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

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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...

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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.

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