It is about a man wandering the desolate Oregon countryside who finds a United States Postal Service uniform, which he puts on and then claims he is a mail carrier and federal inspector for the "Restored United States of America". His mail service and claims about the return of a central government gives hope to the people, who are threatened by a murderous hypersurvivalist army. Plot[ edit ] Despite the post-apocalyptic scenario and several action sequences, the book is largely about civilization and its symbols. Each of the three sections deals with a different symbol.
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Plot[ edit ] In , an unnamed nomad enters the Oregon flatlands, trading Shakespearean performances for food and water.
In one of the towns, the nomad is forced into the ranks of the predominant militia in the area, known as the Holnists and run by General Bethlehem. He convinces town sheriff Briscoe by showing a letter addressed to elderly villager Irene March.
The Postman inspires a teenager named Ford Lincoln Mercury and swears him into the postal service. The Postman also meets spouses Abby and Michael, fulfilling their clinical request to impregnate her. When the Postman leaves for the town of Benning, he carries a pile of mail left at the post office door by the townspeople. He burns the American flag and post office, kills Michael, kidnaps Abby, and next attacks the town of Benning. The Postman surrenders, but Abby saves him from execution, and the two escape into the surrounding mountains.
A pregnant Abby and an injured Postman ride out the winter in an abandoned cabin. When spring arrives, they cross the range and run into a girl, who claims to be a postal carrier. They have established communications with other settlements, creating a quasi-society and inadvertently spreading hope.
Bethlehem is still fighting to suppress the postal carriers, who are mostly teenagers pitted against a better-equipped enemy. In the face of mounting casualties, the Postman orders everyone to disband and writes a surrender letter to Bethlehem. The mounted Carriers and Holnists meet across a field.
Knowing the casualties will be great if the armies meet in battle, the Postman instead challenges Bethlehem for leadership, with their troops as witnesses.
The Postman wins the fight with inspiration from the "Neither snow nor rain" inscription , then offers Bethlehem a chance to build a new, peaceful world. Getty surrenders, and the rest of the Holnists follow.