The Road Essay - Cormac Mccarthy

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The Road
by: Cormac McCarthy
Described the novel as a “gripping, heart-rending story, which explores the depths of despair and savagery beside the heights of love, tenderness and self-sacrifice.” Destruction, survival, isolation, and death are prominent themes in The Road. Most life has been wiped out by some unnamed catastrophic event. Cities are destroyed; plant life is gone; animals have disappeared. Civilization has broken down, and chaos reigns in its place. No matter where the man and the boy go, houses have no roofs and are rotting from the rain and wind. The natural cycle of seasons has been destroyed: it seems to be perpetually winter. Even the stability of the earth is off-kilter, for an earthquake shakes the ground on the East Coast. In a storytelling style that is stripped as bare as the novel’s setting, McCarthy recounts the journey of an unnamed man and boy, in an undefined location, who search among the debris in the aftermath of some cataclysmic event for morsels of food and warmth. Though their lungs are tortured by the thick ash that discolors and taints the air, and their unshod feet are blistered and almost frozen, they trudge forever forward, always hoping for something better, something similar to the past. They rarely find it. And they dare not linger, because other wanderers, likewise cold and hungry, will inevitably come upon them, fighting for the tidbits that the man and boy have found. In stark contrast to the devastated surroundings stands the man and boy’s unshaken devotion to one another. In a landscape where nothing blooms, their love flourishes and grows deeper, even as they wonder all the while which one of them will die first. They keep three things in mind as they move south toward a dream of warmth: they must find food, they must find clean water, and they must continually hide.

D. Dona Le, author of ClassicNote. Completed on July 24, 2009, copyright held by GradeSaver. Updated and revised by Adam Kissel September...
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