What would it be like to live in a world full of constant horror? Cormac McCarthy, An American novelist, has written about this dystopian world in his fictional novel, “The Road”. “The Road” takes place in a post apocalyptic world and has two main characters – the Boy and the Man. The author deliberately doesn’t state the names of the father and son pair, contributing to the sense of chaos that is conveyed throughout the book.
There are several themes expressed in this novel – memory, good and evil, and love. Although some people may argue that darker themes, such as death or violence, prevail, those “darker” factors simply enhance the degree of warmth and devotion found within the gloomy world portrayed in the novel. In fact, there are several scenes that highlight the love between the Man and the Boy. When the two of them find a can of Coke, both insist that the other drink it; demonstrating how the two of them continually put each other first, even in such a hostile environment.
The theme of memory is also conveyed through the inner conflict of the Man. The Man longs to cherish and reminisce about the beauty of his past life, but when he tries to remember, he continually struggles to focus on the survival of himself and his son. The conflict between good and evil is also constantly shown through the attitude of the Boy and Man and the people they encounter. There are the “bad guys”, the post-apocalyptic cannibals, and the “good guys”, who are, in the words of The Man, “carrying the fire” of humanity.
McCarthy’s novel is a great piece of work in the sense that it brilliantly conveys the horror of a ruined world, yet at the same time succeeds in giving the reader hope in humanity. Though readers may feel utterly shocked in some scenes due to McCarthy’s vivid imagery, there are definitely scenes where the readers will feel relieved and optimistic for the future. This balance between horror and hope is what makes this book a thoroughly enjoyable read. The ending of the book is open for discussion – the Boy’s destiny is determined in the readers’ imaginations.
I would highly recommend people to read this book because it provokes the readers to contemplate many different themes, allowing the ideas of the book to linger in the minds of the readers. Although this novel isn’t for the lighthearted, it is certainly an enjoyable read, so pick it up now! You can thank me later.
This article originally appeared in the March, 2014 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Se In Hong, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
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