by Cormac McCarthy
The Road Sections 241-250 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- The next day they travel until dark. When The Man tries to turn on their little stove, it doesn't light. The valve is already on and the gas tank is empty.
- They eat a cold supper. The Boy asks how the tank emptied so fast, but The Man tells him it's just already empty. After a while, The Boy figures out that he left the valve on. He tries to apologize, but The Man is really generous and shifts the blame to himself.
- Now they're crossing the coastal plains, "where the secular winds drove them in howling clouds of ash to find shelter where they could. Houses or barns or under the bank of a roadside ditch." (243.1). The Man tells The Boy not to lose heart.
- McCarthy describes a depressing landscape: "Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wall-studs" (244.1). A midden, by the way, is a garbage heap.
- It's late afternoon. It begins to snow.
- The Man wakes up in the morning and The Boy isn't there. The Boy comes running across the fields shouting that there's a train in the woods.
- They cross the fields and enter the woods, and sure enough there's "a diesel electric" train (246.1). The Man says they should just "sit and watch" for a little while (246.1).
- They sit and wait. Nothing moves. The Man gives The Boy the pistol and investigates further. Finally, he motions for The Boy to come with him.
- There's a lot of junk in the train. Suitcases already "rifled [through] long ago" and some paper plates in the club car (248.1).
- They climb up to the engineer's cab. The Man puts The Boy in the engineer's seat and makes "train noises," but he's not sure these will mean anything to The Boy (249.1). The Boy asks if they can go.
- They start to see cairns (piles of rocks used as memorials or landmarks) along the roadside. The Man thinks about the murderous years after the disaster, when the food stores ran out.
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