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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

by Venky


The only way to describe the unsurpassed beauty of this book is to warn that it has the power to serrate the reader for life! If you are expecting a seraphic pastiche to this astonishing masterpiece then stay forewarned. What you instead experience is a raw, uncensored and uncluttered story that has the sheer power to unite you with your conscience!

Cormac McCarthy’s unusual setting is a post apocalyptic America, in which most of the human race has been wiped out. What remains represents an unfortunate vestige of the dark side of a complex human nature. Cannibalism and murder by scalping have become the unfortunate and odious orders of the day. Amidst this desolate setting, a protective father and his tender young son set out on the abandoned roads, carting all their possessions in a small barrow. Their objective: to head for the coast in the faint hope of being rescued by a non-bloodthirsty group of people (if such a conglomeration offering refuge in fact exists). They have just a small but potent revolver to either protect themselves or in the worst case scenario liberate themselves from the clutches of a world gone insane.

What follows is an unforgettable saga mesmerising in its sweep and magnificent in its wake. The inevitable clash between hope and hopelessness; faith and false pretenses; resoluteness and resignation; belief and blunders all converge together in a brilliant dance of absolute magic and astonishing mystique. While the courageous and adamant father represents the very beacon of inspiration and positiveness, the frail and famished son is the very epitome of muted strength and a fount of spiritual wisdom. As seemingly insurmountable hurdles threaten to put paid to their already receding hopes, innocence makes way for inevitable intransigence and compassion assumes the shape of essential cruelty. If you try to escape something for an inordinately long period of time, there is a dangerous possibility that you mutate into the very thing which you are trying to avoid!

McCarthy’s writing is pure, genuine and absolutely devoid of all clutter. There is no place for embarrassing melodrama or nausea inducing tear jerking passages. The greatest profundity of this work is its ruthless simplicity. McCarthy sticks to the fundamentals with a precision that can only be termed brutal. The journey of the nameless father and son is in fact the journey of humanity’s collective consciousness. A bleak and ravaged landscape, marauding bands of rampaging human monsters and a helpless but determined duo embellishing what is left of the core of humanity makes for an awe-inspiring roller coaster of a read.

The conversations between a father – who is painstakingly aware of the fact that should the forbidding situation arise, he would need to snuff out the life of his own blood, and the tender young child who is excruciatingly in the know of the fact that their final destination would but end at the cold altar of death – is exquisitely crafted and weaves around the metaphysical and the trivial. At the least expectant of moments, the pall of gloom is piercingly rend asunder by gleaming hope, even if purely intermittent. McCarthy with this work reaches out to the depth of the reader’s soul and makes her face inconvenient truths and uncomfortable secrets. No one can stop with a single reading of this wondrous work and is sure to succumb to the incorrigible haunting that will soon beset the mind once the covers close down.

“The Road” is a path which we all have encountered or will without a shade of uncertainty encounter in some phase of our fleeting and infinitesimal existence on this benevolent Planet. How we choose to distinguish ourselves during such a juncture will ultimately reflect upon the character instilled in us as human beings. Our wont to behave will shape our destiny. If however we choose to remain as restless puppets answering to the tugs and pulls of a violent string, we would be doing our unfortunate bit in the annihilation of human values. But if we can unshackle ourselves from the vile temptations offered by isolated situations of opportunism, we would have absorbed the basic grain of the fundamental truth and thereby furthered the cause and progress of man kind.

We would all have McCarthy to thank for it!

“The Road” – A path of purity and purpose!

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