Chapter 1- Introduction

The novel “The Road” is written by Cormac McCarthy, the famous writer who visited the city Al Paso, Texas, with his son John Francis McCarthy. Imagining the beauty of the city and the resident’s lifestyle, he thought that if it all turns against the will of the people or a catastrophic event that could destroy the whole city (Taghizadeh & Ghaderi, 2016). His imagination was wide as he tried to see in the back of his mind, the thick smoke rising in the sky had blocked the stream of sunlight, changing the climate into winter. As soon as he viewed everything on his mind screen, he immediately decided to write a novel about a catastrophic event, that can destroy the whole city and he and his sons are the lone survivors, battling the harsh reality of spending life alone, with no medication or proper food, finding a sign of life (Cooper, 2019).

The story of boy and father illustrates a unique relationship full of love, affection, and empathy. ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy describes the unique journey of a father and son in a post-apocalypse world. The story is presenting the approach of a father in protecting his son from the evils of this world (Mavri, 2013). Father wanted to get his son into a world where common and colorful things are not preset. Apart from normal behavior, both characters of this story behave in a different way.  This essay is about ‘The Road’ novel, and it will present an extensive discussion about the behavior of father and son.

Chapter 2- Theoretical background

The structural style of the novel is appealing due to the behavior of both characters, while the understanding between father and son allows them to work and think differently. Fatherhood is clear from the story, and it is represented that there are different ways a person can think or act. Son, in this novel, is all involved with the father and his love (Taghizadeh & Ghaderi, 2016). He shows sympathy and attachment to his father. The boy also allows more kindness and asks the father to help other human beings on earth. This section will discuss the private life of Cormac McCarthy. It will also shed light on different works done by the author.

The Private Life Of Mccarthy

Cormac McCarthy was born in 1933 in Rhode Island. He was Roman Catholic. In 1957-59 for student literary magazine, he worked on two main stories, ‘wake for Susan’ and ‘Drowning Incident.’ He worked for Tennessee Valley Authority. He married Holleman from the University of Tennessee. He moved to Washington for a law firm. At university, he was awarded by Ingram-Merrill award for creative writing. His performance in liberal arts was impressive. He worked in Chicago on the auto shop as a mechanic and wrote his first novel. In 1965, McCarthy published a first novel, The Orchard Keeper. Later, from the American academy of arts and letters, he received a traveling fellowship. In 1966, he received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant(Cooper, 2019).

He married the second time with Anne DeLisle but divorced after some time. In 1968, he moved to Rockford and published Outer Dark. He received Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969 for writing. He worked for the screenplay for PBS film that was also published by Ecco Press. In 1979, Suttree was published, which was the best work by him. He also wrote about the western style of writing, i.e., Blood Meridian.  He also lived in El Paso with his third wife, i.e., Jennifer Winkley. He had one son from his third wife. Another award-winning film by McCarthy was No Country for Old Men (Mavri, 2013).

Works of McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy was a creative writer and wrote many creative awards-winning pieces. The two initial stories for the literary magazines were ‘wake for Susan’ and ‘Drowning Incident.’ Other famous literary pieces by the author are The Orchard Keeper, Outer Dark, Blood Meridian, Suttree, No Country for Old Men. Cities of the Plain. The Road was published in 2005 by Knopf that won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. In the mid-1970s, he wrote a play, The Stonemason.  In 1992, The Border Trilogy under ‘Pretty Horses’ was released. The second volume of The Border Trilogy (The Crossing) was released by Knopf in 1994. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he confessed that this novel includes the aftermath of the event, which causes people to turn in cannibalism because of the unavailability of food. 

Chapter 3- The Road (2006)

The novel ‘The Road’ many depressing themes exist. It is a platform for the reader where he can find, despair, adversity, and struggle. The novel presents a struggling son and father for survival in the post-nuclear apocalypse. Father assumes in the novel that he has very little time for happiness and satisfaction. This section will describe the development history of the novel and its plot.

Development History

The structure of distant mountains, creeks, rivers, and piedmonts is presented along with the coastline. The analysis of the story undertakes some form of survival on a landscape. The author has used the Appalachian Mountains, air-soaked surface with thick gray ash. It is all about ruin place where there is no fish, no vegetation, and in case of snowfall, ashes collect in the air and go on the earth, making the surface gray. Few people in the novel passed by the place, there is a huge struggle for survival in an extreme cold and seemingly destroyed places (Cooper, 2019). The father and son pass from abandoned houses, emptied grocery stores, and a place without facilities. In the novel, father and son found a car packed full of ammunition, supplies, and some people to help and drove their safety. They fled from those people because of wrong intentions and killed one of them. After searching for a while, a place to live and spend some time, they found the hut where they found dismembered bodies of survivors, who were eaten by some cannibalism. Soon after, they found a bunker with supplies where they rest for a couple of days and move again for a safe heaven. They discovered different people with mixed nature, some helped them, and some made their way much harder for survival and getting up to a safe place. They met an older man and a pregnant woman who help them with survival and supplies (Mavri, 2013). They found the boat on the beach with a lot of supplies and a flare gun, which prevents them from evil roaming around for their lives.

After surviving days with the help of people and their survival skills, the father was shot by a man wanting to get his supplies and gun the father shot him back with the flare gun, that spear through his heart and cause death instantly. Soon after getting a shot, the father realized that he couldn’t continue anymore and advise his son to reach the nearest safety, and advise him that he will always be available to him whenever he needs any help through a spiritual connection and prayer (Taghizadeh & Ghaderi, 2016).

The Father didn’t survive that long in the harsh climate and soon die, due to wounds. The son spends three days waiting for his father to revive, and at that time, a man found him freezing in cold weather. A man with two children and with his wife confronted him and asked him to come with them, after consoling him quite a while the child went into their safety and they took him in his protection. This novel portrays a father-son relationship that how the father cared for his son but was unable to survive the harsh cold weather conditions. While the son still had hope that his father would come back to life again. The novel The Road made a huge success and received appreciation worldwide; some people deemed it to be unrealistic and haunting for most of is a reader. The Oprah Winfrey McCarthy dedicated the novel and its success to his son, who is also a co-author of the novel. In 2006 Oprah Winfrey McCarthy wins a James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and in April 2007, the novel the road awarder Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and in 2012, it was listed as the top ten novels of the year.


The father and the son cross a destroyed place while struggling for their survival. Father and son are unnamed. A world impression is a lonely place where small groups try to struggle for a living. Road gangs cross, they murder, cannibalize, and rape. The dark existence allows for the choice of death and survival. The dark situation also gives rise to hope. The author has focused on a father who is fiercely devoted to his son while traveling. Father coughs up blood and is not healthy. The boy was born after the apocalypse. He has only hope in the form of his father. The boy is compassionate for the father due to his father’s anti-hero concept and inhumane nature. He has a feel of goodness, a touchstone of kindheartedness and compassion (Taghizadeh & Ghaderi, 2016).

The story constitutes of rapists, murders, thieves, and cannibals who confront the father and a young boy. They patrol to get victims. Father and son pass through a small group of good people, i.e., a woman, a man, a girl, and a boy. They cross the southeastern US area. On their journey, a father protects son from all the evils they face; thus, he fills the boy with kindness.

Chapter 4- Role of Mother And Father Within The Story

The Mother

Description of the Mother

‘The Road’ discusses an element of family constituting a mother, who has committed suicide. The role of the mother in society is associated with compassion and love because the mother is all about self-sacrifice. This element is falsified in most of the literary works, and at the traditional level, mothers were considered less capable of raising boys. The family notion in the novel is explained in terms of the relationship between mother and father with the boy. The multitudes of topics highlighted in the novel undertake the role of a woman to complete the family. The post-apocalyptic setting offers a discussion of females in society that is less aware of daily chores, bear less responsibility, and are not efficient in working with boys. At the start of the novel, the mother commits suicide, so there is not much discussed the role of the mother, but the information discussed offers the idea about the mother. Her role is elaborated as cruel and brutal, who left his son helpless in this world. She cut herself with a sharp rock and died. It can be argued that the mother felt overwhelmed, and the societal living style was not satisfactory for her, and he gave up. McCarthy depicted the role of a woman just similar to that time literature, where women were considered one dimensional and cold, one having no senses for the family (Cremean, 2008). The character of the mother was doomed as a normative stereotype, which is coupled with the blame that she is incompetent.             

Relationship Towards boy

Mothers are the loveliest creature of this world, and in society, mothers tend to unite the whole family. However, this concept is different in history, where women were seen as a less significant part of the family, who has only a capability of reproduction. Like every mother, the boy’s mother was also loving, sacrificing, and caregiver, but due to societal conditions and her domestic issues, she committed suicide.   In Western culture, feminism is associated with cultural expression in which the mother has less focused characteristics. However, the relationship of a mother with the boy was unconditional love and ever bountiful. The common notion of love and sacrifice by the mother is not evident in this novel, and therefore, the mother is viewed as a brutal mother who left her son in the societal hardships. The mother did not fulfill the needs of her boy, and rather she affected the boy physically and emotionally.

The novel describes that the mothers’ role and relationship with the boy were unusual and not just as it to be. The main reason for this relationship is her suicidal behavior, and she did not complete motherhood’s expectations for the family. Interestingly, this notion offers normative constructions about the mother, which are negative. The boy remembers her mother but only in dreams and his views. Just like all other kids, he loved her mother a lot and wanted her to stay with them. The father begs her to reconsider her decision, but she did not convince. Also, the man presented no convincing arguments that could change her decision. The dogged perseverance is elaborated in the story that highlights the destruction of humanity, and this situation makes her frightened that she will be raped and murdered, so she committed suicide.  

The Father

Description of the Father

Father in society has an influential role, and it is the head of a family. In the novel, the fathers’ role is very appealing and impressive. The story shows paternal love more intense than maternal. The relationship is a powerful bond. Father, in any means, wanted to save the child from unforeseen circumstances. The role of the father is described as a person, who by leaving everything aside, focuses on life and care for his son. The journey of a father with a child is all about taking care of him in an inexpressible way. Father loved his boy unconditionally and worked on all the means to save his life. From any danger, animals, and barbarians, the father tried to save his son. There is no distance between father and son because they are very close and love each other very much. Father seems to appear a diverse personality, by showing his fears, inner sadness, and anxiety that how his son will thrive in this society when he dies. Father is always working to support, protect, and secure his child. The fathers’ role is compassionate because the son has not left with his mother, who takes care of him and protects him from all the dangers. Father is, in fact, playing a dual role for son, i.e., mother and father. It is mainly to allow the child to get love and affection for both persons and make better decisions in life. Man plays many roles in the novel to show his unconditional love, courage, and anxiety for the son. The father acts like a mother throughout the book, and it is a working character illustration for the audience. There are many moments in the story where the father tries to save his son from dangers, get anxious for him, and bring him fruits and juice (Ekasingh, 2005).   

Relationship towards Boy

The novel, ‘The Road,’ illustrates a story where a father and son are set on a journey. McCarthy has explained the characteristics of a father in terms of care and love for children. The relationship between father and son is indeed firm, lovely, and caring. The author has influenced its readers by describing the care of the father when both of them pass through a forest and woods. The boy is a vital thing for the father and a source of light for the life of the father. It would not be surprising to say; similar feelings were for the son, who considers his father was the only one, he had in the form of light. The relationship between father and son in the story is exciting; it is altogether based on love, trust, care, and friendship. In fact, at a place, the son asks his father to give a family something to eat. This kind of situation describes the relationship between both. The kind aspect of the father is seen from an instance when he finds fruits and makes juice for his son, so he gets some energy. This relationship is based on love transmission.

Chapter 5- Discussion

The father figure in the novel is exemplary in terms of all the love and care he offers for the son. The story continues and describes certain situations that are threatening to life and create much suffering for both. All set to journey novel is about the cruel aspect of life and related circumstances when a person is left with a single hope. The story describes many situations when the man feels he is dying, and he only requests death to come later, once his son reaches a safe place. Father is not well, and he only wants to help his son enter a safe place. The story is composed of various themes, such as destruction, isolation, death, and survival. A man and his son cross by all the hurdles of life and journey, and they help each other throughout their travel. The situation of the story is about the end of civilization and threats to human beings. Earth’s stability is no more present, and the entire case is shackling. Man and boy are isolated as they travel across the road. The case describes how, with courage and devotion, a person can attain their purpose in life.   

Chapter 6- Conclusion

This dystopian novel by McCarthy is about a journey led by a man and his son. They survive in a world where there is no ethical situation, no cities exist, and cannibalism and murder prevail. The son has only a father with him because his mother died when he was very young. The story portrays the level of affection a father has for his child. There are different stylistic features of the novel, such as paternal love, care, and wishes. The story highlights that if society lacks civilization, has an unfavorable condition, and is based on unethical situations like rape and murder; it is better to move away from such a community. This situation is experienced by the father and the son. The novel also describes a theme of good versus evil, when goodness is a symbol of human beings and hope assures survival. A sense of humbleness and kindheartedness is also reflected in the behavior of father and son. Overall, McCarthy has floated some general concepts about paternal love, genuine care, and the failure of a mother, who died. The expression of trust is clear from the story where a father allows his son to trust him and guides him about their survival.


Cooper, L. (2019). Cormac McCarthy’s The Road As Apocalyptic Grail Narrative. Studies In The Novel, 51(1), 173-191. doi: 10.1353/sdn.2019.0020

Cremean, D. (2008). The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Western American Literature43(1), 85-86. doi: 10.1353/wal.2008.0058

Ekasingh,, B. (2005). Fathers’ Role Crisis: Fathers’ Role Transition After Childbirth. International Journal Of Human Caring9(2), 41-41. doi: 10.20467/1091-5710.9.2.41

Mavri, K. (2013). Cormac McCarthy’s The Road Revisited: Memory and Language in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction. [Sic] – A Journal Of Literature, Culture And Literary Translation, (2.3). doi: 10.15291/sic/

Taghizadeh, A., & Ghaderi, A. (2016). Faith and Reason in the Mad Subjectivity: Cormac McCarthy’s Post-apocalyptic Narrative The Road. GEMA Online® Journal Of Language Studies, 16(2), 173-185. doi: 10.17576/gema-2016-1602-11


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