Cormac McCarthy the road

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In McCarthy’s The Road, the reader is exposed to a frightening nightmarish situation of what might become after a disastrous event. My essay will focus upon the confrontation between good and evil which is so wonderfully dramatize throughout the novel and finally answer what Cormac McCarthy ultimately suggested about good and evil?.

 The ‘scorched earth’, ‘ashen drift’ and the ‘Blackness’ are all examples of the vivid language used by McCarthy to convey a very unique and desolate view of what the world quickly became after whatever apocalyptic event occurred.

The reader is only given a glimpse of what cataclysmic event brought the world to its knees, which occurred years ago, just before the boy was born: "A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions." Afterward we are given a haunting vision of the early days: "People sitting on the sidewalk in the dawn half immolate and smoking in their clothes. Like failed sectarian suicides”. Then just how quickly the age of humanity ceased to exist giving way to a malevolent society: “within a year there were fire on the ridges and deranged chanting. The screams of the murdered. By day the dead impaled on spikes along the road”. The world that McCarthy portrays in the Road has simply disintegrated, leaving a clear divide between good and evil. Whatever “good guys” still exist, are at risk of becoming food for the evil cannibals. McCarthy has simply brought an end to civilization. The culture and history of millions of years of evolution and civilization is now extinct, the rules and laws that were set in place to prevent such evil behaviour is no more. Apart from our protagonists the others exist with no purpose or belief. Simply put now the ‘god spoke’ have left this is what remains, a world where anarchy rules and what the father simply sees as “the nothingness” of McCarthy’s post apocalyptic world 

         The once beautiful American climate and landscape is fast becoming completely inhospitable, It is a fact, that if the cannibals do not kill them, the landscape and weather will, (an example of this is when they come across the man that has been struck by lightening or the father’s persistent coughing made worse by the air or when the boy gets a fever.) The landscape itself is an “evil”. The “bleak and temporal winds” as well as the “endless rainare the reason for their migration south in hope of warmer climates. There is “ashen airwhich they actively cover their faces from in an effort not to inhale, and the “cauterized terrain” that causes the father to worry about their shoes. The effect of this is that McCarthy has made a vividly realised setting for our protagonists to roam through.

With the dark clouds of global warming gathering over our heads in our own world and the incessant dread of nuclear attack. One cannot help, when reading The Road, but hope that our own world, doesn’t emulate that of Cormac McCarthy if the worse were to happen. If civilization collapses and the world’s economy crumpled leaving the western world in anarchy much like Haiti or Afghanistan, existence in such a world would then become based upon the survival of the fittest.  

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Although the reader is not explicitly told what atrocity left the world in such devastation, we are given clues throughout the book, that leaves it open to interpretation, for example: “cars in the street caked in ash” and “ashed air” both point towards a nuclear holocaust. The mummified bodies our protagonists find along the road seem to indicate a volcanic eruption, much like Pompeii. McCarthy portrays scenes that are not too far-fetched, which keeps it feeling realWe recognize familiar objects such as a can of coca cola. The stores and houses are ransacked, which is a very likely situation after a disaster, for instance, people looting after hurricane Katrina. When people are starving and they will do anything to survive which is also believable. After reading The Road there is a heightened awareness that we mustn’t let the world get to the point where evil overwhelms the good, ...

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