Review of The Road
Love Sustains the Future
A review on The Road
In a burned and barren world, two people, known as only the man and the boy, traverses through the ravaged America, trying to survive the winter by reaching south. If you are by any chance, looking for a different book in tone and writing, this book, The Road, should be considered as one of your top choices, as McCarthy is very capable of utilizing a minimalistic style.
The tone of the writing shines from the aspects of survival within the book. The characters pushes a shopping cart with their supplies, their only defense is a pistol with only two bullets left. Every man is only out for himself – as only he can depend on himself. Death has already consumed everyone within this dreaded world, if you die, you aren’t dead, and instead, you vanish from existence. The lives of everyone, including the ones of the man and boy, are constantly being threaten by the harsh conditions and even their own kind. Thieves and cannibals run through the streets, tracking those they can find like predators. Unlike these “bad guys”, the man and the boy instead find canned foods and supplies by covering abandoned places. Upon entering, words are spoken, though abruptly and short. Often, these conversations are stagnant – the boy and the man repeating each other for confirmation and most importantly – comfort. The descriptions of these various settings are grim and detailed, yet in a poetic sense. The sense of despair coursing through the man’s head as he wades through this environment is implemented skillfully; both of their fears and sadness shown to the audience – whether bluntly or through subtle actions.
Speaking of they, the characters, the man and the boy are presumably father and son, as throughout the book the son calls the man Papa. Though the perspective is in third person, the reader hovers over the man’s shoulder. We are given brief flashbacks throughout the story concerning his wife and happy life before this moment in time. Waking from his morbid dreams, he acts as the guardian of the boy, the ‘voice’ to keep his son from dying on the inside (and maybe also to save himself). His actions exhibit his desperation to keep his son alive – not fearing death if it means protecting his son from harm, after all, his son is the world to him. The boy is the innocence of the story, the dim, yet lit light for the man. His obedience and loyalty is something to be admired (and should be admired by everyone, young and old), his ears are always listening and taking the man’s words to heart. He is kind-hearted, trying to assist those he sees trying to survive just like them – trying to persuade the man to allow those they see to follow them on their journey even though he knows the man will forbid it. The boy’s ability to forgive others is indescribable. The only word I am able to use is inspiring, but I’m not certain that is enough to exemplify his capacity for good.
The numerous qualities of this novel outweigh the criticism I held for it. In fact, I truly don’t have gripes with it. The only two that I would consider are: first, most sections of the book will be difficult to remember. Especially since the scenery is mostly similar to each other: abandoned houses, traversing the road. If you are trying to show someone a certain part of the book you have already passed through, it will not be easy as there are no chapters, hindering your progress. Second, the writing style can be vexing to some and make you want to pull your hair out. I will explain more of the latter during which I talk about the qualities of this novel, which is going to be now. One of the qualities of this book is the minimalistic style. The world is bleak and cold. You don’t know anyone, and if you, the reader, believe you have a semblance of who the characters might be, realize you don’t know anyone’s names. The ‘main’ characters, the man and the boy are only known as that: the man and the boy. They are not names, not titles, just substitutes for personal pronouns. Another quality I really enjoyed is the writing style. This is the part where I said that this will tip off some readers. This style is unique in that, when characters speak, there are no quotation marks, which can be frustrating. However, there is a reason behind this. This is meant to signify the fact that the characters are no more than ghosts, that their voices are just whispers of the wind, their words being meaningless. Finally, the gorgeous symbolism behind this book, there being so much told through so little, yet there can be so much to speculate. One could say that this book could be an allegory for the Book of Revelations in the Bible. There are many events in the story that points to this. But maybe it’s actually not. Maybe it’s just about a man lying to himself to keep himself going. You don’t know.
In order to grasp the meaning of this story, keep an open mind and piece the clues together. Perhaps you might view this story as an allegory, or perhaps what you might take out of this book is that love can be your greatest strength during the duration of that dark path. Unless you aren’t one for darker toned books or strange writing styles, this book is probably not for you, neither is it going to change your mind about the subject. However, I highly recommend buying the book if you are bored and wanting something different. I would recommend this book an eight point seven out of ten. Approach this minimalistic piece of writing.
And come to your own conclusion.