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 (pick at least 3 and please cite)? What do you find to be the most horrifying features of this world and the survivors who inhabit it?
1/20/2018 04:58:44 pm
"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. The boy was lying in his lap with no expression on his face at all" (McCarthy 66)
1/21/2018 03:44:18 pm
Adding on to the idea that they can’t seem to trust anyone and that there’s a big amount of fear, it kind of shows in a way how cruel humans can become just to survive. It’s startling and realistic how human nature can take a turn for the worst. In the post-apocalyptic world, it’s everybody for themselves as bad as it sounds, it shows humans true colors and ability to survive with not much resources. We all heard of the show the Walking Dead and it shows humans going against other humans instead of coming together to survive against zombies. The problem with them was land and weapons. The total opposite of a utopia.
1/22/2018 08:33:30 am
I love your idea about this post-apocalyptic world. It seems that after one of these events occurs, we lose our humanity, which is why we are willing to commit cannibalism or kill others for seemingly no reason. This also adds to the overall terror in the novel because it makes it feel almost unnatural to the readers who would never, or at pray they would never, eat another person. I also love your comparison to the Walking Dead because it shows us that these other people in the world are almost like zombies or those so scared of zombies or their own distopian characteristic that they would kill others to make sure they were safe.
1/23/2018 05:57:20 pm
I also agree with this because they haven't encountered others on their journey. They feel secure with themselves because they are the only ones they are familiar with to each other. The boy reacts a certain way when they are at his father's childhood home. His father's blank/cold expressions were replaced while having a heartfelt sentimental moment which was unfamiliar to him, not knowing how he would react next. He could possibly fear of someone else going against him.
1/21/2018 11:37:18 pm
A good point that you bring up is the child, who seems to have been born into this world and know nothing outside of this reality. While it does seem that the father has basically taught him to fear all unknown people or situations, there are moments that have the boy concerned for the well being of other people. These come when he asks why they can't help an injured man they come across on the road, or why they couldn't help those people trapped in the cellar underground. I love these moments, as they show that fear of survival isn't the only present emotion in these characters, making them feel like actual people I can relate to. I also feel that McCarthy included this moment as a statement on human resilience, showing that even in the face of extreme adversity, empathetic feelings can still exist. It means even more that the boy shows this as he represents the future, proving that there are still things to hope for in such a desolate world. (Word Count: 177)
Ursula K. LeGuin
1/31/2018 07:05:45 am
I completely agree with your point about how despite the fact that the boy was born into this inhumane world, there are still moments when there are signs of humanity in his character. This brings light to the theory that when humans are put inside a dangerous situation and they have the choice to fall into either a humane or inhumane nature, they will always fall into their humane nature. This is shown in The Road when, like you brought up, the boy still has a yearning to help others despite the things he has seen and what his father has taught him.
1/22/2018 10:24:22 am
I chose to respond to this post because I found your ideas of human and nature very intriguing. Because the father and son are alone, and they’ve been in a circumstance to face fear, I understand why they fear the humans around them. But also, I think the idea of hiding and living in fear of all surroundings can be unhealthy for the child as he grows older. You also mention that when the stranger gets shot, the little boy shows no emotion. This is where the readers begin to see how dangerous living in nature can truly be. Humans are supposed to fear, and the idea that we are scared is for the most part healthy. When humans fear it shows that we are capable of feeling. However, the young boy fears everything besides his father, and when he has a blank face in the presence of someone being killed, it shows the human quality of emotion slowly taken from him.
1/23/2018 05:07:47 pm
I agree with your idea of the man losing trust in other people, I mean who wouldn't? The man and his son are living in a world where everyone's purpose is to be safe and manage to survive. When another man got shot in the forehead, the man (main character) showed no emotions, or concerns, which indicates that he isn't looking forwards to creating new relationships with other people who cross his path. However, what if he gives himself a chance to meet new allies, and they manage to increase their protection? But it seems like the man isn't looking forward to making any new arrangements in his long journey ahead of him and his son.
1/24/2018 12:49:22 am
I was shocked when you described the most horrifying feature of the novel to be the pair's mutual fear of fellow human beings- but not in a bad way. I was focusing more on the outside world as a horrifying place, but I am now able to open my eyes to the horror of losing trust in one's own species; this highlights the idea that in this dystopian world, it is truly every person for themselves. This also made me wonder what type of mental disorders all the characters introduced in the novel have become subject to since the fall of their world. Overall, your post allowed me to realize how horrifying a world without trust for human kind would be: living in constant fear of every footstep behind one's own.
1/20/2018 09:30:28 pm
McCarthy portrays this post apocalyptic world extremely well, focusing on his characters and their interaction with their landscape to show his creation properly. He uses incredible diction, especially when it comes to his adjectives. McCarthy use of words that greater impact the reader help further cement how dead the world around the man and his son is, building upon it in every page. He describes his apocalyptic landscape as desolate, grey, black. That almost as far as his characters could see, “...the shoals of ash and billows of ash rising up and blowing downcountry through the waste” are everywhere (McCarthy 14).
1/22/2018 09:01:47 pm
I like your statement about how McCarthy creates an interaction between the characters and their landscape to effectively portray characteristics of the post apocalyptic world. The physical features of the region the father and son are living in definitely used to convey that the post apocalyptic world is a desolate one, and as a result of this, the bond between father and son is likely one which will be essential to their survival throughout the duration of the book. I also agreed with your statement about darkness being one of the most horrifying thing in their world, because in my opinion, the dull grays of the landscape around the father and son seem to add more emphasis on the atmosphere of death around them.
1/23/2018 05:19:26 pm
I love your explanation on the adjective being used to describe the landscape the man and his son are living in. Just like you said, if i had the opportunity to live in the world they are living in right now, i wouldn't take it because colors ARE what make anything look beautiful. In a world where every corner you turn, all the colors you may see are black or gray isn't a world i would like to live in. I also wonder how long has this been going on for, has it been that long that people themselves are becoming the reflection of cannibalism?
1/20/2018 09:53:41 pm
The lack of abundance of life is a horrifying feature of the post-apocalyptic world the father and son are living in. Throughout this portion of the novel there are various cases where the setting is described as barren, and except for the encounters the father and son have with the “bad guys”, they are pretty much the only individuals making the journey to the coast. As a result of this, the father and son have almost been conditioned to fear the presence of other people, mainly based on the assumption that those other people would either be cannibals or individuals who they could simply not help.
1/20/2018 09:55:51 pm
“The city was mostly burned. No sign of life. Cars in the street caked with ash, everything covered with ash and dust. Fossil tracks in the dried sludge. A corpse in a doorway dried to leather. Grimacing at the day” (McCarthy 12).
1/20/2018 10:53:35 pm
I agree with the fact that they almost been conditioned to fear the presence of other people. It shows how actually scary the apocalypse is because you have to fear the people that you’ve been walking on earth with for so long but as soon as its taken away, it’s everybody for themselves. On the other hand, it shows how amazing the human brain is to be able to adapt to the terror and survival skills. It’s startling to see that only so little people actually survived in this case, that only some people are able to get by in an apocalypse.
1/22/2018 08:38:46 am
The lack of recovery is somewhat unsettling in the novel. We would expect that the world would improve somewhat beyond the terrible state it was in, but it seems like there will always be murderers traveling around their world, killing and then sometimes eating their victims. The state of the world is also terrifying. It is terrible to consider this world where a poor child must witness dead, decaying, and destroyed bodies. it may be good that he is still alive, but it also inspires fear because these dead bodies will definitely be scarring to the child.
1/20/2018 10:41:50 pm
McCarthy is able to make the post-apocalyptic world of The Road seem real and scary by using negative adjectives to create a suspenseful tone. “Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in the shadow on the rocks behind it. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark” (McCarthy 4). McCarthy describes what we assume to be a dark creature. Although he doesn’t blatantly say it, the way he describes the monster’s appearance and movement, he gave the readers enough information. “He thought the month was October but he wasn’t sure. He hadn’t kept a calendar for years” (McCarthy 4). The post-apocalyptic situation seems real because McCarthy included typical human mistakes and sense like forgetting the months if you haven’t seen the date in a while. “He could smell the smoke. He wet his finger and held it to the wind” (McCarthy 48). He involves the way to survive and how to get through life without technology. If there was an iphone or smoke detector it wouldn’t be as realistic. The most horrifying feature is the obvious fact that they have to be able to survive even with the creatures roaming around and they have to get through without technology.
1/21/2018 11:55:23 pm
I also like seeing the realistic reactions the characters have when present in various scenarios. These interactions (such as when the boy and the father meet someone injured by lightning) offer a chance for you to reflect whether you would have made the same choice or not, and aid in making these characters feel like real people. In that scenario I just mentioned, I understand why the father was reluctant to give a dying man his food, even though it seems cruel by today's standards. He had a responsibility to tend to the boy, which forced him to prioritize (it’s as simple as that). McCarthy’s “colorful” imagery also help set the mood and tone for the story, which makes imagining their world/reality even easier. Granted, mostly everything has a worn-out feel devoid of any color, but that just helps put more of an emphasis whenever something comes along that doesn’t fit that mold, something that our real brains are hardwired to do anyway. (Word Count 167).
1/20/2018 11:14:54 pm
“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before” (McCarthy 3).
1/22/2018 10:53:26 pm
I really like how you used an opening quote to comment upon. I agree with you in how he wanted to make the tone loving, so that us as readers could get the feel of their relationship. I believe McCarthy wanted us to see how this relationship is still strong despite being in such a violent environment, just like you stated. I think it's a very interesting way to introduce this characters to the story, and gives us more insight into who they are. I believe this moment is going to be crucial for what they might have to face later on, and I hope they they don’t give up on each other. They’re essential to the others life, both as motivation and as survival. Who knows what would happen to the other if one was lost.
1/21/2018 12:00:16 am
McCarthy makes the world of The Road hopeless by detracting meaning from it in various ways, some of which include putting dreams on the same pedestal as nightmares/ a trap. As described by the father, they “were so rich in color. How else would death call you? Waking in the cold dawn it all turned to ash instantly. Like certain ancient frescoes entombed for centuries suddenly exposed to the day” (McCarthy 21). Basically, he relates dreams to a trap, luring you into a false sense of security only to suddenly drop you back into the dead landscape, seemingly devoid of anything good. This contrasts with the pleasant escapism that dreams usually provide and characters end up enjoying, as that element makes his daily survival that much harder to endure. In such a hopeless world, moments like this make even the most toughened characters long for the sweet release of death. McCarthy also uses imagery to help paint this bleak reality, specifically in the case of describing the landscape. He says “They were days fording [...] breath in the darkness” (McCarthy 14). Here, the terrain is described in a way that is devoid of any color of hospitality for humans (or any life for that matter). Nature itself isn’t above this description, and is painted in an antagonistic way that makes it seem that it actively is out to get our beloved duo, another situation that seems to only bring more misery. Finally, he uses another scene that shows absurdity of human life and compassion in the conversation with the boy; “What is wrong [...] done for him” (McCarthy 50). The doomed man shows both of them the futility of nobleness in such an uncaring world, as he is fated to die without any help. Gone is the world that had various safety nets for us, as the universe continues on existing regardless of his death/ anybody caring. (Word Count: 318)
1/22/2018 09:37:39 pm
I chose to respond to your post because I thought your statement about McCarthy making the post apocalyptic world the father and son live in hopeless by taking away meaning was a pretty interesting way to look at it. I agree with your statement about how dreams can sometimes be sources of false reality, even more so for the characters already living in a hard world. This can often cause characters to want to be experience the”sweet release of death”, but i also believe that this tends to be the case because in these circumstances, the characters have created a fantasy dream to serve as an escape from the harsh reality they are living in.
Ursula K. LeGuin
1/21/2018 09:44:11 pm
Something that has drawn me to The Road so much is McCarthy's phenomenal talent of imagery and helping the reader truly feel like they are there with the two main characters walking along that desolate, barren road with them with only a shopping cart full of things to help them survive. One scene that I found to be very compelling and vivid was when the older man was up alone thinking to himself about his will to live. "They squatted in the road and cold rice and cold beans they'd cooked days ago. (...) That the boy was all that stood between him and death." (McCarthy 29) This moment made the audience truly feel for the older man and realize that he really has nothing, absolutely nothing to live for. This was not the only time that the older man said something to this extremity; also, very early in the book the pair took a short break to survey the land and check for any dangers. “He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.” (McCarthy 5) This quote, like the one mentioned earlier, shows the very dependent relationship that the younger and older boy share. In any other situation, it would be very unhealthy for two people to depend on each other so much, but in this situation it truly is essential for each other’s survival. Another time when McCarthy’s imagery immensely drew the reader in was when the younger boy began to feel excitement about seeing a dam for the first time. He was asking the older men questions about it and among them; “Do you think there could be fish in the lake? No. There’s nothing in the lake.” This was one of the few times that either of the two showed any form of positive emotion, and the older man was able to shut it down so simply without a second thought. In this moment, as a reader my heart lurched because I felt with the character. For the first time in a while he felt positive emotion, and before he even got to bask in it and feel it in its entirety, he was completely shut down.
Williams Germin ( I think )
1/21/2018 11:29:50 pm
“When it was light enough to use the binoculars he glasses the valley below. Everything paling away into the murk. The soft ash blowing in loose swirls over the blacktop. He studied what he could see. The segments of road down there among the dead trees. Looking for anything of color. Any movement. Any trace of standing smoke” (McCarthy 4).
1/22/2018 10:59:15 pm
I like the three quotes you chose, and I believe you explained how you felt very well. With the way you feel about being in a setting such as this, we can only imagine how the man and his son are coping on their own. It's a world none of us could fathom, and them living day to day in it is chilling. We live in a world surrounded by color, and this landscape described is nothing like the world we live in today. It shows how destroyed humanity must be for cities,places where life thrived, to be abandoned.
1/23/2018 05:45:31 pm
1/24/2018 12:55:16 am
Your comment on their world being a "depressed and destroyed place" made me feel real life sympathy for the father and his son. When you supported their state in this world as being ruled by the fact that they only had themselves I was struck by the way the author ensures details that prove even in a desolate world they are still tightly bonded in a natural father-son relationship. This is primarily supported when the father makes comments made out to be traditions between the two such as "carrying the fire" and their refusal to ignore one another when in need of conversation.
1/24/2018 01:11:25 am
“The city was… leather” (McCarthy 12).
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