Charity's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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This book worked for me overall. While there are allusions to the disaster, I like that the focus is on the after rather than what got the characters there. Same with individuals' backgrounds in the before; we get glimpses, but there's no, "John was a carpenter living in Toledo before the world ended..."

The lack of quotation marks and the dearth of apostrophes (at least in the Kindle edition) reminded me a little of how I wrote fiction when I was eighteen, but I suppose this is a pretty dark and angsty book, so perhaps it makes sense. I also found troubling (but not surprising) the way that women are completely sidelined in this novel. In this new world, the women are all trembling victims who are most often pregnant. Shouldn't some of the women in this new order have firearms training or at least as much skill, cunning, and mental fortitude to protect their offspring as the father in the story does? I wonder how the novel would be different if the father were a mother.

Here's something that I thought about while reading this book: When there's some mass shooting, people generally have no trouble labeling the shooter as "evil" thereby implying that those of us who don't shoot people are "good." Presumably there are more "good" people in this worldview than "evil," but all of these post-apocalypse novels involve chaos and looting and wanton violence, which seems to suggest that our basic nature is "evil" and is just waiting to be set loose by some disaster. Maybe we as a species have trouble deciding which we are, inherently good or inherently evil. (Personally, I believe we're neither because I don't believe in good or evil when applied as immutable characteristics of individuals. I'm not even keen on referring to actions or events as good or evil because that seems too dichotomous for me, but I can stomach it.)

In this light, I appreciate the ambiguity in this novel about good guys and bad guys and how to tell them apart. Given the experiences of the main characters compared to their thoughts, maybe the ratio of good guys to bad was skewed by the father's outlook. This suggests there's some hope in the younger generations and their lack of memory about the old, us-vs-them way of looking at the world. That view of the world helped get their progenitors as far as it did, but as it also got them in the situation in the first place, perhaps it's not the right one going forward.

Or at least, that's how I read it.
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Reading Progress

December 31, 2009 – Shelved
September 30, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read-added-2009
September 30, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 12, 2018 – Started Reading
September 13, 2018 – Finished Reading

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