The Road by Cormac McCarthyA searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
The Road Summary
Want more deets? Maybe you stumbled upon The Road because you're into the post-apocalyptic scene — you have a soft spot for Mad Max and Terminator movies, or found yourself enjoying Children of Men , 28 Days Later , and The Book of Eli. Or maybe you've read some of Cormac McCarthy's novels before. Either way, you're in for a treat with The Road. Not only did The Road — a book about and a father and son traversing a post-apocalyptic landscape — win Cormac McCarthy the Pulitzer Prize for literature, but The Times named it the best book of the decade. The attention didn't end there.
The Road opens after some unknown apocalyptic event has struck. The first few pages of the novel situate us in the landscape: ash, isolation, and a long road to travel. You could say the novel alternates between two settings: the road and excursions away from the road into houses or other possible food mother lodes. Although The Boy and The Man suffer from exposure to cold and from a lack of food, they don't encounter too much danger early on. That changes about a quarter of the way into the book. A group of "bad guys" basically, people out on the road who steal and rape and eat other people wakes up The Man one morning.
Some unnamed catastrophe has scourged the world to a burnt-out cinder, inhabited by the last remnants of mankind and a very few surviving dogs and fungi. The sky is perpetually shrouded by dust and toxic particulates; the seasons are merely varied intensities of cold and dampness. Bands of cannibals roam the roads and inhabit what few dwellings remain intact in the woods. Through this nightmarish residue of America a haggard father and his young son attempt to flee the oncoming Appalachian winter and head towards the southern coast along carefully chosen back roads. Mummified corpses are their only benign companions, sitting in doorways and automobiles, variously impaled or displayed on pikes and tables and in cake bells, or they rise in frozen poses of horror and agony out of congealed asphalt. The boy and his father hope to avoid the marauders, reach a milder climate, and perhaps locate some remnants of civilization still worthy of that name. They possess only what they can scavenge to eat, and the rags they wear and the heat of their own bodies are all the shelter they have.
It is a post-apocalyptic novel detailing the journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth. The book was adapted to a film of the same name in , directed by John Hillcoat. A father and his young son journey across post-apocalyptic America some years after an extinction event.
The novel begins with the man and boy in the woods, the boy asleep, as the two of them are making their journey along the road. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, date and place unnamed, though the reader can assume it's somewhere in what was the United States because the man tells the boy that they're walking the "state roads. Stylistically, the writing is very fragmented and sparse from the beginning, which reflects the barren and bleak landscape through which the man and boy are traveling. McCarthy also chooses to use no quotation marks in dialogue and for some contractions, he leaves out the apostrophes. Because this is a post-apocalyptic story, the exemption of these punctuation elements might serve as a way for McCarthy to indicate that in this new world, remnants of the old world — like electricity, running water, and humanity — no longer exist, or they exist in very limited amounts. While the boy sleeps, the man reflects upon one of his dreams of a creature with dead eyes.
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