McCarthy Unabridged: The Road, Page 251

​This is a section of the Road that gives the boy a memory. The parts in bold are that parts I added the parts with out bolding are MacCarthy's writing so that you know exactly how it fits.

He built a fire and propped the boy's wet clothes up and brought him a can of apple juice. Do you remember anything? he said.

About what?

About being sick.

Her voice came in clear as looking through a freshly cleaned window

Is it worth all this struggling? she said

The flaregun was lying on the ground illuminated by the fire that was especially lucent that night, giving the boy a brief sense of hushness. No sooner did the feeling occur to the boy did it vanish like that of an apparition. Arguing once more, He looked up at her. Why not just die now and be in a better place?

Stop it. He said

Why should I?

Because of a certain cognate boy. You’d want to orphan a child in this world?

That doesn’t matter. I’ve made up my mind. We have but one choice in this world.

And what better place? Is there no better place than with us?

She looked to the flaregun as if it were the answer.

I beg you please don’t.

Ephemeral caliginousness jolted the boy from his thoughts

Moving his hand away from the boy’s eyes the man peered into the boy’s eyes

You feel warm. Why don’t you go to sleep, he said



What’s wrong?

Remember when I wished I was dead.


She did too. She was like me.

Don’t say that.

I remember the flaregun

The flaregun

I remember shooting the flaregun.

Do you remember getting the stuff from the boat?

He sat sipping the juice. He looked up. I'm not a retard, he said.

I know.

I had some weird dreams.

What about?

I dont want to tell you.

That's okay. I want you to brush your teeth.

With real toothpaste.



The placement of this passage on page 251 is because this is the first time in the book that the boy’s body mirrors that of the the father’s. When the boy is sick the reader is informed of the boy’s first dream. The content of that dream is not specified. Keeping it that way is essential to the mystery of the boy, but by giving the boy a memory before the dream he doesn’t want to talk about strips away at some of the mystery for the reader but not for the father.

The characters in this scene bring a new light to the boy. By giving the boy a reason behind the hiding of his dream with this memory of his mother creates a depth to the boy for the reader without taking away the mystery he is to the father.

There is one sentence in the section that plays at the vocabulary that McCarthy has throughout the book. “Ephemeral caliginousness jolted the boy from his thoughts” Caliginousness is used instead of simply darkness and ephemeral is used as a replacement for brief. The more advanced vocabulary here suggests that the reader is no longer in the boy’s head.

The essential question that is prominent here is, how dangerous are memories? Why like the question isn't answered completely it is hinted at that they are very dangerous. Through the ending when the father pulls the boy out of his mind it draws upon the parallel that the boy has been doing for a lot of the book. This also plays at that role reversal that the reader sees shift in the second half of the book.

The memory is very prominent in this section of the story using the motif of dreams in a way that the reader has seen before but only with the father. The carrying of the fire is hinted at with the flaregun being a recurring symbol throughout this section. Themes that were in this section are survival using a clue from another part of the book when the father says that they have had this discussion many times before to the mother. The conversation itself however was never played out in the book therefore this section was created to fulfill that. The overwhelming theme of what is the point comes back into play in this section, as it does whenever the mother is in play.

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