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The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Critical and Literary Analysis

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The road is a novel written by Cormac McCarthy which was published on September 26th, 2006. The book was also adapted to a movie in 2009. Cormac McCarty is an American novelist who were born on July 20th, 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, US. Cormac McCarthy won the 2007 pulitzer price and the James Tait Black memorial prize for fiction for the novel the road.

The road is a novel based on a man and his wife who survives an apocalypse that has banished the sun and left dark dust in the air everywhere with their child. Later on, the man´s wife kills herself and the man and his son begin the process of surviving in a new and dark world. The man and the son, who also remain unnamed throughout the novel, travel through land of the southeastern United States to get to a warmer area. They face rough conditions throughout the novel such as: rotted corpses, landscapes devastated by fire, abandoned towns and houses. The man and the son are among the few living creatures remaining on earth who have not been killed, raped or taken by cannibalism. They both struggle to survive in the rough weather with little food, supplies, and no place to stay.

The man´s health worsens as they travel and he is near death by the time they reach to the ocean. He consistently coughs blood, and the man and the son are forced to move at a slow pace each day. In the end, he dies in the woods lying next to his son in the middle of the night. After his death, the son remains by his side for several days after his death, eventually the boy meets a kind family who invites him to join them on the journey.

The novel´s theme could be a lot of things but the most visual theme throughout the novel is defiantly that love conquers the toughest and hardest moments. This exact theme is apparent in many instances. The love between the father and son continues with strength throughout the apocalypse, despite the fear of cannibalism and lack of sources. The man also had flashbacks consistently from the past where the love of his wife continued to haunt him until his death in the end.

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The setting of the novel takes place in a modern, apocalyptic world. The land in the book is described as barren, and covered by sheets of ash. The weather is grey and cold, and the human population is at a low existence rate. The man in the road has flashbacks consistently throughout the book which explain how things were before the apocalypse in the “normal” life.

Cormac McCarthy uses a third person omniscient narration in the novel which allows McCarthy a lot of freedom writing the book. The main characters in the novel also remains unnamed throughout the novel and the narration shifts from one character to another throughout the novel.

The road is a novel full of conflicts, both mentally and physically. The main conflict in the novel is the father or the man as he is referred to in the novel and the sons fight against the post-apocalyptic society. Both of them come across many different people throughout the novel and every person living in this post-apocalyptic world uses every opportunity for their advantage. The man struggles with mental conflicts and bad health throughout the novel as he occasionally has flashback about his wife who killed herself and how the life was before the apocalypse, the man also struggles with his health as he becomes very sick and only keeps moving forward because of his son who needs him.

The characters in the book consists of the man, the boy, the woman and the roadrat. The narration of the novel follows the man and his son throughout their journey in the post-apocalyptic world where they meet different characters. The woman or the man’s wife occasionally pops up during the novel in the man´s flashbacks of life before the apocalypse. The roadrat is a character in the novel who leads to conflict as he tries to kidnap and kill the boy. The roadrat holds a knife to the boy´s throat which leads the man to end this conflict with killing the roadrat.

The style of Cormac McCharty´s way of writing the road is a very unique way to write a novel. The style of writing in the novel has a large lack of grammar. The lack of grammar in the novel really fits in with the title of the novel as the man and the boy in the novel has a lack of sources to survive in a luxurious way in the novel. The sentences in the novel are very dry but yet they show emotions as the words match the characters feelings.

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Critical and Literary Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Critical and Literary Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Critical and Literary Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Critical and Literary Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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