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Reading Response to the Road

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Title: The Road Author: Cormac McCarthy Text Type: Fictional Novel Date of response: 6th of February 2012 SUMMARY: The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a novel about two people, a father and son, living in a post-apocalyptic North America. Their belongings are a cart, with scavenged food and tools inside, their clothes, and each other. Together they struggle to survive in this world, where many of the trees are gone, where the air, ground and all things are saturated with ash. Production of goods and foods has long since ceased. Survivors of the apocalypse must get by on canned goods and must ? d ways to survive the harsh, frozen nights. But those canned goods become scarce and the humanity of many of those who survive is no longer existent when faced with the alternative of death. This book is about the struggle that the child and the father face together; the struggle between satisfying human needs and doing so whilst maintaining a semblance of humanity. STRUCTURE: This novel does not follow a conventional structure. In the ? rst scenes of the book, (this book is not separated into chapters), the reader is introduced to the boy and the man.

It is clear early on that the man is the boy? s father, as the boy calls him “papa”. The reader also understands that they have a cart full of goods and that they travel and sleep wherever necessary. This is the exposition. After that, the book follows them as they travel toward the coast, ? eeing from the cold habitat of the northern land. While traveling, they must also replenish their food multiple times. As they walk towards the coast and search for food, they are met with many ethical and moral problems. They meet a child whom they suspect, but do not know, has no one to look after him.

They meet fellow vagabonds, starving and dying, with some of whom they cannot afford to share resources. The child asks child-like questions that spark deep philosophical questions of morality in the father. “ I? m afraid for that little boy. I know, he? ll be all right. We should go get him, Papa. We could get him and take him with us. We could take him and we could take the dog. The dog could catch us something to eat. We cant. And I? d give that little boy half of my food. Stop it. We cant. He was crying again. What about the little boy? he sobbed. What about the little boy? This is one of the complications of this novel that superimposes itself on the underlying complication of the lack of food: Can one simply watch someone such as a little boy walk off to their death? This complication is not resolved in this book. Another complication and moral dilemma of this book is the question of whether the man will be able to kill his son if need be. The remnants of North America, and if the rest of the world survived, there too, a majority of the people left were cannibalistic savages who raped and tortured those that they captured before eating them.

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His wife had asked him questions of whether he would be able to end their lives to spare them the suffering that they would be put through if they were captured. “Now is the time. Curse God and die. What if it doesn? t ? re? It has to ? re. What if it doesn? t ? re? Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock? Is there such a being within you of which you know nothing? Can there be? Hold him in your arms. Just so. The soul is quick to pull him towards you. Kiss him. Quickly. ” There are several ? ashbacks in this book, the man dreams of his lost wife and the moral dilemma that they faced, which was not resolved.

The wife took on a fatalist view of the world, and wanted it over with. The man simply wanted his son to live, and to try and help him live as happy a life as possible. The wife then left, and it is inferred that she went to her death. CHARACTERIZATION: One character that has made an impression on me is the child. The child is always sweet and generous. It is heartbreaking to read the effects of the happenings of the world that he lives in, but perhaps even worse reading the times when it doesn? t anymore. What really effected me about this child is the simpleness with which he viewed the world.

A lens that only a character like him could look through. “ Tell me. The boy looked down the road. I want you to tell me. It? s okay. He shook his head. Look at me, the man said. He turned and looked. He looked like he? d been crying. Just tell me. We wouldnt ever eat anybody, would we? No. Of course not. Even if we were starving? We? re starving now. You said we werent. I said we werent dying. I didnt say we werent starving. But we wouldnt. No. We wouldnt. No matter what. No. No matter what. Because we? re the good guys. Yes. And we? re carrying the ? re. And we? re carrying the ? re. Yes Okay. ” Although I? sure many of us would like to think that cannibalism is beyond us and that we would never eat another human being to save ourselves, but I do not think that it is a reality that will survive in midst of crisis when there is no society to impose the morality that binds us today. It is for us to decide whether we have a moral compass separate and independent from the ideas of society.

THEME: The author? s purpose in writing this book is to question what we think is the foundation of humanity; the foundation of who we are. Can humanity survive in a world of chaos and suffering such as this? Is there room for it? And if here is not, then can it be called “survival” if we have forsaken the values that we used to say is what we were. In reading this book the reader develops an appreciation for life and for the things that we have that we call fundamental and thus take for granted. “He had no shoes at all and his feet were wrapped in rash and cardboard tied with green twine and any number of layers of vile clothing showed through the tears and hoes in it. ” I also think that Cormac McCarthy meant for the reader to ponder problems in the book, so as to compare ourselves to the characters and their actions, and to imagine what we may have done in their shoes. The boy lay with his head on the man? s lap. After a while he said: They? re going to kill those people, arent they? Yes. Why do they have to do that? I dont know. Are they going to eat them? I dont know. They? re going to eat them, arent they? Yes. And we couldnt help them because then they? d eat us too. Yes. And that? s why we couldnt help them. Yes. Okay. ” Is it okay? Does not doing all you can do to help make you a guilty bystander? Does it make it any better that you were not the one that would commit these heinous acts, but were simply the ones that saw the victims-to-be and walked away? LANGUAGE:

In this novel, McCarthy does not follow many grammatical rules. When there is a dialogue, McCarthy, instead of using conventional speech marks, indents what is said from one character and does the same for the next. He does not always follow this either, but it is the norm throughout the book. “ You promised not to do that, the boy said. What? You know what, Papa. He poured the hot water back into the pan and took the boy? s cup and poured some of the cocoa into his own and handed it back. I have to watch you all the time, the boy said. I know. If you break little promises you? ll break big ones. That? what you said. I know. But I wont. ” This system leaves it up to the reader to infer who is speaking. Some parts of the book are up for interpretation in meaning but also who speaks at certain points. This changes much meaning, the reader is left to ponder who is speaking what and the implications thereof. The vocabulary in this book is very complex, McCarthy even uses some words that are no longer in many dictionaries. He uses many words in ? exible ways that challenge the mind, and are also up for much interpretation. “On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. ”

McCarthy misses some apostrophes where the word can still be deciphered. He also breaks small rules of grammar to do with multiple “and”s in one sentence and makes many fragments. “He did not take care of her and she died alone somewhere in the dark and there is no other dream nor waking world and there is no other tale to tell. ” At times he simply disregards the logical sentence structure altogether. “Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was? ” I think that all of this relates back to the book. The crumbled society and people of this book that I mentioned before is portrayed through the events and characters of this book.

The writing style of this book in its errors and sentences I think is symbolic of the disintegrating society. Writing no longer follows the rules that it has because there is no reason for it to. It makes for many incredibly complex and beautiful sentences, no longer bound by the limitations of a normal sentence. These sentences challenge your mind, and can be subject to so much more interpretation than a normal sentence. “Like the great pendulum in its rotunda scribing through the long day movements of the universe of which you may say it knows nothing and yet know it must. ”

Reading Response to the Road essay

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