AP Literature: The Road discussion

Symbolism: Fire

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message 1: by Tatiana (last edited Apr 11, 2013 03:15PM) (new)

Tatiana Jaramillo | 8 comments Throughout history there has always been the dilemma about the meaning of fire. In the Greek mythology fire is been looked as knowledge and power. In funerals and in church fire is a symbol of hope, people light candles so the dead can reach heaven. On the contrary hell is described as a world full of fire and brimstone. Also in the past women who were accused of being witches were burnt alive. Love is said to be an eternal flame, sometimes love can be amazing but at the same time it can hurt. Fire can also represent strong feelings such as love, hate and desire. At wars fire is seen as destruction and chaos. Fire has been characterized the wrong way, there is no good or bad, it just depends on the use the people give it. In the novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy fire is also seen both ways, at the beginning fire is seen as the destruction of the world because there are ashes everywhere, “The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief.” But as the novel develops it is seen that the meaning of fire is far more complex, in the novel fire also represents survival, hope, “And nothing bad is going to happen to us. That's right. Because we're carrying the fire. Yes. Because we're carrying the fire.” It represents hope, humanity, the will to survive, love, compassion, kindness, everything that was lost in the apocalypse and it is symbolized by the fire they are carrying. For generations humans have had trouble defining what was the true meaning of fire. People always divided it into good vs. bad, they had never looked at the real meaning of fire. The meaning of fire is defined when a person chooses what use they want to give to it.

Santiago Restrepo | 2 comments I think the fire in the book means the slowly deterioration of the world and how the forests burn little by little. Each time a fire starts I think in the implications of how there's less plants to sustain life. This is the symbol of the book because if there's no plants, then there's no life, this is shown throughout time in the book because life seems to be ending but there are still possibilites to survive some time. Fire is the symbol of ending but also of a new beginning, eventhough, there doesn't seem to be indications that a new life will begin, just that all life on Earth is ending.

message 3: by Luis (new)

Luis | 5 comments Fire in the book symbolizes three things, home, hope and destruction. As the book progresses the dead landscape we read in front of our eyes becomes more evident and depressing but at the moment the father makes the fire, the tone of the story changes and this becomes evident in how both the father and son start talking to each other, which is something we don't see much in the story thus far. They feel at that instant in a place they can call home, a place away from the gray valley that sorrounds them. Secondly, hope is a theme that is constantly present in the book since they have the hope of finding something better down south and that's the main objective of the book. Furthermore, the fire helps them re-kindle that hope they lose when they're unable to find supplies or shelter. Finally, fire symbolizes an enemy that they cannot escape because the land is dead dry causing many fires that will eventually grab them by surprise.

Luis Alejandro Ospina

CristinaArrubla | 8 comments I definitely feel the same with what you say about what fire means. In a way, it can be looked upon as a symbol and force of destruction because it leaves everything in ashes. The world the man and boy live in is essentially surrounded entirely by the ashes of burnt things; burnt trees, houses and even bodies. Nonetheless, I do feel that the fire is something good. After the world pretty much crumbled, fire has kept the man and boy warm every night and it has given them hope. I say this because the boy and kid always talk about “carrying the fire”. I believe that the fire also symbolizes the hope of a better world and also the goodness left in humanity. This is why the boy always wants to make sure that they are still carrying the fire, because if they are, it means they are still the good guys. Society has collapsed and people have turned to horrible and bad things in order to survive. The boy wants to make sure that they are not doing anything wrong, that they will remain good and that they will continue carrying the fire. This can clearly be seen when the father tells the boy just before he dies that the fire is within him. He means that hope and goodness leaves within the boy and that he must keep carrying it. Also, the boy asks the man he meets after his father died,
“How do I know you're one of the good guys?
You dont. You'll have to take a shot.

Are you carrying the fire?

Am I what?
Carrying the fire.”
This quote clearly shows how the boy wants to make sure other people are also good. He determines that the man is trustworthy and good because he is also carrying the fire. Furthermore, it is also evident that throughout the book the man also wants to make sure his son keeps believing in hope and goodness. I feel that when the boy got sick and the man “rekindled the fire and he got a cloth and wet it and put it over the boy's forehead” he wanted to keep both the boy and the fire withing him alive. McCarthy represents the fire within them with the actual physical fire. The physical fire serves to emphasize the importance of this theme in the novel.

message 5: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Jaramillo | 8 comments In the book everytime they say something bad about fire, then they mention something good about it. I believe that by doing this the author wants to express that eventhough in the book fire is like the main cause of all the suffering in the book, one of the mayor causes of the apocalypse it's not that bad. "The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of the seats." "You have to carry the fire.
I dont know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I dont know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it."
This shows that fire is that aspect all the "good guys" carry inside them. That sparrk people have inside them. That good inside people. The book ends the boy trusting a man because he told him he was carrying the fire. "That's okay.
So are you?
What, carrying the fire?
Yeah. We are." This shows that fire is seen as something good as something worth trusting, something worth fighting for to keep it going.

message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Palacio | 7 comments Fire is essential in the novel The Road. It is what provides the child tranquility and hope during their lonesome days. Since fire is a tough resource to get, the dad manages to create it every once in a while by leaving the boy alone while he walks into the Woods. "They slept through the night in their exhaustion and in the morning the fire was dead and black on the ground." On the other hand, fire is the cause of the apocalypse. Meaning that fire isn´t as good as the boy sees it. This happens because the boy is too innocent to realize and analyze how powerful nature is.

message 7: by Juan (new)

Juan Yepes | 3 comments I think that in the symbol of the fire there is a juxtaposition within itself. The fire is the meaning of two things that can oppose themselves but they also relate to creat a balance. Like Santiago Restrepo said, the fire symbolizes in a part of the book destruction and the deterioration of the planet itself. But at the same time we find out that it also represents the struggle for survival and for maintaining the humanity. The man and the boy believe that the they hold the fire of humanity. They think that by opposing cannibalism and the animal instinct they are preserving the human features. This is why I believe that fire also represents society and the union of humankind. To conclude and simplify the idea, in the book fire is the balance between the destruction and the hope of preserving humanity.

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