How we cite our quotes:
He remembered waking once on such a night to the clatter of crabs in the pan where he'd left steakbones from the night before. Faint deep coals of driftwood fire pulsing in the onshore wind. Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea's black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different. (303.1)
Almost all tender moments in The Road are between The Man and The Boy, but here's a sweet one between The Man and The Woman. It happens before the apocalypse. The two must be sleeping on the beach. The Man wakes up and looks into the night sky and watches the surf, then looks at his sleeping wife. He says to himself that he wouldn't have made the world any other way; this moment and this woman sleeping beside him are perfection. Now that's romantic!
He looked at the boy. See if you can find the first-aid kit, he said.
The boy didn't move.
[The Man:] Get the first-aid kit, damn it. Don't just sit there.
[. . .]
He took a clamp from the kit and caught the needle in the jaws and locked them and set about suturing the wound. He worked quickly and he took no great pains about it. The boy was crouching in the floor. He looked at him and he bent to the sutures again.
[. . .]
He ran the knot down the thread and pulled it taut and cut off the silk with the scissors from the kit and looked at the boy. The boy was looking at what he'd done.
[The Man:] I'm sorry I yelled at you.
He looked up. That's okay, Papa.
[The Man:] Let's start over.
[The Boy:] Okay. (365.1-365.13)
The Man has just been shot in the leg by an arrow. Imagine you've just been shot in the leg by an arrow and you say to your son, "Son, go see if you can find the first-aid kit in the garage. I think it's next to the bike pump." Your son just stares at you. Of course you would say to him: "Get the *&$% first-aid kit, Billy." You are, let's not forget, bleeding profusely from a wound. In this passage, however, after The Man stitches his own wound (ouch!), he apologizes to The Boy. He says, "Let's start over." Put this in the parenting book, because this is how love is done.
[The Boy:] You're going to be okay, Papa. You have to.
[The Man:] No I'm not.
[. . .]
[The Boy:] Just take me with you.
[The Man:] I cant.
[The Boy:] Please, Papa.
[The Man:] I cant. I cant hold my son dead in my arms. I thought I could but I cant.
[The Boy:] You said you wouldnt ever leave me.
[The Man:] I know. I'm sorry. You have my whole heart. You always did. You're the best guy. You always were. If I'm not here you can still talk to me. You can talk to me and I'll talk to you. You'll see. (381.4-381.21)
One of the things that makes the relationship between The Man and The Boy so moving is that the dialogue is convincing. It's not hard to imagine a father saying to his young son, "You're the best guy." Fathers say this cute stuff all the time, even without gangs of cannibals forcing them to be nice to their kids. But something else makes this touching. It's that The Man really means what he says. The Boy does serve as a moral compass for the two road-weary travelers. He is the best guy.