How significantly does the setting (time, place and situation) contribute to the overall mood and messages of the novel?

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slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Road, the setting is a main character. It has just as much influence on the plot and characters as anything else in the novel. The situation is arguable the most important element of setting in this novel. The post-apocalyptic road they are traveling (in a non-descript time and place) is both a looming obstacle and source of hope. Both of these elements fit into the depressing and hopeful mood of the work. The road is a looming obstacle for obvious reasons; they face the threat of death on a daily basis. Survival is the most important thing to them. But the road can also be seen as a source of hope. They are traveling south to the coast. To where they hope they will find something…anything. This hope is what carries them along the road and what contributes to the mood of the work. Hope is not only the mood but the message of the novel as well. McCarthy writes the novel with the boy as a beacon of hope for human kind to persevere.