Despite its interesting plot, McCarthy fails to illustrate the events that led to the end of the world. This book is just a description of the events that build up to the situation in which the father and son find themselves. Rambo explains that the boy and the father were the only survivors after the end of the world (12). The text is interesting especially when it explains the memory of the father before the end of the world. Nevertheless, one would question why the two are the only survivors. Without a proper explanation of the origin of the event that led to the end of the world, it is difficult to establish whether this story is an imaginary tale or a true story.
Rambo explains how the desolate world remains inhabitable after the end of the world. Nevertheless, the author fails to explain how the conditions that rendered the world inhabitable affect the man and the boy. Rambo states that, “both the man and the boy move through the remains of houses, of streets, of dried-out streams and barren farmlands” (13). This text clearly indicates that there was a catastrophic event that facilitated the apocalypse. According to Rambo (12), the land is covered in ashes and there are no signs of life in the land. Although the story reminds us of the other world before the end of the world, there is no proper connection between the two worlds. The unnamed characters in this text do not bear any significant memory of the past world. As such, the author fails to convince readers that the story is a true event that occurred during a specific time.
The survival of the two signifies their uniqueness compared to other humans. According to Rambo (45), the glimpses of the previous lives and world is a sign that the two are not mutant as portrayed by the writer. In this manner, while there are only two survivors, it is imperative to question their purpose in the story. McCarthy says, “Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again” (241). However, the author explains the reason why the boy does not know about the previous world. On the other hand, readers ask how the child survived, having been born before the collapse of the previous world.
Later, the author explains that the boy meets another family that embraces him after his father dies (Rambo 45). According to McCarthy, the mother would sometimes talk to him about God (45). According to the writer, the boy better talked to his father than to God. The author further explains that the mother to the boy tried to explain to him how God breathes through every individual (McCarthy 241). The boy’s survival after his father’s death is fictitious and unrealistic. Yet Schwartz says, “the threat is not just dying; it’s surviving” (14). Although the author uses the event to explain how the boy is redeemed from the collapsed world, the story fails to convince the readers by the use of the event as a testimony. McCarthy uses her story to explain the persistence, hope as well as regeneration after the collapse of the world (246).
In as much as the McCarthy uses the story to explain how parental love can bring hope and triumph to individuals, the story remains scanty (231). The apocalypse in the text has not been discussed in depth to allow the readers understand the actual events that occurred in the world. Kathleen, critics the work of McCarthy by claiming that, the redemptive mythology fails to consider the connection between the previous world and the present world (50). On the other hand, Rambo explains that there is no connection between the past, present and, the future according to McCarthy’s tale (4). It is therefore, difficult to anticipate what is going to happen in future. Rambo maintains that the story explains an impossibility (6). The life after resurrection and how Christians struggle to continue to eternity is not well explained by the author.
Although one can decipher what the author is trying to explain, it is difficult to understand why the writer uses an ambiguous method to explain the process of redemption and resurrection (Brinkmeyer 40). Rambo further claims that the tale of the apocalyptic world and the occurrences in it cannot be explained through McCarthy’s story alone (7). Most literally critics believe that there is no life ahead of the redemption. Rambo understands redemption as a violent word that explains the event that occurs in an unrecoverable world (3). On the other hand, Dana explains that McCarthy’s story explains how underexplored story of redemption after an apocalyptic ending is (34). He believes that the generative stories can be done in a better way than this.
Meanwhile, McAdams explains that McCarthy uses a child-like description to tell a catastrophic event that occurs in the world (5). The story is imaginary and may not be used by the readers to explain how the lives are redeemed after the apocalypse. The hardships that the boy and the man go through are enough to convince the reader that they are redeemed. Moreover, the boy finally gets redeemed by an imaginary mother. This story is therefore unrealistic, unreal and anecdotal.
McAdams, Daniel. The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By . New York: Oxford UP, 2006.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Knopf, 1996.
Phillips, Dana. “History and the Ugly Facts of Blood Meridian.” Cormac McCarthy: New Directions . Ed. James D. Lilley. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico, 2002. 17-46.
Rambo, Shelly L. “Beyond Redemption?: Reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road after the End of the World.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 41.2 (2008): 99.
Sands, Kathleen. “Tragedy, Theology, and Feminism in the Time after Time.” New Literary History35 (2004): 41-61.
Schwartz, John Burnham. MP3 Commentary. “The Audio Book Club on Cormac McCarthy.” 31 May 2007. Slate. From: <http://www.slate.com/id/2167335/>.