Trisha Mae Kho
29 April 2019
Morality and Survival in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
Imagine a devastating and dreary world that deteriorated with scarce supplies of food and shelter and there are only a few survivors left including yourself and one of your family members. In hopes of survival, what measures would you take? Would you go to the extreme by cannibalism or committing suicide? On the other hand, would you choose to be on an ethical route by grasping on life delicately? In the midst of the unflinching and empty world with virtually no hope in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a boy and his father live in a world where the true nature of human beings are revealed and the human identity becomes questioned after an apocalyptic scenario. In this new but wicked world where inhumanity becomes dominant, the boy and his father struggle to maintain the last of traditional humanity and morals. They do this by keeping the traditional identity of parent and child relationship, realizing the world is inhumane in order to know wrong from right, and ensuring the continuation of proper morals and humanity in a world that no longer embraces them.
To begin with, much of the novel focuses on the companionship of the father and his son. Companionship plays an important role as this bond gives them the love they need in order to keep in touch with their humanity. The boy and the father have a co-dependent relationship. The boy depends on the father for survival, while the father lives to ensure the survival of his boy. Without companionship, neither of them would have made it as far as they did. When the boy asks, “What would you do if I died?” The father responds with, “If you die I would want to die too.” (McCarthy 9). It is clear that the father’s love for his child is what causes him to do everything he can to ensure the boy’s survival. While there are moments where the son appears distant to the father, the love that they have for each other remains unbreakable. Earlier within the novel, the father strips the blanket from a corpse to ensure that they will be warm. However, when the father dies, the boy does not want to just leave him. “Can we cover him with one of the blankets?” (McCarthy 240). He asks a man. The boy leaves him wrapped in a warm blanket, regardless of the desperate situation he is in. “I’ll talk to you every day,” he whispers. “And I won’t forget. No matter what.” (McCarthy 240). Overall, it shows that even in such a terror, not all is lost. Even a minor concept like the relationship between a father and son shows not all hope is lost in preserving culture. It represents love, caring, and support which are values that seemed to be lost in a world of complete corruption.
In the novel, the people they meet have mostly become scavengers and cannibals; humanity has degenerated into bestiality, and existence. However, the father and the son choose to be the “good guys” by staying alive and refusing to eat human flesh...