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Cormac McCarthy’s – ‘The Road’ Essay

One of the most significant creations of the modern era in post-apocalyptic literature is Cormac McCarthy’s book ‘The Road’. The book was perfectly apprehended by the critics, got Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and inspired Bethesda developers for creation Fallout 3 Computer game. Cormack McCarthy is the one who united a number of significant philosophical themes in his novel. The subject of the novels deals with three thematic rows: ‘the road’, ‘hope’ and ‘loneliness’. The subjective role of these themes is to depict relations of the last survived humans with the remains of civilization, opposing good and evil. The subjective role of hope strongly deals with the religious aspect, connected with humans’ belief in God as a supernatural power that could help in the scrutinized situation. Environmentalism is also a significant subjective row as the author perfectly depicts the possible ‘end of the world’

The dead world is opened to the reader with wider variety of scenes. The McCarthy depicted the beginning of the end and probably, the future of our planet: “In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing. Wearing masks and goggles, sitting in their rags by the side of the road like ruined aviators. Their barrows heaped with shoddy. Towing wagons or carts. Their eyes bright in their skulls. Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all” (McCarthy Cormac, 2006).

The author masterfully showed to where civilization is going on: “They move south through nuclear grey winter, ‘like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world’, sleeping badly beneath filthy tarpaulin, setting hidden campfires, exploring ruined houses, scavenging shrivelled apples. We feel and pity their starving dereliction as, despite the profound challenge to the imaginative contemporary novelist, McCarthy completely achieves this physical and metaphysical hell for us. ‘The world shrinking down to a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colours. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true’” (Warner Alan, 2006). The Road where? The author perfectly depicted the picture of supposed hell. He showed all the ‘pleasant’ moments of Nuclear winter and after effects of disaster: “The ruined setting of “The Road” is strewn with terrible, revealing artifacts. There are old newspapers. (“The curious news. The quaint concerns.”) There is one lone bottle of Coca-Cola, still absurdly fizzy when all else is dust. There are charred corpses frozen in their final postures, like the long-dead man who sits on a porch like “a straw man set out to announce some holiday.” Sometimes these prompt the father to recall “a dull rose glow in the windowglass” at 1:17 in the morning, the moment when the clocks stopped forever” (Maslin Janet, 2006).

I think that this novel is quite an educative for us and for further generations. Civilization theme is masterfully depicted, showing the real decay of the Earth.


1. McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006
2. Janet Maslin. The Road Through Hell, Paved With Desperation. The New York Times. 25 September 2006

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