How is McCarthy able to make the postapocalyptic world of "The Road" seem so real and utterly terrifing? Which descriptive passages are especially vivid and visceral in their depiction of the blasted landscape? What are the most horrifying features of the world in The Road and the survivors who inhabit it?

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Susie Cochrane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The question of McCarthy’s world in "The Road" being both real and terrifying is something of a paradox , but this is what McCarthy presents us with in his portrayal of a diligent father caring for his timid young son in this shockingly bleak yet realistic post-apocalyptic world. McCarthy contrasts the vulnerability of the pair against the blackened, stark landscape and, in doing so, manages to suggest that goodness and truth are worth preserving. When the father despairs that they will starve to death, he thinks instead about beauty and "things he’d no longer any way to think about."  When "the names of things" fall "into oblivion" and even "colours" are forgotten, he sees that he must keep his son alive, for his son is "carrying the fire" of hope and love. Contrast is used effectively throughout the novel as the tender and loving relationship between the father and son is juxtaposed with a world of cannibalism and violence. Even the apparently simple and straightforward prose is...

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