The Road

“Can you do it? When the time comes? When the time comes there will be no time. Now is the time. Curse God and die. What if it doesnt fire? Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock? Is there such a being within you of which you know nothing? Can there be? Hold him in your arms. Just so. The soul is quick. Pull him toward you. Kiss him. Quickly.” (The Road by Cormac McCarthy)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

In The Road, McCarthy creates the impression of a bleak, dying world by revealing the mind of the narrator, not the world itself. He mirrors the man’s confusion and bewilderment at a world falling apart by switching the narrative voice from third to the occasional first or second person and refusing to give either the man or his son a name. As the book progresses, the grammar and spelling dissolves, as if grammar is unimportant at the end of the world. McCarthy stops using apostrophes in contractions and doesnt mind the occasional misspelling.

The reader is never told what happened to cause the world’s collapse, but fire is mentioned, and the ever-present ash. If the narrator knows what happened, he no longer cares. The man has only one goal and one thought, which is reflected not only in his actions, but also in the sparse prose. The pages are set up more like poetry than prose, with the short lines of dialogue separated by space instead of quotation marks. Like poetry, The Road has constantly repeating lines, i’m scared, papa, it’s really scary, which gain meaning every time they appear. All that is unnecessary is left unsaid.

Recommended Action: Buy BorrowTBRAvoid

Length: 287

Ending: Surprisingly hopeful, distinctly not sentimental

Further Reading: If you liked The Road, there is a whole Cormac McCarthy world for you to explore, like Blood Meridian or All the Pretty Horses. 

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6 thoughts on “The Road

  1. Loved this book. Somber and depressing, yet beautifully written. Contains some of the deepest reflections about the human kind that McCarthy has written so far. The movie is as good as the book, something not often happening.

  2. I was actually assigned this for a class in college, but my temperament, which naturally rebels from assigned reading, led me from reading it in entirety. Though, the more good things that I hear about the novel the more I want to read it from cover to cover.

    • That’s funny, for I’m finding that I do very well with assigned reading (at least if I assign it myself). I did love this book, but I’m not really qualified to say whether this is the best McCarthy work to start with. I’m also excited to read Blood Meridian.

  3. Reblogged this on Aquila et Infans and commented:
    A great short review of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which has been hailed as his best novel thus far. Though, I remember reading that some longtime fans of McCarthy were disappointed with the work–to say why would be a spoiler.

  4. Pingback: Booklion Birthday Awards, Year 4 | Book Lion

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