The Road: Relationship Between the Father and Son

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The Road: How does the father and son’s relationship
change through the book?

One theme in The Road is paternal love; this is the relationship between the father and his son. Their bond plays a powerful part in the novel and impacts the decisions made during their journey. The two protagonists remain unnamed in the book, giving their familial relationship their full identity. This makes their relationship relatable to any parent and child bond outside of the novel.

It is clear that they only have each other’s company and that the father feels that his only job is to protect his son from any danger. However, the son’s purpose is to “carry the fire”, a metaphor that keeps readers guessing about what the fire reflects. It could be that the father and son both carry their morals; they do not steal from the living, kill or eat others. Alternatively, it could be seen that the boy is carrying the fire to lead humanity forward, towards a better future. Their relationship doesn’t change dramatically in the novel. However despite their beliefs, the father begins to go against them. He steals from the living and kills two people. Although these were done in order to protect his son, the boy became upset with his father when he took back their belongings from a man who stole from them, leaving him with nothing. This portrays the child’s caring personality. He is very different from his father; he trusts others and wants to help them.

Mccarthy does not state the names of these characters, but readers know that they are father and son. We know this as the child consistently calls him “papa”. The reason for this is that it makes it universal, allowing any reader to relate with the characters, particularly a father. Also, it is significant as it contributes to the idea of the unknown. The cause of the apocalypse remains ambiguous to readers and the lack of names reflects the vagueness of the novel. I believe it makes their relationship appear a lot stronger as it...
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