The Road Study Guide

The Road Study Guide

Original title:
The Road

The Road is a dystopian post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy, the bleak setting of which served as the inspiration to the lots of the movie directors, writers and game designers. The story of The Road is the story without hope and even the happy ending is just a bright spot that seems to fade soon with the rest of the light on the dying Earth.

The novel tells us the story of the father and the boy making their way through the deserted land to the seashore. There is nothing left alive except other human beings, who have a scarce choice of marauding the supplies of the others, searching for the abandoned stores, rare as hidden treasures or eating other people.

The horror of The Road isn’t only in inevitable death of everyone and everything without food to support life on the planet and habitable conditions. The other side of the disaster that miraculously left some people alive is the rapid degradation of the humanity to the stage of cannibalistic tribe devoid of any moral restraints. The book contains very graphic and disgusting scenes of people being devoured, bred for meat or butchered limb by limb while still alive.

On the background of the tragedy of the world, a quiet personal tragedy takes place. We learn that the mother of the boy seemed to go insane and killed herself unable to bear the horrors of the new life. The father himself is terminally ill and the only goal of his life is to escort his son to the safe place near the sea, where the “good guys” are still “keeping the fire”. The world where the father tells the son tales about the sea, where the life still exists - but also teaches the kid to shoot himself if he gets captured or the suffering becomes unbearable - is impossibly, incomprehensibly terrifying, tapping on our primal adult fears of losing our family and being unable to do anything.

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