4th Moral Wasteland


Moral Wasteland

Corey Hart, Andrea Langefeld, Nick Wright, Cat Hipps

-"You forget what you want to remember, and remember what you want to forget."

-"You tried to kill us."
"I'm starving, man. You'd have done the same."
"You took everything."
"Come on, man. I'll die."
"I'm going to leave you the way you left us."
"Come on. I'm begging you."
(p. 257)

-"When he looked back the old man had set out with his cane, tapping his way, dwindling slowly on the road behind them like some storybook peddler from an antique time, dark and bent and spider thin and soon to vanish forever. The boy never looked back at all."
(p. 174)

-"His shoes were bound up with wire and coated with roadtar and he sat there in silence, bent over in his rags. The boy kept looking back."
(p. 50)

-"They're going to eat them, aren't they?"
And we couldn't help them because they'd eat us too."
"And that's why we couldn't help them."
(p. 127)


-Morality In the Novel-


The major conflict portrayed in The Road is what happnens when traditional codes of ethics are challenged by the basic human instinct for survival. After such a catastrophic event such as the one depicted in the novel, it is difficult to determine what one would do if given the choice between the two. As the first characters are introduced, those of the man and the boy, they are described as "carrying the fire". Rather than a literal meaning, this symbolizes their desire to carry on their belief in morality and the respect for the value of human life. At the other end of the spectrum are the gang members, or the "bad guys", as they are referred to in the context of the story. Instead of refusing to upholding previous standards with the zeal of the man and boy, they resort to acts such as thievery, murder, and cannibalism. Yet, despite this, to what extent can they be considered "bad"? Again, one main theme of Cormac's novel is morality v. survival. In an event as life-altering as the one described, previous moral codes can no longer be accepted as standard while the needs of the people upholding them change. For some, such as the gang members, they have accepted the world for what it currently is and have allowed the need for survival to overcome them. So while individuals like the man and the boy give hope for a rebirth of humanity, for the time being, the society is left devoid of ethical principles- a moral wasteland.

-Discussion Questions-
  • Take a journey in your imagination for a minute. About three months ago an apocalyptic event occurred coincidentally similar to that which occurred in The Road, you have had little to eat in the past couple of weeks and there is nothing to be found. Do feel that you would have the power to retain your moral values, or if the option of stealing, lying, cheating, ext was right under your nose would you give in? Why of Why not?

  • Are morals innate characteristics that can truly never die? If so, is it possible for some sort of moral standard to regenerate in this society?

  • For the sake of his son, the father is willing to resort to theft and murder. Does this imply that the father is immoral? What makes him less so than the gangs that are also fighting to stay alive?


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