The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy was published by Vintage International in the year 2006 in the United States of America. The novel is centered on an unnamed man with his son running away from a country by foot due to the harsh conditions they were facing in the country. The book begins with the two characters in the woods when the boy was sleeping. The journey of these two is faced with several challenges. At a particular point, they meet a bad guy who threatens to stab the kid. The father kills him making the boy second guess if they are still the good guys.

The Setting

The novel’s setting is the United States, the exact timing is not mentioned, but is set in a post-apocalyptic period. It can be determined that it was in America because somewhere in the novel, the man is seen telling the boy that they are traveling on the “states road” (McCarthy 47). After starting their journey, a more significant part of the novel is set on this road. The two occasionally look in abandoned buildings for supplies but do not stay long.

The Man and His Son

All that the man cares about is his son. If it were not for his son, the two would not have left. He is unnamed and hence believes that God has entrusted him to protect his son (McCarthy 105). He always walks with his gun, although the gun had only two bullets left. When he goes inside a house, he gives the son the pistol to hold, demonstrating his care for the son.


McCarthy used symbolism in his writing. For example, the adverse environmental conditions characterized with rain, snow, and extreme cold weather symbolize a nation in despair and filled with darkness. The two characters are faced with various awful experiences such as an attack from the bad guy. They go to the house they were living and the son is much scared of the house, thinking that they may find other bad guys, particularly the cannibals (McCarthy 173). The man makes up his mind that in case they are captured by road agents, he would end his son’s life so to evade an emotional torture (Bloom).

The Theme of Love

The theme of love greatly manifests in this novel. Although the two key characters face very challenging circumstances, there is still a family bond between them. In a particular store, the man finds a single Coca-Cola in a pop machine and offers it to his son. Although he was starving, he made sure that his son feeds first (McCarthy 73). The boy also loves his dad and acknowledges him as “papa”. Such instances demonstrate the kind of love the two had for one another. It is love that keeps him going so that he can be there for his son.

The Significance of Research on the Novel

There is an essential significance to research on the novel to understand McCarthy’s position in the book. Without studying the book, it is quite difficult to understand why the author decided to set the play largely on the road (Bloom). Both the man and his son were unnamed; adding to the author’s tone that these events could be taking place anywhere. Doing an in-depth research on the novel will help readers have a clear understanding of the plot summary together with the main reasons that made the two leave their country.

Qualitative Research Method

A qualitative research method was used to gather the credible outside information on the novel. This method is the best in understanding the meanings and use of literary styles such as symbols as used by the author. For example, the author uses fire symbolically when the boy keeps asking the father “do we still carry the fire?” (McCarthy 64). The light was symbolic since it is even difficult for them to start a fire in the damp. Qualitative methods were also used to understand the writer’s beliefs and experiences.

Works Cited

McCarthy Cormac. The Road. Vintage International. 2006

Bloom, Harold. Cormac Mccarthy's The Road. Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2011.

November 24, 2023



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