The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Author Information
Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island on July 20,1933. He is the third of six children. He was originally named Charles but he renamed himself Cormac after the Irish King. His father was a lawyer. Cormac McCarthy was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic High School in Knoxville. He went to the university of Tennessee and majored in liberal arts. He served four years in the air force.

Summary

The book The Road is written by Cormac McCarthy. It takes place in a post apocalyptic United States. The main characters are a father and his son. They are heading south to where it is warmer because they do not have enough provisions to last the winter. It is called the road because they are traveling south via a road. There are cannibals whom they run into on several occasions and have to outrun, avoid, and hide from for fear of being captured and eaten. The father has a gun with one shot. He used to have two but he used it to shoot a cannibal in the face in order to save his son. They have to take a lot of risks in order to to find food. In the beginning of the book they used a shopping cart to transport their supplies, which is mostly blankets, extra clothing, and a tarp. They eventually have to leave it behind and continue on foot because they could not take it through the snow. The snow is also mixed with ash probably due to the cause of the apocalypse which I am guessing was cause by nuclear weapons.

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Themes

The Main theme in the book is survival of the fittest. People want to survive and they try to survive, but at some point they will all fail. Everyone dies sometime, and there are a lot of variables and circumstances which determine when or where. There is only one basic law about living. Only the strong, only the healthy, and only the fit can survive. Survival of the fittest is the main theme of the novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy, in which a father and his son are trying to survive in a post apocalyptic America. The only way for them to survive is to head south to where it is warmer because they would not have survived another winter.
They prove themselves fit to survive in the post apocalypse. They fight off and avoid getting captured by cannibals. They have not resorted to cannibalism themselves despite the severe lack of food. They have found ways to survive the cold nights, like building fires and using blankets.

Another important theme in the book is parents would sacrifice all for their children to have a better life. The father has no reason to live except for his son, he only lives for the sake of his son. He feels that he is responsible for his son and wants the best life possible for him. He struggles to raise his son to be a good person which is probably difficult because of all the evil they have seen and how traumatic some of their experiences must have been to the boy.

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Characters

The father is a very likeable character. In the book many people have resorted to cannibalism but he has not despite the lack of food and the fact that he also has to support his son, which shows that he is strong willed. He values family above all else. There is a part in the book where one of the cannibals grabs his son and the father shoots the cannibal. He only has two bullets and the rest of the cannibals heard the shot, which means he took a great risk in order to save his son. The father is very intelligent which is probably why he is still alive. In the part where the cannibal grabs his son the cannibal tells the father that the other cannibals would hear the shot, and the father replies by telling him “ Yes they will. But you wont. Because the bullet travels faster then sound. It will be in your brain before you can hear it. To hear it you will need a frontal lobe and things called colliculus and temporal gyrus and you wont have them anymore. They'll just be soup.”. This shows that he is intelligent. He is also thin due to starvation.

The son is a young kid who is not very knowledgable about what the world was like before the apocalypse because of his age, and he is compassionate for the world that he lives in because it is survival of the fittest. He is also thin due to starvation.

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Setting

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The book takes place in the United States after the apocalypse, which I assume was caused by nuclear weapons. The book starts in the fall and carries on into winter throughout the book. The landscape is a barren wasteland because most of the plant life was wiped out. The only plants that are still around are mushrooms and fungus because they help to decompose dead things. All of the trees are dead but some are still standing with out any leaves. The sky is constantly overcast so you can never see the sun directly. When it snows the snow contains small amounts of ash so it is gray.

Direct Passages

1. Page 4. With the first gray light he rose and left the boy sleeping and walked out to the road and squatted and studied the country to the south. Barren, silent, godless. he thought the month was October but he wasn't sure. He hadn't kept a calendar for years. They were moving south. There'd be no surviving another winter here.
I chose this passage because gives you a brief insight into a few aspects of the book. It tells you about the plot, it tells you about the setting, and shows the mood that the author has written the book.

2. Page 60. They were all day on the long black road, stopping in the afternoon to eat sparingly from their meager supplies. The boy took his truck from the pack and shaped roads in the ash with a stick. The truck tooled along slowly. He made truck noises. The day seemed almost warm and they slept in the leaves with their packs under their heads.
I chose this passage because it shows you what their daily lives are like.

3. Page 73. He sat in the sand and inventoried the contents of the knapsack. The binoculars. A half pint bottle of gasoline almost full. The bottle of water. a pair of pliers. Two spoons. He set everything out in a row. There were five small tins of food and he chose a can of sausages and one of corn and he chose opened these with the little army can opener and set them at the edge of the fire and they sat watching the labels char and curl. When the corn began to steam he took the cans from the fire with the pliers and they sat bent over them with their spoons, eating slowly. The boy was nodding with sleep.
I chose this passage because it shows some of the things that the characters deem necessary for survival and some of the ways they use them.

4. Page 110. He started down the rough wooden steps. He ducked his head and flicked the lighter and swung the flame out over the darkness like an offering. Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench. The boy clutched at his coat. He could see part of a stone wall. Clay floor. An old mattress darkly stained. He crouched and stepped down again and held out the light. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt. The smell was hideous.
I chose this passage because it painted a vivid picture in my mind and it shows some of the reasons why they don't want to get captured by the cannibals.

5. Page 119. The grass between the house and the barn looked untrodden. He crossed to the porch. The porch screening rotted and falling away. A child's bicycle. The kitchen door stood open and he crossed the porch and stood in the doorway. Cheap plywood paneling curled with damp. Collapsing into the room. A red formica table. He crossed the room and opened the refrigerator door. Something sat on one of the racks in a coat of gray fur. He shut the door.Trash everywhere. He took a broom from the corner and poked about with the handle. He climbed onto the counter and felt his way through the dust on the top of the cabinets. A mousetrap. A packet of something. he blew away the dust. It was a grape flavored powder to make drinks with. He put it in the pocket of his coat.
I chose this passage because I liked the description of the house.

Analysis
I think that The Road is a good book. I like writing because it is descriptive enough to paint vivid pictures in my mind. I like the characters because they act like real people would and that makes the book seem more realistic or believable. It is interesting because you never really know what is going to happen next and you don't know what the characters are going to find in their journey. Cormac McCarthy wrote it using some very good words which make more interesting to read. The ending is a bit brief and disappointing but I cannot imagine a better way to end it. I would definitely recommend others to read this book.

Links

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/books/review/Kennedy.t.html?pagewanted=all

Works Cited

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.

"The Road Overview." Brunswick School Department. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://www.brunswick.k12.me.us/hdwyer/the-road-overview/>.

"Zimlicious: Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy." Zimlicious. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://zimlicious.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-review-road-by-cormac-mccarthy.html>.