Week #9: The Road

Week #9:  The Road

My Babies:

This week’s blog will continue our discussion of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In addition to your essay response, which is due Friday, October 22nd by 6:00pm, you must respond to at least two 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 Wednesday, October 20th at 10:00pm and your response to two of your classmates’ posts is due Sunday, October 24th at 10:00pm.

As always, I am here if you need me.

Love Always,

Mrs. S

71 thoughts on “Week #9: The Road

  1. I think Cormac left the characters without names to emphasize the situation they are in. While there is so little food left, there is so much hunger and while there are not many people left in the world, there are way too many cannibals around. There are just so many things to worry about after they have lost everything that worrying about names is the last thing on their list.

    The story in this novel made me really nervous because I felt it can happen that way. We are capable of creating such a catastrophe with the advance technology and knowledge we have. Maybe the settings will be similar and maybe we will have some people who’ll survive and become cannibals…the thoughts scare me!

  2. @Ayanna Taylor: I agree with what you said: it takes a strong spirit to remain pure. While many have resorted to cannibalism, they kept going forward in a humane fashion. It was just so difficult for them! Some, like the mother, decided just to commit suicide than have to face all the terrible possibilities ahead.

    @Asia Gregory: I saw you mentioned their world as the “uncivilized world.” It’s so horrifying how these people were supposed to be civilized maybe ten years ago? A huge catastrophe deprived them of everything and they became barbaric savages. It’s so scary! 🙁

  3. 2.) Cormac is able to make the post-apocalyptic world real by not giving it color. He makes the entire world gray and black. It gives off an eerie sort of creepy vibe. And if the sun is shining (which I hardly doubt) we would not be able to tell. It is kind of how The Book of Eli was set up. The passages that were really vivid would have to be when they were walking on the highways and through abandoned cities. What I find to be the most horrifying features would have to be the fact that someone could be watching you/following you at any given moment. It’s just too weird for words. And the survivors who in habit the earth? The mere fact that they will keep people in a cellar then come back and eat them later. And how they will literally run after a women and her son and shoot them on the spot. It’s totally barbaric!

    4.) In a way it’s in between for me. It’s not very difficult to imagine Cormac’s nightmare coming true, but it is also very easy. When the world goes through something like what happened in the movie, people tend to loose who they are. I think when the world comes to an end or an apocalyptic catastrophe, people must fight to stay alive. Others lose their minds. I believe it could get to that point, as stated in the novel. I don’t think it would happen that viciously.. I take that back, humans could be misleading. There are signs that human civilization is heading towards AN end, but not an end as bad as this. Me being a Christian and believing in what I believe in (this is not to offend anyone and their religious views) the world will one day go through a period were those who are left will suffer Hell on Earth, but after that it will be peaceful. That is when the Kingdom of Heaven will prevail. But on another note: if we keep treating the Earth like we do it just might one day be like The Road.

    @Tinky: I agree with what you said about giving the character no names. It kinda does make you feel more smpathy towards them because you’re focusing more on them as a person instead of them as a name.

    @Jared: I like what you said about them having no outlet to their misery. So they have to rely on each other.

  4. 1. I believe cormac didn’t give the characters names because he wanted the readers to feel apart from them. He wanted the readers to feel as if the characters have no sense of individuality. You could also look at it as, him not giving them names because they represent a stereotypical normal family.

    4. I think the world would end up like this if his vision actually happened. I believe every human has competition in their nature so they feel a sense of….”hey, every man for himself” at some point.

    @Lanisha: I agree, it does make me wonder about how they lived prior to this event.

    @Rhea: I agree with you as well, them not having names makes us focus on them as people && forces us to look into other things with which we can characterize them.

  5. @Alayna I agree when you say he didn’t add names to add to the world’s simplicity. They are depicting the common-ness of the situation the man and his son is in.

    @Jade You are right, the way people are acting, the world is heading towards a downfall. Things have obviously changed over the generations.

  6. 8. I think the boy and his father has such a strong relationship because they only have eachother. They cant trust anyone else, because just about everyone else they come in contact with are carnivores who wish to harm them. They feel like they need eachother, because the strive on each day off of eachothers love. The fire and love they carry in there hearts motivate them to live on eachday in hopes of a better tomorrow.
    7. There is almost always a struggle between good and evil. In the Road Good overcomes evil, because the fire still burns bright in some people’s hearts. You would think in a time like the one in The Road everyone would be evil and corrupt, but goodness out wieghs badness. Goodness cannot be driven out of the hearts of everyone, because there is always going to be someone willing and able to stand up for what is right.

  7. In response to Alexis Hazard, I agree with the fact that the world is heading in the direction of its own destruction and we are only helping.

    In response to Priscilla Manisa in all honesty I probably would not survive either if my family and lifestyle I had was taken away from me. I just don’t see myself even trying to especially in those harsh conditions.

  8. I think that Cornac McCarthy left out the names to put nore emphasize the relationship of the father and the son. They were the good guys just for the simple fact of not eating other people. I think that they were the people who actually kept their morals.I think that their relationship was so powerful because they tried to survive through the rough times together.
    The significance of them being on a journey to me symbolized that they had hope. It made you feel like oneday they could actually get out of the horrible cicumctance

    @kalexis: i agree they had only eachother that’s why they survived so long.
    @mariah: if that were to happen i really do think that it would be every man for himself. But that ti me isnt the right way to go ,unfortunately that would be the mind set of many people.

  9. Conner left the characters without names so he could emphasis the situation the papa and son went through. He wanted the readers to see what it was like not just, lets say Victor and Pancho’s story, but the story of a father and son.

    The papa and son are journeying to the coast. They are, in a sense, pilgrims because they are in unknown land. Everything is destroyed and they have to judge their way by what they see. Their journey is a significance to hope. They only traveled to the coast because they had hope of a better living environment.

    @thaoduong I completely agree with you. It actually frightens me of what will happen to the world in a couple of years. What if I’m part of that world?
    @D’Andrea “Deedee” Garner I will actually hate to live in a world like that. Not able to see the light and eat other humans is just a world I do NOT want to live in.

  10. i dont think mc carthy had names for the characters because there was no point. there was barely no people on earth and the few that were was not worried about it because there not going to ask your name first time they see you thats the least on there mind and they wouldnt care so thers no use in giving them names
    the father and son had a verystrong relationship, and its like they had no coice because all they had was eachother physically and they had to take care of eachother. the father had to be an example for his son so when the time came the boy could know how to take care of his self and father

  11. I think Cormac chose not to give the characters names because names where not important. It was not relevant whether or not people had names because their whole world was gone. It makes it seem that in the past they had names, lived by society’s moral standards, and ate with utensils. Somethings become less important when one’s own survival comes into question.

    It is not difficult to imagine Cormac’s nightmare as an actuality. There are many various people in the world, and when pushed to actually “fight” for survival who knows the lengths that people would go to. I believe people would behave as they do in the novel, under the same circumstances, because they show the same characteristics nowadays. There are people who take, rob, steal, kill, and demoralize other individuals just not the drastic way portrayed in the novel. Whether or not the human civilization is headed toward such an end is beside me. We already have the means, the motive, and the force to do it has been tested on a smaller scale. I often think it will end in either some zombie, nuclear, chemical apocalypse. It will come someday, but for the means I’m unsure.

  12. 8. What makes them so powerful is that they believe in each other that they can carry on the fire. So if they stick together then they can be together forever. They maintain by guiding each other during these hard times. They keep their heads up and pray to the lord that they can find their destination.
    1. He has chosen not give them because he wants you to see how it feels to live during this disaster. Everyone is gone , so why is tit important to learn there names. People during this time didn’t care about who you are. All they cared about was finding shelter, food, and stay away from the bad guys.

  13. 1.) I believe Cormac chose not to give the characters names so that the reader could feel as if they were the ones in the situation. The man and boy makes the reader realize that this isn’t just a fiction novel. This could actually happen in real life and they could be the ones fighting for their survival.

    5.) Like the “bad guys” they are in search of food and ways of survival. Unlike the “bad guys” they are not willing to do just anything to get that food and way of survival. The boy wants his dad to be merciful to the strangers so that he could maintain a sense of certain feelings. He didn’t want his dad to lose his sense of compassion towards others because if he did, he could easily become just like the “bad guys.”

  14. @Warren: we were thinking on the same wavelength 🙂
    the passion, love, was so much more evident when they had no names. I love your example of when the boy saw his father take Mike’s clothes
    @Alayna: I loved the paradoxal relationship of good and evil as well!!

  15. Not too long ago I finished the book Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens. The purpose of this book was short and simple: To give future dissidents and Contrarians a model of example of what it is like to be one. In this book Mr. Hitchens decides to direct his letters to the reader “Dear X” so as to generalize his audience and allow all who read it to feel an intimate connection with the letters. In the book The Road the characters lacking names serves the same purpose. Once names are given to the characters a certain intimacy and mystery is removed from the story as a whole.
    It is with much sadness that I must admit that I do not find the scenario in this book infeasible. Noticing the current trend in the popularization of ignorance and violence it is not too difficult to imagine what might lie ahead for some of us. If anything humanity would behave much worse than most of the characters do in the book. Just with the current situation alone we manage to commit unspeakable crimes against ourselves and others—although someone must bear the burden of speaking them. I am not much of a utopian thinker, nor am I a pessimist, but credit must be given where it is deserved—whether it is positive or negative is another subject. Mankind has been capable of rationalizing far beyond any other living creature alive on our speck of dust, yet we manage to kill each other in the name of nonexistent beings and ancient fairytales which govern our daily lives. With such irrational thinking and acting us Homo sapiens have little to no time left.

  16. 1.The fact that Cormac didnt give his character names, in my opinion, symbolized the passionate love between fathers and their sons. Throughout all the bad times they endeavored, the bond that they shared was special in a sense thats almost undescribable.
    8. The will to survive is what made the two’s love so powerful. They both needed each other to make it through those times which made their bond, connection, and love that much stronger.

  17. I believe he didn’t name dem because they had to define themselves. By the way the cannibals have no mercy for their victims and at times us as humans act like that. I believe that a meteor must have hit the earth. He believe God has left them. Its to easy to imagine making the pain worse. They are pilgrims for they have to find a new way of life. Good and evil does exist and the two exist no matter what. There bond is some what like the love God had for Jesus.

  18. 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?

    Answer: Because so many people believe that world will become a reality sooner or later. McCormac makes the world in his world seem so real, like the ash that never ends and the dead trees and plants, the forever fires. I find the forever ash and no animals to be the most horrifying and the people there feed on others to survive which means we have to watch our every move and try not to get caught.

    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” ?

    Answer: That forest fires was a big part of what happened to the world.That god had taken all that were helping change the world and left behind all those who took the world and their surroundings for granted.

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