by Cormac McCarthy
Versions of Reality Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
In dreams his pale bride came to him out of a green and leafy canopy. Her nipples pipeclayed and her rib bones painted white. She wore a dress of gauze and her dark hair was carried up in combs of ivory, combs of shell. Her smile, her downturned eyes. In the morning it was snowing again. Beads of small gray ice strung along the lightwires overhead. (25.1)
We're not sure what to make of this particular dream, but we do want to point out the important role dreams play in the novel. They're often inscrutable, but sometimes they seem more or less like memories of the pre-apocalyptic world. This is one of the more inscrutable ones. The best we can do is to point you toward another quote:
[The Woman:] You can think of me as a faithless slut if you like. I've taken a new lover. He can give me what you cannot.
[The Man:] Death is not a lover.
Is the woman in The Man's dream a deathly bride? Is she tempting him to follow her into suicide? Is this "pale bride" his wife's ghost, or a memory of his wedding? We're not sure. But she seems like bad news and somehow connected to the icy landscape.
He mistrusted all of that. He said the right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of languor and of death. He slept little and he slept poorly. He dreamt of walking in a flowering wood where birds flew before them he and the child and the sky was aching blue but he was learning how to wake himself from just such siren worlds. Lying there in the dark with the uncanny taste of a peach from some phantom orchard fading in his mouth. He thought if he lived long enough the world at last would all be lost. Like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowing fading from memory. (26.1)
This passage explains The Man's stance on dreams fairly well. Good dreams mean you're getting soft and pining for a world that doesn't exist anymore. Bad dreams mean you're engaged with the bad world in front of you. Sounds pretty terrible, right? Even the escape hatch of a good dream is bolted shut in this novel.