The Road Critical Essay

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that creates the precarious status of refugees on the move; it is rather the earth itself, which seems to be in a state of complete decay, having lost most of its resources and potentials.

As there is hardly any fertile vegetation left, the only way to survive is either to become a cannibal, or, like the man and his son, live mostly of canned goods, the rare remains of the pre-catastrophic era.

And this, I would argue, is not substantially contradicted by the novel’s mythical ending with its vague messianic allusions and the fact that, after the death of his father, the son is taken in by a family with seemingly good intentions.5 While the novel surely reflects on the state of grace, human kindness, and compassion against the backdrop of a wholly catastrophic and hostile environment, there is no evidence anywhere in the book that the sheer existence of such qualities—the survival of people, that is, who continue “to carry the fire” (Mc Carthy 298)—gives reason to hope for any positive change at large.6 Instead, the glimmers of goodness one encounters in are nothing more than just that: rare instances of human behavior in a setting in which the only thing to effectively hope for is the provisional postponement of death.

And this, one can even detect in the survivalist discourse of the father, whose strong sense of endurance is constantly accompanied by thoughts about the inescapability of death and total extinction.

Firstly, it will highlight the way in which the novel engages with the theme of mobility and utilizes the classic road motif, which has a long and distinct history in American literary discourse.

Secondly, it will discuss the peculiar temporality (and seeming “worldlessness”) of the novel’s post-apoc­alyptic setting, which is expressed, among other things, in the inability to think and imagine a genuine future.

(2006), a father and his son “push down the road a battered shopping cart, containing their bare provisions, on a thoroughly consumed earth” (Seltzer 189).

Despite the fact that the novel seems to be situated in an indistinct no-man’s-land, marked by a curious absence of time and history, this essay argues that it is indeed worthwhile to historicize .

People on both ends of the spectrum, however, are marked by a certain “becoming-animal” (Deleuze and Guattari 257), that is, a mode of existence in which the classic opposition between nature and culture has largely disappeared.

Certainly, with respect to the boy’s and his father’s self-identification as those who “carry the fire,” there is a desire to maintain certain “forms” and “ceremonies” that might help to at least uphold the of civilized life9—a task, however, which becomes increasingly difficult to accomplish, for, as the narrator explains, the “names of things [are] slowly following those things into oblivion” (Mc Carthy 93).


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