by Cormac McCarthy
Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
Odd things scattered by the side of the road. Electrical appliances, furniture. Tools. Things abandoned long ago by pilgrims enroute to their several and collective deaths. Even a year ago the boy might sometimes pick up something and carry it with him for a while but he didnt do that any more. They sat and rested and drank the last of their good water and left the plastic jerry jug standing in the road. The boy said: If we had that little baby it could go with us. (279.1)
Here, again, The Boy says something that shows his generosity. Instead of greedily scavenging only for himself, The Boy thinks that if they had saved the baby they could feed it. But isn't this generosity on The Boy's part also a reflection of his father? Can't we say that The Man teaches The Boy – despite the daily horrors surrounding them – by showering love on him, which in turn makes The Boy decent and kind?
He's gone, he said. Come on.
He's not gone, the boy said. He looked up. His face streaked with soot. He's not.
[The Man:] What do you want to do?
[The Boy:] Just help him, Papa. Just help him.
The man looked back up the road.
[The Boy:] He was just hungry, Papa. He's going to die.
[The Man:] He's going to die anyway.
[The Boy:] He's so scared, Papa.
The man squatted and looked at him. I'm scared, he said. Do you understand? I'm scared.
The boy didn't answer. He just sat there with his head bowed, sobbing.
[The Man:] You're not the one who has to worry about everything.
The boy said something but he couldnt understand him. What? he said.
[The Boy] looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one. (356.3-356.15)
Some critics blasted this exchange between The Boy and The Man as hokey. We can see why: "I am the one" is a cliché straight out of The Matrix. That said, we do think The Boy has a point. He is the one who keeps tabs on how they treat people on the road. Sure, The Man scavenges food and warm clothes and builds fires to keep them warm. And, in that sense, The Man does have "to worry about everything." But food isn't everything, as this novel reminds us. Kindness and compassion count, too.
[The Man:] Do you want me to tell you a story?
[The Boy:] No.
[The Man:] Why not?
The boy looked at him and looked away.
[The Man:] Why not?
[The Boy:] Those stories are not true.
[The Man:] They dont have to be true. They're stories.
[The Boy:] Yes. But in the stories we're always helping people and we dont help people. (367.5-367.12)
Ouch, the Boy really calls his dad out here. It seems like The Man has been telling stories about how they help people on the road. (Do the terms "carrying the fire" and "good guys" originate in these stories?) But in actuality, as The Boy points out, they rarely do anything to help people. We wonder, though, if The Boy isn't being too hard on The Man and himself. Isn't it enough that they don't harm other people? Isn't that an accomplishment in itself? Do you think The Boy sometimes seems more naive than compassionate? Are these two terms synonymous in The Road?