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Mccarthy’s "Road": Post-apocalyptic Story

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“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days grayer each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away from the world. He watched the boy and he looked toward the road. This was not a safe place. They began to leave and started walking on the road.” The Road describes a journey of a boy, and his father in a post-apocalyptic world where both travels over devastated landscapes to reach the coast with the hope of survival.

After an unnamed disaster that struck, it left only a few living creatures remaining on earth. The world is a now terrific and horrifying place since there is a constant fear of rape, murder, and cannibalism. Father and son fight to survive in severe weather with a very minimum amount of food and shelter. The journey continues with both pushing a shopping cart full of the necessities for their survival. On their way, they must hide from the predators who kill and eat people alive.

Author Biography: Cormac McCarthy born in 1933 July 20th is an American novelist who was born in Providence, Rhode Island but spent most of his early childhood in Knoxville, where his father worked as a lawyer for a city council. He attended the University of Tennessee but never graduated. While at UT, McCarthy published his novel: The Phoenix, which received the Ingram Merrill Award for creative writing in 1959. McCarthy’s other masterpieces include Child of God, All the Pretty Horses, Outer Dark and The Road which was adapted into a film in 2009 directed by John Hill Coat. Due to the huge critical success, the novel has received a Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. The road was also selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club which led to McCarthy’s first televised interview in April 2007. The inspiration behind The Road: “In Guardian newspaper article, Cormac McCarthy has described that the major inspiration behind The Road came when McCarthy and his son “John McCarthy” went to El Paso, Texas on vacation.

Early morning, when Cormac woke up and looked at the town over his window and began to imagine “what would the town look like in 50 or 100 years?

Fires up on hill everything being laid to waste, and he thought a lot about my little boy. He wrote two pages. And then about four years later realized that it wasn't just two pages, it was a book, and it was about that man and that boy.” Furthermore, McCarthy described the conversation he and his had about different scenarios humans will face during an apocalypse: one of them was survivors turning into cannibals.”

Writing Style:

  • McCarthy has his very own unique writing style and it relates back to the content that his trying to share with the audience.
  • He is profound in using scenes of action and longer sentences to create the scenes of traveling, camping or reminiscence.
  • McCarthy’s work deals with a lot of issues of life and death.
  • Cormac is also well known for his spare language and does not use quotation marks for dialogues, which makes the book tough to read.The lack of quotation marks and grammar relates back to the concept of hardship as the father and son go through hard and difficult times. McCarthy also wanted to the reader face minor hardship to understand who is speaking.
  • His novels are very domestic and create an atmosphere of separation and isolation by following a lonely character in wastelands and devastated landscapes of America. • McCarthy has boundless interest in the choices that his character makes and how those choices define them and their futures forever.

The Road has demonstrated different forms of language that represents multiple themes, morals, and a number of literary devices to reinforce the content. Love: “That the boy was all that stood between him and death."(McCarthy 29). There was a constant representation of the theme of love throughout the novel highlighting the strong bond between the man and the Boy. In the quote the mother describes the boy being only the reason for the man to be alive. The man just cannot bear to see his boy die: the man will live if he can help his boy live. His love for the boy pushes along the story and avoids him from early death due to a dangerous disease, the man had developed.

McCarthy writes “I will kill anyone who touches you” (McCarthy 129) proves that there is no limit to which man will go to protect his son. They both depend on each other since the boy cannot live without his father and the man sees no point living without him. At the end of the novel, the man lays badly injured and dying, he tells his son to eat his share of food, instead of keeping it for him. These small favors and sacrifices are strong examples of his love. Good versus Evil: “He sat there cowed by the blanket. After a while, he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said. Yes. We're still the good guys. And we always will be. Yes. We always will be. Okay”. The theme of good vs evil is a well-known theme throughout the book. At the beginning of the novel, the boy has no concept of evil until the cannibalistic chase begins. As the story progresses, the boy starts to identify the bad guys as murders, thieves and cannibals and good guys are the ones “who keep trying and never give up and carry the fire.” A symbol of hope and determination is the fire that father and son carry meaning to always attempt to live in under all the conditions.

Yet, there is a thin line between good and bad guys in the post-apocalyptic world where most people have abandoned morality together. The first words spoken out aloud by the man in the road are “If he is not the word of God, God never spoke” The man does not declare his son as Gods word but leaves the reader with a hypothetical question. Thus, the man’s declaration is that either his son is the word of God, or the universe is a godless one. There were countless events which leads the readers to question the possibilities of god. For an example: when the father and the son are at the point of starvation but find hidden bunker filled with food to regain their stamina. Later on, facing the hardship of starvation, the boy once again finds a house full of food and a flare gun which becomes essential during an encounter. Are all these events with the blessing of God to protect the son or is it just their luck? The question remains unclear however there are hints of divine activity but never more than hints. During their journey, the father and son come across an old man named “Ely” any person to whom the man decided to help after the endless requests from the boy. In the conversation, Ely states “What if I said that he's a god?”, the man was not surprised since he treated him liked one with all the sentiments of love, care, and protection. The road which is the title and the main setting of the book.

The road signifies indestructibility since it is one of the few things which was not destroyed by the disaster. A road is a unifying place which is both safe and harmful at the same time since both bad and good guys strive to reach the coast with the hope of survival and prosperous life and it represents the human nature of moving forward and keep surviving. The road also symbolizes an object which gives characters the direction, hope and the reason for them to survive. The falling trees which scatter the ashes represent humanity and how it has fallen. The humanity is just like all these trees, once bold, tall and strong but has fallen due to the circumstances that humans have created. Imagery: The road applies imagery throughout the novel to create an image of what characters are seeing by giving the description of another survivor or the severe weather conditions the characters were facing. In the quote ''He was as burnt looking as the country, his clothing scorched and black. One of his eyes was burnt shut and his hair was but a nitty wig of ash upon his blackened skull. His shoes were bound up with wire and coated with road tar and he sat there in silence, bent over in his rags''.

The narrator describes how the boy and the man saw a person who was an old man which was one of the survivors like them. Overall, the novel does a good job of creating an optical illusion in readers mind of every scene and what occurred.


  • For this trailer, I incorporated suspenseful music which adds on to tragic events and creates anticipation and gets the readers to their edge,
  • As you may have noticed the trailer includes images of destroyed cities and landscapes to reinforce the content which is survival and to set the tone of the story.
  • The trailer combines and shows the themes of the story letting the viewers know what type of story is.

Critical Review According to Alan Warner from Guardian Newspaper, “McCarthy finally creates scenarios that allow to foreground only the very extreme of physical human survival and the intimate evocation of a destroyed landscape drawn with such precision and beauty”. The review made by Alan Warner is undoubtedly true because McCarthy had mastered in creating the scenarios which make the reader question how can the characters have survived these extreme conditions. For an example the son and the father surviving the falling trees upon them and many encounters with cannibals.

William Kennedy, a teacher of the Harvard University described in his journal The Road as “There is an urgency to each page and raw emotional pull. Once opened, nearly impossible to put down; it is as if you must keep reading in order for the characters to stay alive”. I do agree with William Kennedy’s statement because McCarthy has created suspense through every page of the book even making unenthusiastic readers get excited and curious to know what happens furthermore in the book. Personal Review Personally, I love and admire the book because it just giving the readers an absolute idea of how the world might look like in 50 or 100 years if the global warming continues. The lack of grammar and quotation marks might confuse you in some situation but due to the elegant writing style of McCarthy, the road is a masterpiece.

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McCarthy’s “Road”: post-apocalyptic story. (2018, August 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from
“McCarthy’s “Road”: post-apocalyptic story.” GradesFixer, 28 Aug. 2018,
McCarthy’s “Road”: post-apocalyptic story. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Aug. 2022].
McCarthy’s “Road”: post-apocalyptic story [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Aug 28 [cited 2022 Aug 17]. Available from:
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