The sardonic blind man named Ely who the man and boy encounter on the road tells the father that, "There is no God and we are his prophets" [p. 170]. What does he mean by this? Why does the father say about his son, later in the same conversation, "What if I said that he's a god?" [p. 172]. Are we meant to see the son as a savior? Why is Ely the only character named in this novel? What does the mean and how does it affect your understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole?
The man and the boy think of themselves as the "good guys." In what ways are they like and unlike the "bad guys" they encounter? What do you think McCarthy is suggesting in the scenes in which the boy begs his father to be merciful to the strangers they encounter on the road? How is the boy able to retain his compassion—to be, as one reviewer put it, "compassion incarnate"?
How is McCarthy able to make the post-apocalyptic world of The Road seem so real and utterly terrifying? Which descriptive passages are especially vivid and visceral in their depiction of this blasted landscape (please cite)? What do you find to be the most horrifying features of this world and the survivors who inhabit it?
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