How would I analyze the role of faith or spirituality in The Road?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although there are no direct references to religion in this devastating novel which paints such a bleak picture of our future, there are plenty of references to belief and faith, and images with religious overtones are used. Perhaps one of the most notable comes at the end of the novel, when the father, who is clearly dying, leaves his son with a powerful legacy. Note the somewhat bizarre absence of apostrophes to indicate contraction in some words:

I want to be with you.

You cant.


You cant. You have to carry the fire.

I dont know how to.

Yes you do.

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.

References to the "fire" that is "inside" of us surely can be seen as a thinly-veiled allusion to faith in some sort of hopeful future in an otherwise terrifying world which gives such little assurance of any kind of future whatsoever. The ending indicates the strength of such beliefs, as the boy finds a family to take him in and look after him, and to give him the future that his father sacrificed everything for his son could have.

Other references to spirituality and faith concern the boy's belief in the goodness of people and the way that he acts as a moral check on his father, preventing him from forgetting his humanity, such as with the thief who steals from them whilst they are on the beach and the old man they encounter. Throughout the novel, faith acts as an inspiring antidote to the otherwise grim and faithless scenario we are presented with.