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. Good dreams act like mirages in the novel, drawing the characters away from their harsh reality. Nightmares, on the other hand, reflect the terror they face daily. It's almost as if the unconscious in the novel no longer harbors illicit desires. All the terrible things people could do are already being done. Rather, the unconscious harbors suppressed happy memories, which the protagonist, perhaps correctly, calls distracting.
Questions About Versions of Reality
- When do we see color in this novel? Is it only in dreams or memories? Has McCarthy stripped the landscape of all beauty, or is he just a little stingier than most novelists in his descriptions?
- Would it be fair to call some remnants of the destroyed world dreamlike? For example, is the Coke pried from the machine surreal (see 35.1-35.17)? If so, in what way? How does McCarthy achieve this effect?
- Do any of the dreams in the novel confront God's apparent abandonment of the world? If so, which ones? If not, why?