McCarthy Unabridged: The Road, Page 207

The following passage is a scene from one of McCarthy's earlier manuscripts of The Road that was originally titled The Path. *SVU Sound effect*

Are you hungry?

I dont know.

I think that you do know.

Papa can I ask something?


Can we sit down and eat?

Sit down?

Yeah sit down?

The man gave the boy a wide-eyed stare. His eyes were piercing into the boys soul. He began to daydream about the old world. He envisioned people laughing, and drinking wine intimately at a table. Suddenly, the room began to shake, the lights blew, and the people once laughing and drinking wine begin to look terrified.

Papa! Papa! Papa!

The man heard the boys call and was mortified. He instantaneously rushed over to the boy and hugged him squeezing him harder than he ever had before. There was a cold draft blowing through the room. The boy looked up at his father and they began to grin at one another. The man picked the boy up and put him on his shoulders. The man scanned the room in hope of finding table settings. Eventually, he spotted a candle surrounding pyroclastic residue. With his eyes locked on the candle the man took the boy off of his shoulders and placed him onto the ground.

I think we may be able to work something out.

The following is an explanation of the choices I made for my creative piece.

When reading Cormac Mccarthy’s ‘The Road’ there was a recurring motif of darkness that was essential to the reader’s vision of the setting, characters, and suchlike. However, that darkness stops in one scene in particular; on page 207 the man and the boy are in a house that they end up having a candlelit dinner in. In this novel, eating and having fire/heat are separate luxuries, but to have the intertwined creates an ultimate one. I found it incredibly ironic that they were on the road, living in obscurity at one moment, and then having a candlelit dinner the next. We associate dinners, (esp. Candlelit one’s) with normality and practical luxury; McCarthy never explains as to how this idea comes about in this text and this left me with a myriad of questions. The goal of my creative piece was to answer those questions.

For this specific scene, I wanted to focus on the theme of humanity. Throughout the text, we see various aspects of humanity. These aspects include Ely, who has lost his faith in humanity, the cannibals who have the smallest sense of humanity imaginable, and the boy who is incredibly humane and moral in all of his thought processes and decision making.

When reading ‘The Road’ you cannot help but constantly reevaluate the circumstances and question where they stem from. A major question that came to mind was “Do extenuating circumstances diminish fragments of our humanity.” We see that the circumstances for some characters have in fact diminished fragments of their humanity but the boy has faith in such humanity, and as a result the father does as well.. While they may be living in the same society they do not have identical circumstances. The boy has never experienced something that is so normal and humane. A candlelit dinner is a faction of humanity he had never known before. His circumstances hindered him from experiencing a fragment of humanity and normality.

I decided to go with the motif of luxuries because they recur rather frequently in the novel. Whether it be fire, food, or candlelit dinners the boy and the man always end up having the luxury of being well nourished, warm, and safe. While this may appear to be practical for us, it is something that most characters have no access to.

For the plot, I wanted a scene with significance that could provide reasoning for having such a dinner occur as well as to provide a gradual shift into the next scene. There is such a stark juxtaposition between the previous scene when they are on the road and the scene of the calm, luxurious candlelit dinner. The man having that daydream is a logical explanation for such, which is why I chose to go with it, (esp. since dreams recur in the novel as well)

Comments (4)

Rafi Hares (Student 2016)
Rafi Hares

I like the theme of luxury because it's not something you would normally think about. What is a luxury in our world would probably be unthinkable in the world of the road.

Greta Haskell (Student 2016)
Greta Haskell

I really like your story but I was a bit confused about the end. The beginning is funny and it is what brought me in to read yours. Overall I think it was very god and really well explained in your rationale.