by Cormac McCarthy
Isolation Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
[The Boy:] Do you think somebody is coming?
[The Man:] Yes. Sometime.
[The Boy:] You said nobody was coming.
[The Man:] I didnt mean ever.
[The Boy:] I wish we could live here.
[The Man:] I know.
[The Boy:] We could be on the lookout.
[The Man:] We are on the lookout.
[The Boy:] What if some good guys came?
[The Man:] Well, I dont think we're likely to meet any good guys on the road.
[The Boy:] We're on the road.
[The Man:] I know. (224.8-224.19)
The Boy makes a very good point here. Supposedly there aren't any good guys on the road – but aren't they on the road? This could mean a couple things. One, it could mean The Man and The Boy aren't actually "good guys" since no "good guys" travel the road. We're inclined to disagree with that statement. (Disclosure: We do have a soft spot for these characters, but that's only because they try really hard to be good people.) Or, it could mean these The Man and The Boy are completely alone – the only "good guys" left on the road.
[Ely:] When we're all gone at last then there'll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He'll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He'll say: Where did everybody go? And that's how it will be. What's wrong with that? (237.84)
Sheesh, what a depressing image. Death (scythe, cloak, etc.) wandering the road, looking for people to kill when he's already killed everyone. It's probably worth taking a look at 237.23-30, since The Man and Ely talk there about how the last person on earth probably wouldn't know he was the last person (see "Themes: Spirituality"). We don't have much else to say here other than this passage is pretty bleak. Even Death gets the blues in this novel!
The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu. A marsh where the dead reeds lay over the water. Beyond the edge of the fields the sullen haze hung over earth and sky alike. By late afternoon it had begun to snow and they went on with the tarp over them and the wet snow hissing on the plastic. (244.1)
We included this passage because it seems typical of the landscape in The Road. Let us count the ways. First, the land's eroded. Second, we don't have any animals but we do have the bones of animals. Third, we also see some skeletal farmhouses. And fourth, the kudzu is dead (we thought that wasn't possible!). Ravaged, bleak, and lonely. So it's not altogether fair to say the land is "without feature" – it seems ghastly to us, which in itself is a feature.