The first few pages of The Road depict a landscape filled with ash, a long road, and isolation. The setting of the novel alternates between the traveling on the road and excursions out of the road to scavenge for food. This setting of the landscape depicts an unknown apocalyptic incident or event. This description of the landscape is quite effective in depicting the isolation and danger that the man and his son are facing in a world devoid of good and compassion. The setting of the landscape suggests the many challenges that the main characters in a book face throughout their journey on the road, which is a mixture of good and bad luck.
On page 32, the father says, “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 32). The father is implying that, in the world, there are no good men remaining. This is evidenced by the scenarios depicted by the author of the present danger, no shelter, food, or clothing, and the possibility of a civilization that has been destroyed for good. The man tells the son that he is the only one remaining who is a good man; he is the only one who can remotely be considered as a god in all the bleakness present in the universe.
The ending of the novel creates a hopeful picture that is surprisingly unusual from the rest of the narrative. The man’s death at the end is a form of sacrifice to the boy. It suggests that society can rebuild itself even after the bleakest of experiences. The boy is depicted as being compassionate and forgiving on page 82, paragraph 1-8:
[The Man:] He’s been struck by lightning.
[The Boy:] Cant we help him? Papa?
[The Man:] No. We cant help him.
[The Boy:] The boy kept pulling at his coat. Papa? he said.
[The Man:] Stop it.
[The Boy:] Cant we help him, Papa?
[The Man:] No. We cant help him. There’s nothing to be done for him (McCarthy 82.1-82.8).
The fire that the man refers to is the compassion and forgiveness exhibited by the boy. This character of compassion and forgiveness must be kept alive because it is a necessary requirement for the rebuilding of society.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Pan Macmillan., 2010. Print.