In this extract, McCarthy conveys the anticlimax of the protagonist and his son’s arrival at the “Cold. Desolate. Birdless.” environment of the beach. McCarthy juxtaposes the bleakness of the landscape with the boy’s optimism in order to highlight the boy’s inherent goodness.
McCarthy tells the story using narrative voice in this section of the text. He contrasts the third person extradiegetic narrator with the man’s interior monologue in order to convey multiple perspectives to the reader. “He’d left the cart in the bracken beyond the dunes and they’d taken blankets with them and sat wrapped in them in the wind-shade of a great driftwood log.” Here, McCarthy constructs the lexis of the third person narrator using what some critics have called a limited linguistic palette. The polysyndeton creates a steady rhythm, which parallels the rhythm of the journey the man and boy are on, which is, like the sentence, seemingly never-ending. Here the narrator presents the reader with a practical account of the man and boy’s response to the disappointment of the beach, detailing their movements with unelaborated, unemotional language. The pared back language poignantly conveys the sense that the bleakness of the beach was inevitable. In contrast, the tricolon: “Cold. Desolate. Birdless”, is clearly the man’s interior monologue. The three adjectives highlight the extent to which the reality of the beach does not live up to the characters’ expectations of it. Where they had hoped for warmth when heading south, instead they found “cold”. Where they had hoped for a more habitable climate, they found a “desolate” environment. Where they had hoped for life, they had found a “birdless” environment. Thus, the tricolon convey’s the man’s disappointment to the reader. McCarthy utilizes stream of consciousness in order to enable the reader to understand the man’s emotional response. The narrator is typically unemotive, presenting a pared back account of events and it is thus these...
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