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The Road Cormac McCarthy

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Transcript of The Road Cormac McCarthy

Movie Trailer
Historical context
Cormac
McCarthy
search for meaning in a meaningless world.
a road to redemption
Meaning of the title
Thesis
Despite his unlikely use of the father's unconditional love for his son, Cormac McCarthy reminds the reader of their dire circumstances through his development of
Thesis
We are going to analyze the dystopic novel
The Road
which deals with post apocalyptic world as a frame for exploring the moral issues underlying the novel from the point of view of Eco-criticism as the theoretical framework.
Main Characters
The man
The man goes unnamed throughout the novel.
He is a survivor.
Choose to struggle, to live.
He knows the world before the disaster.
He makes great sacrifices to allow his son to live on and have a future in a world that has gone dim.
The boy
He was born after the disaster.
He relies on the man for his survival.
The boy shows more kindness to others on the road than the man.
Unconditional parental love
Unconditional parental love
"My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by god. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?" (77)
9/11"Now it appears we face the prospect of two contradictory dystopias at once - open markets, closed minds - because state surveillance is back again..."

For the sake of freedom, freedom must be renounced. To move us towards the improved world - the utopia we're promised - dystopia must first hold sway." (The Guardian)

"Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock? Is there such a being within you of which you know nothing?" (114)
Unconditional
Family ties
“He (…) looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. (…) Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.” (p. 6)
Unconditional parental love
Family ties
“What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes, so I could be with you.
Okay.” (p. 11)

Malicious characters
"He dove and grabbed the boy and rolled and came up holding him against his chest with the knife at his throat" (66)
The roadrat
"The stones of the piers were stained well above the river from the high water and the bend of the river was choked with great windrows of black limbs and brush and the trunks of trees" (44)
Hopeless setting
Hopeless setting
Malicious characters
"He was an outcast from one of the communes and the fingers of his right hand had been cut away. He tried to hide it behind him." (255)
The Thief
Teachings from the man
“Why do you think we’re going to die?
We dont have anything to eat.
We’ll find something. (…)
We have water. That’s the most important thing. You dont last very long without water. (p. 101)

Set sometime in the future after a global catastrophe, in a freezing and grim post-apocalyptic world.
The Road
chronicles a father and a son journey along the road.
Both the man and the boy struggle to stay alive as they encounter with different groups of people from marauders to cannibals in a society where the status quo has changed.
Subject Matter
Conclusion
Cormac McCarthy constantly reminds the reader of the novel's dire circumstances through his use of a hopeless setting, and the introduction of malicious characters despite his focus on the father's unconditional love for his son thus expressing his bleak expectation for the future of humanity and shedding light on humanity's naive nature.
Works cited
McCarthy, Cormac. The road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.
The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy. Radio Program. 2013. http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/09/geeks-guide-margaret-atwood/
The Guardian. Orwell and Me. Mon. June 16. 2003. Retrieved, March 15, 2014.
Elgue de Martini, Cristina. "El Antiguo testamento en la ficción distópica de Atwood. Hacia nuevos Contratos sociales" X Jornada de Literaturas Comparadas. 2014
Glotfelty, Cheryll and others (ed.) (1996)
The Ecocriticism Reader
James, Frederic. Confines. "La utopía de la postmodernidad” (23-30) Año 1. Abril 1995. UBA. Facultad de Letras
The Guardian. The Road to Ustopia. Mon. June 16. 2003. Retrieved, March 15, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/oct/14/margaret-atwood-road-to-ustopia
http://www.themodernword.com/reviews/mccarthy_road.html




Outline

The Author
Historical context
Plot
Characters
Thesis
Theoretical Framework: Dystopia and Ecocriticism
Themes
Meaning of the title
Birth
Rhode Island on July 20, 1933

Education
Catholic High School in Knoxville
the University of Tennessee in 1951-52 and quitted 3 times but he never graduated

Early Awards
1959, 1960 Ingram-Merrill awards
1965 Traveling Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
1966 William Faulkner Foundation Award for notable first novel for
The Orchard Keeper
1969 Guggenheim Fellowship for creative writing
1981 MacArthur Fellowship

Novels
The Orchard Keeper
(1965)
Outer Dark
(1968)
Child of God
(1973)
Suttree
(1979)
Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West
(1985)
All the Pretty Horses
(1992)
The Crossing
(1994)
Cities of the Plain
(1998)
No Country for Old Men
(2005)
The Road
(2006)
Awards
1992 National Book Award for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for
All the Pretty Horses
2006 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and Believer Book Award for
The Road
2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for
The Road
2008 Premio Ignotus for
The Road
Teachings from the man
Narrative Voice
Characters
Ecocriticism
Themes
Paradigm

Criteria

Literature

Cultural Value System (anthropocentric vs ecocentric)
“Fiction of the 1980s, in its sustained and various representations of pollution, offers insights into a culture´s shifting relation to nature and environment at a time when imminence of ecological collapse was, and is, part of the public mind and individual imagination.”
Ecocriticism
RELIGION
• Quest for the presence of God
“A forest fire was making its way along the tinder-box ridges [...] The color of it moved something in him long forgotten. Make a list. Recite a litany. Remember.” (p. 31)

“How would you know if you were the last man on earth? he said.
I guess God would know it. Is that it?
There is no God.
No?
There is no God and we are his prophets.” (p.170)

They couldnt see it very far, could they, Papa?
Who?
Anybody.
No. Not far.
If you wanted to show where you were.
You mean the good guys?
Yes. Or anybody that you wanted them to know where you were.
Like who?
I don´t know.
Like God?
Yeah. Maybe someone like that. (p. 246)

Quest for the presence of God
Absence of God
“Where man cant live gods fare no better. You´ll see. It´s better to be alone. So I hope that´s not true what you said because to be on the road with the last god would be a terrible thing so I hope it´s not true. (p. 172)
Adam and the Eden
“He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke” (p.5)
“You´re the best guy” (p. 279)

RITUALS
“Evoke the forms. Where you´ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breath upon them” (p.74)
LITURGY
Water
“It was a waterfall dropping off a high shelf of rock and falling eight feet through a gray shroud of mist into the pool below” (p. 37)
“The boy walked out and squatted and laved up the dark water.” (p.38)
He held him and floated him about, the boy gasping and chopping the water” (p.39)
RITUALS
Fire
“I want to be with you.
You can´t [...] You have to carry the fire-
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is. [...] It´s inside you. (p. 278- 279)

Ashes
“The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void.” (p. 11)
Historical Context
"The 20th century could be seen as a race between two versions of man-made hell – the jackbooted state totalitarianism of Orwell's
Nineteen Eight-Four
, and the hedonistic ersatz paradise of
Brave New World
… With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it seemed for a time that
Brave New World
had won…all we would have to do was go shopping and smile a lot, and wallow in pleasures, popping a pill or two when depression set in."
Dystopia
SCIENCE FICTION
Precursor H. G. Wells.
Galaxies Far, Far Away
Alien life and other planets.
Future NOT LIKELY TO HAPPEN.

SPECULATIVE FICTION
Precursor: Jules Verne.
Brave New World
Potential reality.
Future LIKELY TO HAPPEN.
Main events in his life
Published Works
Family ties
Religion: Presence and Absence of God.
Rituals: Water, fire and ashes.
Earth as a primal home.
William Faulkner - Cormac McCarthy
stripped back prose (minimalist)
Depressing and gloomy tone and atmosphere.
A specific, unique way of playing with language.
McCarthy's lack of quotation marks and flowing prose, compared to Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness.
Settings in the American South.
Decadence as theme: Faulkner: Am. south, McCarthy: humanity.

Text characteristics
no chapter division
parataxis (no coordination, more like a flow)
fragmented language
punctuation kept to the minimum
no names (use of pronouns, sometimes wrong referents)
actions delineate characters
neologisms not as sign of innovation and progress but as residue
Erosion of language: "The name of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. Names of birds. Things to eat...How much was gone already?" (88, 89)
Language disintegration: the post-english (Benjamin Whitmer) "his honed sentences convey the careful impression of a language reduced to its indispensable elements. It’s entirely imaginable as a post-apocalyptic English: all the superfluity burned away, all flourish made irrelevant in the day-to-day business of survival."
Text characteristics
Earth as primal home
“Toxic waste seems to function in recent fiction both as a cultural metaphor for a society’s most general fears about its collective future and as expression of an ontological rupture in its perception of the Real.” ("The Postnatural Novel"; p. 197)
“I call a ‘toxic consciousness’ a society that has fouled its own nest; hence, the pollution of the natural World, (…) inevitably transmogrifies one’s experience of the earth as a primal home.” (Deitering; p. 200)
The man knew Earth before the disaster
"There was yet a lingering odor of cows in the barn and he stood there thinking about cows and he realized they were extinct. Was that true? There could be a cow somewhere being fed and care for. Could there? Fed what? Saved for what?"(120)
“Why are they the state roads?
Because they used to belong to the states. What used to be called the states.
But there’s not any more states?
No.
What happened to them?
I dont know exactly. That’s a good question.” (p. 43)

“He sat and ran his hand around in the works of the gutted machines and in the second one it closed over the cold metal cylinder. He withdrew his hand slowly and sat looking at a Coca Cola.
What is it, Papa?
It’s a treat. For you.
The boy took the can. It’s bubbly, he said.” (p. 23)

The man knew Earth before the disaster
The boy did not know Earth before the disaster
“He brought the frying pan from the stove and forked a piece of browned ham onto the boy’s plate and scooped scrambled eggs from the other pan and ladled out spoonfuls of baked beans and poured coffee into their cups. The boy looked up at him.
Go ahead, he said. Dont let it get cold.
What do I eat first?
Whatever you like.
Is this coffee?
Yes. Here. You put the butter on your biscuits like this.” (p. 145)

The boy did not know Earth before the disaster
“They pushed into the cab and he blew away the ash from the engineer’s seat and put the boy at the controls. (…) He made train noises and diesel horn noises but he wasnt sure what these might mean to the boy. After a while they just look through the silted glass (…) If they saw different worlds what they knew was the same. That the train would sit there slowly decomposing for all eternity and that no train would ever run again.” (p. 180)
“He held the boy close to him. So thin. My heart, he said. My heart. But he knew that if he were a good father still it might well be as she had said. That the boy was all that stood between him and death.” (p. 29)
“I have to watch you all the time, the boy said.
I know.
If you break little promises you’ll break big ones. That’s what you said.
I know but I wont.” (p. 34)

“He told the boy stories. Old stories of courage and justice as he remembered them until the boy was asleep in his blankets (…)” (p. 41)
http://thewritepractice.com/all-the-pretty-words-writing-in-the-style-of-cormac-mccarthy/
Writing Activity
Third person omniscient narrator

Shifts free indirect style

"He walked back out to the barn [...] There was yet a lingering odor of cows and he realized they were extinct. Was that true? There could be a cow somewhere being fed and cared for." (p.120)
Full transcript