Some Great Statements in Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD

At some point I hope to post a longer reflection on Cormac McCarthy’s pulitzer prize winning novel The Road. The book’s beautiful prose takes us to an ugly world, ugly but not without hope.

One of the joys of great literature is the opportunity to savor the well spoken word. The great writers model for us how to communicate in fresh, piercing ways. This post is a selection of some stellar statements.

describing the man and son on the road, McCarthy refers to them as “each the other’s world entire” (6).

the bombed landscape is “like a charcoal drawing sketched across the waste” (8).

the man and boy discuss the way that “the things you put into your head are there forever” (12).

the weather is “Cold to crack the stones. To take your life” (14).

the landscape is an “ashen scabland” (16).

people are “creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last” (29).

beholding beauty, McCarthy writes of the man and his impulse to worship: “The color of it moved something in him long forgotten. Make a list. Recite a litany. Remember” (31).

a question is posed: “How does the never to be differ from what never was?” (32).

the sad state of the darkened world: “By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp” (32).

the man has taught his son: “if you break little promises you’ll break big ones” (34).

a waterfall is encountered, and “They walked out along the rocks to where the river seemed to end in space . . . . The river went sucking over the rim and fell straight down into the pool below. The entire river” (39).

Read the whole thing.

4 Responses to Some Great Statements in Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD

  1. Greg Bailey March 13, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Thanks for these excerpts. I just read this great book last year, and I was so mesmerized by it I read it again before the year was over. McCarthy is a tremendously gifted writer.

  2. Clint Humfrey March 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    The description of that clean place, mountainous and heaven-like is the most hope filling thing I’ve read in English literature outside the Bible.

  3. Steve Poage March 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    McCarthy’s strikingly spare but piercingly descriptive language evokes such jarring, unforgettable images. He is a master craftsman. There are those around us still who have the gift. Another writer I’d commend to you is Walter Wangerin, Jr., (The Book of the Dun Cow; The Book of Sorrows; The Ragman and Other Cries of Faith; others…) who has the ability to communicate beauty or devastation–and truth–with breathtaking prose. I look forward to your further comments on The Road.


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