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The Road

A Review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy

(This review contains spoilers, but before the spoilers are given, I will warn you to stop reading.)

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

-John Donne-

Man is not meant to walk the road of life alone. Man is a social being and can look to his neighbor for help in time of need and blessing. But what if we lived in a world where every man was for himself? Where any man’s death didn’t diminish you, but just truly didn’t matter to you. You maybe even found relief in another man’s death because it meant life for you? The world as we know it has fallen, destitute, fragmented and hopeless. This is the world of The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

The world has been burnt to a crisp, ash fills the air, the sea and the lungs. Only shapes of what has been surround a single pathway, the road. Many travel on this road…or do they? Is there anyone else? Where are they going and where have they been? The reader knows of two, the boy and his father, carrying the torch of hope on the road. They are the “good guys,” the boy makes sure of that. They speak to each other in short sentences and brief words. Their journey on the road is to purely survive, stay hidden, and keep away from the “bad guys.” The Road is the tale of their odyssey to find life.

I began this book by listening to it on CD during a road trip. Hearing the book read aloud really helped me to see how beautifully it was written. The descriptive words and flow of the language all came to life when read out loud. I kept thinking to myself, “wow, this is beautiful.” I’ve never thought such an ugly world could sound so pretty. I picked up the physical book and read the rest at about halfway through and the beauty of the writing was still evident.

I give The Road 3 maps out of 5 because it wasn’t a page turner, but it was well written and made me feel emotion.

I actually found out after I read it that it had been turned into a movie! Once I watch the movie, I’ll give you my thoughts on that as well.

If you haven’t read the book and don’t want it spoiled stop reading now! 

This tale is so simple, just a boy and man surviving on a road. Imagining living in the world of The Road is overwhelming and scary. The thought of man no longer valuing life and just trying to stay alive is hopeless. There is a scene where the man and boy are hiding and see some of the “bad guys” walk by, among them is a pregnant woman. It is later revealed the group birthed the baby and then used it as food. That part made me exclaim out loud for the sheer sickness of the thought.

The further the book went on and I began to realize the father was getting sick, I felt sick too and almost didn’t want to finish because I was afraid for the boy. I put myself in his shoes, alone, scared, innocent, trusting, not knowing where to find food, how to build a fire, where to go next and being completely alone in a world with no hope. I was brought to tears when the father passed away and was so nervous about how it would end. I was so very relieved in the end that the boy was able to join a family. He finally had a nurturing motherly figure in his life, playmates, and there was hope of building a better world. In the end, the boy was not an island, he was part of the main and involved in mankind.

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