"Civilization" and the Physical Wasteland

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"Everything was covered in ash" (pg.179)
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"The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb." (pg. 129)
"Nowhere to build a fire. Nowhere safe." (pg. 186)
"Huddled against the back wall were naked people...on the mattress by a man with his legs gone to the hipand the stumps of them blackened and burnt." (pg. 110)
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"Our Road Video Adventure..."


In the book The Road “civilization” and the physical wasteland are major themes. While on their journey to the south the father and son’s morals are tested when they meet the “bad guys”. They live in this new world that accepts cannibalism, and the torture of others. The father tries to raise and teach his son principles of civility, to keep the child’s world as “normal” as possible. This is hard when their focus is on survival in a depleted wasteland. The wasteland is filled with such harsh physical conditions that it is hard for them to keep their spirits up. The ash makes the world a gray and depressing place to live in. The boy was hopeful to finally see a color other than gray. He wanted to see the blue beautiful ocean. His hopes were crushed when they arrived. The ocean was just like the rest of the road they had traveled, gray and filled with ash. Since the father and son were surrounded by such harsh conditions it was hard for them to find the proper nutrition, and clean water. They often go for days without eating. When they do have enough food it always seems to run out before they can find more.
To portray the two themes in the novel we chose quotes that give a mental image of what the father and son were going through. The physical wasteland gives a good picture of the ash covered world. The burned cities also illustrate the magnitude of the washed-out gray world. The lack of civilization and harsh living conditions make it hard for the father and son to find safe places to eat and sleep. The son is the only example of a kind heart that is other wise extinct throughout the book. The boy also has a child-like trust in others that his father has lost because of the lack of civilization.
We chose to do a video about the lack of civilization in The Road. Our video shows how the father and son were tested physically and mentally through their quest to the south. The video explores cannibalism and violence. Two factors the father and son had to resist and rise above. The video also show how the father and son are able to love in a world that has forgotten how.

Disscussion Questions

1. In the near future could there be enough tension and hatred in the world to result in utter destruction? If not, do you believe that the date of December 21, 2012 will be the fall of civilization?

2. In the book McCarthy depicts the world as being bare and full of ash. Could this have been a natural disaster or was it an act of war?

3. The novel shows many people or cults that travel about the wasteland. Is the wasteland really deserted or is there a civilization somewhere taht drove the father to keep going?

This page by:
Sarah Price: The Son, and pregnant lady
Alexandira Ownbey: The Bad Guy, and the pregnant lady
Hannah Sayles: The Bad Guy with helmet, and pregnant lady
Lindsay Donaldson: our lovely Videographer
Haden Banks: the Father, The Bad Guy with the truck