by Cormac McCarthy
Rotted corpses. Landscapes devastated by fire. Abandoned towns and houses. In the post-apocalyptical novel, The Road, Cormac McCarthy explores the perseverance of a man and his son to survive in an obliterated world. He demonstrates that in spite of devastating conditions and dismal surroundings, goodness prevails over evil and an inherent goodness is present in humanity and the “good guy” no matter how dire the circumstances. Most importantly, the goodness portrayed, comes out of love.
The man and the boy in this story are never named because the represent general humanity. If people , humans are provided with a reason to do the right thing, love, children, family, they will do whatever it takes. A parent will do completely unreasonable things to help, save their children out of love. He really doesn’t care what he has to do to keep his son alive – he would (and in fact did) murder a man for posing a threat to his son’s life. In page 76 of the book, the father tells 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 lives of the man and the boy truly are worst-case scenarios. How many times have we wondered at one point or another in our lives if we’d be willing to take a bullet to the head or kill someone for our families’ or loved ones’ sake? These characters have been placed in that exact situation. They live in a post-apocalyptic world where human beings have been stripped to their core and have been driven to extremes by their innate need to survive, and they are no exception. The father is carrying out all those “what ifs” – he is doing what he must to keep his son safe. Truly, the only thing that keeps them going is their love for one another.
“A symbol of the goodness in human perseverance and hope is the "fire" that the father assures his son...