The Road

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by CharW
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The Road

The Road

The Road is the story of a father and son, and their journey across post-apocalyptic America. Day after day they set out, traveling down a deserted highway, ‘the road”. Their only purpose, other than survival, is to reach the southern coast, though it’s never clear why. Throughout The Road, there is a continued theme of the sruggle between good and evil, and whether constant exposure to brutality can force someone to loose their humanity.

Never named throughout the story, the boy is the son of the man. Forced to grow up exposed to constant violence, he’s surprisingly capable and perceptive for his age. And though he’s been forced into a world full of dnager and brutality, he still believes in goodness and peace.

The man is the main protagonist of The Road. He has a fierce love for his son, and does anything to keep him alive, and to shield him from the evil of other survivors. The man is tough, resourceful, and good; but even he can’t understand the blind kindness of his son.

As the boy and man leave the bomb shelter to continue traveing, they meet an old blind man on the side of the road, who has no food or supplies. Immediately, the boy pities the old man, and asks his father if they can share with him their food and protection. The father is reluctant-he knows they’ll regret it when when their stores eventually run out again. However, he allows the boy to help the old man. They shelter him for the night, giving him two meals, warmth and safety. As the father and son part from the old man, he asks them why the boy was so kind. Most travelers on the road are brutal cannibals, thinking only of their own survival; the boy was different, empathetic and compassionate. The father responds, “you’ll never be able to understand. I don’t think I do.” Even in the brutal and violent world he’s lived his entire life in, the boy will immediately revert to good. He hasn't grown up with please or thank you, or the golden rule however he lives by all the values people in our world toay strive to have. The son represents the inherent good in humanity.

The man has a great responsibility. He needs to keep both himself and his son alive, no matter how hard, and no matter the cost. Like his son, the man has stayed good, even under the harsh circumstances of the future. However, he has been forced to threaten, hurt and kill other survivors in order to save himself and the boy. He is strong and capable in front of his son, and powerful and intimidating to the enemy, however his time on the road has started to break him. The man struggles with his memories of the Earth before the apocalypse in comparison to his time in it afterwards. The long stretches without food have made him weak, though he continues to fight hard to survive for the boy. Though, there are many times he wishes he was one of the lucky-those who died early on. When a traveler steals all of his and his son's belongings from their camp, the man finally snaps. He and his son hunt down the thief, and retrieve their supplies. Normally, the man would leave after regaining what was stolen. But this time, he cruelly forces the thief at gunpoint to give up all of his own meager belongings-food, and the clothing and shoes from off his body-in order to leave the thief how the thief left them. This unnecessary act of cruelty shows that though the man struggles to stay good, the violence and brutality has begun to infect him, and he does not have the moral strength of his son to stay pure. The man is like most epople in our world; good, but struggling with circumstances and his own human nature.

Throughout the road, there is not only a theme of goodness between the father and son, but between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. Whenever meeting stray travelers on the road, the boy always asks his father if they are the good guys, or the bad guys. The bad guys are the cannibals, hunting people to eat, and to keep as human livestock. They patrol the roads in large groups, and have many guns- sometimes even a car. The good guys would be like the man and boy, living off of tin cans of food they have to forage for. Through their years on the road, the man and boy have not met a single good survivor, only brutal cannibals, and theifs. However, they are determined to stay good, trying to hold onto their humanity, and to carry the fire.




One of the main problems the man and boy face on the raod is the complete desolation of the land. As they travel, they have to forage for food and supplies, which they keep in a shopping cart. However, the land is barren and food is scarce and hard to find. They often go many long and cold days without eating. Usually they can find something to sustain them-some old dried apples, or a few tins of food tucked away in a house. But eventually there has to come a time when resources run out and they will starve.

Throughout the book, the man explains to his son that the reason they struggle to survive, in a world where death is preferable to living, is to carry the fire. As "good guys", it’s their responsibility to find the other good survivors, and to band together. As a group they could continue to uphold humanity, goodness and righteousness.

Near the end of the book, the man’s weakness takes over. He is exhausted and sick. He lies down, and finds that he can’t get up. The boy tries to nurse him back to health; but they both know it’s in vain. Soon after, the father dies, leaving the boy alone on the road. Only several days after the death of hisfather, the boy meets a band of travelers; the first good guys he comes across on the road. He joins their band, a large group of survivors who beleive in what he and his father did. They take the boy in, offer him supplies, food and protection, and ogether, they continue to travel the road, carrying the fire.

At one point when their stores run low, and the man and boy are very close to starvation, they find an underground bomb shelter full of food and supplies. They rest there for several days, stocking up on food and blankets, before having to continue on. Though the bunker was plentiful, it left them vulnerable. It was a challenge for them to leave their breif moment of comfort. Continuing on the road meant returning to reality-a world full of evil and coated in ash. Both were reluctant to do so; death seems to be favorable to life on the road. However, they set out, continuing their routine struggle to survive, while both the man and boy almost wish they'd died.

Though it’s unclear what caused the apocalypse, from the descriptions of the landscpae, it can be inferred there was some was fire. All the vegetation is scorched, with no signs of re-growth, and there is a constant layer of ash over the ground and in the air. Due to the atmosphere being clouded with debris, the sun’s heat can’t reach the ground, leaving the land barren, cold and desolate. It's because og this that the food is soscarce. No animal could surviv,and no plant could grow.











"Each the others world entire"

"The silence. The salitter drying from the earth"

A Distopian Futuristic novel by Cormac McCarthy


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