The Road


Awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2006, The Road has been accepted as a strong literary accomplishment. I decided to give it a read and evaluate it for myself. The most striking feature of the novel is the manner in which it is written, the style and syntax. As it is set in a post-apocalyptic world, Cormac McCarthy writes with punctuation mirroring the setting itself. Quotation marks are noticably absent, as are apostraphes and consistent “proper” sentences. The effect of this was to constantly alert the reader that the world of the story was completely different from the world the audience is accustomed to, irreversibly so. The key lessons that may be gleaned from the novel may be either pessimistic or optimistic. Cynically, one may come out with the dull reality that the only end is death, that humans are instinctively evil and human kindness is a fascade, and that the Earth along with humankind and all life is transient. On the other hand, an optimistic outlook would be that the spark of hope can exist even in the darkest of times, that toil and hardship are worth it (through the father’s swim to the ship, through the endurance of agony and starvation to reach the ocean), and that although some people may be inherently selfish, there are some who can hold onto goodness, onto the fire, even when nothing exists but darkness.

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