The Road

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Why do you think McCarthy has chosen not to give his characters names? How do the generic labels of “the man” and “the boy” affect the way you /readers relate to them?

While reading The Road, a novel written by Cormac McCarthy, I was jerked from the warmth, comfort, and safety of my home and thrown into a cold, dark, and desolate world, walking alongside “the man” and “the boy”. McCarthy composes his work so graphically that readers are drawn right into the story. I believe Cormac McCarthy wanted the figures in this book to be universal, so that the reader could imagine him/her self as “the boy” or “the man” at any given moment, and to be able to feel as they do. To do this McCarthy did not designate the characters in his book with names, and because of this, I was able to connect with “the man” and “the boy” on a personal level and envision myself uniting with them in their chilling journey.

As the reader, I was deeply overwhelmed with many mixed emotions such as compassion, sadness, happiness, disgust, remorse, and fear. I have pity for the characters in the book The Road, because “the man” and “the boy” have to pass day to day struggling to survive in a frigid bleak world where food is scarce “They squatted in the road and ate rice and cold beans they’d cooked days ago.” “Already beginning to ferment.”(McCarthy 29). The landscape is blackened, and mankind is almost extinct “The mummied dead everywhere.”(McCarthy 24). As I read on I noticed myself connecting more deeply with the characters. When the boy’s mother takes her own life, I was deeply saddened and my heart broke for “the boy” simply because his mom, someone he cherished and loved so much, had given up on hope and faith and deserted him. I just wanted to take hold of the child and comfort him even though at this moment he has no clue his mother has left. I also felt sorry for “the man”, one, because he has to tell his child where his mother is “For the love of God woman. What am I to tell him?” (McCarthy 58), and two, because his love and best friend was in such despair and there was nothing he could do to impel her to stay. As a mother, in some ways, I also felt sorry for the mother in this book, because most women dream of the day she will have a child of her own to love, care for, and teach, but this mother had to give birth to her son after the great catastrophe, and instead of bringing her tears of happiness, it brought tears of sorrow. She now knows that she has to raise her son in this dark and barley habitable world and that it will be a constant struggle to survive. “My heart was ripped out of me the night he was born…” (McCarthy 57). On the other hand though, I am also disgusted with the mother for the one reason that she gave up, and now her family, especially her child, has to suffer the consequences due to her actions, but again, given that I put myself in her situation, would I do the same thing? While reading I also felt deep sadness in many parts, for one instance, when “the man” dies, at this point in the book I had tears streaming down my face. “He slept close to his father that night and held him but when he woke in the morning his father was cold and stiff.” “He sat there a long time weeping...”(McCarthy 281). “He knelt beside his father held his cold hand and said his name over and over again.”(McCarthy 281). At one part in the book, remorse, disgust, sadness, and compassion were the stirred emotions that hit me all t once. It was the time when a thief robs “the boy” while he is asleep on the beach. When “the boy” was first robbed I was angry and disgusted with the thief who had robbed a sleeping innocent child, I could never see myself doing this especially in a situation where food is hard to come by and staying warm is almost impossible! When they finally catch up with the thief “the man” points the gun at him and threatens to shoot him. “The boy” is pleading with his father not to kill the thief. “The man” says to the...
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