The Bad Guys

By: Stephanie Presley, Deanna Butler, Rachel Radford, Shauna Wright and Gena Murfin
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page 70:
"There was nothing there. Dried blood dark in the leaves. The boy's knapsack was gone. Coming back he found the bones and the skin piled together with rocks over them. A pool of guts."

page 91:

“He woke in the morning and turned over in the blanket and looked back down the road through the trees the way they’d come in time to see the marchers appear four abreast. Dressed in clothing of every description, all wearing red scarves at their necks.”

page 92:

"They passed two hundred feet away, the grounds shuddering lightly. Tramping. Behind them came wagons drawn by slaves in harness and piled with goods of war and after that the women, perhaps a dozen in number, some of them pregnant, and lastly a supplementary consort of catamites ill clothed against the cold and fitted in dog collars.........Were they bad guys? Yes, they were the bad guys."

page 115:
“In the night he heard hideous shrieks coming from the house and he tried to put his hands over the boy’s ears and after a while the screaming stop.”

page 181:
"By then all stores of good had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land. The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell."


The "bad guys" are repeatedly present in this novel’s epic journey because their existence is vital to setting the overall mood of the novel. The “bad guys” presence in The Road is also one of the major motivations for the father and son’s journey to be taken. These gangs exist in this world because they were deprived and desperate and they adapted to this environment by relying on animal instincts to survive. Everyone in this fictitious world is in complete anguish and their purpose in life is survival. Therefore the “bad guys” discarded what morality they had left to become cannibalistic.
In comparison the son and his father were also in this awful situation, having a complete lack of food, but they choose to survive without resorting to cannibalism. Representing why these “bad guy” characters are portrayed as the evil version of what human beings had become.
The main character traits that the gangs portray consistently through the novel are ultimately selfishness and greed. These characters didn’t obtain any true relationships with other humans therefore removing their emotions from the concept of killing and eating other people. Making people in essence, just another source of food.
These significantly grotesque and bad verisons of humans make the boy in this journey constantly decipher what defines someone truly good and who is evil. The novel protrays this confusion through instances when the boy discusses with his father on what makes certain people “bad”. Even In this hopeless world the boy still questions his animal instincts and chooses to search for people who are good. He also shows his goodness by yearning to help those few people he considered to be decent. Yet his father was not as accepting and optimistic about the people due to the significant amount of "bad guy's that surrounded them. Thus showing that the boy still had the essence of morality verses his father who was faulty on portraying morality; even so both of the main characters beat the temptations of this hostile world while the “bad guy” characters had ultimately given up all hope and relied on greedy tendencies and selfish motivations to survive.

Discussion questions:

  1. Are the bad guys really bad?
  2. Are the bad guys wrong or are they just surviving?