i just finished the book, and found it really compelling. the ending did bother me a little bit though -- simply the convenience of the boy stumbling upon seemingly the only other good guys left on the planet. Why do you think CM ended it that way? To me, it almost gave the ending a religious tone. Was this really a book about religion/faith?
I really didn't like the book, but I do agree with you. I kept looking for some "mystery" to the ending that I was trying to solve. I thought it was religion/faith-based also. I had some literature teachers read it to figure out what I missed. They didn't like it much either, and couldn't come up with a good fit to the ending.
Well at least I am not the only one left wondering about the ending... I gave the book to another reader and asked her to read it and tell me if I somehow "missed" something.... Other than that, I found it an interesting read. Read the entire book in one sitting.
I read into the wee hours of the morning just to finish this book. I thought the ending was beautiful. Papa taught this young boy faith; not necessarily faith in the future but faith in the present. I cried when the boy asked the stranger, "Are you one of the good guys"?
Yes, this book was about religion/faith. It is the bleakest book imaginable, and McCarthy still endows it with hope. "Goodness will find the boy. It always has." You can kill the seas, you can make ash of the world, and all this will happen and all things and the world will die, but there is still goodness, which McCarthy says, is godness. This isn't just a book about faith, this is a prayer.
I didn't like the book that much...too boring and disturbing for my tastes, but my dad recommended it. But as for the ending, I thought it fit in pretty well. Right before the father died, he had told the boy that they didn't know what was just down the road, and maybe they would get lucky one more time. And finally it happened, after a whole books-worth of searching...the father's hope and long stuggle weren't totally in vain.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think, in a sense, there were always good guys around. I think McCarthy wanted to present the father as having many admirable traits but still flawed-hence his failure to really help anyone. I think that the only way to find the good guys was through trust and partial surrender, something his son could do, but he could not.
I would like to hear what everyone thinks about the last paragraph, about how there was once trout in the mountains long ago. Certainly the author thinks it is meaningful since he chose to end his book with it. However I don't understand why it is there at all. It seems totally irrelavent.
I just read this book on vacation and was struck afterwards by the subtle perfection of our world -- where ice, fire and water can coexist in this delicate and subtle climate. My read is that Mr. McCarthy was warning us in his final paragraph not to unbalance what is so perfectly. . . balanced. I think he is reminding us that the story is a warning, too; us that the impact of man can be more destructive than we can imagine in our limited minds. Re: the maps of the world on the backs of the trout; I think he's saying that there is a limitless knowledge in our world that isn't human. It's a reminder to be humble and mindful. Just my read. :)
Hope! Of a future! Remember, the father "... knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke" (5). And on p. 77, he tells his son, "My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God."
I'm disappointed in your literature teachers. No, it wasn't McCarthy's best, but I do not find it that difficult to understand, especially if you are an experienced reader--a little classical mythololgy, a little of the Bible, other authors with similar themes....
I dig the book the way it is, but I think McCarthy wussed out by having the kid live and the man die. If the kid dies you force the man to decide to continue on in a truly hopeless world or put one in his brain. If the man chooses to continue on to whatever unknown future, it speaks to the resilience of humanity to go on when the very symbol of hope is erased. Conversely, bullet in the brain is also a strong statement. The child's faith in the man on the road is blind and clearly emotionally driven. He has no one else and because of that he goes with what could be an evil man. The child's surrender is childish and not very relatable to adults, but had the man come across a "good guy" and surrendered it would be far more profound.
Scott - Exactly, the ending of the book is the bleakest part of all. The boy is doomed as much as the father was. I think that's why McCarthy went to such great lengths to describe the man. To let readers know he was a "bad guy."
I think many people are mistaking a lanyard for the "666" mark of the antichrist. The marching army of the bad guys were using lanyards to carry pipes for clubbing. The man at the end of the book was using a lanyard to carry a shotgun. The lanyard was just an easy way to carry something. I don't think the lanyard really signifies that he is one of the "bad guys". This man appears to have a modicum of , dare I say it humor. When the boy ask if he is one of the good guys he appears to look to heaven as if to ask god are there really any good guys left. When the boy mentions carrying the fire the man commments "Are you weirded out " the boy "no" the man "just a little" Hardly the exchange of a "bad guy" that just got some fresh meat. Also the mans treats the boy humanely. He doesn't take the boys pistol even when it is offered. He keeps his promise to the boy to wrap his dad's body in a blanket, he lets the boy go back to see his dad for the last time. None of these the actions of a "bad guy" . Also it is indicated that the boy has been with not only this man but the woman for a period of time and the woman prays to god , the boy tries to pray but does talk with his Father. It is indicated that he has talked to his Father over a length of time by the comment "he does not forget". I think the boy is in as good a situation as could be in the context of the story. However what has gone before would have been bettter served by either a completely bleak and depressing ending or an ending that gives a fuller idea of some hope for mankinds survival. I think the last paragraph? indicates no hope of man kinds survival when it speaks of a thing that could not be put back or made right. "In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery" indicates to me something will survive but not necessarily mankind. Maybe something of a higher nature will evolve. Then again maybe I am over analyzing.
I think it symbolizes the pool that all life sprang from in the evolutionary sense. It is all so a coda telling us that man will not survive."Of a thing that could not be put back. Not be made right again" However it indicates that life will survive "In the deep glenswhere they lived all things were older than man and they hummed with mystery" Maybe life will evolve to a higher form from these things that hum with mystery. That's my take on what that last paragraph means but your guess is as good as mine.
Thank you very much for taking the time to post all that. It's very interesting. I appreciate your opinion very much. After thinking about it more and reading the end of the book again, in light of your post, I think you are right. I've done a 180 on the ending and am glad I did. I don't think you're over analyzing at all.
You are welcome. I am glad that you found my post illuminating. I have spent much time re reading portions of this book. When I read the book the first time I was almost speed reading. I did this for two reasons. The first was that I was in the grip of an almost unbearable tension to find out what was going to happen to the boy and his father next. The other was that I did not want to give McCarthy's words time to register and produce images in my mind during some of the more horrific incidents. I did manage to finish this book rather quickly but no way did I avoid the searing images that McCarthy's masterful writing created. I awake at night and often before I realize why I awoke I think of this book. I am re reading it now at a much slower pace. This imagery is even more disturbing but it is more than compensated for by the lyrical beauty of McCarthy's language that I missed the first time. In my opinion this is truly a great book. I am in awe of how with this subject matter, the flat clipped narrative style, the dark dreary environment McCarthy produces a work of such luminance beauty. I believe this will be recognized as a masterpiece and will be someday cited in an award ceremony yet to be.
I find myself thinking of "The Road" at odd times as well. Sometimes when I awake, but I also find myself almost haunted by it anytime during the day, while gardening, working on piece of writing (that's quite different, I write articles and reviews, not novels, and I'm certainly not a master like McCarthy!), even shopping for groceries.
I read the book through very fast, something I usually don't do, the first time, too. And I did it, in part, for the same reason you did - I had to know what happened next.
I think the book is already acclaimed as a masterpiece by many, but I think time will prove it to be "the" masterpiece of post apocalyptic literature and I'll be so happy if that comes to pass. Perhaps fifty or one hundred years from now, our children's children will be reading it in their high school classes. Personally, I think it should be mandatory reading in high schools.
Another thought on the ending - throughout the book, McCarthy ascribes rather Christlike qualities to the boy, something that affirms, at least for me, the fact that your interpretation of the ending is the correct one.
I've read many good books lately, but I can't remember when I've read anything as riveting and hypnotic as "The Road."
I hadn't actually given much thought to whether the couple at the end were anything other than the 'good guys' that they claimed to be (or rather I had but was happy to dismiss the idea quickly). Somehow, I found the ending more optimistic or hopeful than I could possibly have imagined even in the knowledge that mankind itself was doomed. Perhaps, it was just in the knowledge that humanity can exist even in the darkest places. I couldn't agree more as to the heart-wrenching beauty in this work regardless of the clipped style. Sometimes, less is more. I think this is McCarthy's finest work since "The Crossing".