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No Good Thing Ever Dies: Examining Redemption And Hope In The Road And A Canticle For Leibowtiz

2885 words - 12 pages

When one mentions an apocalypse it brings up images of entire worlds completely devastated by a nuclear war in movies and novels, worlds very distant from any actual reality experienced in human history. While humans never have encountered such world-ending apocalypses, humans have experienced instances where a disaster, natural or man-made, resembles a world-ending trauma of smaller magnitude, similar to a mini apocalypse. In the twenty-first century, events like the terror attacks in New York on 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the typhoon in the Philippines were mini-apocalypses in their own regard. Of course these events had a damage on their societies physically like a world ending disaster, but the extent to which these events changed the world was much more profound than flaming buildings or flooded cities. Changing ideologies politically, socially, and spiritually, these “mini apocalypses” transformed people’s thoughts on the world. People challenged the political actions of nations, questioned their own beliefs, and struggled with the cruelty of the world. These surreal events transformed how people regarded their world and left many people bewildered and wondering how “we” could prevail against evil.
Oxford English Dictionary defines redemption as “the action of saving, delivering, or restoring a person or thing.” This definition contains an almost Christ-like undertone, implying for redemption to occur, a person must restore goodness in a world befallen by human sin. In both texts The Road and A Canticle for Leibowitz, Cormac McCarthy and Walter Miller utilize characters that must redeem and atone for worlds crushed by this sin. However, the worlds differ severely in the manifestation of redemption, one successful, one futile. Both set in their respective post apocalyptic worlds, A Canticle For Leibowitz and The Road have characters that are expected to redeem their worlds against human evil. In A Canticle for Lebiowitz, Walter Miller depicts redemption as an endlessly futile attempt with very little hope in a world plagued by evil through the negative impact of human knowledge, the nuclear war that occurs to end the novel, and the inevitable cycling of human destruction. While The Road is also confronted with evil humans who are trying to survive, Cormac McCarthy approaches his world in a hopeful, redeemable way; a world capable of deliverance through the goodness of the boy and his father, the boy as a symbol as a biological and religious hope, and the ultimate discovery of a family for the boy after the father’s death.
Throughout his novel, Miller portrays evil in the world as a human trait comparable to the passing of genetic material in each man through characters ranging from mutant robbers to evil political leaders like Hannegan. The mutant robbers arguably start the cycle of evil throughout the book. Originally, the robbers steal Brother Francis’s illuminated script, however later kill him and then cannibalize him on his return...

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