Symbolism In Joseph Mccarthy's The Road

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Imagine living day to day with the sole purpose of surviving. In this hypothetical and harsh reality all humans have been reduced to husks of their former selves. Some roam the wilderness in cannibalistic gangs, while others will steal to survive scouring the ash ridden land for victims. This is the world of The Road. A cruel, vile, and barbaric alternate reality focused on post-apocalyptic America where a man and his boy are searching for a better place. On this journey they survive with the bond of paternal love and trust. Throughout the novel we realize the boy is more trusting than the man, as he is always trying to help people and give away precious food. This is carved into the boy’s personality, his ability to trust people regardless…show more content…
This becomes very apparent in an earlier part of the novel where the boy spots another little boy in an abandoned town: “I want to see him, Papa. There’s no one to see. Do you want to die? Is that what you want? I don’t care, the boy said, sobbing I don’t care.” (McCarthy 85). With this quote the meaning of “carrying the fire” becomes muddled, the boy is naive, he’s naturally sympathetic and his first thought is to help the boy. The father is cautious and only concerned with the immediate safety of his son. However, even with this schism, the way the man and the boy interact with other people on the road is completely dependent on trust. The boy must have faith in the man or else they could both end up dead. Even after this conflict, we still get a sense of what carrying the fire really means: having faith and trust even in the most dire…show more content…
Several times they suffered from starvation and stared death right in the face. The man, however, never wavered. The man is guided by his resolution to keep “carrying the fire” and protect his son. The boy on the other hand, frequently feels like giving up or surrendering to death. At the end of the novel, close to the the man’s death, the man decides to hand over the torch so that the boy can carry the fire. “You have to carry the fire. I don’t know how to. Is it real? The fire? Yes it is. It’s inside of you. It was always there. I can see it.” (McCarthy 279). The true meaning of trust and carrying the fire has been revealed with these words. The boy, who always tried to help people, is the one who must preserve basic human decency and keep hope alive in a world where none exists. Every moment between the boy and man, every interaction with “bad guys” on the road led to this moment. The trust that the two characters built up of the course of the novel, allows the boy to carry the fire and hopefully salvage the long lost civilized natures of a pre-apocalypse
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