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Roles Switched

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

As we know "The Road" is about the survival of a man and his son during the post-apocolyptic years of America. Both have to endure the agony of seeing death, destruction, and hardship while they go on their long walk to the American coast. However, the man and the child play different roles with their own behaviors on their long journey.

Throughout the majority of the book, the father is determined to not give up hope in reaching the coast. More importantly he especially does not want to give up on his son, despite all of the enduring pain they have to see. He encourages his son to press on and to not give up. The boy, on the other hand, is scared and does not believe that he will live long, despite the love and protection he receives from his father. He wants to accept death. Although as the story progresses, something interesting happens, the roles of the father and the son begin to switch.

The father is sick and as he and his son continue on their journey, he becomes more and more sick. He is beginning to give up and doubting if he can take care of his son any longer. His dreams become more and more grotesque and horror filled that he can't stop thinking about the fact that death would make things a lot better. However, he is not so much scared of death as he is more afraid of what would happen to his son if he is left alone.

As the father is becoming more and more sick, the son is slowly becoming the one to keep him and his father going. He wants to help his father more and more than his father wants him too. The son doesn't want to give up on his father as he becomes more and more sick. The son is becoming used to the fact that death is near. The son is next person who will "carry the fire."


message 2: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 6 comments This is a good observation and now that you pointed this out I see it more prominently within the novel. Only, would you say these roles were switched due to the post-apocalyptic circumstances or the son's subconscious realization that he needs to "take over" because his father is now the weaker one?

As I read, I noticed that even though this novel is based on a post-apocalyptic world full of despair, Cormac McCarthy offers bits of hope. One example is that there is hope of reaching the ocean and the hope that there is more honorable civilization there. However, in this novel, I feel hope is represented mainly through the innocence of the son. He insists on finding the good in people and makes sure that he and his father do the "right thing." Due to the fact that the son represents good Samaritan humanity in a time of destruction, he is referred to as the "one," somewhat of a God like manifestation. By showing the son's Godly features such as, basic human values, sympathy, and compassion to other humans;the reader is instilled with the idea that there is hope for human nature to still exist within the survivors.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I would agree that the roles of the father and the son were switched because the son realized that he would have to, as you said, take over the position of being the stronger individual. The son knew that he would eventually have to accept the realization that he will die, but not before surviving a few more years and learning from everything his father taught him to survive.

While I do agree that the son is a symbol of hope and the ocean could be a place where the two humans can find solitude and tranquility, it is not enough to avoid the devastation that surrounds them. They reach the ocean, and what then? They will still have to avoid being killed by other people who want to desperately survive. In addition they can't escape the burning ruins of the world and the fear that at any second they could die.


message 4: by Sonia (new)

Sonia | 5 comments I agree with the fact that the roles of the father and son were switched. The father and son throughout the novel are constantly talking and the father is teaching the son how to "live." The father and son hardly ever argue as common dialogue between them includes just the word "okay."This shows that the son has been learning and accepting everything he knows from his father.

In this novel it seems as though even though the son is portrayed as a symbol of youth and innocence, the inevitability of death crushes all hope and spirit. It makes me wonder whether they would just be better off dead? At least they could avoid all the suffering that they are going through now.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Personally I wouldn't want to go through all of that suffering. The only thing that the father and son have left is each other. Other than that, there is no reason to keep on trying to survive. I think it would be rather difficult to survive without friends or family.


message 6: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 6 comments I also would not want to go through all the suffering, however I would feel that because I am one of a select few of survivors I would try to stay alive for as long as I can. In the son and father's case I agree that their will to live is each other, and if one dies the drive and strength for the other to live is simply gone. The fear that is around them is masked by their love for each other. So they do fear every step they take, but then again they also know they are there to protect each other in times of need.


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