by Cormac McCarthy
Isolation Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing. Wearing masks and goggles, sitting in their rags by the side of the road like ruined aviators. Their barrows heaped with shoddy. Towing wagons or carts. Their eyes bright in their skulls. Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all. (42.1)
As far as isolation goes, McCarthy takes the idea to its bitter conclusion. In fact, he doesn't just talk about isolation, he talks about possible obliteration. A few scattered apples versus none left in the entire world. What happens to the idea of apples at that point? This is what he means (we think) by the phrase "the last instance of a thing takes the class with it." As people dwindle and become isolated, there's the risk that no one will be left at all. Then, even the idea of humans will have disappeared.
On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. (51.1)
We're not exactly sure what "godspoke" means – McCarthy made up this word. But, with the context of the sentence in mind, we think it might mean something like "godly." In any event, The Man feels that the loss of other good and pious men equals the loss of the world. He might be right. That said, as one critic suggests, isn't he forgetting about The Boy?
[The Man:] Will you tell him [The Boy] goodbye?
[The Woman:] No. I will not.
[The Man:] Just wait till morning. Please.
[The Woman:] I have to go.
She had already stood up.
[The Man:] For the love of God, woman. What am I to tell him?
[The Woman:] I cant help you.
[The Man:] Where are you going to go? You cant even see.
[The Woman:] I dont have to.
He stood up. I'm begging you, he said.
[The Woman:] No. I will not. I cannot. (93.25-93.35)
Ouch. The Boy's mother leaves without so much as a good-bye. We think this passage functions as a barometer of how bad things get in The Road. It's not that The Boy's mother is really cruel (OK, maybe she's a little cruel) but that the world now strikes her as incredibly hopeless. She chooses not to fight against that hopelessness. Of course, The Boy still has his father's love, but you can imagine the absence The Boy must feel because his mother leaves so suddenly.