"Civilization" and the Physical Wasteland


"Within a year there were fires on the ridges and derranged chanting. The screams of the murdered. By day the dead impaled on spikes along the road." Pg. 32-33

"It was colder nothing moved in that high world." Pg. 31

"Desolate Country." Pg. 17

"They went down the long dark wall of the mill, the windows bricked up. The fine black soot raced along the street before them." Pg. 199

"We wouldnt ever eat anybody, would we? No. Of course not. Even if we were starving? We're starving now. You said we werent....Because we're the good guys. Yes." Pg. 128-129

"Rich lands at one time. No sign of life anywhere." Pg. 202

"Like the desolation of some alien sea breaking on the shores of a world unheard of." Pg. 215

"By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp." Pg. 32

"That is my child he said. I wash a dead man's brains out of his hair. That is my job." Pg. 74
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The existence of civilization in The Road is debatable. People tend to travel together in small and large groups which is evidence of some form of primal civilization. In modern day standards, however, the lack of structure within the groups themselves refute the idea that there is indeed civilization. Civilized societies, according to our standards of propriety, value human life to the highest degree and people in The Road have to convert to cannibalism just to survive. People also have to trespass and steal things to keep themselves alive which are more support to the lack of civilization. Not all people on the road are cannibals, theifs, or completely calloused to the point of not caring. The man and boy both made a pact to never convert to cannibalism even if push did come to shove. They vowed to never steal from people who are alive but rather use the old things that the deceased left for them to use, and love eachother more than they love themselves.
The physical wasteland is made up of a bleak, grey existence for the man and the boy. The whole world is covered in ash and the sun, moon, and stars cannot shine through the thick haze left in the aftermath of some huge apocalyptic disaster. There never is a difinitive explaination for how it happened besides a low rumble, flash of light, and an insuing fire. Theories abound as to how it happened such as nuclear warfare and nuclear power plants exploding, but we will never know for sure. What we do know is that a majority of the population of humans along with all of the animal species died and the remaining are left to pick up the peices.

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Discussion Questions...
--Based on the physical state of the country, what do you think caused the apocolypse?
--How did the physical wasteland affect the character's want for civilization?
--What did the group in the end offer to the boy that being with his father did not?