Memory is something of a double-edged sword in The Road. The protagonist wants to remember the past, but when he does, he has trouble focusing on survival. Also, by remembering the past, the protagonist feels he's altering his memories of it, so he tries not to recall too much in order to preserve it. However, the setting of the novel is so terrible that the protagonist really needs the sustenance of the past. Basically, The Road presents memory and the past as an unavoidable conundrum: even though memory connects the protagonist to beauty and goodness, it only reminds him that those things no longer exist.