What does The Road ultimately suggest about good and evil?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting that in a number of Cormac McCarthy's other books, evil is shown to eventually triumph in the way that characters who are linked with goodness fall in the wake of the evil characters. What is different about this text is that McCarthy presents a small flame of home that continues to burn even though everything around it threatens to strangle it and extinguish it. Indeed, the father uses the symbol of "the fire" repeatedly to capture the fragile but enduring sense of human hope and morality in his injunction to the boy to "carry the fire." Note how the father responds when the boy asks him if the fire is real and where it is:

Is it real? The fire?

Yes it is.

Where is it? I dont know where it is.

Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it.

The forces of evil in this novel are immense and staggering, but what gives hope for humanity is the fire that this boy bears inside of him and the way that he continues to bear it. Constantly throughout the novel the son acts as a kind of moral check on the father, reminding him of his humanity and of morality. The way that the boy survives and is able to find another family that he can link into suggests a sense of prevailing good at the end of the novel. Even though the challenges he faces and will continue to face are immense, it is clear that good is not yet conquered and there is enough hope that it will survive and stand its own against the evil that threatens it.

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