The Road Sections 71-80 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- The Man decides they have to leave: the waterfall might attract other people, and it's getting colder every day. The Boy, who likes the waterfall, doesn't want to leave.
- They take a look at the map. They'll follow the state roads east. (Tellingly, the word "state" doesn't mean anything to The Boy.)
- The come across "a tractor-trailer jackknifed sideways across" a bridge (72.1).
- Through the bridge's ironwork they can see the rapids below them.
- The Man climbs into the truck's cab. There's not much there: an empty glovebox, magazines, damp mattresses.
- It starts raining.
- They sleep in the cab. The Man asks The Boy what he thinks is in the trailer.
- The Man figures there's a hatch on top. He climbs up the hood of the truck, over the windshield, and onto the trailer.
- The Man finds "a skylight about a third of the way down the roof" (76.1).
- He lights a magazine and tosses it into the trailer. The flame illuminates the trailer's contents: "[d]ried and shrunken" human bodies (76.1).
- They camp on a ridge. It storms and The Boy clings to The Man.
- When The Man wakes, it's still dark.
- He walks along the ridge and sees a smoky haze over the valley. He walks back to camp.
- He sees the blue "tarp lit from within where the boy had wakened. Sited there in the darkness [. . .] it looked like the pitch of some last venture at the edge of the world" (78.1).
- They keep traveling on the road.
- There's smoke everywhere from the forest fire. The soft road, where the fire crossed, sucks at their shoes.
- They go ahead and set up camp. (They're waiting for the road to cool since someone could follow their tracks in the tar.)
- When they return to the "melted roadway," they find a fresh set of tracks (80.1). Someone passed them in the night.