The Road - Cormac McCarthy

SUPER SHORT SUMMARY: This is a story based off the travel a father and son across a wasteland in a post-apocalypse world. Along the way, “the boy” and “papa” develop a unique relationship. This is a relationship that is built on the strength of familial bonds. It is also based on the need for Most families travel to get away from normal life, but in this setting, the father must raise his child (after being deserted by his wife) in a world where common things of the colorful world are not present. Ash blanketing the land, the two discover landmarks of the past world while the father describes his experience before the apocalypse to his child. Eventually, the father dies of lung cancer and his child must fend for himself against cannibals, hunger, and other people jeopardizing his survival in the wasteland.

BEST LINES: “Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that. You forget some things, dont you? Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.” — Cormac McCarthy, The Road

“He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

THEMATIC CONNECTIONS: The theme of the novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy: “Love prevails out of the toughest moments.” This theme is apparent in many instances. The love between the child and father continued with strength throughout the dystopian world, despite the occurrence of cannibalism and limited resources. The father often had flashbacks of the peaceful world. In these flashbacks, his love for his wife, who committed suicide, continued to haunt him through the world full of death. Even though she was a remnant of the past, he loved her and could not let go. I can relate this theme to that of a film made in 2001 called, “Pearl Harbour”. Despite being surrounded by death and destruction, romantic love found its way back to a nurse and pilot who discovered things in each other out of one of the most horrifying moment she in U.S history.

STYLE ANALYSIS: Tone- Cormac McCarthy’s tone throughout the book has many instances of faith and of doubt. The predominant figure of the tone is religious belief. The father says a quote, “The child was his warrant.” “If he is not the word of God God never spoke" (4). This means in faith, that his son is the future of the world; that his son is following the plan of god, letting him survive this long. In doubt, the father can’t see how there is a god in this hellish world. He thinks, “God was the savior of our sins, but now the world is a sin along with everyone inside it.” If there is a god at all, why would he let a world like this prevail.

Imagery- The majority of the imagery evolves around the road. The two protagonists fins all conflict along the road. The road can be described as a physical setting, but also, a mental state of being. Along the road, the setting is established incredibly well in one line in specific, “He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.” another great line of imagery, relating to the father’s flashbacks of the peaceful world: “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

Diction- words like “abandoned”, “bleak”, “ashen”, and “cauterize” are repeated words that Cormac uses in his writing to establish the setting of the post-apocalyptic world. Other words like “lolling”, “lazy”, “suffering”, even “suicide” are words used to describe the state of being of many characters throughout the plot. 

Syntax- McCarthy leaves out quotations and commas, as if to leave them in the peaceful world. He thinks in a hellish world like this, grammar is nothing but a remnant of the past. Certain absences of grammar mechanics add to the effect and reality of being in a post-apocalyptic world.

CRITIQUE: The book was full of adventure and concepts that were very well put together. Paternal love between the father and son, who were not given names, was a main focus. Alongside this, a true representation of a destroyed planet earth makes the audience realize how hard times may be in the future, telling us, to live in the moment and not let any second go to waste becuase in a short time, it may all be gone. What could have been better? Now being one of my favorite books, Cormac could have focused less on the depression factor. It was very degrading reading about the life of these two. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 12, mentioning that there were a few gruesome scenes.