My AP Lit Babies:
This week’s blog will continue our discussion of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In addition to your No Country for Old Men essay response, which is due Monday, November 7th by 10:00pm, you must respond to at least three of the following discussion questions:
- Why do you think Cormac has chosen not to give his characters names? How do the generic labels of “the man” and “the boy” affect the way in which readers relate to them?
- How is Cormac able to make the post-apocalyptic world of The Road seem so real and utterly terrifying? Which descriptive passages are especially vivid and visceral in their depiction of this blasted landscape? What do you find to be the most horrifying features of this world and the survivors who inhabit it?
- Cormac doesn’t make explicit what kind of catastrophe has ruined the earth and destroyed human civilization, but what might be suggested by the many descriptions of a scorched landscape covered in ash? What is implied by the father’s statement that, “On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world” ?
- McCarthy envisions a post-apocalyptic world in which “murder was everywhere upon the land” and the earth would soon be “largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes.” How difficult or easy is it to imagine Cormac’s nightmare vision actually happening? Do you think people would likely behave as they do in the novel, under the same circumstances? Does it now seem that human civilization is headed toward such an end?
- The man and the boy think of themselves as the “good guys.” In what ways are they like and unlike the “bad guys” they encounter? What do you think Cormac is suggesting in the scenes in which the boy begs his father to be merciful to the strangers they encounter on the road? How is the boy able to retain his compassion?
- The Road takes the form of a classic journey story—a form that dates back to Homer’s The Odyssey. To what destination are the man and the boy journeying? In what sense are they “pilgrims”? What, if any, is the symbolic significance of their journey?
- Cormac’s work often dramatizes the opposition between good and evil, with evil sometimes emerging triumphantly. What does The Road ultimately suggest about good and evil? Which force seems to have greater power in the novel?
- What makes the relationship between the boy and his father so powerful and poignant? What do they feel for each other? How do they maintain their affection for and faith in each other in such brutal conditions?
That’s it. Your initial post is due Saturday, November 5th at 10:00pm and you will not be responding to your classmates this week. Instead, your TYPED essay response to McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men must be posted here to the blog by Monday, November 7th at 10:00pm. Essay topics will be distributed in class this week.
As always, I am here if you need me.