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Do I need to buy a gun?

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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 12, 2007 6:39:52 AM PDT
When the crunch comes, no matter whether it's the bomb, the meteor, or a nuclear power plant mistake, I guess the message of this book is that you had better have some firepower with you or the bad people will eat you and your child. I have not held a gun since those Vietnam days but I am thinking about purchasing one now. Is cormac a NRA member?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2007 11:55:47 AM PDT
Mrs. Garside says:
I think you may be reading to much of a 'message' into this book. Remember, the father's gun only has one round left-hardly sufficient for real protection. (If this book has a message, darned if I know what it is. Not every great book has a message).

I guess if buying a gun makes you feel safer (particularly in these times), then I say go for it. But I don't think that 'The Road' is any endorsement of that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2007 6:24:48 AM PDT
Margaret.... he killed a man with that gun, who was eyeing up his son and, along with his buddies in the truck would have had them both with some Fauva beans. Didn't father also make some more bullets from ammnition he found in the bomb shelter? Without the gun, the book would have very short.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2007 12:45:39 PM PDT
Mrs. Garside says:
Uh, weren't those other bullets 'dummy' bullets, to make it look like he had more ammo? And how much good would his gun have been if the guy's pals came after them? (I think you mean Fava beans'. No Chianti?)

My point was, you seem to think that McCarthy is saying 'buy a gun'. I don't think that he is.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2007 10:30:46 PM PDT
But the bad guys didn't come after them becasue pop killed the one who would have infomed on them with the gun. Well...okay...maybe McCarthy didn't mean for us all to run out and buy a gun...but when the crunch comes and you, Margaret, were the one in charge of protecting me, I would feel better if you were packing some heat as well as some canned pears.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2007 11:54:43 PM PDT
Kid Slow says:
If your reaction to this story is to buy a gun, I think you should pay some attention to that impulse. At the very least, go out and learn about guns, the perils of ownership, and how to handle a gun. Learn how to be comfortable shooting. I bought a gun last year, just to know that I have one should I ever need it ... hopefully not.

However, I would say that McCarthy made it pretty clear that no amount of preparation will be enough. What else can you read into that bunker?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2007 12:57:08 PM PDT
Mrs. Garside says:
Thank you, Kid. That's really my point. It's not possible to prepare for The End Of The World. If buying a gun makes you feel better, than buy one. But understand, that's all it's going to do. It won't ensure long-term survival.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 2:16:54 PM PDT
But......we don't know if this was The End of the World do we? The idea is to survive as long as you possibly can because conditions may improve and human civilization goes on, in some form. And if you can't survive do whatever you can to enable your son to survive and take up the mission. I don't know why but at the end of this book I felt that human race would continue.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2007 11:58:16 PM PDT

"I don't know why but at the end of this book I felt that human race would continue."

Well, I don't know why, but at the end of the book I felt that there was a terrible (and brilliantly written and constructed) ambiguity over that question. Several passages had pointed out how wildlife had gone from the earth. If they go, we go. What makes you so sure that the people at the very end are "good people"? I'm very _unsure_ that they are good at all. Hadn't they been following the father and son waiting for dad to die?

Think of a novel constructed from the point of view of the people in the house: just doing what they had to do to survive. Think of a novel constructed from the point of view of the people threatening the father and son that you reference: they're just doing what they have to do to survive, as terrible as that might be.

So, to answer your initial gun-owning question, if you think that a scenario like that depicted in the book is possible, what constructive things could you do to prevent it? I would suggest that there's a certain voting strategy you could adopt that would make the events in the book _less_ likely, and another voting strategy that would make such a horror _more_ likely.

Really, buying a gun just says "I think the depiction of some kind of horror future is not only likely but _inevitable_ and I'm not willing to do anything about it but make some kind of token purchase that will give me the illusion of being safer."

You've read the book, JJ, so I really don't think you're that kind of guy/gal.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2007 5:18:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2007 5:18:57 AM PDT
Answering the original question:
(this book is NOT about gun ownership, the NRA, the Second Amendment, etc.)
The lesson of Katrina is: the Government cannot and will not take care of you and yours when the major catastrophe hits. It will be up to you, whether it is for three days, three weeks, or all the way through The End. You can run, you can hide, or you can stand. And if you choose to stand, you'd better be ready. Those in Nawleans who had firepower, ammunition, and the will and skill to use it were not victimized by those taking advantage of the anarchy to prey upon others. If you want to be prepared, whether you're caught in a crack addict robbery at the 7-11 or suddenly having to defend your family after the Big One earthquake comes shattering up from below, then a weapon is a smart, highly prudent choice.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2007 6:45:05 AM PDT
Everyone who said the point of the book is NOT about gun ownership are right, I think. After all, the man only had two bullets and he wasn't going to use those to stave off cannibals. If everyone who thought something bad (whatever that bad thing might be) might happen in the future went out and bought a gun, crime would be so much higher than it is now and it's already far too high. Guns DO kill. People without a gun are far less deadly than those who are armed.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 8:44:50 AM PDT
S. ONEIL says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 1:45:25 PM PDT
Mrs. Garside says:
Okay, genius. Since the rest of us are so stupid/dense/limited, why don't you tell us what the 'messages' are?

Personally, I don't think that McCarthy wrote this book because he had a 'message' he wanted to get across. I think his storytelling is much more more subtle than that.
There's a lot of texture in this book, and a lot of lessons to be drawn from it, but that's not the same thing as 'getting the author's message'.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 1:46:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2007 1:47:08 PM PDT
S. ONEIL: Was this insulting post really necessary? Maybe you could be a little more instructive and constructive, instead of pretentious and rude.

The message of this book is actually pretty simple - hope. Whether or not you choose to believe in hope or discount it, it is still the (albeit overly-simplistic) point. The father has hope, but he's not really sure what in, or at least whether he should or not. The boy has hope, and he is, in his naivety, sure of what he hopes for, at least most of the time. Others in the book have given up hope, and they regressed to a primitive, feudal-like state of might makes right and cannibalism.

The end of the "novel" is much like the small statue of a Buddhist monk with his face in his hands. Some feel he is laughing, some that he is crying, and some that he is praying - but it all depends on the viewer's, and in the case of the "novel" the reader's, point of view.

Understand that I did not feel the "novel" deserves the praise nor the Pulitzer that it has been burdened with, and feel I may have found it a better read without all the hoopla telling me how important a work it is. But the idea of hope is a universal one, and as a surreal or abstract examination of that idea, it partially holds up. I really don't feel in any way that McCarthy is advocating firearms as a conduit to that hope, but more of a tool that can be added to warm blankets, water, food, and other items that may as a whole prop up your hope; in other words, whatever you feel is necessary. If taken too literally, the book could just as easily be advocating shopping cart ownership and canned peaches as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 2:10:26 PM PDT
Mrs. Garside says:
Thank you, Corby. I think this is McCarthy's point-people will keep going as long as they have the strength to so do, because just maybe, things will improve. What's more, McCarthy didn't need to hit readers over the head with it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 6:21:01 PM PDT
M. Bernstein says:
I've read a lot of McCarthy. He has guns in all of them. I never got the impression he was advocating gun ownership. The assumption that McCarthy's reason for writing this any of his books shows that people take out of the story what ever they think is important to their life.

I thought the best place for the father and sun was that A-bomb shelter. Don't think, however he was advocating bomb shelters.

The two of them fed off and gave each other hope. A gun pushed their survival only a little. The other component of their survival was luck. Think. If, instead of that 1 man 4 or 5 came after them - what good would the gun do?

Remember also, the man was just about killed by an arrow. And that luckless man who stole their shopping cart could have also undone them.

Forget the gun - get lucky.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2007 10:34:01 PM PST
The reason he had only two bullets left was because it had been TEN years since the catastrophe and, presumably, most of the ammo had gotten used up by then.

The fact that he had a gun and bullets, whereas there were entire armies armed only with pipes, speaks volumes about his resourcefulness. Also, remember why he had saved two bullets? So he could put it through his son's head and his own, if it came down to it. That's why in times of trouble he gave the gun to his son rather than take it with him, so his son could use it on himself, just as he had trained him to do.

I assume it was a nuclear war, since the major cities were affected but the rural areas were left physically intact. I was under the impression that in The Road survival was pretty unlikely. The Southern Hemisphere would fare better than the Northern one, since there are less targets there, but the fact that the Atlantic Ocean smelled like iodine was not a good sign.

They did a score of civil-defense studies about evacuations and things back in the Cold War days, and do you know what everyone grabs? That's right, a gun. Everybody. Hippies, housewives, lawyers, doctors, and mechanics alike go for the firepower. McCarthy isn't the sentimetal, Davey Crockett lone-man-with-a-rifle afficianado that say Robert Heinlein is, but I would be willing to believe that he owns and knows how to use a firearm.
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Discussion in:  The Road forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  17
Initial post:  Jun 12, 2007
Latest post:  Dec 5, 2007

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Hardcover - September 26, 2006)
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