McCarthy'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?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This text actually seems to be more optimistic given the ending compared to other texts by the same author, such as No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian. Although the grim, dystopic future explored in The Road clearly presents a dog-eat-dog world where the strong prey on the weak for survival, at the same time the way that the father and his son manage to survive against all the odds, and in many ways act as a force for good, indicates that this novel, at least, supports the supremacy of good against evil. This is shown with the repeated exhortation of the father to his son to "keep the fire" and the way that after the father's death, the boy connects with "one of the good guys":

The man pulled back the hood from his face. His hair was long and matted. He looked at the sky. As if there were anything there to be seen. He looked at the boy. Yeah, he said. I'm one of the good guys.

The way that the boy finds a family he can be part of and where he will be loved and protected seems to indicate hope, which is captured in the symbol of the fire, that the boy is told to keep burning and to keep hold of in his spirit. Even though the text ends without a secure "happy ending," there is enough hope to give the reader the impression that the forces of good are still greater than the forces of evil in this text, and despite the significant doubts that remain over the boy's future, there is enough hope to in turn give the reader hope about what will happen to him.