The Road Part 3: Words
Always read The Road with a dictionary at hand, because you’re going to need it. Seriously. We’re not known to be perfidious (though we do have somewhat of a sesquipedalian flair), so why would we give you erroneous information?
[ bird caws ]
So what's going on with McCarthy's writing style?
You cannot get through The Road without a dictionary in hand.
I couldn't, at least.
This guy writes with SAT words in his pocket.
And beyond SAT words. Beyond GRE words.
These are words that are archaic-sounding.
Things that you would just never hear
or read in any normal book.
If you really wanna understand every word,
you actually do have to get through a --
- He's gonna... - Awesome. And I'm picking up the book here, people.
And I'm looking for some five-dollar words here. Oh, my goodness.
We've got diseases here.
Flowstone - F-L-O-W-S-T-O-N-E.
And glaucoma we know. That's that eye disease.
My goodness. Okay, yeah, you definitely need
the dictionary. And you wanna read this on a Kindle
- or something. - Yes, exactly.
You can double-click and get the...
And we're just gonna keep going.
There's a lot of five-dollar words.
So you read an academic paper
and you see all these five-dollar words
and you know the person's just trying to sound smart.
Cormac McCarthy is not gonna sell
a book that way. The reason that he's
writing like this, we can imagine, is to kind of
juxtapose or highlight
the totally mundane world
that's all around this man and the boy.
They are literally just trying to survive.
The man and his son are walking down the road.
They can do nothing but survive.
And having all these big, biblical words happening
highlights how banal and mundane everything around them is happening.
They have to scrounge for food.
And they have to pee outside.
And they get super sick.
The man is coughing up blood, et cetera, et cetera.
And we're getting it described with these insanely
flowery words, and it really just
highlights how depressing and
nothing everything is around them.
Wow. Okay. Sounds like animated Disney musical material for me.
[ pen writing ]
Why does McCarthy use so many five-dollar words?
What is life like for the characters in the novel?
Are you trying to show off or something?