The main event of the passage is the scene in which the man is forced to confront a stranger whom had been riding on a truck. The event has great effect on many aspects of narrative that McCarthy selects to use in this passage of the novel.
The first being characterization. McCarthy uses characterization to create tensions and contrasts for the reader to consider, the consequent effect being that the reader is drawn into feeling the true emotions and conflicts that the characters are feeling. Despite the fact that throughout the passage the Man refers to himself as nothing, stating, “I’m not anything” creates contrast between the powerful actions and words that occur later in the passage. For example, as the man approaches the Man and the Boy his danger is ambiguous. However, the fathers suspicion is confirmed and he is forced to take action to protect his son. By doing so, he clearly defines for the reader that he himself is the protector of the boy, stating later in the passage “I will kill anyone who touches you, understand?” The contrasting roles of the Mans character also bring to attention his low self-esteem and doubt about his own ability. This use of characterization enables the story to continue with perhaps an altered view on the mans character. The fact that the man sees himself as ‘nothing’, despite saving his sons life shows the Mans true feelings for life itself; is saving the Boys life a questionable victory? It suggests to us that the man feels he has failed the boy if he keeps him alive or lets him die. This puts the reader inside the Mans head and enables them to take the opportunity to consider the situation for themselves, making them more emotionally involved with the plot.
For the Father, the moral decision is obvious and easy to make. Killing strangers who proposes threat to himself and his son is better than themselves suffering.