The Road: Opening

Describe the tone, mood and atmosphere of the opening pages of the novel. Examine the dream in the opening pages as a way of establishing a sense of foreboding.

There seems to be an almost detached, objective tone. There’s a lot of description that sounds more like someone is describing the father from the outside. Even the description of his thoughts is quite impersonal. “He mistrusted all of that” for instance. The mood seems quite bleak as the child is seen “Are we going to die?”. The atmosphere seems quite abandoned as can be seen as though interaction between the father, boy, and environment are described there isn’t really anyone else. The dream presents a sense of foreboding as the way the dream describes “a flowering wood” and a “sky” that “was achingly blue” seems to highlight the lack of such in the book’s world making the reader think of how this world may have been destroyed.

Find details which describe the landscape in these pages. Overall, what image does McCarthy create of the devastation of the earth in this world?

“cauterized terrain” “shoals of ash” “rows of black and twisted brambles”. Presents quite a greyed out or burned atmosphere

What kind of journey are the man and his son on? Where is the evidence for this?

For some reason they are trying to go through the mountains to the coast. “He said that everything depended on reaching the coast, yet waking in the night he knew that all of this was empty and no substance to it. There was a good chance they would die in the mountains and that would be that”. According to Wikipedia, this is to escape the winter. “And we’re still going south./Yes./So we’ll be warm./Yes”

Describe their relationship using evidence to support your ideas.

The father seems to be trying to explain the world to his son “What is that, Papa?/It’s a dam”. or “Will the dam be there for a long time?/I think so. It’s made of concrete.” or “Do you think there could be fish int he lake?/ No. There’s nothing in the lake.”

Memories of the past come to the man’s mind – what kind of memories are they? What importance might they have?

There’s an anecdote about watching a hawk “fall down the long blue wall of the mountain” as well as the man explaining his old house both seem to show how things used to be both in terms nature and the comforts they used to have.

What do you notice about the narrative style of writing? What might be the reason for choices McCarthy makes stylistically? Look at the effects of crafting such as: use of imagery, poetic and metaphoric features, syntax and punctuation, other?

Lots of emphasis on the cold or the colourlessness or the grayness. And the ash. eg. “cold rice and cold beans”. Some very short sentences “So thin. My heart, he said. My heart”. No speech marks. Not sure wha this means

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