The Road
Cormac McCarthy
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Page 85-Page 95
Summary

The father and son soon reach a small town with an advertising sign, on which someone has scrawled warnings for intruders. There they find another cottage and, in the garden, a secret room, hidden in a bunker, under grass and soil. The boy is afraid when the father decides to open the door as he thinks they might find another doomed group of slaves. This is a continuous fear for the child, imagining that behind every closed door, death awaits.

To their astonishment, the secret room under the ground is actually some form of panic room or bunker, presumably belonging to the previous occupants who for some reason we never able to use it. The bunker is filled with food, soap and gasoline as well as ample bedding and clothes. In an almost bizarre way, that bunker, which was designed to only be used in desperate, critical situations now represents a paradise for the two. The boy finally tastes ham and coffee, both products that are obviously hard to find on the road. He still feels guilt though, remembering that all these things might have been prepared for someone else and now they were taking advantage of it. The father comforts him by stating that those people are probably dead, but his only question is “Do you think we should thank the people?" (Page 85). They pray for those who built the bunker before falling to sleep. They spend the next few days in the bunker but eventually, the father decides that it is no longer safe and so they return to the road. They fill their cart with anything that they may need and head south.

This section ends with the little boy questioning "What are our long-term goals?" (Page 95). The question troubles the father because he doesn't have an exact answer. He knows that in the short term they need to keep traveling south in order to find shelter in a warmer area but after that, the future is unpredictable.

Analysis

The bunker is a representation of a sanctuary. When someone refers to such a place, they correlate it with disaster and pain but in the protagonist’s case it represents a moment of relief and joy. Most of the items in the room, in their own day, were considered cheap, nothing special. However, presented to two people who have spent the last year on the road, starving for days, it represents exactly what they desired the most. The presentation of the room and the feelings of amazement that the two experience has the role of underlining what is left of the world. In this post-apocalyptic environment; gold has lost its value and expensive things have become useless. The biggest value is attached now to products that can prolong life, such as food, water and a place to keep them warm from the oncoming winter.

The fact that the boy asks his father to thank the people who died, represents a rare appearance of religion in the text. McCarthy doesn't focus too much on religion in his book as he believes if God really existed, then surely, he wouldn't allow this to happen to his most beloved creations. The boy finds comfort in the idea that even though the previous owners are no longer alive, they might be resting in peace, somewhere in heaven, which will certainly be a better place than the life they are experiencing.

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