Essay on Perseverance in Face of Hardship

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Tragedy. A three-syllable word that brings nothing but great suffering, distress, and always the unfortunate unhappy ending. The novel and film, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, shows a journey powered by a father and a son's love through a post-apocalyptic disaster. A world once full of color is now a grey, cold, barren land that is crawling with few survivors who turn to cannibalism to survive. What the duo used to call home is now a dark landscape drowned in a blanket of thick ash. Both protagonists are faced with nothing but suffering and despair. In this bitter futuristic wasteland, the characters are still able to maintain hope and prove morality despite the negative factors trying to break them. Finally, they fought with nothing but persevere and show how love and courage can help overcome hardships. Throughout everything, the protagonists learn that one should never give up despite obstacles put in your way to achieve lifelong happiness

Firstly, the father and the boy prove that morality still exists. The catastrophe. change that wiped civilized society as he knows it, resulted in a divide between two types of people; the “good guys” and the “bad guys” Even in desperate circumstances, the man and his son show that humanity still exists or what they call “carrying the fire.' Carrying the fire is not just a physical lighter that the man had but an internal meaning as well. The fire that they are carrying in them, that spark is enough to add light to this nightmare hellish world. It restores the structure and meaning that life once had. Carrying the fire symbolizes their hope not only for their future but for the world. It keeps them human. The man and the boy have not conformed into an emotionless, body just wandering with no soul or pure intentions but they have warmth, they are alive, they are thriving and there is hope for the human race. This fire that they are carrying, helps them make moral decisions; “you wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you” (McCarthy p.120). Throughout this anticipating story, the man and the boy are paranoid, starving, and mentally and physically exhausted but still preserve and make heroic decisions even if it puts them in danger. Despite obstacles, the man and the boy prove that they are the good guys to overcome their tragic situations; “On this road, there are no god spoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world” (McCarthy P. 32). The new dark and twisty world have nothing but violence and profound isolation. What the man means by stating that there are no “god-spoken men” left means that the world's moral compass is currently a struggle for everyone and what is right and wrong is up to one’s judgment itself. There is no faith or any religious authorities to help influence others' beliefs and viewpoints meaning that the world is filled with evil individuals who would do whatever it takes to survive. The man and the boy follow their rules and make respectful decisions, such as when they meet Ely. Ely is a frail old man whom the man and the boy meet upon their journey towards the sea. While the father is wary of the man as he might be a cannibal or a dangerous person as a whole. The boy, however, has trust in Ely and begs his dad to share his supplies with him. Despite what little food and supplies they had, the boy was willing to sacrifice his share to help a stranger. He was able to persuade his father to invite Elyback to their bunker where Ely was served a hot meal and shelter from the frigid winter. That shows compassion, their willingness to help others, and how the boy is “carrying the fire”. Despite any obstacles, the man and the boy prove that no matter what, they are still the “good guys” and humans which helps them overcome their tragic situations.

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In addition, both protagonist's love for each other is the main source of any hope to help overcome tragic events that lead to happiness. The bond between the father and son is one of the few pure goodness left in the barren wasteland. Their love keeps them going. The love that the father has for his child is the main reason he is choosing to fight and not flee. His child is what is keeping him, motivating him, and making his life worth living for. Love keeps the plot moving. The father and his son's relationship and bond are very heartwarming and just their company alone is a prominent method along with tragedy; “He held the boy close to him. So thin. My heart he said….. That the boy was all that stood between him and death” (McCarthy P. 44). The boy's presence alone was the man's motivation for fighting and staying alive. While the man’s wife killed herself at the start of the disaster, she did it because it did not make sense to stay and try to make a miserable living out of nothing. However, the man could find a purpose to not give up and that was his son, solely his beloved son; “'This is my child, he said. I wash a dead man's brains out of his hair. That is my job” (McCarthy P. 74). He protects him at all cost, cleans him and sacrifices items for his son for example when the man found a CocaCola can in an abandoned grocery store and gave it all to the boy. This is just one of the many examples of the strong bond between a father and his son.

Subsequently, both characters use courage to get through tragic situations. No matter what obstacles come into their path, they have that courage that keeps them fighting to survive. Perseverance or courage is the willingness to not give up to achieve success despite circumstances that may come across your past. Since the apocalyptic catastrophe, many individuals have passed because there is no meaning for living anymore. Scarce food and water, cannibals and murderers roaming around, and frigid temperatures make this dystopian world a living hell, “They set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire” (McCarthy P. 4). The father and the son are each other’s world and that is the main motivator for his father’s meaning of life. While many have given up on trying to make a life out of nothing, the man and the boy are fighting to survive. They are making the journey to the sea hoping for better opportunities. With limited food and supplies, it does not stop them. Whether the man has to use a tarp as a blanket to cover his son up or has to sleep somewhere new every night because they have to hide from others, they do it. They track through the cold, for months eating whatever little food that they find because they refuse to eat other humans; “They went on. In the nights sometimes now he’d wake in the black and freezing waste out of softly colored worlds of human love, the songs of birds, the sun” (McCarthy P. 32). When the man knew he was slowly dying, he still kept going and fighting all while still working to make his child happy. The book and film are filled with heartwrenching moments of pure perseverance and their strong fight for survival. Whether it is survival against nature, survival for his son, or from others such as hiding from the “Bloodcults” who rape and eat people or “Roadrats” who survive just to steal and hurt people. Therefore, this is one of the reasons that the man and the boy use to overcome the tragedy and try to find some happiness or reason for living.

To conclude, the man and the boy still have hope and perseverance despite hardships. The man and the boy are tragic heroes just as Aristotle preached. They both were not evil before so their misfortune is not wholly deserved and their fall is not pure loss. Even after the father passes, the boy now gains some self-knowledge which is a benefit from the fall. The father and the boy are essentially like us and are well-written noble characters that McCarthy created. The man and the boy attempt to overcome their tragic situation by differentiating between good versus evil, how love triumphs over everything, and by using courage. While some may argue that “The Road” has no relevance to the question of tragedy is just absurd. This novel is filled with tragedy and McCarthy’s way of writing a novel is just so vivid. The reader can truly envision this scary and grey world with no life or lush color at all. Not only that, but all the survivors are living in a tragedy. They are starving, cold, dirty, and exhausted. They lost loved ones and had to try to conform to survive in this barbaric way of life. When the man died, the son wanted to go as well so they would be together but he did not so the son’s tragedy was that he lost his main caregiver. Therefore, both protagonists learn that one should never give up despite obstacles put in your way to achieve lifelong happiness.

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