Book Review: The Road

In Cormac McCarthy’s novel, a young boy and his father struggle to survive as the world is in turmoil. The environment surrounding the title characters is in ruin. It is quite possible the Earth’s entire biosphere was wiped out. Color is not a reality of this world as gray, lifeless ash fills every which way. Life is hard to come by, as flora and fauna have been completely eradicated. Trusting other survivors is difficult because they may only approach you in order to satisfy their own hunger. The father and the boy are journeying from the colder north, to the warmer south. Their goal in doing so is to escape the harsh winters of the north.

The writing style utilized by one Cormac McCarthy is very unique. There are a few approaches specifically within in the road that demonstrate McCarthy’s strategic writing. One is his method of not saying the names of the character. The main characters are only referred to as the boy and Papa. By not specifying the names of these characters, the readers are given the opportunity to connect their own lives to the lives of the protagonists. Instead of feeling like these individuals are separate from themselves, the readers feels like their experiences are their own. The lack of punctuation reflects the realities of the world the characters face. When the only way to continue living is through primitive survival, any excesses are stripped away. The lack of punctuation demonstrates the life of those in this world. This life is one that only has the basic necessities. The heavy reading nature created by this style can be difficult and confusing at times, but this is simply just indicative of the world the protagonists face. Their world is difficult and confusing as life as we know it has ceased to exist. This is a great technique because it shows how just how hard it is to exist in this world. In an environment that is completely depleted, barely surviving or death are the only options left to the protagonists.


 In modern society, the environment is often taken for granted. The Road addresses these issues by showing just how vital the environment is to human well-being and human survival. The loss of biological diversity in its worst capacity is demonstrated through the lifeless landscape in The Road. Without the presence of any sort of biosphere, society’s ability to operate went extinct. It is crucial for humans to live in an environment that is healthy and extends its benefits to us. Humanity is at a tipping point and the road illustrates the dangers in not recognizing this sentiment. Without a change in the way society operates, the realities of the road may become all to clear. Something as simple as a clear, clean atmosphere that allows the Sun’s light to come through is vital to humanity. Without this, not only would vibrant colors be a luxury, but all of the other forms of life which sustain us would disappear. “ And the dreams so rich in color. How else would death call you? Waking in the cold dawn it all turned to ash instantly. Like certain ancient frescoes entombed for centuries suddenly exposed to the day.” (32). This quote talks about how color is but a dream and the only reality of the world they face is gray, filled with ash from the burning of everything that use to provide life to humanity.


 This book is a must read. If it is not on your shelf already, get it there before its too late. The Road is a riveting experience. It explores the bare bones of human nature and the way people react to a crisis on an epic scale. From tales of cannibalism to the scary journey experienced by the boy and his papa, The Road is sure to paint a new reality for the reader. Picturing this gruesome reality may just be the push humanity needs to prevent the environmental degradation we are currently going through today.


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