"Civilization" and the Physical Wasteland
By: Whitney Roberts, Avery Barlowe, Stefani Walker, Sarah Kuster, Laura Dowell, Maggie A, and Pete Ciaccio


"Scrawny and filthy and naked." p 146

"Dark of the invisible moon. The nights now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the Earth like a grieving mother with a lamp." p 32

" Human bodies. Sprawled in every attitude. Dried and shrunken in their rotted clothes." p 47

"In the afternoon it started to snow again. They stood watching the pale-grey flakes sift down out of the sullen murk." p 93

"The snow lay deep and grey. Already there was a fresh fall of ash on it." p 99

" They sat with their heels dug into the sand and watched the bleak sea wash up at their feet. Cold. Desolate. Birdless." p 215

"There has been no one here for years. There are no trackes in the ash. Nothing disturbed." p 211

" They were starving right enough. The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb. The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it." p 129

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The Physical Wasteland and Civilization are major themes in the novel "The Road." The Physical Wasteland is mainly represented by the dangerous weather patterns. Throughout the novel, ashes constantly fall from the sky, leaving the world covered. Also, snow falls at a heavy pace and leaves the air cold. Thunderstorms are fierce and very destructive. Fires spread wildly through the forests and melts the pavement of the road into tar. The trees are killed by the fires and since they are dead, they fall and make it dangerous for traveling. All plant life is killed by the fires. This makes it hard to find food and also sustain the lives of other creatures. With the extinction of other species, human beings begin to run out of food quickly. People are killed by all the different forms of destructive weather. Due to the lack of food, human beings cannot survive and therefore perish. Even the water supply is dirty with ash and is not safe to drink. The Earth becomes a Physical Wasteland because there is difficulty in surviving and most life forms are destroyed by the weather. The people that are struggling to survive become scrawny and filthy (pg 146) due to the lack of food and civilization. Dead bodies lay in the streets which makes the world unsanitary. Living in unsanitary conditions affects the peoples' health. Factoring in the lack of food and unsanitary living conditions, diseases begin to spread. People become so hungry that cannibalism becomes a necessary way to survive. The downfall of society has created a civilization in which all forms of communication are gone. Buildings are burned down and there is hardly anywhere safe to stay away from the weather and the cannibals. The Earth becomes a physical wasteland because of the destruction of civilization.

Discussion Questions:

1) To what extent does the physical wasteland take a toll on sanity and mental health?

2) What does the civilization in the novel tell about human nature when everything is lost?

3) What is the difference in the way the son responds to the new civilization compared to the father's response?