by Cormac McCarthy
Isolation Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
[The Boy:] There are other guys. You said so.
[The Man:] Yes.
[The Boy:] So where are they?
[The Man:] They're hiding.
[The Boy:] Who are they hiding from?
[The Man:] From each other.
[The Boy:] Are there lots of them?
[The Man:] We dont know.
[The Boy:] But some.
[The Man:] Some. Yes.
[The Boy:] Is that true?
[The Man:] Yes. That's true.
[The Boy:] But it might not be true.
[The Man:] I think it's true.
[The Boy:] Okay.
[The Man:] You dont believe me.
[The Boy:] I believe you.
[The Man:] Okay.
[The Boy:] I always believe you.
[The Man:] I dont think so.
[The Boy:] Yes I do. I have to. (254.1-254.21)
Let's get this straight, Mr. McCarthy. So there might be other "good guys" out there in the world, but The Man isn't sure. And if there are other "good guys" out there, they're hiding from each other and therefore unlikely to ever meet. Which means The Man and The Boy are unlikely to meet any other good souls on the road?
Do you think your fathers are watching? That they weigh you in their ledgerbook? Against what? There is no book and your fathers are dead in the ground. (272.1)
Ooh, this passage gives us the chills. The Man takes himself to task for believing in the hopeful falsehood that there are people (ancestors or forbearers or what have you) watching over him and holding him accountable for his actions. The apocalyptic catastrophe wiped out everything, including human history and morality.
Out there was the gray beach with the slow combers rolling dull and leaden and the distant sound of it. Like the desolation of some alien sea breaking on the shores of a world unheard of. Out on the tidal flats lay a tanker half careened. Beyond that the ocean vast and cold and shifting heavily like a slowly heaving vat of slag and then the gray squall line of ash. He looked at the boy. He could see the disappointment in his face. I'm sorry it's not blue, he said. That's okay, said the boy. (297.1)
OK, this is really sad. The Man and The Boy have been traveling for some time in the hope that things might be better on the coast. They finally get there in the last third of the novel. Are things any better? Is there some hope left in this terrible world? Hardly. Just listen to this sentence: "Like the desolation of some alien sea breaking on the shores of a world unheard of." Plus, the ocean isn't even blue. You had to expect this kind of thing, though. McCarthy isn't going to give us a fun beach scene – he's going to give us an existential sea, with some more ash just for good measure.