Book review: The Road

April 3, 2010

Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Pages: 256

The Road follows a man and his son as they travel across america after it has been ravaged by some unnamed disaster. The disaster wiped out almost all vegetation and animal life, ash is present everywhere and people must wear masks. Very few people survive and most of them are criminals who resort to horrific means of survival like cannibalism. The man and his son, however, survive by scavenging for food.

The book is based several years after the disaster, maybe even a decade, and therefore very little remains that has not been scavenged. Animal life, including fish and birds, has become extinct along with all vegetation. Not even grass remains. The situation is heart-breakingly desperate and yet the man does not give up hope.

Interestingly, McCarthy names almost nothing in the book. We do not know what disaster took place, the names of the man and his son or even what country they are in. Thus the reader’s attention is focused on the relationship between the man and his son and whether they will ultimately survive.

The man loves his son deeply and survives solely for him. The son, who was born after the disaster took place, knows nothing of what the world was like before and has lived a hard life from the very beginning. The man possesses great moral courage and refuses to resort to criminal behaviour. Instead, he teaches his son that he is “carrying the fire” and is one of the good guys. They starve rather than kill humans to eat their flesh.

This book poses intriguing questions like, is it worth living in such a horrible world? What does one have to look forward to?

If you answer: “No, death is much better” then perhaps suicide is moral in a non-apocalyptic world?

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2 Responses to “Book review: The Road”

  1. AcademyX Says:

    […] The Road by Cormac McCarthy […]


  2. […] The Road by Cormac McCarthy […]

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