How is the boy a character foil to his father in The Road?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A character foil is a character who highlights the hidden or opposing traits in the main character.  In McCarthy's The Road, the boy is a foil for his father because the boy highlights the lost sense of innocence that his father once had and of which he continues to dream.  The father was born before the nuclear disaster, so he remembers fishing with his family and playing on green grass.  He remembers a time when people were civilized.  The boy, on the other hand, was born after the disaster and only knows of the wasteland that the world has become.  The father is always fearful of others and stays well away from strangers whom they encounter on the road.  But the boy is curious about people and does not fully understand the dire situation that most people find themselves in while on the road.  So, the boy embodies the lost innocence of his father.