Preston B. Wilkes
Mr. Howell - 5th
IB English HL I
9th November, 2014
What Makes For a Meaningful Life: A Look Down The Road
Under what circumstances is suicide justified? One of the lasting images in The Road is the death of the mother by her own hand. At the beginning of the book, her reasons seem justified, due to the terrible state of the world in which they lived. There are a many stories (like the time when the man and the boy were at the fountain) throughout the book, that seem to point to the fact that life is meaningless.The boy and the man really should just kill themselves because, what are they really living for? In response, the reason for living as it is given in The Road is, ...view middle of the document...
The fact that the only possible outcome is of a grueling death therefore, the best alternative is the endless void and nothingness. However as the book reaches its conclusion, we find that her foundation may be faulty or maybe even that her reasons were different than what she originally said..
Even though the man concurs and says on page 58 that, “...she was right”, his actions and the outcome of their odyssey to the sea prove her wrong. The man dies, but the boy finds a new family and the man is left to decay peacefully under a blanket in the deserted woods with no cannibals to be seen. They are not eaten or killed by the bands of marauders that now roam the world as the mother so fervently upheld that they would be. In fact when all is said and done, their lives turned out okay given their circumstances. One would think that since horrible deaths were the basis of the mother's stance, that the issue is settled since that is not what happend. The man made the right choice in risking it and, not killing himself as well as the boy. Still the questions linger though, what is the reason for living in such a desolate world and, since she knew that her horrible view of their end was not the only way, why did the mother kill herself ? Why death may not be as bad as the mother made it out to be, the world they live in is certainly not much to wake up to in the mornings. Still, the author maintains in the book and even says in an interview, that the reason simply put for living, is love and the maintaining and edifying of bonds with those whose affection one reciprocates.
Now to fit with the general theme of the novel and the views of the mother, one could point to a scene in the book that appears at first glance hopeless. One like this can be found on page 39, “He held him and floated him about, the boy gasping and chopping at the water”, and state that this shows what the man is doing, simply holding him and the boy up above the water. They are getting nowhere and accomplishing nothing and one day, once his arms get tired or either of them make even the smallest of mistakes, they will both drown in the cold realities of the world. However the author would argue the following, that the most important part of quote is not about the boy desperately chopping at the water but the very first part, the fact the man held him. The reason the man lets the boy tear at the water is not to teach him to swim for that would be pointless but, so as to build the bond and trust between them because that is all that matters at this point. The world is falling apart and the only thing left to live for, is the boy he is trying to keep alive.
To really drive the point of bonding as meaning home, one only needs to read the oddly placed scene, depicted in the flashback early in the novel. In which the man describes a day spent with his uncle collecting firewood (which of course is no accident, since this is the same task that occupies most of the boys and mans time). Even...