The Road
Cormac McCarthy
Contributed by Marshall Raine
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Page 115-Page 135
Summary

The pair reach a part of the road that is filled with dead bodies, all covered in ash. It is one of the scenes in which McCarthy describes the apocalyptical event as possibly being a fire which burnt everything in its way. Most of the bodies are so disfigured it is hard to even tell they were once humans. The fathers first reaction is to shield his son from the horror and protect him from tis sight, however, to his amazement, the boy looks around without crying. This is a sign that the little boy is starting to understand the world he is living in.

During a rest stop, the father suddenly becomes aware that there are other people around. After a closer look, he observes three men together with a pregnant woman, who have made a fire somewhere in the distance. As soon as the strangers are gone, the father and his son go to investigate their camp and surprisingly discover an infant’s body in the fire. The father knows that this is really make a mark on his son and avoids discussing it.

As they continue their journey, they notice another abandoned house. The boy, influenced by their earlier experience, is afraid to go inside, but his father convinces him by pointing out that they need new blankets and something to eat. While they wander from room to room, they manage to find a few dusty cans of food. They spent the next days in the abandoned house in order to regain their strength.

Eventually, after spending more days on the road, they finally reach the ocean. Instead of being happy to finally get something they wanted, realizing a goal, they only feel disappointment, the ocean different from the way his father remembered it. The best description of how everything looked is represented by the following paragraph " Beyond that the ocean vast and cold and shifting heavily like a slowly heaving vat of slag and then the gray squall line of ash" (page 131). They camp on the beach and the boy runs toward the ocean, exploring it for the first time despite the harsh weather and the freezing water.

Analysis

While crossing a field, the man spots an arrowhead and a coin, with Spanish words carved into it. Both of these objects, useless as they might seem, symbolize a great deal. The arrowhead, for example, is a handmade tool that is used for hunting and results in death. Through this item, McCarthy tries to outline the violence that surrounded the world after the apocalypse. This further confirms that humankind must have been responsible for what happened. Souls that are filled with violence will only produce destruction until there will be nothing else to destroy, something Ely previously told the Father. The coin is a representation of everything that was seemingly too important before the disaster and how inefficient it is. The world was obsessed with making and having money, but now even tons of gold or money won't fill their stomach and won't heal their wounds. The moment when the father leaves the coin behind is the moment when he pushes his materialistic side away, realizing that, in the end, being rich means nothing.

The scene in which they find the burned baby is one of the most horrific scenes depicted in this novel. The infant is a sign of purity and by killing it the author emphasizes the degree of destruction humankind has reached. Even though the people they saw camping didn't look overly violent, they still sacrificed a pure and innocent soul in order to survive. Through this passage, the author tells the readers that in order for someone to lose even their last drop of decency it doesn't mean that they have to look bad and act violently.

This part ends with the boy crying after getting out of the waves. He finally realized that they reached where they had always wanted to go, only to find it is different than they imagined. The little boy might have had high hopes and looked forward to seeing a blue ocean and warm weather. The reality was nothing like that. The two of them reached the end of their short-term goal and now, as before have to keep continuing their journey.

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