| Quote #1
The boy kept looking back. Papa? he whispered. What is wrong with the man?
This is typical dialogue between The Boy and The Man. Against all good sense, The Boy wants to help everyone they meet on the road. The Man knows they need to keep moving and conserve supplies if they want to survive. We think, though, that The Boy's compassionate gestures contribute something just as important to the survival of their little band: he keeps them human.
| Quote #2
[The Boy:] What if that little boy doesnt have anybody to take care of him? he said. What if he doesnt have a papa?
In this instance, The Boy's compassion strikes us as a little more complicated than purely unselfish generosity. He perhaps sees himself in this other little boy. When he sobs over him, he's also sobbing over his own misery. Or, seen another way, The Boy has come to depend on his father so much that he can't imagine life without him, so what about this little boy who seems to have no one at all?
| Quote #3
The boy lay with his head in the man's lap. After a while he said: They're going to kill those people, aren't they?
The Man teaches The Boy quite a bit in this little exchange. He breaks the news to The Boy that the "bad guys" are going to eat the people they just saw shut in the basement. He also outlines the basic limits of compassion in the novel: you can't help too many people because the "bad guys" will catch up with you. The Boy and The Man have to limit their generosity because of the scarcity of food and the constant dangers on the road. However, The Boy's questioning of these principles keeps The Man honest. We also think it stirs up a great deal of admiration for his son.