by Cormac McCarthy
Violence Quotes in The Road
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Section.Paragraph)
People sitting on the sidewalk in the dawn half immolate smoking in their clothes. Like failed sectarian suicides. Others would come to help them. Within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. The screams of the murdered. By day the dead impaled on spikes along the road. What had they done? He thought that in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime but he took small comfort from it. (53.1)
In The Road, the world has become a brutal place. McCarthy lists some of the atrocities here: murder and derangement, both of which are horrifically displayed (e.g. "the dead impaled on spikes along the road"). He also offers us a smart definition of violence: "there was more punishment than crime." Don't we call judicious (and sanctioned) retribution "justice"? And those other acts, unsanctioned and excessive, "violence"?
There was a skylight about a third of the way down the roof and he made his way to it in a walking crouch. The cover was gone and the inside of the trailer smelled of wet plywood and that sour smell he'd come to know. He had a magazine in his hip pocket and he took it out and tore some pages from it and wadded them and got out his lighter and lit the papers and dropped them into the darkness. A faint whooshing. He wafted away the smoke and looked down into the trailer. The small fire burning in the floor seemed a long way down. He shielded the glare of it with his hand and when he did he could see almost to the rear of the box. Human bodies. Sprawled in every attitude. Dried and shrunken in their rotted clothes. The small wad of burning paper drew down to a wisp of flame and then died out leaving a faint pattern for just a moment in the incandescence like the shape of a flower, a molten rose. Then all was dark again. (76.1)
This is just scary. When you open a basement door, or walk down a dark hallway, you sometimes imagine some pretty ridiculous things, most of which never turn out to be real. (Mostly because they're just impossible.) In the universe of The Road, however, things turn out worse than anyone (except Cormac McCarthy) could imagine. The Man climbs up to the skylight of a jackknifed tractor-trailer truck. When he peers into the truck, he sees a collection of corpses sprawled inside the container.
[The Woman:] No, I'm speaking the truth. Sooner or later they will catch us and they will kill us. They will rape me. They'll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you wont face it. [. . .]. We used to talk about death, she said. We dont anymore. Why is that?
[The Man:] I dont know.
[The Woman:] It's because it's here. There's nothing left to talk about. (93.12-93.14)
The Boy's mother states (pretty confidently) the habits of the "bloodcults" roaming the roads. They rape, steal, and murder without discretion. Not to mention the fact that they're cannibals. The world has become predictably violent, meaning that The Woman is able to say with absolute certainty what these "bloodcults" will do if given the chance. The Man doesn't argue with her.