergies pushed him to find Dr. Benway and ask for medication, but he found Benway's caged bats instead.
Dr. Benway tried to kill Eli for releasing his bats, but was shot by Rolf before he could do so. Believing New Ashland was safer than the open road, Eli chose to stay.
- Eli became second in command to Julia in New Ashland after Nathan's death. The position was originally offered to Rolf, who declined.