Does the father die in The Road?

The father dies at the end of The Road.

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The father contracts a devastating cough by the end of the novel. It impacts his ability to scavenge, hunt, or travel, forcing the boy to take on the protector and provider role his father had filled for so long. Ultimately, the father dies, leaving his son alone.

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The father contracts a devastating cough by the end of the novel. It impacts his ability to scavenge, hunt, or travel, forcing the boy to take on the protector and provider role his father had filled for so long. Ultimately, the father dies, leaving his son alone.

The father's death is tragic but also representative of the cycle of life itself. Life grows, then withers and dies, making room for new life to take its place. So it is with the father and the boy. The father spent the novel caring for the boy, and once he begins to die, the boy takes up the parental role out of necessity. Once the father is dead, the boy is, at least on a symbolic level, initiated into the world of adults. While he does join another band of friendly humans, there is no implication that he will revert to his former dependent state.

The final image of the trout in the water is also linked to the father's death. Just as the father's life continues on through the life of his son, so too does nature go on despite apocalyptic calamity. This sense of continuity might not mitigate the tragedy of the father's death, but it does imbue it with meaning.

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