Week 12 (Fall 2011): The Country Road

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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” ?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?

Adapted from:  http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Reading-Questions-Your-Guide-to-The-Road-by-Cormac-McCarthy

That’s it.

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.

Love Always,

Mrs. S

100 thoughts on “Week 12 (Fall 2011): The Country Road

  1. 1.I think that Cormac didnt give them a name to leave the ends open on their relationship. The way they left the ends open shows that there can possibly be someone in the same situation around that time as well. Somewhere else there can be a son and boy.

    2. The main way he gave the hints that the world was to an end was the way he took most of the colors out of his shots.He gave it the illusion that the end of the world took the color with it.One of the things that was most horrifying parts of the apocolypse was that after the end,people died in their beds,on floors, in cars and whereve they were confortable.

    3.i think that there was a glitch in the weather. The harvest of the moon was thrown off. The weather changed everyday and there was nothing the world could do,and people couldnt adjust to the climate.

  2. 1.) I believe that Cormac purposely didnt give them names because it adds to the effect of the story. With the conditions they were in, no one cared about age, gender or name. It was all about survival. The only thing that mattered was if they were going to eat that night or get eating by cannibals.

    5.) Being one of the ‘good guys’ meant not being a cannibal. As they came across other humans they went straight into defensive mode. However, the good and the bad were in the same sitaution. They both were hungry, hopeless, cold and tired. The main difference was how far they would go to contain food. The boy always cared for strangers that seemed pretty decent. Do others as you want them to do for you. He always wanted to feed them and show that he cares. I believe that he was trying to keep hope in his heart and the world to convince himself and his father that this hell couldn’t last forever.

    8.) Both the father and the boy had the fire in there hearts to survive. Thats why they are so powerful. They only had each other and the memories of the past. Keeping the fire in such cold, brutal conditions can help you move towards the sunlight.

    • @I’mallama(Saidah) I agree with your number 8. They wanted more than ever to survive, and they did all the could to do so. They pushed on and made it until the father had to die, but the boy finally had a home.

  3. Cormac probably did not give names because that little detail was not important due to the fact the world was in deep destruction. Survival was everyone’s focus. Two characteres, boy & man,showed how they were trying to remain to themselves so they too wouldn’t fall down like the world around them.

  4. Catasrphe to me seems like to be something human do not yet know about. I believe its based on religous views similar to mine where the Bible talks about how Jesus will come for His people. I believe when the man refers to they are gone, it is referred to Christains. That is why I think its hard to determine the catastrophe that has overcome them because the Bible says it will be things happening we have never seen before.

  5. 1. I think Cormac choose not to give his characters names because their personalities spoke louder for who they were. Also, the names weren’t needed because the movie mostly revolved around both of the characters.
    5. The man and the boy are alike with the bad boys because every one’s trying to survive and find food for themselves. The man and the boy are unalike with the bad guys because the bad guys hunt people down to eat them while the man and the boy meet others but try not to get close to them.
    8. The man and the boy have such a close bond because they both go through the same struggles and are their for one another. Which makes their relationship become a stronger bond.

    • @Deera, I agree with you on bullet 8, They really had a tight bond, and of course.. With an environment like that, They have to stay close ever since the mother walked out on them, they still manage to keep their heads high.

  6. 1. Cormac amy have not given his characters names to limit distraction from the story. The fact that they had no names, helped readers focus on the story’s plot. The fact their names are simply “man” and “boy” also helps readers to relate, because without names they are more relatable. Boys can relate to the boy, and men can relte to man. The fact they have no names also helps to make them seem more realistic and less fiction.

  7. 3. Though what happened to the world to bring it to where it was in the story was not clear, we can assume that some type of fire may have burned the land from the ashes left behind. It is possible that field fires and forest fires may have taken place. I find it horrifying the way the canibal men and women would chase the others for survival. I couldn’t imagine resorting to having to eat people fro survival.

  8. 1. I think he chose not to give them names because he wanted people to relate to them. When characters have names, it makes it less person. It could happen to anyone. They were regular people like us, who just happened to be in a bad situation.
    3. I believe that the environment caused the destruction. The ozone depleted completely. The sun and exploded which caused everyone to die. He meant that when the world ended so did the sanity of humanity. People let the worlds’ problem get to them.
    8. The relationship between the father and son was beautiful. Their relationship was so special because they never gave up on one another. They continued to strive for a better tomorrow. They maintained the relationship because they had hope in one another.

  9. 7. I feel that in the story evil preails. The evil canibal people had the “good guys” living in fear which gave them power. The canibals were always on the hunt for the good guys which made it hard for them to feel safe. Also evidence is present when the on ask his father if a guy they meet in the road is a good guy. This proves that thge distinction between good and evil are present.

  10. 1.)I think Cormac chose not to give his characters names because it would of showed a deeper attachment or bond between them. Not knowing every other person name they met ment that would be one person they wouldn’t have to get close to, just so they could die.
    5.)The man and the boy are alike with the bad guys because all they are really trying to do is survive, and find food. Either get killed or be killed. The man and the boy are unlike with bad guys in the ways such as: the bad guys hunt people down to eat them, while the man and the boy met people and try not to get close to them, and just keep it moving. With the boy he just wanted to be nice knowing that the people they meet were in the same position as them. The little boy just wanted to be nice and help the people they encountered. In my opinion the boy isn’t really able to retain his compassion. Such as when he met the old guy the boy knew he was supposed to be close to him by holding his hand but the man didn’t want him to.
    8.) The relationship between the father and son centimental, they had a very compassionate relationship. They relationship was special because they were dependent on one another. They continued to survive to see a better tomorrow. They maintained the relationship because the had hope in one another.

  11. 1) I believe that Cormac has chosen not to give his characters names simply to keep the readers open minded. The generic labels of “the man” and “the boy” affect the way in which readers relate to them by making it known that this can be any father son relationship. Father meaning someone who steps up to be a role model in a child’s life.
    5) The man and the boy were the “good guys.” In a time like that you and whoever you’re with are the only people you can trust, especially when there are people out there who want you for dinner. The bot stayed the boy stayed the good guy throughout the whole story. The man however lost his “fire” and started to DO bad things. One thing that I felt was really bad was after that man stole from them the father stole from him. He made him give them all his stuff and he didn’t have much. I believe Cormac is suggesting, in the scenes in which the boy begs his father to be merciful to the strangers they encounter on the road, that the father was losing his way on the road. See I saw the old man, the thief, and etc. as obstacles for the father and son and these obstacles ended up effecting the father in a negative way. The boy was able to retain his compassion by keeping the “fire” like he was told.
    7) There was a scene where it was a woman and her daughter trying to outrun the cannibals and I think that was an example of pure evil. An example of good would have to be, even though the father didn’t want to, when they invited the old man to have dinner with them. And the force which has a greater power is the fire and I feel as if the fire is really love.

  12. 1.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?- Instead of specifically naming the characters, I believe the reason for just using “the man” and “the boy” is to characterize humans and their nature not just those two characters.

    3. “On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world” ? When he said “..there are no godspoke men,” I think he meant righteous or just people with morals. Whatever caused this struggle with human civilization was maybe a corrupted government or some kind of war that destroyed much more than what was intended.

    5. 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?- Just like the “bad guys” they encountered, their trying to survive! The only difference between the two is that the other group doesn’t eat people. What Cormac was trying to suggest that by being merciful they could help out a guy who is just like them, a survivor! The boy knew that they had something in common. I believe the boy’s innocence doesn’t allow him to retain his compassion because he doesn’t want to do wrong and he just wants to help.

  13. 1) He didn’t give them names because those small details weren’t important. If they were given names it would of took away attention from the main point of the whole story. It also would deter away of how we would portray the characters.

    4) I don’t think people would even resort to eating other people. There are way too many resources for people to that. No one knows when the world will end , how it will end and who’s going to be left.

    8) The father and son where both strong hearted with the will to survive. They used each other for support because there was no one left. They never gave up on each other even in their darkest hour.

  14. 1. I think Cormac decided not to give his characters names because it would affect the moral of the story. When characters are giving names that’s what they are known by, but Cormac didn’t want them to be known for a name he wanted them to be known because of their strive to survive and their personality.
    5. “The man” and “the boy” considered themselves “good boys” and the others “bad boys” because of the things they did for survival. Both the ‘good boys” and the “bad boys’ were alike because they all were looking for ways to survive and eat. They were different in the ways they found survival. The man and the boy met people but tried not to get to close to them, whereas the other people hunted people for food.
    7. The relationship between the boy and his father is so powerful because they were very dependant of each other. They were basically all each other had. They maintain this affection by using the fire to symbolize faith so if something was to happen to one of them the other would still keep going.

  15. 1. I think Cormac choose not to give his characters names because their personalities spoke louder for who they were. Also, the names weren’t needed because the movie mostly revolved around both of the characters. These two characters were basically the living and everything else was dead.
    5. The man and the boy are alike with the bad boys because every one’s trying to survive and find food for themselves. The man and the boy are unalike with the bad guys because the bad guys hunt people down to eat them while the man and the boy meet others but try not to get close to them, They just live day to day and hope, while the others are just trying to find the next meal.
    8. The man and the boy have a close bond because it is just the two of them, since the mother left. Since she left they must fend for themselves and deal with the obstacles along the way, though there were many.

  16. 1.) I feel that Cormac has chosen not to give the characters name so that the story would be even more appealing to its audience. Not knowing the characters name made the moral of the story very heart felt. If Cormac had given the characters names the audience would have focused more on that than grasping the overall concept that Cormac was trying to display.
    5.) The man and the boy consider themselves as the good guys because they are not killing other humans and eating them for their survival. They were helpful to some people they encountered but they didn’t get too close. They may be considered bad guys through some of their actions but honestly I feel that the father was trying to make a away for him and his son to stay alive.
    8.) I believe that the young boy and his father were very strong through this story. That the fire burning in their heart was their motivation for life. They had faced a challenged that they struggled through but in the end neither allowed the other to give up.

  17. 1) I believe that Cormac did not give names to the characters because as they played the part of papa and son , their personalities reflected . Taking care of one another along the journey they were on .

    5) Papa and the son are alike with the guys because of the struggle to find food . Their unalike because they dont kill and eat other human beings for food .

    8) The bond the father and son have is unbreakable , as the journey gets harder they never gave up on eachother . Even when the father dies on the beach it was hard for the son to let his father go . Another family was willing to take him in and they could see the strong bond between the two .

  18. • 1. I have the feeling that Cormac didn’t give a name to keep that feel of a mystery. It kind of makes you think thought-out the whole story, and keeps your mind open to see beyond those two charters. Cormac gave a fill in the blank for people, and I like how he did that.
    • 2.The hints he gave about the worlds ending was in the setting its self. Everything was dark and cold. You could see the death in the air. The colors he used had an illusion of something as so bad the apocalypse. People dying in their cars, beds, anywhere that has a floor.
    • 3.The weather was something else, I feel like it was a little bit of global warning. The harvest of the moon was thrown off. The weather changed everyday and there was nothing the world could do,and people couldn’t adjust to the climates.

  19. 1.) Cormac wanted to make the main characters synonymous to the audience. He wanted the characters to relate closely to us without having a complex, abstract personality. Every race, ethnicity, institutional, or religious institution.

    5.) The good guys and the bad guys are both humans struggling desperately for survival. The boy trying to stop his father from letting the black man die is a representation of the human fire. The fire that separates a person who lives to survive and the person who survives to Live. The boy kept his compassion by seeing how his father acted. He saw his father acting like the bad guys and the boy understood that the black man had to do whatever possible to survive.

  20. 4.) It’s easy to imagine this world coming to life. Many people will act the same way under those circumstances but there will also be people who retain their philosophies and morals enough to not act savagely.
    Human civilization will end, but most likely not in the same way geographically. We might end up dying by the Muslim Brotherhood’s colorful collection of nuclear bombs.

  21. 1.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? I think that Cormac decided to leave the characters nameless to not only leave a mystery but to make it easier for the reader or viewer to relate themselves to the characters in the novel, because if a cataclysmic event ever did occur, the events and decisions made in this book might be the same struggles any “good guy” would have to face.

    2.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 able to make the post-apocalyptic world of The Road seem so real and utterly terrifying by describing humanities worst nightmares such as no food, no animals, no sunlight, no technology, no resources, nothing. Nothing but barren fields, destroyed cities, and death everywhere you look. The thing that I find to be the most horrifying feature of this world is the coast. I was dumbfounded when we watch any scene with the beach in it. The brown and gray water, the dull sky, and the lifeless atmosphere really startled me and really had my brain going.

    3.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” ? The descriptions sound like the final years of the world which are described as unexplained destruction, chaos, and horror. The godspoke men seem to me to be the people who were of the Christian faith. It is said in the bible that when Christ returns to earth he will take those who believe in him and all that is good with him.

    4.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? It scares me to say so, but actually pretty easy to imagine this world. I do believe that some people would behave as a few characters do in the novel. Such individuals as those who have no respect for human life, compassion, religious beliefs, or those who would rather kill to live than die would most likely become cannibals. Some people believe that the end is coming, I really can’t say. However, if it does I know I’ll be ready for whatever happens because my faith and religion shows me what to do.

    5.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 man and the boy do a lot of things different from the “bad guys”. For instance they don’t kill conspicuously or savagely, they didn’t eat people, they didn’t steal, or stalk people. I think Cormac is suggesting that the man is being a bit hypocritical about being a “good guy”. He never did the obvious bad thing but he also didn’t help those who desperately needed it. The boy retained his compassion because he was still young enough to believe that there is goodness in everything, even while living in a post-apocalyptic world.

    6.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? The man and his son where searching for an oasis, a place of refuge, and somewhere to not only live but also thrive and be happy. They were pilgrims in a sense because the pilgrims left Europe in search for a place where they could live free and prosper. The symbolic significance of this journey is the fight to stay alive each day and survive all the dangerous obstacles that could destroy the man and the boy.

    7.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? I think that Cormac suggests that even through a cataclysmic event the ongoing struggle between good and evil is still alive. In the beginning of the novel evil seems to be the stronger of the two. However, as the novel comes to an end and life returns to Earth, good has seemed to prevail. The Man throughout the whole novel presumes that any good in the world has been dead for a while. But at the novel’s conclusion the group of people who find the boy, after his father died, represent the good left in the world. They represent those who still have faith in mankind even though a great deal of evil still exists.

  22. 1) In my proessional opinion the author Cormac has chosen not to given the characters official names, so he can show that this can be ANYBODY!! that this is not only their story but this is the story for everyone who is trying to live right during the Post-Apopclyptic time perid
    2) Now i believe that he makes it so real und utterly terryfying is because, at the back of everyones head is that something like this might happen. Everyone at some point in their life think about what will happen if the world we blow up or a comet would hit, or possibly ww3. The most terrfying thing to me is the cannibals. Like seriously, i think it was more cannibals then there were people who didnt eat humans, like this must mean that they literally have no humanity left if they can actually eat humans. I would VERY MUCH DISLIKE to be in a time period where cannabalism is naturally, and commonly practiced.
    3) There are two very STRONG possibilities! A) world war three happened, and of course there was the use of nuclear weapons to try to annhialte each other, and if you are constantly dropping nuclear vombs on the arth, thats gonna ineed mess up the insides of the earth, causing, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earth quakes, which ultimately leads to death and famine. B) The second coming of Jesus Christ , I think the people who are living on the Erth after the Post-Apopclyptic event could be the “left behind” from when Jesus takes all of his believers to the Kingdom of Heaven with him. The people left behind are left to eperience 7 years of “hell” and if they end up giving their souls to Jesus Christ, theyll be saved from enternal damnation.

  23. 1.) I think Cormac choose not to give his characters names because their personalities spoke louder for who they were. The fact that they had no names, helped readers focus on the story’s plot. They were regular people like us, who just happened to be in a bad situation.

    5.) The man and the boy were the “good guys.” In a time like that you and whoever you’re with are the only people you can trust, especially when there are people out there who want you for dinner. They were different in the ways they found survival. The man and the boy met people but tried not to get to close to them, whereas the other people hunted people for food.

    8.) I believe that the young boy and his father were very strong through this story. That the fire burning in their heart was their motivation for life. Since the mother left, they must fend for themselves and deal with the obstacles along the way, though there were many. They continued to survive to see a better tomorrow. They maintained the relationship because the had hope in one another.

  24. 1.) I believe Cormac has chosen not to give the characters name due to keeping the audience attention. Giving the characters name would have taken away from the mood of the story because the thing that mattered was their survival.
    5.) The man and the boy can consider themselves as the “good guys” because they do not kill other human beings for their survival. They can also be considered as the “bad guys” because they really don’t help others as much or try to get close to people they meet.
    8.) The relationship between the father and son is based off love. They both wanted to survive through that difficult time together. That fire burning in their hearts was a symbol of compassion.

  25. 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?
    He made the post-apocalyptic world see so real by the vivid description, the emotion and details. One of the scenes that where very descriptive was the scene where “the man” and “the boy” was walking and sleeping in the cars. And when they went into the barn and saw all those people hanging. I believe he is saying that he didn’t really believe in God or something to that extent, and that they took civilization with them, that there was nothing left but savages or thieves or people who just had no faith in a higher power. Cormac is able to make the post-apocalyptic world so vivid and real by the emotion and details he uses throughout the story. 2Specific scenes that show this are when the “man” and “boy” are being chased in the woods and his son is captured by one of the cannibals who puts a knife to his neck, the “man” then shoots the cannibal in the head using one of his only two bullets and they run away. When they return they see the cannibals head and intestines on the floor by a truck showing us that the other cannibals had eaten the dead one. The “man” was saving the two bullets so he and his son could commit suicide if they needed to. In reality people can relate to that because we do whatever we have to for the ones we love and care for. Another instance is when they arrive at a house and they go into the basement finding naked people there. This leads us to assume that they are “cattle” for the cannibals to eat. I find the cannibals to be the most terrifying factors in the post apocalyptic world and the environment. It is terrifying to see the world so dull and without life. The “boy” showed compassion and unlimited kindness and love for his father and others, while the “man” showed ambition and stubbornness to let his “boy” live as normal as possible. The title “The Road” was actually a road of unknown terrors, it started off with them living in a cave with a waterfall, wearing a lot of clothes and shoes, and looking very unhealthy. The scene showed “hope” through the darkest areas of the cave. The weather is what also captured my attention because it was mostly cold, rainy, or snowy. 7. The road shows that good and evil exist in the world in all shapes, forms, and fashions. The father speaks of “The fire” and them being the good guys, this makes me believe that good is the victor in this story. The paths taken are the difference between good and evil. Good being sacrificing for others for the greater good and following the moral code. Evil is selfishness and immorality.
    8. Even in death the boy refuses to leave his fathers side, The father continuously puts his life on the line to save his boy. These are only few in number to the reasons why the boy and his father’s relationship is powerful. The emotions these two hold for each other is more than love, they have a covenant that no man can break. Through the roughest conditions they are able to keep their love and composure for each other because they realize that they are all that each other has in that post apocalyptic world.

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