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Why doesn't McCarthy describe the disaster or tell us how the world ended up coated in ash? What does the novel gain by this omission? What do you imagine happened?
McCarthy borrows from a lot of genres in The Road: post-apocalyptic stories, horror, Southern Gothic, the road novel, sci-fi, and even the western. Can you identify elements of these genres in The Road? Do you think the influence of these genres helps or hinders the novel? Does McCarthy's book transcend genre? Why or why not?
Although the novel ends on a hopeful note, much of the book is pretty gruesome. Is the violence and horror excessive? Does McCarthy cross the line with his descriptions? Is The Road too violent?
When his father dies, The Boy repeats his name over and over. As readers, though, we have no idea what the name is. At the same time, McCarthy describes the setting of the novel in painstaking detail. What is the importance of naming and description in the novel? What does McCarthy name and what does he leave unnamed? How do these choices affect the novel?
Do the characters in the novel find any meaning in their lives?