McCarthy Unabridged

This is a segment McCarthy may have written for his novel The Road, before final editing. This is a segment to be inserted after the alteraction between the man and the boy on page 211.

Creative Piece

Playing baseball or maybe fishing. The man would wheel him to friend’s houses and school events. The man would help the boy with his school work. In the time before the man knew math but now he only knows how to add and subtract cans from the ever lightening load of the cart.

The boy wouldn’t ever have to eat his food out of a can again. The man would cook fresh meals every night and he and the boy would discuss their day over their dinner.

Maybe the boy wouldn’t want to talk. He trusted the man fully now but maybe the boy would be resentful as some children often were. The world lacked normalcy yet the boy was showing signs of the mindset common in children who’ve begun to grow weary of their guardians. The boy would have grown up eventually, the man knew, but growing up isn’t something people did anymore. People were just grown.

The man was tired but if he became too tired, the boy would realize and his independence would grow. The man could not decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing.

Regardless of what awaited upstairs, the man had to go up and take a look. Regardless of the what the boy said, he expected it. And the man needed it.


A scene like this, a scene where the man reflects on what could have been, never occurs in McCarthy’s The Road. The man seems very in the moment, almost like he’s done all of his thinking in the years before this story takes place. This post apocalyptic world, as we know by the assumed age of the boy, has been around for a good amount of years. It’s very possible the man considered these types of things earlier on. However, I believe that if McCarthy had written a scene like this one, a whole different dimension could have been added onto the man’s character. The man would become an even more complex character, who was struggling with the guilt of the life he was forced to provide for his son opposed to the one he was planning on providing. The man’s character would struggle with his feelings on the boy’s inevitable independence and whether it made him feel worried that the boy no longer needed him or free to succumb to death and the ultimate freedom inherent with it.

The interaction preceding this inserted scene is simple enough, something common in today’s parent and child interactions. The man tells the boy they are doing something and the boy disagrees, protesting that the father never listens to him. To a modern parent, this is normal and probably unnoteworthy. To the man, this interaction meant the boy was passing into a realm the man was unfamiliar with. The boy had never questioned his father before and, if he did, he’d always concede to the father’s correctness. In this situation, the boy is unhappy with the decisions the man is making and calls him out for not taking his own opinions into consideration. The boy is showing signs of wanting to run his own life.

The motifs I used in my creative piece, the mention of cans and the phrase “Take a look”, are there to help the passage flow naturally with the story. I think it’s important to include the frequently occurring motifs in order for the passage to sound like it belongs. The motifs also add to the mood of the passage, creating the same dark and somber feeling present throughout the rest of the novel. The mention of the grey and hollow cans reiterates the coldness of the world the man and boy live in. The phrase “Take a look” adds to the complete uncertainty of the situation.

Overall, I think an inner monologue such as this one would have enhanced the story to some extent. It would add more humanity to the man’s character but it would also take away from the man’s sole purpose of caring for his boy in this world. If the man was reminenscing about the time before and what he could have had, then he’s more likely to lose hope in the situation he’s currently in. In the end, I can understand why something like this would be cut from the story, if McCarthy ever wrote it.

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