The Road by Cormac McCarthy discussion

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The Last Paragraph

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Just as the first sentences need to set up the novel, the last sentences need to take it down. In the last paragraph, we are shown imagery of perhaps godly trout with "maps of the world in its becoming". I spent a long time trying to decipher what the significance of each sentence is, but I'm not so sure there is a specific translation. It just conveys a feeling hope and of "mystery". To me, the paragraph felt like the simultaneous death and rebirth of the world.


message 2: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Smith | 17 comments Mod
I think I read this paragraph at least five times before finally putting the book down. I think I defiantly prefer this image over the one we start the book with, but I still don't understand it. I like your interpretation though Westra, "simultaneous death and rebirth of the world."

The idea of fish moving with the flow of the river, I think, gives the reader this image of something really unstoppable. The river is going to continue to flow and the fish are going to be forced with it. In the same way, life has taken it's toll on the man and boy will have to continue in what ever way life chooses to "flow."

I have to wonder though, why did McCarthy use an image of something that no longer exists?


message 3: by John (new)

John (johnmatthewfox) Cormac's not really known for ending his stories on happy notes, but of all his novels, The Road actually ends more optimistically than most. The main optimistic note is that the son's adopted by the "good guys." Considering all the cannibalism and violence and "bad guys" in the preceding pages, it's a veritable miracle that it ends so happily. After all the darkness of the preceding pages, even a modicum of happiness/hope stands out like a Kleig light in a cave. It's also nice to see that the man has a wife, and a son and daughter, which I think represents the continuation of mankind.

But I only mention all that to actually give context for that last paragraph. I think it's difficult to understand that last paragraph without mentioning the other hopeful notes at the ending. It seems that paragraph fits into and complements those other hopeful notes. The boy being rescued is a hopeful note on the emotional/personal level, and the trout in the stream is a hopeful note on an environmental level. Not only has this trout existed before, perhaps it has the possibility of existing again?

Of course, by explaining it too much the paragraph actually loses its power. The mystery mentioned in that last paragraph is not only a description, I think it's also a proscription: We should respect and observe the mystery of the world. Part of the way we respect that mystery is not destroying it with an apocalypse. Another way of respecting it might be not to break it down into its constituent parts, as science does, and try to kill all the mystery.


message 4: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Smith | 17 comments Mod
I don't really have a response just that I really like that. But it's kind of ironic because all we're doing is breaking it down and trying to decipher it.


message 5: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Hellmich | 8 comments I really enjoy the ending of books/movies when things dont always work out perfectly, so basically I am saying that I enjoy Cormac's stories. Again I am going to refer to No Country for Old Men but that story also ends with the bad guy getting away, which is not really a fairytale ending. Like Prof Fox said, although there is a glimpse of light at the end of the novel, its still not how most would have wanted it to end.

Also why does Cormac always end his books with a mystery or cliff hanger?

*by always I am referring to the 2 that I have read


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