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The Road Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
Although Cormac McCarthy is known as a connoisseur of excessive violence, we think most of the violent stuff in The Road is justified. McCarthy portrays a post-apocalyptic landscape where the scarc...
For all the violence and gore in The Road, there's a beautiful love story at its center. Given a post-apocalyptic setting, you might be imagining tough guys and scantily-clad women. Instead, we get...
McCarthy once said that he doesn't understand novelists who don't "deal with issues of life and death" (source). Well, he certainly practices what he preaches. Death is a constant in The Road. Its...
The Road is a fundamentally agnostic novel, meaning that some characters seem to believe in God and others seriously doubt God's existence. The protagonist of the novel flips back and forth on whet...
The isolation of the two main characters in The Road is pretty extreme. God has seemingly abandoned them, and they have totally lost contact with other decent people. For The Man, isolation compoun...
Good vs. Evil
In The Road, there are actual groups of "good guys" and "bad guys," which is somewhat surprising for a work of literary fiction. In the wake of a world catastrophe, though, goodness has all but dis...
Memory and the Past
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 protag...
Strength and Skill
Like most novels about survival, The Road exalts the resourcefulness of its protagonist. Resourcefulness becomes an enshrined skill, partly because it ensures the survival of loved ones. Resourcefu...
Versions of Reality
Most of the "versions of reality" in The Road are dreams. McCarthy includes a hallucination or two and briefly makes fun of happy stories, but he mainly focuses on the dreams of his characters. Goo...
Compassion and Forgiveness
The world Cormac McCarthy describes in The Road is a cruel place. Compassion in this dog-eat-dog (or man-eat-man) world seems all the more precious. Granted, McCarthy mostly associates compassion w...
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