Blog Post 10: Quotations and Questions

Hi everyone,

As a way of starting our thinking about McCarthy’s The Road, this blog post is largely open-ended much as our some of our other recent ones have been, with a little bit of structuring and direction to help us raise issues in the text for Monday. In your post, you should do two things:

  • First, focus in and do a little quotation and close analysis of one passage from this first chunk of the text to talk about its significance in terms of larger issues in the novel — what seems to be important in the section you choose, and how does McCarthy make that happen in his language? Our collective goal here should be to cover as much ground as possible, so look through what’s been posted before you start writing, and if someone has already written on the passage you’re interested in, try to take your analysis of that piece in a different direction or write about another section of the text.
  • Second, you should pose two specific analytical questions for us to think about in our discussion. Think of these as jumping-off points for our larger group thinking — these can focus on moments or issues you find puzzling, or larger ideas you think are important to discuss. These questions can come from the passage you write about, but they don’t necessarily have to.

We’ll use some of this material in class to structure how we think through the first section of the text — I’m interested to see what everyone brings to the table!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, November 6th. After class on Monday, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 9th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.


24 thoughts on “Blog Post 10: Quotations and Questions

  1. Jessica Pavia
    Blog Post 10

    The passage I found significant was the scene of the narrator and his wife where she is about to kill herself (55-58). She has reached such a point of hopelessness, in a way that is begging for the others to be brought in. In a way similar to Sethe in Beloved, she finds death a safer place than where they are now, saying “I should have done it a long time ago. When there was three bullets in the gun instead of two. […] I didn’t bring myself to this. I was brought. […] I’d take him with me if it werent for you. […] It’s the right thing to do” (56). There’s an anger in her state of desolation. A need to take others with her, even if she doesn’t say it outright or refuses such an idea. Once defeated by the narrator’s persistence of not quite hope but a humane need to continue, she goes on with what is written by Cormac to be an incredibly selfish suicide, after saying “[her] only hope is for eternal nothingness and [she hopes] it with all [her] heart” (57). She even refuses to say goodbye to her son. Which leads to perhaps the most depressing part of this passage: the son’s reaction to discovering his mother is gone. Cormac writes “In the morning the boy said nothing at all and when they were packed and ready to set out upon the road he turned and looked back at their campsite and he said: She’s gone isn’t she? And he said: Yes, she is” (58). It’s in the absence of his reaction that so much is said. Even this young boy has been so affected by the desolation of the world around him, that it seems there is no difference in life and death. And maybe that is how the wife felt in the moment she killed herself, that there was no reason to stay in such a painful world if death is the same.

    – Why do you think the grammar between the dialogue and narration is different? (Ex: in the dialogue–only–Cormac doesn’t use apostrophes)
    – Why was the son so scared to go into the narrator’s old house?


    • I agree that it seems the wife, like Sethe in Beloved, finds death a safer place than where they are now. I am continually wondering why the man has such a persistence to stay alive. It is because he is scared of death? Because it goes against his religion? Or does he still have some form of hope for a better life? The difference between the man and his wife is their reaction to this new world. You say that for the wife, “there’s an anger in her state of desolation.” In contrast, the man seems never to be angry, and to never really lose control. In fact, he seems to lack all emotions, except for a sadness about/yearning for the past. The boy and the man stay so strong throughout the novel, never complaining or getting angry at the circumstance. I do not know if this is a sign of strength or just a necessary survival skill—a need to distance themselves from all emotions and concerns. As you bring up, I also think the idea of what it means to be selfish is key in this novel. In a world where nothing is yours, being selfish looks very different than in today’s modern world. You say that McCarthy writes the wife’s suicide to be seen as “incredibly selfish” yet I also think it is somewhat selfish to keep the boy alive in a world where he has to suffer. As you said, “even this young boy has been so affected by the desolation of the world around him, that it seems there is no difference in life and death.” This can be seen how the boy repeatedly says he doesn’t care if he dies. However, the boy is still terrified every time they encounter near death experiences, making the reader think he is not as impartial to death as he acts like he is. In this world it is hard to know if it is better to be alive or dead, and it is hard to know which actions are selfish vs. necessary.


    • I agree that the wife believes that death is a much safer place than the world she is living in now. With regard to one of your questions, I believe that other than what we had talked about in class, the grammar may be different in this novel because since this is taking place in a post apocalyptic world, the rules of grammar that were used in the previous world, no longer are used in this new world. In essence, everything from the past world is forgotten and humanity has to restart and begin life all over again.


      • I see where you are going with this idea, but then why would what we understand as grammar be continued in the narrative? I agree with the absence of certain grammar rules as a parallel to the furthering into dystopia (and totally not supported but it would be cool if we say less and less punctuation be used the further we go in the novel). Perhaps the remaining grammar stands with the memories of the narrator? And the reason why certain forms of punctuation only exists in his narration is because the dialogue doesn’t belong to anyone and thus is not affected by his memories of the long ago.


  2. Also on the passage from page 55 to 58: flashback to the man and his wife’s past after their child was born. Whereas the man wants to keep on living and surviving in this world, his wife decides to commit suicide after what we can presume was a long time of reflection: «The hundred nights they’d sat up debating the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall» (58). What is interesting her is the way she presents her decision, as if it was forced onto her by circumstances more than her own personal choice (« I didnt bring myself to this. I was brought. And now I’m done.» 56). By doing so she symbolically situates herself as deprived of free-will in presenting her upcoming death as a decision made for her. She explains the reasons to this, in the world they live in it is better to die in your own terms than face a life of danger overshadowed by death: «Sooner or later they will catch us and they will kill us. They will rape me. They’ll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you wont face it» (56).
    Another point in this passage I want to discuss is the parent’s relation to their son, the wife clearly states (in a way which isn’t without reminding us of our class discussion on Beloved) that the right thing to do would be to kill their son too rather than having him life under such threats: «I’d take him with me if it werent for you. You know I would. It’s the right thing to do» (56). Though she decides against this because the boy is the man’s hope and the only reason he still has the will to survive: «the boy was all that stood between him and death» (29). Which is paradoxical because he isn’t enough of a reason for her though she was the one to give birth to him. The importance of this father-son bond is emphasized later on in the passage («you wont survive for yourself» 57) as well as further on in the novel: «My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?» (77). Thus the boy embodies tow different things for each of his parents, while he is a reason to survive for the man, he is also a source of pain and sorrow for the wife («My heart was ripped out of me the night he was born» 57.
    Finally, I think that the tension between Eros and Thanatos is central to this passage as well as to the whole novel, while the wife tells talks about the need for someone else as a reason to life (« […] coax it along with words of love.» 57), the understatement here is also the need for someone else’s love. Hence, because of her «whorish heart» (57) and maybe also from her exclusion from the father-son bond, the wife reconciles her inherent tension between Eros and Thanatos by personifying death as a lover: «I’ve taken a new lover. He can give me what you cannot. / Death is not a lover. / Oh yes he is» (57).
    In the light of this tension between life and death, I think it would be interesting to focus our discussion on the question of good and evil in the novel. Which can also raise the question of the forms in which evil takes place here, as there clearly is a distinction between natural evil (the decaying apocalyptic world) and human evil.


    • I think that in the first part you presented it presents the same issue we came across in Beloved, the moral issue of whether it is better to live and be subjected to pain and torture at the hands of a fearful other, slaveowners or cannibalistic troupes, or whether it is better to die by your own hand. The wife presents a contrasting argument to Sethe’s in Beloved, where the wife does not think she has a choice and that it is so obvious that death is better than living through the torture of this destroyed world. It’s interesting because both Sethe and the wife are mothers in different terrible situations, and Sethe’s actions are based on love for her children while the wife’s actions only protect herself from the torture of others. Though it’s terrible to think, the wife abandons her child and doesn’t seem to have the same desire to protect him that Sethe does. Would it have been better for the wife to kill herself and her son as well to spare him, or is infanticide an act only Sethe would think to commit? Their situations are certainly different, but the choice between living in torture and dying is the same.


  3. I want to write about the nightmare the boy has where the wind-up penguin follows him without being wound up. The boy has faced a hard life, though we do not know when this apocalyptic-type government started, and lives alone with his father running away from people who want to kill and rape him. The boy wakes up from a nightmare that symbolizes his loss of innocence and childhood because a toy of his has turned sinister. The boy says, “I had this penguin that you wound up and it would wadle and flap its flippers. And we were in that house that we used to live in and it came around the corner but nobody had wound it up and it was really scary… The winder wasn’t turning” (36-37). In the dream, the boy is in his old house from childhood, and the penguin stalks him by coming around the corner of the street, representing the sinister people that will eventually consume his childhood. The child-like toy can walk without anybody winding it, and the boy seems to be the most disturbed by this because he repeats this fear twice, “nobody had wound it up…the winder wasn’t turning.” The symbolic meaning behind why the penguin walks without being wound could represent the how the government, or the force that is inflicting the fear and pain on the people, seems to be wound up without a cause. Common people run for their lives, and if they are found, they are brutally attacked and killed. The people are not sure what they have done to deserve such punishment. As the man has told the readers, “in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime…” (33). The penguin represents the child’s loss of childhood, enjoyment and life, because they are being murdered, figuratively and literally, by the government.

    The thing that makes the scenes seem more empty is the way that the father and son react to each other by simply stating, “okay.” After the boy tells the father about his dream, the dad replies nothing but “okay.” It is as if he is dismissing the boy’s fears and problems, but acknowledges them at the same time. The response “okay” is continuous throughout the novel, which I guess will be my question for the class: Why does McCarthy have the father and son say “okay” constantly? Is it to make each other stronger by not dwelling on issues that haunt them? Do they mean to be dismissive?


    • I think the penguin goes beyond government, because you could further argue that a government does not exist in this world. There are no rules or laws; there are no causes for anything, there is only absence of reason. Anything that happens just does without the need of an logical explanation, whether its being found and killed or a penguin acting by itself. In regards to your “okay” question, I think the answer is similar. What else is there to say? I don’t think either the boy or the man intend to be dismissive, it’s just another loss of explanation – there is no point to dwell.


  4. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road shows two men, a father and son who are not named, come across a post-apocalyptic world taking place somewhere in the United States. A quote that stood out to me was on page 57… The one thing I can tell you is that you wont survive for yourself. I know because I would never have come this far. A person who had no one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body. The man’s wife seems to be contemplating suicide. The woman is saying to her husband that you will be able to survive because you care greatly and love your son so much. I believe that the deeper meaning with this quote is, for the sake of anyone to survive the aftermath of the destruction caused by the apocalypses, humans must have love for one another. Another quote that stood out to me was on page 32… He did not take care of her and she died alone somewhere in the dark and there is no other dream nor other waking world and there is no other tale to tell. On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was? I believe that the meaning of this quote is to understand the significance of the present is and to never look back on the past since it cannot be changed. If you live in the present time, you can control what has yet to come.
    What I found strange with this novel is why does McCarthy not use quotation marks when one of the characters is speaking or why does he not use apostrophes?
    Why doesn’t McCarthy tell the reader how the world became such a disaster?


  5. Rebekah Clapham

    For this post I want to focus on the passage on page 77. On this page the man says to the boy “you wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?” The boy responds by asking “are we still the good guys?” and the man replies “yes. We’re still the good guys” and “we always will be.” This passage seems to be representative of one of the main larger issues of the novel—maintaining humanity in a world that demands animalistic behavior to survive. The real question is what does it mean to be good in this new world? And what makes the main characters the “good guys” compared to everyone else who is trying to do the same things they are—survive? I think this passage, as representative of larger themes of the novel, is highlighting the loss of humanity and “goodness” that comes with the loss of rules, regulations, and civilization. Depending on what further happens in the novel, McCarthy could be suggesting humans are simply animalistic in nature and when their social reality is deconstructed they revert to their original animal nature to survive. McCarthy could be implying that there is no innate, true “goodness” in people. The writing style of this passage (and the whole novel) is interesting and further representative of this loss of humanity. McCarthy does not use quotation marks and other grammatical tools suggesting all civilization is gone. It also makes it hard to know if the man is talking to himself, the narrator is talking, or the boy and the man are talking to each other. I think this provides more of a look into their state of mind, and symbolizes how close the characters are to losing their sanity. I also think it is important that the characters do not have names—they are just described as the boy, the son, the man, or “papa.” This lack of identity additionally embodies the loss of civilization but it also implies that these characters could be anyone. Everyone alive in this world right now probably thinks they are the “good guys,” just doing whatever necessary to stay alive. So far, it seems that in this world there are no true “good guys” and “bad guys” but people relying on their animalistic nature to respond to circumstance. In addition, this passage, along with multiple other passages in the novel, brings up the existence of God. The best way these characters try and hold on to their humanity is through this reliance on God—God seems to be the only connection to the previous, civilized world, and the only thing that provides hope for the characters. While it is still early in the novel, I would like to see if McCarthy is suggesting good guys and bad guys can exist in this animalistic, dehumanized world, or if he is implying that without the constructions of a civilized society, good and evil no longer exist.

    My questions are
     What do you think the man’s dreams are representative of? Specifically the ones on pages 18 and 32.
     Why do you think McCarthy repeatedly uses the word “okay” in his dialogue between the two characters?


  6. McCarthy’s novel The Road gives a bleak view into the post-apocalyptic society of a burned America, where father and son head south with only the road to guide them as the last functional piece of industrialized humanity. In the novel, dialogue is sparse and unquoted, which is a major grammatical confusing choice made by the author and would be incredibly confusing for a novel based mostly on dialogue with many characters. By contrast, the absence of quotations in the novel give the text a kind of flow where quotations could disrupt the quiet bleakness of the father and son’s conversations. Their dialogue only consists of short questions and responses that are solely informative, aided by the internal monologue of the father as narrator. Through the father’s thoughts, the novel is a bleakly realist view of a father’s journey of bringing his son to safety. He is plagued with the suicide of his wife (55-58), a dialogue-focused passage that is consistent with the absence of quotations, in which the speaker is always obvious even without explicit direction from the author, similar to the conversations between father and son. With the father and son conversations, the son’s voice can be deduced by being the questioner, son asks a question and father is the source of knowledge. The conversation between father and mother reverses this by the father being the unknowing questioner and the mother being the answerer of much more sinister questions. Throughout the novel, it is possible that the father will run out of answers to the son’s questions, and their roles may need to reverse.


  7. Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road is a father-son story set in a post apocalyptic world. McCarthy provides a massive generation divide by allowing the man’s view of the world to have never intersected with his son’s, “the world that for him was not even a memory,” (53). The reader briefly gains insight into the man’s world in an early passage on page 13 where the man reflects on a day with his uncle. Here, McCarthy uses a bright and familiar sense of natural imagery that now feels out of place.
    The man reflects on the most picturesque and innocent day of his childhood. There are “birchtrees that stood bone pale against the dark of the evergreens,” (13), and the man could take his shoes off and walk on “warm painted boards,” (13). The world was once more than just a cold, grey landscape. Before the colorlessness of a “birchtree” set contrast from rich greens and warmth could be found, it did not have to be made; now there is only darkness. The absence of color is ever present, attributing to McCarthy’s hopeless mood. Instead, the man looks for other ways to give his son a sense of hope, using this day as “the day to shape days upon,” (13). But the son knows nothing else then the colorless world they inhabit. When his father attempts to “treat” (23) him, the boy demands that they both benefit from such rare pleasures like Coca Cola or hot chocolate. The boy does not want specialities, he only wants comfort whenever he feels scared. The boy only desires basic parental love – the simple extravagance of his father’s memories are too much for him. The boy can appreciate his father’s small gifts, he cannot fully accept them because he knows no real difference between their two lives. The man believes his son has been robbed of a traditional upbringing; to him they suffer differently. However the boy believes that as long as he and his father remain being “the good guys” (77) then they will live equally.
    How do the boy and man view death differently?
    How do the flipped ideas of suffering and living further shape McCarthy’s novel?


  8. From this section of the novel, the Road seems to establish some very dark and pessimistic themes about human nature in relation to the rest of the universe. The night after the man and boy cross the bridge, the man awakens to a forest fire. As he heads back to camp, the tent and its surroundings are described. McCarthy states, “Sited there in the darkness the frail blue shape of it looked like the pitch of some last venture to the edge of the world. Something all but accountable. And so it was”(48). This sense of unaccountability and uncertainty seemed to relate to a particular question pondered by the man in an earlier section of the novel in which he asks, “How does the never to be differ from what never was?”(32). There’s a sense that human presence in this novel seems insignificant, in relation to the earth and universe. We have not yet been explained how or why the man and boy are living in the disastrously grey world, but perhaps there is no need to explain. Our world is becoming perpetually greyer and hazardous, and less and less do we focus on the bigger questions of existence, and what it means to be apart of a greater existence. The concept that humans will always be dominant has blinded us from the damage we are causing to our environment, not just in a literal polluted sense as the apocalypse in The Road seems to imply, but also from seeing our true insignificance to the rest of time and the universe. When the man and boy encounter the man struck by lighting, the boy asks “Who is it”, while the man answers with “I don’t know. Who is anybody?”(49). In this post apocalyptic world, humans are no longer the top of the food chain, and McCarthy uses this to emphasize how insignificant we really are.

    Here are some questions that’d be worth addressing, especially in expanding these ideas, and McCarthy’s overall purpose of The Road:

    What is existence and how does it differ/function in this post apocalyptic world?

    How does the perpetual grey imagery relate to the function of nihilism in this novel?

    Why is McCarthy addressing these topics?


  9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a story about a boy and his father travelling along a road and as they travel this road, they encounter certain obstacles and regain certain memories as they push forward to their destination. The section I will analyze is when the boy askes his father about death and where they are going. When they were getting ready to go to bed, the boy randomly asked, “Are we going to die?”(McCarthy 10). This shows the boy is well aware of what is to come in the distant future because of the destroyed environment that they are trying to overcome.My question to counter this question is why did the author have the boy ask this question so early in the book? This makes it seem that they have no hope for survival even though the man said that the may die in the mountains. He also asked if they were still going to south which the man answered yes to. My question to this is does the boy know where they are going because their destination isn’t clear to the readers either. All we know is that they are moving south in a destroyed environment and coping with the weather and certain memories that come up as they move along the road. The fact that this piece, and the book in its entirety, has no quotation marks makes it difficult to know who’s talking and its also hard to know when it transfers from dialogue to the story’s narration. This is important because you have to pay close attention to when stops are made and when something is talked about even if its a breif conversation.


  10. Iona Herriott
    Blog Post 10

    ” The sparks rushed upward and died in the starless dark. Not all dying words are true and this blessing is no less real for being shorn of its ground”( page 31). In McCarthy’s The Road there is an on going theme of desolation, not just in the physical world but in the mindsets and point of views of the characters in the novel.Due to the level of desolation , there are several references to a ” higher power” and intense attention to “light” and “lack of light”. The quote I selected is in the same paragraph as when the boy(unnamed) adds firewood to the flame. the quote itself is important because in the midst of the world in a post- apocalyptic state , man himself attempts to find God in the lowest of circumstances. The man( unnamed ) finds a way to survive for the boy and himself and even finds joy during the darkest of times i.e: the brief ride in the cart, finding the coca-cola. It would appear that McCarthy is suggesting that he that continues to work toward a goal will learn from the journey and find some pleasure as well, despite all hardships that he may face. The man is consistent about protecting his son, his personal ” light” and his reason for living. The quote ties in because despite the world around the two individuals is dying and most of those they encounter are dead.However, the little blessing ;the will to live on, find safety and survive are not worth any less because of how hard it is to achieve them. While the emotional and physical price is high there is , even in a place as desolate and hopeless as the world they are living in, the opportunity to tear aside the the illusion and find something of substance and something worth holding on to. The itself is written in such a poetic and beautiful way that it contrasts sharply with the world being described and not only that but conversations take place in stanza form as if not to be seen as ugly as it is, but this world that ” lacks light” is read in a far more beautiful way.

    Is the novel seemingly more poetic because of the love of the father for the son and the actions he takes to protect him or strictly because of the language of the novel and why?

    Are the dying words that the narrator speaks on referring the the dying words of civilization in the novel or the dying of the man’s hope and will to live?


  11. The section that I most enjoyed occurred on pages 10-11 where the boy and the man talk about death. The boy simply asks, “Are we going to die?” and the man answers, “Sometime. Not now.” (McCarthy 10). This simple exchange and the following questions the boy asks, I believe humanizes the characters a lot and distances them from the apocalyptic world around them. It is like a small child asking all these huge questions to his father. The relationship that we see between these two characters is also revealed here, as being very father and son like, even though it seems like they are not related and only need each other to stay sane in a world where there is no one else to be with. The simple idea of mortality in this exchange and the way in which the diction is so bland in the answer from the man, also creates a sort of mildness to the death and carnage that surrounds them. At the same time though, death and mortality that surround these characters makes the walking and simply finding shelter things in the novel seem so much more heroic. The man is a hero to this boy, he cares for him and protects him from the rain that will kill them and all the other harmful things. At the same time he needs him so that he has a purpose to keep going because as he says, “If you died I would want to die too.” (McCarthy 11). This isolation idea also plays into the ideas of this conversation of mortality. In death, the man would be even more isolated and alienated from the rest of the world. People need this sort of connection with someone. The man talks as if the boy dying would just be the end of his world as well as this world as the man knows it. The boy is the man’s last vestige to the life he once had and still sees glimpses of.

    Why is there these very small sections/paragraphs that describe the smallest of things then moves on like on page 32? They are descriptive and yet very specific on what they are speaking about then jump to another idea.

    Why are neither of the characters named?


    • Jeremy,

      I do agree that the constant dialogue between the dad and the boy about death all throughout the novel humanizes the characters more and it gives the reader an assurance that there is still some remains of humanness in the post-apocalyptic world. What makes humans unique compared to other animals is our ability to realize we will die some day and this realization often impact how we think and behave in this world. In like manner, the realization of death has made the relationship between the boy and the man more intimate. To avoid the inevitable, the man has to scavenge for food and he is forced to constantly monitor the world they are in to warrant safety of the boy and himself. The boy then looks the man as a heroic figure. Moreover knowing death will come someday has also encouraged the man and the boy to speak openly about the troubles of the world and things that a young boy should not be informed on.


  12. A significant piece of dialogue may be found on page 12 between the father and the son.

    “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 don’t you?
    Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget” (McCarthy 12).

    This simplistic exchange between the two characters says so much about their relationship and about the scary world they are living in. The concept of memory is discussed in such a unique and interesting way here— McCarthey is suggesting that we have a role between what we want to think about and what we do not. If this idea is so relevant to the characters, is this idea represented in the way the story is told at all? Does it change the story? Does this suggest that there are parts of the story we are not getting because of a faulty memory? This dialogue exchange reminds me of the type of dependent love that is needed as a mode of survival in this novel; the way love is used almost as a weapon to protect themselves from the world around them. Every action of the fathers dictates whether the son will live or die. Another question I have considered in response to our reading in general is in relation to McCarthey’s structure. Why is it that he chose not to use quotations with the dialogue? Does this have a meaning? Personally, it was one of the very first eye-catching choices I noticed when I started reading. In my opinion, it contributed to the dark, dream-like tone that carries throughout the novel.


    • I absolutely agree with you. For todays reading, the father talked about a dream he had in which he remembered his wife, in which he describes it not being completely accurate. McCarthy states, “What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not” (131). As I read I felt myself reading passages that were very similar, as if I had already read them. For instance, there were many passages where the boy would ask about death, and many passages related to sleep. After awhile, this made me wonder do any of these individual passages really differ in meaning from the others, but perhaps they work together as one memory generalized over a period of time. If you were to think back to your summer, you’d think of many warm nights and the sound of crickets, but you wouldn’t think of every individual night, but rather a cultivation of those nights to create a sense of similar, but overall somewhat “false” or distorted memories. These memories in themselves exist in their own reality, whether or not they actually happened. This may also be why the characters are unnamed, because perhaps they represent a series of people traveling the world, and not just one particular journey. Overall, this pushes me to believe further the metaphorical, and greater implications the Road makes beyond simply a plot driven story.


  13. I chose to write about the passage on page 12 of The Road where the boy and the narrator see a corpse and the narrator tells the boy “the things you put into your head are there forever”. This section seems significant to me because a large part of the story so far relates to a juxtaposition of the post apocalyptic world with the pre apocalyptic one. In this passage there are references to the idea of fossils of the past, and a sort of relationship between memories and the way they interact with our perception of the present world. The boy’s impression of the world as it stands in this future is all that he knows, but the narrator knows what the world was like so the entire world is compared to the old world in his mind.
    “Cars in the street caked with ash, everything covered with ash and dust” ash and dust are both remanence of the past, they are the crumbled remnants of what was once something more. The cars themselves are simply relics of an age where they could actually fill the streets with cars, and here they are covered in the physical remnants of that age, which is not much. “Fossil tracks in the dried sludge” the word “fossil” obviously has direct connection to the idea of a way of remembering the past, and the sludge that this fossil is buried in gives this a depressing weight to it.
    There is a continued bridge between relics of the past and a dark perspective, “A corpse in a doorway dried to leather. Grimacing at the day” the corpse being representative of the past, with the grimace showing us what this corpse things of the destroyed world. This almost conjures the image of those people who are of the past scoffing at the ruined world they left behind. The section is punctuated with the statement, “You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget” showing us both the helplessness that the characters feel and the power that the past seems to hold over the future, in their minds.
    I think it is important to think about why Cormac McCarthy decided to not use quotation marks or any sort of marks of the passage of time? It seems to have a very strong and specific effect on me as a read this novel. I also think it is interesting which objects McCarthy decides to give us descriptions of, I wonder why he chooses to tell us there is a pile of bones on the ground in a house, but he tells us almost nothing about the house itself? (Pg 26)


  14. After reading the first section of “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, a passage I decided to focus on for deeper analysis is the dialogue between the son and the father on page 11. This passage is significant at first because it is the first moment in the story in which the style of writings shifts from small paragraph blocks into a more dialogue centered feature. The difference is so obvious that the reader is automatically forced to think about the dialogue as a significant part of the story. From the whole dialogues, two words were often repeated: death and okay. I think that Cormac purposefully did this in order to highlight and foreshadow important motifs in the story. Death, the obvious, being an imminent threat in both the man and his son’s life. But the narrator also deepens the metaphor when he explored the idea of life for both the father and the son being dependent of the other being alive. The kid says, “What would you do if I died? If you died I would want to die too” (Cormac 11). I think this raises important questions about life and death, such as whether or not there is life for either the father or the son if the post-apocalyptic world without each other. The second repeated word, “okay”, brings up, in my opinion, another important themes. The first is if complacency. The son and the father become victims to a crumbling world and are forced to be adaptable and change according to the standards of this world, and this is highlighted by the son’s attitude, which seems to just accept the situation in the world they are in.

    Finally, two questions that I would like to bring up to the class is:
    – What do you think the nature of the relationship between the son and the father is suggesting? Both in reference to the rest of the novel, and as a critique to society?
    – The metaphor of “the Road” has been pretty clear and abundant: what direction do you think the author will take in the future?


  15. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a story of a father and a son traveling down south hoping to escape the brutal strengths of winter during a post apocalyptic world. The man and the boy, nameless, they give the reader a sense of solitude and the struggles of living in a completely ruined world. The man’s intention was stated earlier. The man’s objective to live totally relies on the safety of the boy. The man said, “That the boy was all that stood between him and death.” (20). The man’s motivation to keep living is depleted and what was remaining was the hope that someday the boy and him will get to a place that is warm and keeps them away from the terrible people. “He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.” (5). The statement introduces a fundamental ambiguity that God may or may not exist and that his son is the word of God or God never spoke. The uncertainty of God’s presence is not just in the universe of the road, but also in the minds of the man. McCarthy through the relationship of the boy and the man and the man and God, he painted the common tendency for humans to reach and believe in God more during difficult times. The boy helps the man keep sane by shining light on the man’s grayish and darkish perspective of the world and force him to look beyond what’s obvious and tangible. Through the boy, there is a sense of innocence and hope that the world will be tolerable in the future.

    Why don’t the protagonists have names? What’s McCarthy’s motivation for this?

    What happened to the world? In the first part of the reading, we have no clear knowledge of what happened.


    • I agree with what you are saying about god and his appearance and then getting pushed aside in the next section. The man seems to flip flop on the idea of god when it comes down to it. He looks around and sees all this destruction that has happened to this place and questions whether god does exist and if so why did he allow this to happen to the world. This is what McCarthy is trying to get across and though the book is very middle ground when it comes to the idea of god, this only gives us a stronger bond between the boy and man. I think we could bring up the past and memory aspect of the novel here as well. Things had been going good for the man and his son for a while before this unexplained apocalypse happened to the US and maybe the world. We may never get an explanation to it, but god was there during those times it seemed and has left the world since being destroyed. We can assume the bleakness seen in the man’s eyes is because of what he has seen in humanity and what it has become. The world does not simply do this overnight. Either this was a natural phenomenon like Yellowstone blowing up, or nuclear war, which has been at the for front of conversations for a long time now. The man might have lost his belief in god the same day he lost his belief in humanity as a predicational idea.


    • I think that the author didn’t tell us what happened in the world because he doesn’t want us to get caught up in the actual details of what was the actual cause of the apocalypse. There may be details as they move along the road that actually explains what exactly happened but it wouldn’t tell us all at one time. Certain memories would pop up and occur in order to explain what we don’t exactly know. Memories of the father would bleed into what the child may or may not remember about his childhood because it isn’t clear if he had one or how old he really is. As we read along the journey of the father and the son we will be able to know what the past held and what the future will hold.


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