‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy is a fantasy which revolves around two characters, a father and a son. I am doing a character sketch on the man and the boy because I find them to have the most fascinating personalities. The book narrates a father and son journeying through what happens to be North America, to the warmer South America. They have no money, few clothes, and barely any food. They stop at every village and town too scavenge and search for food. This is represented when the man and the boy find an underground bunker in a village full of useful essentials. The author lays emphasis on the theme of survival, and the significance it has on the man and the boy.
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The father appears to be very smart with a good eye for danger. He is quite skillful with weapons this is portrayed when he fond an underground bunker, he had found bullets but for the wrong gun so he ‘whittled fake bullets from a treebranch with his knife’. He also understands how to use his surrounding accurately, this is shown when in the end of the novel the man has an encounter with some villagers and has to think fast. On the other hand, the boy seems somewhat illiterate about the outside world, he knows nothing about firearms and all he knows is what his father has taught him during the years. The boy is also very scared in the novel, when it comes to looking in the towns or cities for food. The novel shows the progression of father and sons relationship, you see it growing bigger and stronger. Knowing that the boy does not have a mother anymore the father tries as much as he can to compensate for that. For example the boy and the man find a locked door in the ground while out searching in a village. The man is tired and was ‘resting between each shovelful’ while trying to uncover the bunker. However a few weeks before they had found a door and inside were they found other people whose limbs worn torn off and a boy on a splint on top of a fire being roasted for food. The man, no matter how scared the boy was, opens the door and finds a safe house full of food, water, gasoline, and other useful things. This tells that whatever the boy says to his father he will not listen however important it is, but only to save their lives. Therefore we learn that he is a father who would do anything for their son, and that he is the stereotypical ‘Dad’. He is the protector, provider and preserver for his son. This is shown in many instances as the father “put the boy in the bunk and smoothed his filthy hair on the pillow and covered him with blankets”.
During the course of the novel, you see the boy become an independent man. He has got more confidence and has much more awareness around him. He understands that what his father does is only for him, and he loves no-one more. His mother died some time before this “New World” came to life. The man has raised the boy all by himself. He tries to teach him everything there is to know. The boy has also missed out on many luxuries that the man finds in one instance. The father finds ‘Coca Cola’ and he asks the boy to try it and the boy responds by saying ‘What is it, Papa?’ He also teaches him his alphabet. You get to know this from reading the end of the book, where he asks him ‘Can you write the alphabet?’, and he the boy responds by saying ‘I can write it’. We also learn that the boy wants to help other people that have lost their way, need help, or food. For they meet a man who cannot see well. The boy then insists on spending the night with this man and giving him some food and some warmth for the night. This shows us that even though the boy is very scared he is also very caring and wants to help other people that come across their path. He doesn’t mind giving up his own food or his own clothing he just wants to help people around him. The boy shows a lot of compassion and a sense of social responsibility; you can see that the boy has a warm character and a soft heart towards everyone. However the father is not like a mirror image of the son, he trusts no-one. He believes in one for one’s self, and has experienced a lot of suffering. The father has also lost a lot of loved ones and is emotional scarred and he thinks that the only way to stop this is to cut out all other people in his life.
At the end of the novel, the father dies because he loses too much blood from an arrow wound, when the man was trying to protect the boy when they were at a town, trying to get some food. However, some village folk started to shoot at them thinking that they are carnivores. The boy waits by his side for 3 days, waiting for someone to come and help him. At the end a man, his wife and children were walking pass and decide to take him with them. He sees that the boy has supplies that they need and offer to help. The boy doesn’t leave without covering his dad with a blanket, and saying his last goodbyes.
The novel is written in sparse but moving prose. Cormac McCarthy uses simplifed formatting for his novel. There are no speech marks throughout the story. To provide us the adrelinin rush and to create tension throughout the novel McCarthy uses short sentences. The style that he writes in highlights the bond between the father and the son.
I think that the boy is a symbol for hope, courage, and commitment. I felt a sense of pride in the ability of men to look after children even in difficult times. The novel inspires me to understand what families go through when they fight for survival.
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