Overall, how does The Road connect to the ideas of Transcendentalism?
The primary focus of Transcendentalism was for individuals to break away from conformity and establish a stronger relationship with their own emotional sensibilities. The hope was that these moments of affect would be the constants in a world of contingency. It is here where McCarthy's work echoes Transcendentalist sensibilities. The father has only one driving force that animates his being. The love he has for his son is representative of the Transcendental belief of being in touch with one's emotions, expressing what matters in a world of fleeting temporary elements. Certainly, the setting of a post- apocalyptic reality helps to force the issue. However, the overriding theme of devotion to one's emotional interests is highly Transcendentalist.
Another Transcendentalist theme is the ability to remain an individual. The need for self wisdom, away from the prying and intrusive elements of others, is something vitally important to Transcendentalism. The father represents this in how he protects for his son, fighting each moment for his well being and ensuring that the boy is protected from the harsh elements of the world. The father has wisdom in that he is completely aligned with what is important. In the Transcendental idea of "Know Thyself," the father represents this in that he does know who he is and what he is to embody.