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Works Of Literature Essay

1748 words - 7 pages

Works Of Literature In The Road Novel English Literature Essay
Contemporary authors are influenced by those who preceded them in terms of both the form and content of their works. This is evident in Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road. McCarthy chooses not to imitate those greats that came before him such as Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, or Tennyson in terms of form; in fact, he deliberately avoids almost all conventional choices in terms of form. However, he is obviously influenced by their ideas. He ties together Wordsworth’s concern at his society losing touch with nature and Tennyson’s exploration of what a society’s priorities should be. He creates a world in which ...view middle of the document...

However, McCarthy has taken this form and made it his own. It is not divided into chapters but small paragraphs that each describes a separate incident. The story is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator that rarely indicates which of the main characters is speaking. These elements combine to give it an unusual terseness that highlights the drudgery and horrors of life on the road. The choice of a novel as his form was a deliberate move on the part of McCarthy as his audience would be much larger for a novel than for poetry. This larger audience therefore can have a greater impact on society and its behaviors.
The Road is an extended allegory about how humanity should treat the environment and what will happen if they allow it to be damaged. It is evident that humans have destroyed the ecosystem of the world. “On the far side of the river valley the road passed through a stark black burn. Charred and limbless trunks of trees stretching away on every side. Ash moving over the road…A burned house in a clearing and beyond that a reach of meadowlands stark and grey and a raw red mudbank where a roadworks lay abandoned”(McCarthy, 8). The devices such as the alliteration of black and burn and the personification of the trees as human corpses emphasize the death that is everywhere. In this desolate world a father and son, who are representative of humanity, try to survive. “They came upon themselves in a mirror and he almost raised the pistol. It’s us Papa, the boy whispered. It’s us” (McCarthy, 132). They unconsciously recognize themselves as just as much of an enemy as those whom they are trying to avoid, much in the same way that human activity is the earth’s worst enemy. They are traveling on a road which doubles as the path that humanity is currently on. Despite this, the father-son duo tries vigorously to maintain their humanity in such difficult conditions. The father tells his son as he is dying, “You have to carry the fire. I don’t know how to. Yes you do. Is it real? The fire? Yes it is. Where is it? I don’t know where it is? Yes you do. It’s inside you. It was always there. I can see it” (McCarthy, 278-279). They are the carriers of the fire which represents humanity’s hope for change.

The impact of this lifestyle on the boy and his father is frightening. They are forced to scrounge for canned goods and oil left over from a better time because they are constantly on the brink of starvation. “The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb. The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of morning had a terrible silence to it. Like a dawn before battle” (McCarthy, 129). The alliteration of ransacked, ravaged, and rifled combined with the morbid description of night as “casket black” exacerbate the feeling of despair that permeates throughout the novel. Others range the road stealing from the weaker and even resorting to cannibalism. Eventually the father...

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