DECAY Decay is one of the more dominant motifs in the novel. Not only are natural and man-made worlds in decay, but so are physical states, memory, and morality. Collect cited quotations about these images in the novel.
ASH & FIRE IMAGERY The Road depicts a world irreparably transformed by some sort of apocalyptic fire, and the resultant ash is ubiquitous; and yet the man and boy “carry the fire.” Collect cited quotations that address the complex nature of these two elements within the novel.
Symbols The best literature employs symbols, where objects and actions come to represent ideas. Collect cited quotations about the symbolic importance of the following elements. Include a few notes underneath each quotation about the ideas each symbol develops.
the flute • shorelines • sight and blindness • the pistol • “the little boy” • Ely • the binoculars • the dog • the mother Examples:
Dreams & Flashbacks Allow McCarthy to introduce events that took place before the outset of the novel; he also uses these devices to reflect psychological states and as premonitions of the future. Collect cited quotations that reveal the importance of dreams and flashbacks in the novel.
Religion & Faith From early references to “godspoke men” to Ely’s statement about humanity’s role as “prophets” the novel is replete with references to God and faith. Collect cited quotations that develop ideas about God, faith, and spirituality.
DUALITY McCarthy employs numerous opposites that are held in tension throughout The Road. Collect cited quotations that help to characterize these dualities.
EXAMPLES • the best and the worst of humanity • honesty and deception • hope and despair • selfishness and altruism
TRANSFORMATION The boy is not a static character within the novel: whether one considers his movement from innocence to experience or dependence to independence, he undergoes a variety of transformations. Collect cited quotations charting the boy’s change.
ELEMENTS OF STYLE: Cormac McCarthy has an unmistakable prose style that may seem more like poetry. Collect examples of the most distinctive features of his writing style.
RELATIONSHIP What makes the relationship between the boy and his father so powerful and poignant? Collect evidence about how they feel about each other and how they maintain their affection for and faith in each other in such brutal conditions.