The Road by Cormac McCarthy Book Review

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 1350 Pages: 5
  • Published: 15 May 2021
  • Copied: 124

Is it justifiable to hurt someone when it is to protect a loved one? In the novel, The Road, the author exemplifies a new approach to life in a post-apocalyptic world. Regarding the fact that there are little to no resources in this new world, the protagonists in the writing are seeking out survival with what they find. Maintaining their status of the  “good guys”. However, many different viewpoints will be exemplified as to how one may survive in a post apocalyptic world. In The Road, many individuals choose self-preservation at the cost of others' lives.  This is actively demonstrated throughout the novel, which is made apparent through the hiding of personal information, the stealing of belongings, and some turning to cannibalism.

Civilization has changed from it once was with many more tending to keep aspects of their lives concealed. On The Road, many individuals have become more precautious with encountering other humans. Secrets aren't only kept from strangers, they are also hidden amongst themselves. The son is a child and may still have childlike fantasies, but he accepts his reality. The son doubts whether his father is right, but always seeks reassurance from him as, "I always believe you.... Yes I do. I have to" (McCarthy 156). Ely, our only named character, which is later unveiled is not his actual name as he mentions why, “ I couldn't trust you with it. To do something with it. I don't want anybody talking about me. To say where I was or what I said when I was there. I mean, maybe you could talk about me. But nobody could say that it was me. It could be anybody.I think in times like these the less said the better. If something had happened and we were survivors and we met on the road then we'd have something to talk about”(McCarthy 171).  Ely’s  conversation with them came consequently after the man and the boy decided to help Ely. The father and son saw him on the road alone. The son wanted to help right away while the father waited a bit to see if he was alone or if it was just an ambush.  The boy does indeed convince the father to help the man and let him camp with them.  Ely releases information such as the name Ely,  his age being ninety years old. Ely lies so that he would be seen as vulnerable and no good. He uses this as a tactic to protect himself from the bad guys. This is a tactic he uses to survive but admits it doesn’t always go as planned. Working when he encountered the son and father because of the fact that the father let down his guard as Ely looked too weak, and old to be a threat. Eventually, they part ways with Ely while giving him some food as they are currently rich with food.  Ely uses the tactic of vulnerability to his advantage by getting help from other strangers on the road. Instead of worrying about trying to find stuff himself he takes what others have, as most are willing to offer him their belongings. Ely is well informed that individuals might potentially possess a necessity for the resources offered. Continuously, he continues to utilize it as he mentions he doesn’t disclose much information with people he encounters as he doesn’t want to be talked about.  Meaning Ely, like a multitude of others, have found a new way of survival.

Many are found vulnerable in a post apocalyptic world and they start relying on the possessions of others. Not that others have much since resources are very scarce. The main protagonists, the father and the son, will not be safe from this act as a man successfully steals their possession. All though they will not let the thief get away with the act. As the man steals their possessions the protagonists proceed to find him. When they do they acquire his possessions leaving him naked on the side of the road, and may have indirectly ended up killing the man. McCarthy illustrates, “I’m going to leave you the way you left us” (McCarthy 217). Meaning that the protagonist deserted the man as he had no intentions of caring for them. Nevertheless, the boy keeps insisting to his father that they still have time to save the life of the thief. As previously stated they may have ended up killing the thief who “was just hungry, Papa. He’s going to die”(McCarthy 218). The boy's insistence led the man to do what the boy sees as right , but when they went to return some of his possession he was gone. These quotes  pinpoint that theft has become more common in a post-apocalyptic world. Considering that this act was done twice in a matter of time upholds the fact that more than one individual has committed theft. The father was the one who committed the act while the son didn’t want to leave the man to die. These bring up two fundamental differences the main protagonists have. The son wants to help others not kill them, while the father takes precaution of strangers and is willing to hurt or even murder  individuals. This is an indication that a multitude no longer care for the well being of others, as several have put their survival above everyone else's. Accordingly the basic customs and truths of human civilization have been alleviated.

Individuals in a post apocalyptic world are encountered with challenges, which leads to a multitude partaking in unhuman-like actions. A recurring action that takes place is the  eating of the flesh of one's species which is called cannibalisms. Cannibals in the novel, The Road, are quoted as “the bad guys” by the father and son in the novel. They are considered “bad guys” by the father and son because of the fact that it involves taking the life of another.  They are people that have proceeded going to a new extent in the post apocalyptic world since in their perspective is their last hope for their survival. The father and the son are the “good guys” since they don't  rely on hurting others for their survival. Cannibals are the one of the most terrifying antagonists the father and son encounter. Early on the development of cannibalism is continuously exploited in the novel as the author states,  “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.”(McCarthy 110).   Clearly this demonstrates that the people confined in the basement were being used by other human beings as a source. They were being used as a source for the survival of others. Nevertheless these people didn’t have a choice whether or not they themselves would be survivors as well. As for them “carrying the fire”,  to live no longer seems to be a reachable achievement as their lives slowly vanish at the fault of their exploiters. Later it is made apparent that the father and son were targets of this cruel act. Luckily for them they managed to escape. The father fears this situation as he has put his son, and himself, in danger thinking about the basement. This was a major life or death struggle the protagonist faced in the novel. This goes to prove that some have found a new way of life and aren’t planning for it to come to an end as long as there are victims. Therefore, these cannibals are hurting other humans without thinking of the well being of their victims. As for the cannibals they are just another source of food. In a post apocalyptic world the survival of themselves has become their number one priority. Unlike the protagonist in the novel a multitude associate themselves into cannibalism and many more are selfishly taken advantage of .

In the novel, The Road, Cormac McCarthy illustrates a multitude of humans living in a new environment showcasing what extent each would go to if it means meeting their needs. Many continuously tend to fear for their lives and tend not to share much with strangers they encounter on The Road. Vulnerability leads to a numerous number of people wrongly obtaining the possessions of other survivors. Lastly, through the novel many selfishly turn to cannibalism in order to survive. In the novel, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the self character of many is exemplified through their actions in a world where the fundamental basic customs have been alleviated.


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