Named one of the four major novelists of his time, Cormac McCarthy has won numerous awards such as the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the 2009 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, which places him in the highest rank of American literature. His tenth and latest novel, The Road (2006), known as his most traumatic yet intensely personal work, has won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature Award in 2007, as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (2007,) and the Quill Book Award (2007.) The Road is one of three novels that have been made into a film and was featured in theaters in 2009. Nominated for various cinematography awards, and winner of the Pulitzer Award, The Road is a profoundly shocking in-depth way at looking at the flailing annihilation of the human civilization.
The Road is a post-apocalyptic story of a journey taken by a father, the man, and his young son, the boy, “each the other’s world entire” (McCarthy, p. 6). The man and boy, sustained by love, travel through bleak and grim America some years after an immense unexplained cataclysm destroyed nearly all humanity, and environment. The land is covered in ash, is extremely dark, and cold with recurrent rain, gray snow, and earthquakes. Throughout the novel the boy calls the man “Papa,” and they both refer to themselves as the “good guys” who carry the fire; “the “bad guys” being other human survivors who have turned cannibalistic. The man, haunted by dreams and reminiscent due to flashbacks of his childhood and his wife who committed suicide at the time of the world-wide destruction, protects his son from starvation and attacks, even though he himself realizes that he is dying. Both father and son rummage for food, come across and avoid cannibalistic travelers, and face total devastation in order to reach their destination – the ocean. With only their knapsacks on their backs, an old shopping cart used to carry essential supplies for survival, and a pistol with only limited ammunition, the two ultimately reach their goal, but neither the weather or food availability gets better as the man furtively hoped so. The boy is later left alone and forced to travel the road by himself since the man dies from his implacable illness. The mourning boy stays by his dead father unknowingly of what to do now, until an old veteran shows up. Him and his family, wife and two children, boy and girl, have been tracking the man and boy and convinces the boy that he is one of the “good guys.” The boy accepts the invite to join the family and he is back on the road once more.
The characters of the man and the boy change through their journey throughout the novel. The man has great bravery and skill, but one thing that stands out from him is his love and devotion for his son. “He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke” (McCarthy, p. 5). The man refers to his son as a warrant which...