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The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1464

Book Review

The Road depicts the uninhabited lives of cannibalism that exists after the world is left behind after destruction from burnt out cinder. Fungus and surviving dogs are amongst the man eating beasts that roam the Earth. There is a man and his son that remain alive on the Earth and try to flee from the “Appalachian winter to the South along the back roads but along the way they are privy to dead corpses and horrors of a survivalists apathy.” (The Road). The father of the boy insists upon survival at all costs of moral aspects and civil liberties. They ransack homes and abandoned flocks in order to find food and shelter in order to survive.

The father knew he and his son were not in a safe place for they were positioned near the road and they would not survive another winter in the Appalachians. “He watched as his young and innocent boy slept and he attempted to make a decision whether they would leave for the South.” (McCarthy 2006). They passed through the city the next day and it was filled with burnt ash. The cars were ashed and there were dead corpses ashed away. “The father told the child that remember the things you put in your head are there forever.” (McCarthy 2006).

The book depicts the struggle of the father and the son to make definitive choices along the way which are quite controversial to the father’s belief or value system. The son is put in a position to learn survival skills at a very young age and is further exposed to the malice and degradation of cannibalism. The boy and his father lived off the facets of the land. They went back in time whilst the man was a young lad himself carrying them to the home where the man grew up. The young boy was very scared of the depleted living conditions that his father lived and he hung tight to his fathers every move during their journey.

This book teaches survival at its lowest fashion but is not the best means of teaching a young lad as such because of the idea the young lad is very dependent on his father and he appears to not master much independence along the journey. The father was constantly reassuring the boy of his safety. On the other hand the journey was quite difficult and the boy was of a young age. It would have seemed as the story progressed the young boy would have become more independent though.

Of particular dissenting value is the idea the young child was exposed to so much death. There were people lying in the streets with colourful clothing and bloodshed and the young lad was so naive he would ask his father, “What’s that Dad?” The novel is very dark and bleak and full of drama. The book is geared towards the dark minded reader who has a few hours to simply kick back by a nice fire with a chilling drink and let your mind wander to the darkest side of nature and empathy.

The Handmaid’s Tale is similar in controversy as The Road. “O’ffred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. Because of dangerously low reproduction rates, Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving.” (The Handmaid’s Tale). The similarity that this book bears to The Road is a lower order desiring to take over the Earth. A tragedy has happened and at the weakest point is when the opposition moves in to try to overcome the Earth. O’ffred’s freedom is restricted just as the free will of the boy and his father is restricted in The Road. She is forced to have sex with the commander against her will every month. The father and son are forced to travel the perilous journey and hide out against the beastly people who want to hurt them. They cannot live and travel freely. O’ffred frequently presents flashbacks of her life just as the father does in The Road to explain the novel in detail and bring the pictures to life. The book depicts a rise to power through “tyranny, oppression and violence” as in The Road. (The Handmaid’s Tale). The assassination of the President is comparable to the incineration of the town and the take over by the cannibals. “During one of their shopping trips, Ofglen reveals to O’ffred that she is a member of “Mayday,” an underground organization dedicated to overthrowing Gilead.” (The Handmaid’s Tale). This is comparable to the establishment of how the town was vacant and was taken over by the nomads and the cannibals took precedence and had their way with the remainders of the people still alive to survive. Cannibalism is a choice and not seen as a means of survival in today’s society for it is not socially acceptable. There is constant array of hiding situations such as display of dishonour with the suggestion of passing the child off as the Commanders. This is similar to the struggle in The Road for mere survival. Serena sees this opportunity for a better way of life and does not view this as a form of deceit. The father and son go through perilous journeys to survive in The Road by finding uninhabited homes to live in temporarily and feasting off the fats of the land. The boy is uncomfortable with living temporarily at homes but the father assures him this is only temporarily and they will move on soon. The winter is very cold and they must seek shelter at many undesirable places that they do not own or they will perish.

It can be argued that in times of desperation one must make choices that are non-conducive to his value system. When faced with situations that could mean death or survival a human being will often negate to the most desperate choices in life as seen in both of the books. What is considered survival for some may simply be a choice of poor reasoning for others though. The situation in The Road is clearly survival of the fittest. Without making choices against previously felt standards the boy and father would not have survived the treacherous Appalachian winter especially with the odds in their way. The Handmaid’s Tale however appears to be a socially selected choice of a value system based on choices of standards of life. This is not survival of the fittest rather survival by choice of standard and in today’s society would be considered morally and ethically inappropriate.

It can be reasonable argued that Seneca is promoting a way of life that will eventually lead to criminal activity and remorse. The set of standards she has chosen is manipulative and cunning and will be uncovered. The Road exhibits pure determination and exhibition of natural skills possessed by the father to take care of his child and survive despite the dankest of situations. He should be praised for his survival skills and fatherly love. These stories are alike in some ways with the drama and turmoil but The Handmaid’s Tale truly lacks a vision of chivalry and honesty which is considered a lesson to be learned. Most readers consider it important to read a novel with some positive application to life. This book shows the evilness and manipulation that greed and power can bring to a person’s life.

The love the boy and father possess for each other in The Road grows deeper as the story goes on and their devotion to each other is sounder as the novel progresses. It is through trials and tribulations that this relationship develops. As the cannibals grow closer to the man and boy the man teaches the boy how to use the gun if something shall happen to him. It is at this point in the novel that the boy emerges from a very dependent person to an independent young lad. As the man promised the boy he would never leave him, he dies and the boy is forced to find his own way. But the greatness of the story is by this time the young lad has become a young man by maturity because he has learned so much from his father. He has truly grown from a naive young lad into an experienced young lad capable of fending off the evils of the wilderness and taking care of himself. This book teaches a very precious lesson of love, companionship, fatherly and son bonding and maturing. Further independence is taught through a most valuable principle of living and dying.

Works Cited

The Road (2006) Retrieved December 17, 2009 from, http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/works/theroad.htm

McCarthy, Cormack (2006) The Road Retrieved December 17, 2009 from, http://books.google.com/books?id=JHpEzx0BpHMC&dq=The+Road+by+Cormac+McCarthy&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=SNyzeBFw2W&sig=DiTO5Z8Pf_z2wbZ-7FBbVeD-6QM&hl=en&ei=SssqS4TdB8yTnQexhO33CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDcQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The Handmaid’s Tale (2009) Retrieved December 17, 2009 from, http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/handmaid/summary.html

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