Essay on ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic 2006 novel The Road has received widespread acclaim, including the 2007 Pulitzer prize for distinguished fiction by an American author. It was also adapted into the eponymous film in 2009.

The Road tells an imagined tale of a father and his young son’s journey through dystopian American roads, in constant evasion from a group of cannibals. The story focuses on the plight and moral dilemmas of the main character’s journey, leaving out specifics like the time, place, and cause of the apocalypse. Even more obscured is the pair’s identity, with the father referred as “the man” and the son as “the boy” throughout the book.

The characters’ namelessness immerses readers in the pair’s desolate situation. It is almost like a reminder of the apocalypse as a great equalizer that strips a man of any distinction or honors that he used to pride himself with. In one significant scene, the man and the boy scour a deserted supermarket and find a Coca-Cola from a soft drink machine. This poignant scene shows the contrast between the characters’ anonymity and the soda drink’s blatant branding and all that it symbolizes. Donnelly describes this as “the dramatic collision between the pre- and post- worlds,” with the can of Coke “offering a reprieve from a narrative dominated by a bitter struggle to survive” (70).

The anonymity given to the protagonists in the book is a subtle but powerful storytelling device. It allows readers to easily put themselves in the characters’ shoes and resonate with their emotions, which is one of the main indicators of the book’s success in its attempts to suspend disbelief in its readers.

Works Cited

Donnelly, Paul. “Coke Is It!”: Placing Coca-Cola in McCarthy’s THE ROAD.” The Explicator, vol. 6 no. 2, 08 July 2010, pp. 70-73, Accessed 7 June 2018.
Pauli, Michelle. “Road Takes McCarthy to Pulitzer.” The Guardian, 17 April 2017, Accessed 7 June 2018.

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The effect of no names in the post-apocalyptic 2006 novel “The Road” easily allows readers to place themselves in the characters’ positions. Symbols in “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy tell us about the inevitability of harmful effects for our planet and all humanity. The eponymous film based on this story confirms McCarthy’s main idea. It sounds like a warning for present and future generations of what may happen.

This essay on “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is an excellent example for students who want to succeed in the discipline of American literature. The uses of robust literary devices in “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy help readers to get involved in the current event and compare the novel to reality.

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