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The Road

Physical Wasteland & Civilization
Jessica Serra, Paul Guenette, Chase Gerlach, Eric Langlois, Morgan Eudy




"Charred and limbless trunks of trees stretching away on every side. Ash moving over the road and the sagging hands of blind wire strung from the blackened light poles whining thinly in the wind. A burned house in a clearing and beyond that a reach of meadow-lards stark and gray and a raw red mud bank where roadworks lay abandoned." (Page 9)

"The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void" (Page 11)

external image oil-and-gas-rigs_3225.jpg

"...watching the ashen daylight congeal over the land" (Page 2)

"Out there was the gray beach with the slow combers rolling dull and leaden and the distant sound of it. :like the desolation f some alien sea breaking on the shores of a world unheard of...Beyond that the ocean vast and cold and shifting heavily like a slowly heaving vat
of slag and then the gray squall like of ash. He looked at the boy. He could see the disappointment in his face. I'm sorry it's not blue, he said. That's okay, said the boy." (Page 215)

Civilization Quotes

"Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt."
(Page 110)

"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 stopped."
(Page 113)

external image Desolation-Trail-Tree-Branc.jpg"Just tell me.
We wouldn't ever eat anybody, would we?
No. Of course not.
Even if we were starving?
We're starving now.
You said we weren't.
I said we werent dying. I didnt say we werent starving.
But we wouldnt.
No. We wouldnt.
No matter what.
No matter what."

(Page 128. This quote in particular reveals the little boy's morals [and therefore the father's. The boy is a very big influence on him and does not usually ignore the boy's request unless it is the difference between life and death.] The boy is the closest person in the book to being civilized. Maybe alongside the family at the end, but we are never really sure because not much is revealed about them. Ironic, considering the young boy has never known what true "civilization" is...)

"I found everything. Everything...Can you see? He said. Can you see?"
(Page 139. In response to finding the underground shelter. That, in these times, is the best quality of life in this society. Such a mediocre place in today's world is "everything" in this one. It shows the decrease of civilization and redefines it.)


" Warm at last.Warm at last?
Where did you get that?I don't know.
Okay. Warm at last."
(Page 147.Relationship: Instead of "Free at last...?" Freedom isn't everything.)

"The woman when she saw him put her arms around him and held him. Oh, she said, I am so glad to see you."
(Page 286. It appears that there are other "good people" who are "carrying the fire." They talk of God, which, in my opinion, is strange considering the post-disaster event... Not much is known about this group, but from what I can infer, they do not wish to harm the boy.)

Discussion Questions

What are the requirements of a civilization? Are such requirements physical or psychological? By your requirements, does any sort of civilization exist in The Road?

Which character appears the most 'civilized' to you?


The Road takes place in a grey, cold, barren, deserted land, and is filled with morally ill people who would do anything to survive. Civilization itself seems to longer exist, (see discussion questions! ;p) and the actual physical wasteland becomes dangerous. Two things that today we take for granted are no longer part of McCarthy’s horror-world.
Physical Wasteland:
Food and water, since the beginning of time, have always been the number one priority to people throughout history, and rightful so. Whether it is a time where hunter-gathers struggled to produce, to you, driving through a Micky D’s drive-through, yelling for a burger and maybe some fries. Oh, hey, yeah, could you super-size that for me? Much better… However, looking back in time, has anyone ever recalled a world-wide shortage of either food or water? Or even, a North America shortage, if so willing to argue that the rest of the world even exists at this point. Maybe an inflated flux of good prices occurred, but that is linked to civilization and was not truly because of an entire lack of food. So even if one does narrow their perspective down only to this one continent, it is still almost entirely unbelievable that anything to this magnitude was brought down upon earth, or even this area. What caused the destruction? Volcanoes, nuclear disaster/warfare, ect…? Either way, discovering food and water in this area is rare, and is what makes this place a true wasteland.
Civilization rotted because of the physical wasteland. The wasteland, because of its lack of food and water, changed people’s morals; or rather, got rid of them entirely. Almost everything in this book can relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Without the basic necessities of food, water, and protection, civilization will be compromised. It has gotten to such a desolate definition that being civilized now means appreciation for the living and the dead. In other words, one who doesn’t eat another person and who tries to, in some small way, help the living ones. Civilization has been reduced to groups of singles, pairs, or, if part of some cult or slave home, more. Civilization crumbles easily.

Lyrics to a Song Relevant to the Father's Story
Song Link

How It Ends - DeVotchKa
How It Ends - DeVotchKa

Hold your grandmother's bible to your breast
Gonna put it to the test
You wanted it to be blessed
And in your heart
You know it to be true
You know what you gotta do
They all depend on you

And you already know
Yet you already know
How this will end

There is no escape
From the slave catcher's songs
For all of the loved ones gone
Forever's not so long
And in your soul
They poked a million holes
But you never let them show
Come on its time to go

And you already know
Yet you already know
How this will end

Now you've seen his face
And you know that there's a place in the sun
For all that you've done
For you and your children
No longer shall you need
You always wanted to believe
Just ask and you'll receive
Beyond your wildest dreams

And you already know
Yet you already know
How this will end

You already know (You already know)
You already know (You already know)
You already know
How this will end