Help for English

The Road by Cormac McCarthy: A book that carries the fire

ADVANCED Vydáno dne 26.09.2008

This review includes NO SPOILERS! It addresses a shocking but wonderful book, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007.

As soon as I had finished reading this book, it ranked among my imaginary TOP 10 chart. And though I read a lot and despite the fact that I am always leery of and careful about any absolute judgements, quite possibly it is the best book I have read, ever.

At the beginning of the book which is evidently not the starting point of the wandering itself, there's a man bent over a shopping cart, accompanied by a little boy of an unknown age. As we soon discover, their father-son relationship is profound and its reflection in the mirror of the hopeless world shows in an unexpressionable beauty.

The world was struck by an unknown disaster. No matter how hopeless and absurd it might appear, the father is doing everything for them to survive and to protect the boy. His boundless self-sacrifice is astounding, compared both to the post-apocalyptic world in the book and to our world in the twenty-first century, full of individualism and rootlessness.

While the destination of the journey to reach is obviously any Southern and therefore warmer coastal part of the land, the object of the hope to find there is unclear, blurred and doubtful. Can they even reach the shore? What will they find there?

My reflections

The road. A path that leads us to the very humanity of ours. Digs in the graves of our souls to uncover tenderness.Holds up the lantern to cast a dim light at the furthest recesses of our doubts to find hope.

In the luxury of the matterial abbundance the mankind's luckier part calling haughtily themselves "civilized" live in, we finally open our eyes to realize that the age of the world sketched in the book may really come. And maybe it is now standing at the treshold, taking its time to knock on the door!

The closer to the fire we are, the more shadows on the walls grow.

Ironically, when we are torturing our minds and hearts with these thoughts, if we win the struggle and manage to unglue our sight from the irresistibly attractive pages of the book, we start rediscovering the beauty of the real world around and inside us. Even the greyest rainy day gains new colors, even the chilliest steel feels warm, even the shallowest relationship deepens.

But what if our world slumped to hell!? What if we stayed alone? Will we struggle for survival anyway? We will! Because someone... someone must carry the fire!

Information that can help you read the book

Much vocabulary is associated with cold and dark. Much with "survival techniques" - how to make a fire out of nothing, how to keep safe from rain and cold, etc. Many words are related to landscape, mostly quite inhospitable, focusing on objects that would possibly survive a powerful and intensive blast of heat. Not many colors can be seen in the book; if there was a movie inspired by it, it could be possibly black and white or with just some dim colors used (actually, a movie is planned for the end of this year, so we can see how the director deals with the seemingly unreproducible air and inner tension of the book).

The language itself is not too difficult at many points. Certainly there are some more demanding passages in the text, especially descriptive, but not that many.

McCarthy "keeps it simple". Where not necessary for disambiguation reasons, he does not even use apostrophes (in words "dont" and "cant", for instance). No quotes are used for spoken parts, thus evoking a heavy silence and soft whisper in dialogs, as well as the monotonous and dreary face of the desolate landscape.

No chapters are used, as they would probably break the flow of the road to hardly connectable pieces. Instead, the author divided the story in short, smoothly readable paragraphs, resembling rather poetry than a novel.

Some of the key vocabulary needed throughout the book:

shopping cart
(gas) burner
to head
to wrap
pry bar
to squat
murk, murky
to trudge

On the author

Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist, born in 1933 and acclaimed chiefly for his books No Country For Old Man (filmed in 2007) and The Road (awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007). He is married for the third time and has got two children.

Online angličtina od autorů Help for English!

Bezkonkurenční online angličtina za 169 Kč měsíčně.
Přečtěte si více informací nebo si ji hned zdarma vyzkoušejte.

Pokračovat můžete zde:


On the Road

On the road, street etc.

Jonathan Coe: The Rotters' Club (book review)

An extensive review on Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club, taking place in Birmingham of the 1970s.


Umíte správně používat slovíčko TIME a ukazovací zájmena? Studenti zde totiž často chybují.
Copyright info:

Text: Ladislav Sedlák, Copyright © Help for English

Komentáře k článku
Téma Přísp. Přečteno Poslední příspěvek
Nepřečteno The Road by Cormac McCarthy: A book that carries the fire 0 13610