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The Road Essay

the road essay

Example #1

John Barth manifests the pessimism of existential philosophy by allegorizing God, Satan, and the soul of man, through the use of Joseph, Jacob, and Rennie, respectively. This conceit reveals not only because of the constant emphatic repetition of the words “God and lord” when referring to Joe, and “hell, and damned” when referring to Jake, but it can also be viewed in terms of the situations that Rennie struggles in between these two beings. According to Rennie, “Joe is God.” Like God, Joe punishes harshly when crucial mistakes are made, but then forgives. For example, his socking of Rennie when she apologized to him displays that overwhelming intolerance that God is known for throughout the writings of the Old Testament.

During this conversation, Jake makes a direct reference to Joe as God and vice-versa: “That blow had struck harder than God imagined.” She sees his being so strong that it could even afford to look weak at times. His being emits sanctioning if not demanding order for every decision or action that Rennie, or metaphorically speaking, mankind takes. This wanting her to believe that she indeed carries an autonomous will enabling individualistic decisions, but as Rennie’s actions show, she can only do and not do in terms of the conditioning provided by a greater entity- this being God or the Devil.

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Just as man finds comfort in denying the existence of Satan, Rennie rejects Jacob’s reality. This mental consolation arouses man because of an innate fear of temptation derived from our Godly origin, and also, because of pure fear of hell. The former personal philosophy arises from the ideology that we are creatures of God and He has placed it within us to negate the evil and obscurity of this world. Thus, since Rennie is a direct subject of Joe, she imposes on Jake that he does not exist. This idea is expressed entirely through Rennie’s dream. First, she tells Jake that he compares to somebody inside a dream only to follow up with a description of a dream she had where the Devil was friends with Joe. Then she states, “Joe…told me that the Devil wasn’t real and that he had conjured up the Devil out of his own strength, just as God might do.”

The metaphor of Jacob as Satan does not necessarily imply that he is pure evil. It does however manifest the devilish qualities of creating temptation, scrambling a person’s life, and not assuming responsibility for any harm or damage caused. Rennie’s inescapable death symbolizes that man is doomed to failure. Her struggle between good and evil, reason and unreason, and being and non-being, leaves her with no control over her own life. God and Satan are constantly fighting for the soul of man. The human personality is not vast or strong enough to yield to both of these forces and still remain independent enough from either one to be self-sufficient and complete as an individual.

 

Example #2

The Road is a post-apocalyptic novel written by an outstanding American author Cormac McCarthy in 2006. It depicts the world destroyed by a global disaster, horrible activities of survived people, violence, and the unexpected love of the father and his son who travel across the country to the sea. This is the story of lost humanity and the offensive side of human nature, on the one hand, and self-sacrifice, compassion, and hope, on the other hand (Hillier, 2015). In this work, The Road will be reviewed with the provided summary, the description of the main characters and themes of the novel, and personal opinion.

An unexpected cataclysm, probably a nuclear war, destroys cities and causes the death of people, animals, and plants. The main characters, a father and son, try to cross the former territory of the United States on foot and reach the sea to survive the winter (Beathan, 2019). They are suffering from diseases and hunger, and they avoid other people as they can appear to be gangsters or marauders. The pair has a supermarket cart to carry their supplies and a revolver with only two bullets for defense. The father and son visit the town and the house of the father’s childhood. When the weather is turning colder, they meet a group of marauders. One of them threatens the boy, and the father has to shoot the marauder down; escaping from the gang, they abandon their cart.

In the ruins of the town, the main characters meet another boy who flees from them. Afterward, they enter the territory of a powerful gang, and they notice the army of equipped bandits with slaves and supplies. When the pair are searching for food, they discover crippled people locked in the cellar of an ancient manor. The father realizes that they are in the house of cannibals and quickly takes his son away. Later they discover an invaluable storage bunker with food and other supplies. After several days of regaining strength, they continue their route with a new cart and provisions. They encounter a ninety-year-old man who is very unfriendly, frightened, and suspicious of other survivors. The boy insists on sharing food and staying with him for a short time, and the older man unwillingly speaks about himself.

Afterward, the father and son observe three passing men and a heavily pregnant woman. Soon, they find an abandoned camp with the remains of an eaten newborn child. The main characters begin to starve until they discover another hiding place containing supplies. The father and son finally reach the sea, where the man investigates a boat driven ashore and discovers supplies and a signal flare pistol. The son catches a chill, and while the father is nursing him, somebody steals their cart. Later they find a man with the carriage, and the father forces him to give it back and deliver all his clothes and shoes as well. They continue their journey, understanding that the naked thief will freeze to death.

In a coastal town, the father gets injured by an arrow from a local man. The father shoots him with a signal pistol in return. Despite the man’s attempts to stitch up a wound from an arrow and move on, his condition is worsening. Finally, he apprehends he cannot continue their way and asks his son to leave him and proceed with his journey alone. The father dies in his sleep, and the son stays with him for several days. Afterward, the boy encounters a benevolent man with a wife and two siblings. The man manages to earn the boy’s trust, and the family takes him under protection. The main characters of The Road are a father and his son, whose names are unknown. The father is a courageous and self-sacrificing man, but he is suffering from a severe disease and coughing with blood.

Despite his condition, he dedicates his life to save his son after the apocalypse. He is continuously searching for supplies and nursing the boy. He instructs the son on how to use a weapon against marauders, assuring him they are good people who will die “Sometime. Not now” (McCarthy, 2010, p. 7). The boy spends his entire life with the father on a devastated land. His mother had been pregnant at the time of the calamity and committed suicide several years before the beginning of this storyline. She supposedly preferred to end her life not to accept the horrifying circumstances of the changing world. At the beginning of the novel, the boy is frightened and depressed, although, towards the end of it, he becomes more confident and strong. He does not forget his father after his death, “I’ll talk with you every day. And I won’t forget. No matter what,” he whispers, and keeps talking with him in prayers (McCarthy, 2010, p. 18).

He continues his journey with his potential new family as his father wanted. In his novel, the author colorfully describes all the horridness of the post-apocalyptic world where the lack of food and comfort, the endless winter, and numerous deaths turn few survivors into marauders, thieves, murders, and cannibals. This book invokes awareness concerning global environmental safety and international conflicts between states, which can lead to the same catastrophe (Johns-Putra, 2016). The absence of governance and law uncovers the worst sides of human nature. Survival, by all means, becomes the single purpose of every person. Though even in the cruel world, there is a place for love, and in opposition to inconceivable violence, Cormac McCarthy puts a story of the tender love between the father and son.

The main characters care about each other with compassion and self-devotion. Isolation, inhumanity, and indifference around them make their love more precious. The author endeavors to show the development of a human character through the main protagonists. The son transforms from a frightened boy into a courageous young man through all experienced struggles. The Road can be defined as a novel that does not allow anyone to stay indifferent, the suspenseful storyline of which makes it highly recommendable for reading. The images of hideous human activities in austere environments provoke reflections concerning human nature. The novel encourages the reconsideration of personal behavior, actions, and relationships with other people. The story frightens with the descriptions of possible future and evokes gratitude that the modern world is better.

It warns society that people’s inattention to global issues may lead to catastrophe. The novel shows that even in the worst times, goodness, compassion, and love can stay in people’s hearts. The Road by Cormac McCarthy describes the traveling of the father and son across America destroyed by an unspecified, probably, nuclear calamity. Although the main characters suffer from diseases, cold and hunger, and encounter marauders, bandits, and cannibals, they love each other and show care and support. The Road is an outstanding story about love and death, despair and inner strength, unbelievable violence and self-sacrifice, isolation, and compassion. It teaches that in peaceful times, there is always a place for catastrophe, and amid cruelty, there is a place for love.

 

Example #3

In analyzing the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, it represents the classic choice of a moment and a lifetime. (pg 129) He relies much on the reflections of nature to convey his theme. However, this poem seems to be in essence very simple but opens the door for many interpretations. In using a simple fork in a road, Frost writes much to symbolize life and choices in which one will make. Frost uses a unique ability to see an ordinary, everyday activity to portray such a theme. By using such simple endeavors, Frost reaches his audience on a more personal level. However, it is only one’s past, present, and the attitude with which he or she looks upon the future that determines the shade of light in which the poem will be seen. (pg 621)

There is never a straight path for one to follow on life s journey. By using two paths in which to choose, Frost leaves one to realize that everyone must travel and will reach a point of decision. By stating And sorry I could not travel both, Frost shows the point in which one will choose because there is only one path in which one may travel. It is most difficult to make a decision on each appealing path because everyone will always seem to question what could I or could I not miss out on? The fact he is sorry he cannot travel, or choose, both pave the way for regret. This will often be reflected upon by an individual in which saying what could have been leading one to dwell over the choice of the road in which they did not take.

In knowing that each one may be influenced in many directions, Frost clearly implies And be one traveler, long I stood. No matter how each of us may be influenced by family or various sources, there is only one traveler that will be affected by any decision and there is quite a lengthy thought process involved. Regardless of any outside influence, there is only one to be involved and truly affected, as does any choice in life. In somewhat of an attempt to make a decision each person wants to carefully examine the unknown. In using sort of checks and balances a person would weigh out the risk factor to be involved. Frost uses the line And looked down one as far as I could to portray an involved examination.

The strain used in as far as I could symbolize somewhat of an unknown content of where the path may lead. No matter what one knows of the beginning of a road there seems to be some unknown factor involved, as does any choice in life. It is the way that he chooses here that sets him off on his journey and where the road will take him. Then as we close out the first stanza, we establish that yet one road has been looked down as far as possible. However, the use of the semicolon after undergrowth initiates a turn of the head to lead into the examination of the other road. (pg133)

Then took the other, just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim. What seems to have made it such a better claim is that it was grassy and wanted wear. It was a road obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other often traveled path. Therefore, Frost calls this the road less traveled. The simple fact that the traveler chooses to take this path over the frequently chosen path, indicates the type of personality in the traveler. It shows that the individual is one to not particularly follow the crowd but sets him apart from the rest by doing something new and unique. It is often called the path of least resistance. In being somewhat of an easier way with fewer obstacles to overcome.

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. The leaves had somewhat covered the ground and since the time they had fallen no one had yet to travel on this road. Perhaps Frost does this to show that each time a person comes to a point where they have to make a choice, it is new to them. It envisions that it is somewhere the traveler has never been. They may tend to feel as though possibly no one else had ever been there either. A modern phrase comes to mind in saying that it is human nature to have the want or desire to go where no man has ever gone before.

After the choice of roads is described and considered, Frost writes Oh, I kept the first for another day! In showing the desire to travel down both roads and that request is not unusual, the point of realizing the final decision is not a temporary one is expressed in saying Yet knowing how way leads on to way/I doubted if I should ever come back. The common sense factor kicks in and one is to realize what is chosen now will affect every other choice to be made. The choice becomes the road that is taken. The choice he held on to for that brief moment then somberly let go, becomes The Road Not Taken.

Once someone performs a simple act or spoken words that engraves who they are, there is no second chance. To put it clearer, once you have laid down your cards, all bets are final and you do not get your money back! At the end of the poem, I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence, reveals he knows someday he will look back and have some regrets that he did not go back and take the road more frequently traveled. Although it seems that he may be unhappy with his decision, he is not. It seems as if regret hangs over the traveler like a balloon about to burst, Yet he remains quite proud of his decision.

I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference, which means that he does not regret choosing the road less traveled. He realizes that the other path if chosen would have not given him the life experiences that he did. Quite frankly, no one would be the person they are today if it were not for each and every life experience. Critic Laurence Perrine interprets the poem as an expression of regret that one’s ability to explore different life possibilities is so sharply limited. (pg 496) One would have to agree with his point because everyone has had to make difficult unalterable decisions of which the outcome could not be foreseen. The narrator must choose between two fair roads, of which he cannot see the endpoints. Wandering between the two, he finally decides to take the road less traveled. Yet, like most people, he later sighs with regret thinking of what he might have missed on the unexplored road.

Above all, The Road Not Taken can truly be interpreted through much symbolism as a clear-sighted representation of two fair choices. The two roads in the poem, although, diverging, lead in different directions. In the beginning, they appear to be somewhat similar but is apparent that miles away they will grow farther and farther away from each other. Similar to many choices faced in life. It is impossible to foresee the consequences of most major decisions we make and it is often necessary to make these decisions based on a little more than examining which choice wanted to wear. In the end, we look back upon the choices we have made, and like the narrator sigh, observing that they have made all the difference.

 

Example #4

This passage is The Road by Cormac Mccarthy and the main theme of the text and novel as a whole is survival and relicense. It starts with the father and son who are living on the road and are really poor also have nothing but a shopping cart full of supplies as well as one backpack each just in case they had to leave the cart. In the beginning, they are trying to find out where to travel next since they know that they will not be able to survive another winter, as a result, the father decides to go down south since there is a much warmer climate. As the boy and his father travel on the road coast, they have to really scavenge for food and materials that will help them survive in the cold. The only thing that keeps them both alive is a pistol with one bullet inside it, their food, supplies, and most importantly each other.

In this passage, McCarthy intentionally uses the man and boy as a reference of what being poor is like and not being in the supreme class. McCarthy shows this by having the father, as well as the boy, survive on minimum material every day. Where McCarthy allows the reader to understand that there is no word to describe the poor within this novel instead he wanted the reader to understand that these people are poor themselves,. The author emphasizes that not everyone is supreme, as well as powerful and that there are people in this world who are fighting to survive each and every single day. The man as well as the boy are ultimately the representation of values and survival within society.

The main argument of this passage is emphasized by McCarthy’s choice of words within the novel, this can be analyzed in this quote” You think we’re going to die, don’t you? (McCarthy 85). This mention of death is important in this passage because it is showing what the author was trying to portray that since they are really poor and have not eaten any food in the last couple of days prior they were questioning themselves on whether or not they are going to die. Also, the ideas of the poor and survival play a strong role throughout the novel. As the man and boy are considered nothing in society since they are really poor and are ignored by the government, which makes their life unpredictable. The use of the two main points in one argument proves how related the theme of relicensing and survival are in the novel.

What is apparent in the novel is the author uses a lot of repetition this is very important in this passage as it can be further analyzed when the boy asks,” Why do you think we are going to die? “(McCarthy 85) this a has a relation with trying to survive as for instance in the novel “ We don’t have anything to eat . We’ll find something” (McCarthy 85). This is showing that even though they think they are going to die because of the minimum food and resources they have but it also shows that they are determined to find food sooner than later. This shows a strong resemblance to the poor in the novel, in which each and every-one of them are trying to do anything to survive. Repetition is also important when the man says “ I don’t know “ ( Mccarthy 85). This reference represents all aspects of humans who don’t know if they are going to be able to survive another day because of limited resources but are willing to do anything in order to still wake up the next day and it clearly depicts the theme of survival and reliance in society.

 

Example #5

“The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy is a novel that addresses the fundamental rights of man and what it means to be human. So what is McCarthy trying to relay to his readers about the quality of being humane and the kindness and benevolence that human beings acquire? This novel tells a story about survival and the constant fight between staying alive and maintaining a certain morality of a “good guy”.” In the novel, the father tells his son that it is their job to “carry the fire”.

” The “fire” that the father passes on to his son to keep burning surely can be said to refer to hope in humanity, which is a hope that never dies throughout this excellent novel. It is interesting too that at various stages it is the boy that keeps his father from turning savage like the humans around them. It is his love and belief in others that prevent his father from losing his humanity. Thus I think another important message is how love and relationships keep us human and prevent us from giving in to our darker, more savage, and evil sides. In “The Road,” being a “good guy” is putting yourself before others, and maintaining your morals even in times of trouble.

McCarthy provides his readers with a new point of view on humanity, and what it means to hold kindness in your heart during a difficult post-apocalyptic time of survival. Jump back to the present day. What does it mean to be good in humanity in our society? Essentially you could say that no matter what time period, past present, or future, the essence of humanity has yet to change. In a way, this statement is correct. “Carrying the fire” should be a series of selfless actions performed with the hope of being the change you wish to see in the world. Being humane is a lot of simple actions as well, such as putting others before yourself, providing for your community, and helping others in need. There are many similarities and differences in what it means to be human in the context of the reality of “The Road” and our present-day reality.

 

Example #6

“World War II marked a wide dividing line between the old and the new in American society and the nation’s literature”(The World Book Encyclopedia 427). When world War II ended there was a pent-up desire that had been postponed due to the war. Post-war America brought about a time when it seemed that every young man was doing the same thing, getting a job, settling down, and starting a family. America was becoming a nation of consumers. One group that was against conforming to this dull American lifestyle was referred to as ‘Beatniks’. “The Beats or Beatniks condemned middle-class American life as morally bankrupt.

They praised individualism as the highest human goal”(The World Book Encyclopedia 428). This perspective was present in poetry and literature throughout the beat movement. One of the most important works produced during the beat movement was Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. In the novel, Jack Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise represents the American man who realizes he doesn’t want to conform to society’s pressures but still hasn’t realized what it is exactly he wants to do. He is a man who has very little direction and is very much lost in the world as he knows it. Kerouac seems to be constantly trying to escape.

In examining the novel one might wonder what is Kerouac escaping and by what means does he do so? Kerouac used two means of escape throughout the novel and throughout his life. His first means of escape was his constant travel. He traveled from east to west, New York to San Francisco, and stopped everywhere in between. He made this trip over and over, constantly on the road. The simple title of the novel exemplifies Kerouac’s ongoing need to travel. When he and his friends got tired of traveling east to west they traveled north to south, driving all the way down to Mexico City. His travels gave him the opportunity to be an outsider with no worries.

 

Example #7

‘The Road’ is a book by Cormac McCarthy that focuses on a post-apocalyptic event involving a nuclear war. Evil is prevalent and the man seems to have lost any sense of morality. Theft, murder, cannibalism, and all forms of brutality seem to be the order of the day. This quote from the book is a clear indication of how worse things had become: People sitting on the sidewalk in the dawn half immolate smoking in their clothes, like failed sectarian suicides. Others would come to help them. Within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. The screams of the murdered, by day the dead impaled on spikes along the road. What had they done? He thought that in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime but he took small comfort from it (McCarthy 53).

The story is centered on a post-apocalyptic event that causes the suffering of humanity. People lack the most basic necessities and live under extreme cruelty. An unnamed man and his small boy are exposed to the brutality. There are incidences of rape, theft, and cannibalism all over. When they try to escape from the brutality, they come across one of the ‘bad guys’ who intends to kidnap and kill the boy. The man shoots him and they escape but they are disturbed by the incident. When the man and the boy run out of food, they go to a place where they come across some scary scenes. Humans are held captive by some gang and are kept like livestock to be feasted upon.

Such was the intensity of human cruelty. In one of the passages the writer says; “The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night (McCarthy 24).” People are prone to hunger and starvation, the man and the boy, for instance, are on the verge of starvation when they come across an apple orchard and a well. This cushions them against starvation. When they run out of their food reserves again, they came across canned food at some bomb shelters but they do not take the same with ease as they fear for their security.

The theme of violence is also brought out when the boy’s mother clearly expresses her fears that they might soon be found, raped, and killed, as such had become normal in the society. She even states that in the past they would talk about death but they no longer did as it was being witnessed everywhere. This is evident in her statement: No, I’m speaking the truth. Sooner or later they will catch us and they will kill us. They will rape me. They’ll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you won’t face it… We used to talk about death,” she said, “We don’t anymore. Why is that?… It’s because it’s here. There’s nothing left to talk about (McCarthy 93).

All these points to the absence of law and order. The scarcity of resources drives people to steal, kill, and even become cannibals. Those who attempt decency try to avoid the vices and are only driven to the extremes out of necessity. This is evident in the passage, “The man had already dropped to the ground and he swung with him and leveled the pistol and fired from a two-handed position balanced on both knees at a distance of six feet. The man fell back instantly and lay with blood bubbling from the hole in his forehead (McCarthy 102). In spite of all this, the man and the boy remain compassionate and generous.

The boy, for instance, does not harm anyone, while the man does so only when it is really necessary. This implies that in the midst of all the cruelty, the virtues of compassion and morality can still prevail. The woman however opts to commit suicide so as to escape the cruelty. The man also preserves two bullets in the gun for self-destruction incase things get to the extreme. This is evident in the passage:

She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She would do it with a flake of obsidian… and she was right. There was no argument. The hundred nights they’d sat up debating the pros and cons of self-destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall (McCarthy 94). This is a clear indication that suicide seemed a better option under extreme brutality. On their journey, they come across incidences of cannibalism as evident in the passage, “Coming back he found the bones and the skin piled together with rocks over them…He pushed at the bones with the toe of his shoe.

They looked to have been boiled (McCarthy 110).” In the novel, it is also quite evident that the people are subjected to abject poverty to the level that some do not even have clothing as evident in the passage, “Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands (McCarthy 168).” Such lack is what drives the people to cruel for survival. It is a man-eat-man society and virtues seem rare. People are raised just like livestock for slaughter, and the conditions under which they are raised are pathetic. The boy is exposed to the world at its worst and the man is not even able to explain the same to him.

Cruelty had become normal and one had to use any means including hurting or killing so as to survive. Someone, for instance, tries to kill them by shooting them with an arrow. The man is wounded on the leg but manages to protect the boy. Before the offender could aim again, the man shoots at him and they all hear him scream.

The Man and the boy seem to be living in isolation from the good people. It almost seems as though even God had abandoned them. In spite of all these, their affection for each other remains strong. Their memory of a better past makes it so hard for them to come to terms with the current happenings. The writer seems to be pointing to the fact that with such cruelty, humans are likely to disappear from the face of the earth. One of the characters, for instance, says:

When we’re all gone at last then there’ll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He’ll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He’ll say: Where did everybody go? And that’s how it will be. What’s wrong with that? (McCarthy 237). At first, the boy is left by the mother, who opts to commit suicide as she can no longer cope with the hopelessness. In the end, the boy is also left by the father, who dies and leaves him alone in a world that is so difficult to cope with. People are in a state of disillusion and it is even hard for one to imagine that things will ever get better. The man for instance says, “Well, I don’t think we’re likely to meet any good guys on the road (McCarthy 224).” This is a clear indication of the hopelessness that existed.

The land is unproductive and in desolation. It is quite evident from their conversation that people were hiding from each other. The phrase points to the fear and isolation that had become evident. No one could trust another. The man refuses to imagine that the ancestors were watching and that there would be any form of justice at the end. According to him, they were dead and that was all. It is as though human history and morality had been eroded by that devastating apocalyptic event.

While asked for the purpose of the gun, the man indicated that he possessed it for the purpose of setting others on fire and not necessarily signaling. Such are the extremes that the world had reached so that a grisly weapon is used for signaling and setting others on fire. Society seems to be divided into two, the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys.’ The bad ones seem to engage in acts that demean and even eliminate those that are weaker than them. They enslave, torture, and even kill them while the good ones try not to harm others unless if it is out of necessity as in the case of self-defense. The man and the boy fall into this category. He assures the boy that they were still good guys. The man goes ahead to assure the boy that they would not eat a human even if they were starving. This is a basic form of decency that any man is expected to have but it is quite surprising that most people.

 

Example #8 – The Survival Challenge in the Road and I Am a Legend

When exploring the challenges and toils of survival, we can easily make a series of comparisons between the design of Francis Lawrence’s and Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic worlds in I Am Legend and The Road, respectively. Both plots involve the main character as one of the very few people left in this world, and each protagonist would do anything to protect his companions. While both Lawrence’s film and McCarthy’s novel build internal conflicts within the main character, Robert, the protagonist in I Am Legend, also has to deal with the Zombies, whereas The Man faces his conflict of the world around him. This difference is highlighted in the building of each of the characters, with Lawrence’s survivalist being strong and well prepared from any threat.

McCarthy chooses to introduce The Man in a weak, dying state, with minimal supplies to share between himself and his son. This contrast however is also representative of the difference in setting between the two stories, with Robert Neville fortifying himself within an abundantly stocked New York City, and The Man and his son wandering down long stretches of barren highway. The final main contrast exists in each storyteller’s interpretation of the meaning behind a gun, with Lawrence using a gun for killing; meanwhile, to McCarthy, the gun is symbolic of hope.

Lawrence first characterizes Robert Neville with mise-en-scene by using an overhead shot of his car driving through the city, directly following a series of establishing shots showing the abandoned cityscape. As the audience sees him speeding through the abandoned cityscape, the sound of the powerful engine fades in. Finally, the audience sees a medium shot of him in the car, allowing the audience to see him as a survival hardened man complete with jeans, combat boots, leather jacket, and assault rifle by his side. Lawrence’s treatment makes the viewers believe that Robert is a man who is well equipped. This depiction results in the audience’s initial impression being that he is a strong, admirable, and supposedly unbreakable character. Lawrence’s use of mise-en-scene, particularly costuming and props, conveys this message to the audience.

The audience sees the well-worn leather jacket, and the strong, bright, high-key, and natural lighting. Such visuals are paired with the bright red muscle car, heavily contrasting with the bleakness of the city. Shots are routinely shot from a low angle when Robert is in the frame, giving the sense of power and control radiating from him. The shots are also generally still and stable, either statically placed on Robert or tracking his car as he slides it through the streets. Once again highlighting the supposed control and purposefulness that Lawrence suggests is needed to last with the challenges of survival.

Alternatively, McCarthy develops a protagonist that is described as weak, sick, and ultimately set to die; creating the dark, depressing theme that resonates throughout the novel. The first indications come from the imagery presented as a bloody cough from The Man, who has been carrying a huge load as well as pushing the trolley up a mountainside for the sake of his own son getting to see the beachside. As a result, the reader feels highly sympathetic for The Man, who is obviously not equipped to take on the challenges of survival as effectively as Robert is. I Am Legend features establishing shots of New York City which is normally a busy, the highly populated city covered in concrete. However, Lawrence’s city shows green growth intertwined between all the dense skyscraper buildings. This shot then follows with shots of cars rusting away and with plants growing through them, littered through the middle of the street.

This visual in turn causes the audience to instantly recognize the fact that the city has been abandoned for some time and that the occupants have left in a chaotic manner. The final shot in the initial establishing shot collection is an overhead of a single red car driving through the city, weaving between the trashed cars. This is a powerful shot used by Lawrence, not only in building audience interest but also in the development of this central survival theme. It clearly highlights just how alone the driver of the vehicle is, in a city that is normally overflowing with people. Opposing this landscape is McCarthy’s barren, empty and unpopulated land that peels off from either side of the highway.

Throughout the novel there are only a few times to stock up the minimal supplies they have on them via the service centers and small towns that are placed off to the sides of the highway, “..stood in the road and glassed the plain down there where the shape of a city stood in the grayness…”, They have no car, no military backpacks or gear and they have no quick way to move about or escape – serving to make survival more challenging. This contrast is reflective of the conflict that each character faces with Robert facing others whereas The Man faces the environment around him. Moreover, both McCarthy and Lawrence use the recurring symbol of the gun. Lawrence shows guns as being something to be on the offensive with, means of war and mass killing, as highlighted in both the actions of the protagonist as well as the weapons themselves. Robert has cupboards full of automatic, high-powered weapons and powerful explosives which he uses to fuel war, with the hunting and slaughter of zombies that he comes across.

Conversely, McCarthy makes note that The Man has only a pistol with two bullets in it, representative of desperate hope; one is for him and one is for his son. The gun is therefore seen as being something for defensiveness, ad it represents hope for them because when the bullets are gone, it is all over for The Man and his child. Despite differences in medium, both McCarthy and Lawrence effectively demonstrate and explore the challenges and toils of survival in a post-apocalyptic world by using very similar techniques. For example, the symbolism of a simple gun, the carefully designed characterization, and the role of the setting are crucial to both narratives. While still creating contrasts between the way the survivalist go about surviving, The Road and I Are Legend shows how men in desperate situations are not above caring and protecting those around them.

 

Example #9 – The Process of Decision Making in the Road not Taken by Robert Frost

Every aspect of one’s life is determined by the decisions he makes. Some are life-altering, such as deciding what college to go to, while others are inconsequential, such as deciding what to have for breakfast in the morning. Whether they are big or small, these decisions are what progresses from day to day, week to week, and year to year. In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost examines the process and affects of such decision making. First of all, there is a dual meaning associated with the symbol of the road in this poem. Literally, Frost is describing two tangible roads that someone must physically walk down. Obviously, the reader knows this from the vivid imagery Frost gives when beginning the poem with “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Frost).

The reader is given a mental image of a fall forest with two roads disappearing into the trees, but, as always, there is an underlying meaning, and it is implied that these roads are not totally physical. In actuality, the entire poem is focused on the narrator’s decision regarding which road to travel and the consequences that will come as a result of his choice which emphasizes the claim that Frost is trying to make. He uses the concrete example of the two roads in order to highlight the basis of decision making in one’s life and how every decision one makes affects everything else from there on out.

Terry Andrews writes that the popularity of this poem is due to the “simplicity of its symbolism” and that Frost sees choosing between the two roads “as a metaphor for choosing between different directions in life.” Andrews is right in saying that this is a simple connection that can be made about this poem, but although the symbolism may be easy to understand, the underlying development of the metaphor is what really composes the poem. Although they lead to two different places and they wind down two different paths, in reality, each road is ultimately the same. They each have pros and cons associated with them, meaning that for every asset one road carries, the other has one equally as beneficial. The narrator asserts that travelers before them “had worn them really about the same” (Frost), revealing that although one may have grass while the other does not, they have both been equivalently traveled for the most part.

When making a decision, it is important to grasp the fact that whichever one is chosen is going to have just as many advantages as the one being left behind. A decision would not be a decision if that weren’t the case. If something is easy to decide and there is nothing else for it to compete against, then it is not a decision. He also writes that when he is observing the two paths they “equally lay in leaves no step had trodden back” (Frost). Basically, the narrator is saying that both paths are covered with leaves that haven’t been crunched by the foot of a traveler, which shows that neither path has been taken in quite some time once again proving their equality. This also reinforces the fact that the narrator, who is the new traveler, is starting from scratch and gets to make the decision by himself and himself alone. Throughout life, there are many decisions to be made that no one else has had to make before.

When this time comes, it is important to realize that both decisions have their own advantages and disadvantages, essentially making either one a favorable choice. Dan Brown writes that “Frost seems to want things both ways in this poem” since it is obvious that he is faced with a struggle while trying to make up his mind. This is the classic you-can’t-have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of situation. As nice as it would be to reap the benefits of both roads, sadly the narrator is unable to do so; therefore, it is important to spend an ample amount of time visiting with the advantages identified with both options so as to make the best choice.

Decisions take time, especially for the kind alluded to in this poem: a life-changing one. Frost touches on the fact that every possibility must be weighed when making a decision. The narrator fully acknowledges the first path and writes that he stood there and “looked down one as far as I could,” (Frost) which shows that he was truly pondering that path and trying to soak up all it had to offer. When one is in the process of making such an important decision, it is crucial to go over all the benefits and downfalls of each, which is exactly what he is doing here. It is obvious that the narrator is being pulled in both directions. He spends a decent amount of time observing the first path, while on the other hand he is drawn to the second path due to its unworn nature.

The narrator says that he took the second path due to its grassiness and comments that the path “wanted wear” (Frost) The alliteration used here draws specific attention to this phrase and the personification of the path that he ends up taking. Attributing this physical need of “wanting wear” to the path somehow gives a sense of validation for the narrator making the decision he made. It’s almost as if he feels sorry for this path because it appears to have been neglected by travelers before it. There is a sense of regret throughout Frost’s poem. Accompanying every decision are the opportunity costs one gave up when they decided against the other option. The title is a dead giveaway with how the narrator views the decision he made. The poem is entitled “The Road Not Taken,” emphasizing the road that was not chosen. Due to the title, before one even reads the poem there is an emphasis put on the alternative decision and the one that the narrator did not choose to make.

One critic, Jennifer Bouchard, writes that this title “emphasizes the mystery that surrounds the choices that people make; specifically, the path not chosen” (Bouchard). She makes a good point in highlighting the fact that there is a sense of mystery surrounding the choices that people make. No matter who or what tries to influence a person, the final decision is in the hands of the one making it, which will always leave others pondering the choice made. At the beginning of the poem, he tells the reader that he is “sorry [he] could not travel both” (Frost). This shows that he is admitting that each path has a great deal to offer, so picking one to travel down will cost him the benefits of the other and vice versa. Simply put, it is impossible to have your cake and eat it too. As nice as it would be to experience the benefits that both choices have to offer when making a decision, that is quite impossible. In the last stanza of the poem, the narrator admits that he is “telling this with a sigh” (Frost).

When someone is sighing while telling a story or revealing something about themselves, it comes with the grounds that they are not necessarily completely content with the decision they made at the time. The tone that this phrase creates and the exasperation associated with the narrator’s voice at this point goes to show that the right decision is not always going to be chosen. No matter what one does or how much time one spends on making a decision, sometimes it just isn’t going to go as planned and there isn’t much to do about it. Frost finishes the poem with the narrator divulging that choosing the road that he chose “has made all the difference” (Frost). The narrator says this with a longing, nostalgic approach as if he is wondering what would be different in his life if he had made a different decision. After making an important decision, it is completely natural to have this sense of speculation about what could have been.

There is quite a domino effect associated with decision making. Almost every decision made in one’s life will affect the next one he makes. Once the narrator has made up his mind, he is at a point of no return. When discussing his decision he mentions that “way leads on to way” (Frost), meaning that when he chooses that specific road, it will lead on to the next one, and the one after that, and so on. When one stands at a fork in the road during his or her life and is forced to make a choice, the one that he or she chooses will influence every other decision from there on out. The narrator also adds that he “doubted if [he] should ever come back” (Frost). The narrator is restating the fact that once he chooses one road and heads on his way, he will never be able to come back and head down the opposite road.

When a life-altering decision has been made, there is no going back and changing your mind. The uncertainty is shown in the narrator’s words and tone at this point also reiterates the sense of regret that he feels. Overall, Frost’s poem deeply reflects the developments and consequences of decision making on the life-altering level. Life would go nowhere without the decisions people choose to make a day in and day out. Every decision reaps its own benefits; they take time; regret will always be some kind of issue, and every single decision affects the next one from there on out.

 

Example #10 – interesting ideas

These are some postmodernist ideas in “The Road”. The idea of the world losing all its education, art, and civilized structures and becoming a barren wasteland where people live in their own small primal groups emphasizes postmodern concepts of objective reasoning and exposing the manufactured ideologies of the past that are “meaningless” in the new world the father and son inhabit. The father and son also form their own moral system which is simply “We’re the good guys” and “We’re carrying the light.” which emphasizes that the society of the past was only constructed by religious, ethical, and legal ideas of what was truth and reality and people were governed by the media and the social powers of the time.

Post-modernism tries to unveil all social, subjective, and constructed ideas in the world and take a very critical approach to everything. McCarthy’s ‘the road’ aims to do this by exposing the new society as nothing more than ‘creatures’ trying to survive in a brutal world where any hope of humanity is long gone and people have resorted to their worst behaviors. Recommendations on some of the ideas you can explore for your thesis:

-Religious influence on society (How is this represented in ‘the road’)

-Cultural influence on society (What happens when culture is broken down into isolated groups)

-Communication and how it affects people. (Isolation, collectivism, individualism)

-Media influence on society (The internet, television, world propaganda, film – What happens when these aspects of society start to break down like in ‘the road’)

-Human Subjectivity – (How are people in ‘the road’ ruled by their own emotions and opinions of reality? Is there a subjective approach between the man and the boy and do they always agree with each other?)

-Postmodernism and how it relates to these different spheres.

We can say that modernism was a period when society was still attached to things like religion, government, community, and culture to make decisions for them. Postmodernism is the break down of these attachments. People begin to look at objectivity as the source of truth and form their own opinions using social communication and worldwide connectivity. People embrace individuality and seek to find truth through objective sources such as science and the academic world. Skepticism is encouraged as people are free to make their own choices on what to believe.


Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is set sometime in the future after a global catastrophe. The Road follows the story of a nameless father and son, possibly the last of the “good guys”, as they travel along an abandoned stretch of highway populated with occasional marauders and cannibals. The post-apocalyptic setting plays upon the public’s fear of terrorism, pandemics, genocide, and weapons of mass destruction. Since the cause of the destruction remains unanswered, it is left open to the mind to make assumptions. The Road is set somewhere in the southeastern United States. There is mention of distant mountains, several rivers and creeks, and a coastline. The landscape and the air are soaked in thick, gray ash. Vegetation has been destroyed. There are no fish in the water. When snow falls, it collects the ash in the air and falls to the earth already gray. The setting is the main antagonist in the book because it is the number one adversity the father and son have to endure.


Religion in The Road by Cormac McCarthy? I’m writing an essay on The Road by Cormac McCarthy about the struggle with God and religion in the face of hardship and despair. I need some ideas from the novel that could help me prove that, preferably in the form of some literary devices such as diction, symbolism, and so on.

Answer. McCarthy’s “The Road” is rife with references to God and religion and is peppered with Biblical allegory. Essentially, the man finds himself struggling with being able to cling to some semblance of faith in the face of desperate and hopeless circumstances. McCarthy makes it clear that the survivors of the cataclysm are living through a scenario that is the ultimate test of faith. The Earth itself is dead and dying. There is no plant or animal life left on the planet (as far as man can surmise.) Survival is difficult, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous. Every day is a struggle. Existence entails the constant effort required to procure and provide the basic necessities of life – food and water, warmth, shelter from the harsh elements, protection from predators, constant fatigue, an ever-present sense of fear if not downright terror…

Obviously, such a scenario would prompt most people to question why God would visit such destruction and suffering upon the Earth and its people. “Have you a neck by which to throttle you” is a line that clearly showcases the man’s anger, bitterness, and frustration with God. Yet the boy symbolizes an angel. He came into the world after the cataclysm had altered it forever. He has no memory of what life, society, or civilization were like before. And while he was not reared in an environment where Christianity was widespread and prevalent, he manages to embody all of its basic tenets. He’s generous, he’s kind, he’s predisposed to trust people, to see the good in them whereas his Father is wired to be vigilant, suspicious, and hell-bent on keeping them alive and keeping them safe. The boy seeks some sense of meaning to his life in that wasteland.

He says: “I don’t understand what we’re doing” when his Father remarks that he doubts there are many people left in the world. The boy desires some connection to make him feel that life is worth living whereas the man is primarily concerned with the most pressing issues and it’s only in those rare moments that he has time for reflection that he can devote his thoughts to the concept of meaning and purpose. The conversation that the man has with ‘Ely’ is very revealing. Firstly, examine why McCarthy would opt to bestow that name on the old man. It’s clearly stated that it isn’t his REAL name, but there’s deep symbolism to the choice. Examine what ‘Ely’ has to say about life, about death, and about God. “There is no God and we are his prophets.” What does that mean to you? When McCarthy says that the man sees the boy “glowing in that waste like a tabernacle”, what does he mean?

I can point you to the plums but I’m loath to pick them for you. If we were living in a world anything like the one depicted in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” I would BE “The Road.” I don’t think there’s a novel that I’ve read as many times all the way through as that one. I could recite passage after passage. I could draw you a map of the man and the boy’s journey – I painstakingly pored through all of McCarthy’s other works and any and all biographical information available to be able to sketch one out and I’m incredibly proud of it.

I’ve analyzed that book front to back, back to front, totally and completely deconstructed it, and built it back up again in my own mind putting the pieces together in the manner I feel patches everything together in the most cohesive manner. I could raise questions to you about that book that would do your head in. But what you’re looking for is relatively and comparatively easy to find. Enjoy the search. There are few books that have been written in the past 15 or 20 years which could hope to rival that one. It’s an incredibly powerful, highly emotional, deeply moving, hauntingly beautiful read, and a wonderful, wonderful story. I wish they taught that book in every school. There are few books more worthy of being appreciated.


This is the essay I have to prepare for in two days: In the novel “The Road”, the narrator describes a dramatic experience. Discuss how McCarthy’s techniques convey the impact of the experience on the main characters. ANY help at all would be awesome!

Answer. Well, their names are never mentioned, so you could say that what they have been through has made them lose their identity, or that they are unnamed because the apocalypse has made everyone lose their humanity. NO ONE’S name is said, in the whole book. They are just reffered to like the boy, the father, the old man, etc.

There is a huge contrast between the father and son. The boy has hope, even if he is naive. He is innocent, and HE is “carrying the fire”. He has never known anything different than the world he was born into. The father, however, has seen too much. He has been destroyed by what he has gone through, what he has seen. He is furious and has been abandoned by the woman he loved. Anything that could be seen as a threat towards them (the old man etc) is handled differently with both. The boy thinks the best of everyone and pity people even though he is suffering himself. Look at how he handled that old man! The dad, however, is intent on survival. He puts his son ahead of anything else, even if it means the deaths of other people.

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