He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.
This is a scene I imagine was cut before the final publication of The Road on page 259, continuing from the above statement.
I worry about where we’re going, what will happen to us, the ones who eat people.
The boy held his gaze
Where are we going Papa?
We’re going south
What’s in the south Papa?
I wish I was dead
The man came to life and grabbed his son by his shoulders and shook him hard
Don’t say that!
Why not? Mama’s over there, we won’t be hungry, we won’t be scared.
We’re carrying the fire
You killed that man.
I didn’t kill him
You took everything from him
He stole from us!
He didn’t steal clothes off our backs. What is the point of carrying the fire if you only carry it for yourself?
He looked down at the boy, his shoulders lifting heavily with every breath.
He was a bad guy
Everyone isn’t a bad guy! If we were really good guys we would help people. We wouldn’t take everything from people. If you had found blankets and food would you have just left it there?
He knelt to a squatting position and rubbed his legs.
Then how is he worse than us?
He rose until he met the boy’s eyeline and looked into his eyes.
What if I promise to pass the fire onto the people we meet, as long as they’re not cannibals?
I want you to do it because it’s what’s right
Okay. We share the fire. And if they’re bad
you’ve gotta take a shot.
For my creative piece, I wanted to use my own opinions and feelings about the book, and speak to the man through the boy. Early on in the book I wondered about the man’s motivation to “go south” but I’ve wondered more about why he insists they keep moving forward. It didn’t make sense to me. I had the feeling that the man was not keeping his son’s best interest in mind, and that he was making both their lives worse by continuing their journey.
The result of these thoughts made me angry at the man, for keeping his son starving and terrified, for this assignment I had the boy confront the man. Because I felt that the boy has always been smart and that he had these thoughts too. I placed my passage just before they went back and returned the clothes to the thief on page 259 because I felt that since the boy was already angry and was bottling his emotions, it would be a good place for him to empty out his feelings towards his father.
I had the boy introduce a new argument; sharing the fire, and how his father doesn’t share the fire with others. I was able to bring back some of my original idea when the boy says, “what’s the point of carrying the fire if you only carry it for yourself?” This goes back to the theme of morals, and how the boy has more than his father; his father tells him that they are the good guys and that they’re carrying the fire, but the boy doesn’t understand how they can be the good guys if they don’t help others and share the fire.
I added in small descriptors throughout the dialogue. Something I wanted to focus on was the idea of the man “looking down” at the boy, this was a phrase I used when they first started talking. As the scene goes on and the man beings to understand the boy I described the man standing up as if to look back down at the boy, but instead he meets the boy at his eyeline. I put this in to define the transition from father and son to equals, I think that the boy’s speech would have made the man see how smart the boy was, that he was learning from the boy.