The Road
Cormac McCarthy
Contributed by Marshall Raine
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Page 136-Page 150
Summary

While exploring the beach, they found a boat half destroyed in the water. After making sure that there are no other survivors around, the man swims to the boat to check for any useful items while leaving the boy, armed with the pistol on the beach. The vessel seemed destroyed due to the waves and no signs of life are found there. Despite the ships condition, the Father manages to find a few useful things such as a bottle of gas, a flare gun, some new clothes, an inflatable boat and also a medicine box. When he returns to the beach, he realizes that the boy has lost the pistol. They returned to the part of the beach where the ship was and start searching for it. Eventually, they find it, but the boy starts crying because he feels like he failed his father once again. The man knows that it's not the child's duty to take care of this kind of things and comforts him by saying "I'm the one who's supposed to make sure we have the pistol and I didn't do it. We're okay. Everything's okay.” (Page 141).

The next day the father starts coughing more and more blood and comes to realize that his condition is not getting any better. He is closer to death and knows that his time with his child is limited. He tells himself “Every day is a lie. But you are dying. That is not a lie" (Page 144). The Father is aware that he has told many lies to his son in order to motivate him, despite the boy being suspicious each time and continuously asking if he is telling the truth. At this point, the only truth is that he is going to pass away soon, and his son needs to be ready to endure that tragedy alone.

The following morning, an unexpected illness hits the little boy who wakes up feeling sickly and with a fever. The father panics and gives him expired antibiotics from the medicine box he found on the ship. The father feels disappointed and melancholy, remembering his promise that “I will do what I promised. No matter what. I will not send you into the darkness alone" (page 151). No matter how much a burden his son might become, the father is motivated to not leave him behind and offer protection when he needs it.

Analysis

The first symbolist element in this part is the name of the ship which was found abandoned on the beach "The steel was gray and salt-scoured, but he could make out the worn gilt lettering. Pájaro de Esperanza." (Page 136). Translated in English the name would be "Bird of Hope". The author chose this name because the boat provided the two with many useful items that could support them for days. There are obvious similarities between the boat and the bunker they found a few days ago, filled with food and comfort.  The boat manages to increase their motivation and ensure that they will be able to tolerate the harsh conditions for another period of time. It is a representation of a glimpse of hope when there is nothing else than darkness.

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