by Cormac McCarthy
Versions of Reality Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
One night the boy woke from a dream and would not tell him what it was.
You dont have to tell me, the man said. It's all right.
[The Boy:] I'm scared.
[The Man:] It's all right.
[The Boy:] No it's not.
[The Man:] It's just a dream.
[The Boy:] I'm really scared.
[The Man:] I know.
The boy turned away. The man held him. Listen to me, he said.
[The Boy:] What.
[The Man:] When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again then you will have given up. Do you understand? And you cant give up. I wont let you. (262.1-262.11)
Sometimes we wonder about The Man. Why does he persist if the only outcome – for him and The Boy – is misery? Is there some drive that keeps him and The Boy alive beyond happiness, and that keeps a lot of the folks on the road going? Certainly, his love for The Boy figures strongly in The Man's decision. But it could also be argued that it would be best expressed by a merciful double-suicide. Maybe The Woman had it right. It's a measure of how terrible things get in the novel when suicide seems like the good option.
He woke in the darkness, coughing softly. He lay listening. The boy sat by the fire wrapped in a blanket watching him. Drip of water. A fading light. Old dreams encroached upon the waking world. The dripping was in the cave. The light was a candle which the boy bore in a ringstick of beaten copper. The wax spattered on the stones. Tracks of unknown creatures in the mortified loess. In that cold corridor they had reached the point of no return which was measured from the first solely by the light they carried with them. (383.1)
We're unsure about this dream. It's definitely important, though, because a similar one appears in the first paragraph of the novel. (Perhaps it has something to do with traveling through an evil and fallen world?) We do want to point out this little factoid: The Boy is literally carrying the fire here. (OK, it's a candle – but that's good enough, right?) So, as The Man gets closer and closer to death, he dreams (or imagines?) that The Boy holds their candle in the dark cave of the world.