1. The sardonic blind man named Ely who the man and boy encounter on the road tells the father that, "There is no God and we are his prophets" (p. 170). What does he mean by this? Why does the father say about his son, later in the same conversation, "What if I said that he's a god?" (p. 172) Are we meant to see the son as a savior?

  2. The Road takes the form of a classic journey story—a form that dates back to Homer's The Odyssey. To what destination are the man and the boy journeying? In what sense are they "pilgrims"? What, if any, is the symbolic significance of their journey?

  3. Cormac's work often dramatizes the opposition between good and evil, with evil sometimes emerging triumphantly. What does The Road ultimately suggest about good and evil? Which force seems to have greater power in the novel?

  4. What makes the relationship between the boy and his father so powerful and poignant? What do they feel for each other? How do they maintain their affection for and faith in each other in such brutal conditions?

  5. Why do you think Cormac ends the novel with the image of trout in mountain streams before the end of the world—"In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery" [p. 287]. What is surprising about this ending? Does it provide closure, or does it prompt a rethinking of all that has come before? What does it suggest about what lies ahead?
Themes from The Road to guide your reading

Provided by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, the publisher of The Road

Page numbers and quotations refer to the new edition of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Copyright © 2006 by M-71, Ltd. All rights reserved.


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