In The Road, how would you describe the man and the boy's character?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is an obvious difference between the man and the boy in this excellent novel as they embark together on their journey. We can usefully utilise opposites to describe them and shed light on their character. For example, we can relate the state of innocence to the boy. He, throughout the novel, wants to help the people that they come across and lacks the kind of cynicism and instinct for danger that his father possesses. The father we could relate to the state of experience. He has witnessed the kind of behaviour that has accompanied the apocalypse that has reduced the world to its present state and is incredibly suspicious of everyone and thing in his attempt to ensure the survival of his son. A classic example of these two differing states of being comes when they encounter the old man, travelling by himself. The father's automatic thought is that he is a decoy, whereas his son just wants to help him. Note the conversation that occurs during their dinnertime:

I know what the question is, the man said. The answer is no.

What's the question?

Can we keep him. We cant.

I know.

You know.

The boy automatically believes in people and in their innate goodness, whereas the father automatically distrusts such instincts. Interestingly, at various points in the novel, the son almost seems to perform the function of reminding his father of his humanity. This, I would argue, is the crucial difference between these two characters.

kazmig | Student

The intensity of emotions ideas and level of understanding is the basic difference between the man and the boy,s character.Innocence is the basic charactersitic of a boy while experience is the assence of life of the man. Like in tales written for the boys have simplicity idea and perception.When we use to deal with a boy we try to be streight, simple and easy to deliver or to attain some thing from him.On the other hand when we deal with a man the most important thing in our mind is his maturity level or age factor we try to deal with him with  respect and honour.The knowledge, experience, observation and understanding of life of a man makes us to treat him differently.