Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – Literary Analysis [Part 1]

The Road Literary Analysis Essay by Cormac McCarthy

Death and Rebirth: God, Can You Hear Me?

In the novel The Road, Cormac McCarthy depicts a noir journey of a father and his son and their survival in a society descended into barbaric chaos. By examining their expedition with religious motifs and allusions, McCarthy unveils the cyclical nature of humanity and the ambiguities of God; he thus suggests a cycle of destruction that paves way for regeneration and perhaps delineates the empowerment of humanity through connection, with or without God.

Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed novel The Road

McCarthy uses religious allusions to explore the meditation on the human condition’s cyclic death and rebirth. Walking behind the boy, the man, “sunken haggard,” senses “some new distance between them”(McCarthy 191). With the young boy in front and the “sunken haggard” man behind, McCarthy creates “new distance” between the two to portray both their physical and emblematic divergences. From their dichotomous features, youthfulness against “haggard[ness],”to their positions, front against back, the boy’s forward altruism and the man’s suspicions draw diverging religious parallels to the New and Old Testament, compassion and “sunken” degradation, respectively. Because the Old Testament brings forth the New Testament, these religious resonances suggest that the “new distance” is an emblematic continuum from the man to the boy, rather than a polarized disconnection. Likewise, McCarthy portrays a cyclical nature between the father and son; the man’s foreshadowed death brings forth the boy’s emblematic Jesus-like rebirth to connect with other ‘good guys’ and ultimately continue to carry the fire of future civilization.

[Read Part 2: Character Analysis and significance of Ely in the boy and his father’s journey,  religious God symbolism, and symbolic plot conclusion –>]

The father and son duo: the “good guys” vs the “bad guys” in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

[For The Road Symbolism, read our symbolism essay on The Road here –> ]

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