Motifs In Cormac Mccarthy's The Road

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Award-winning author Cormac McCarthy’s The Road follows a father and son through a post-apocalyptic world. During their journey, the son seeks the understanding of the world they now reside in, and the father seeks the survival of his son. Though it seems all hope is lost, McCarthy hints at otherwise. Throughout the course of the novel, McCarthy expounds and alludes to God and scripture bountifully. This repetition of spirituality is a motif. McCarthy’s use of motif drowns the reader in the hopeless nature of the setting, but through that despair, distraught and disdain clear messages of love, faith, a child’s battle with morality and most importantly hope surface. In Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, spirituality is used as a motif to bestow hope…show more content…
In his eyes, his son is the only good left in the world, he is the only innocent being left on Earth, to walk a sinful world guided by a loving father. During the final pages of the book the father dies and the boy is met by a man and woman. The book states that the woman would talk to him about God but the boy instead would talk to his father, the woman replies saying, “the breath of God was his breath yet though it pass from man to man through all time” (McCarthy 286). The boy knows his father is still with him, and upon his death, he can reunite with his father. The woman highlights this in her commentary about the breath of God passing from man to man. The breath of God is the breath of life, Genesis 2:7 of the King James Version of the Bible states, “And the lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (New King James Bible, Gen. 2.7). The woman's conversation with the boy about God informs the boy that he now held in him the breath of God. The breath of God is the breath of life meaning the boy has been given life everlasting because of his faith. Knowledge of a life through spiritual immortality turns the despairing book into a hopeful book. Hope is also demonstrated in the novel in the father and sons dialogue about the fire. The father tells the boy, “you have to carry the fire” (McCarthy 278). The fire is a spiritual motif in the novel due to the allusion to the Biblical pillar of fire. In Exodus, the Bible mentions that God went forth, “In a pillar of fire by night” (Exod. 13.21). The Biblical fire was used to guide the Israelites from Egyptian bondage into a promised land. The fire in The Road is the father and sons compass to freedom from the wretched world they live in and deliverance into a promised land. The promised land is spiritual immortality, and the fire symbolizes good and faith.
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