Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic thriller The Road is rife with symbolism as it tackles the state of the world after disaster and terror has struck, killing off most of humanity.
Among the many symbols, the father carries a loaded gun with him at all times, refusing to fire it unless it’s an absolute necessity. While it is clearly an obvious weapon and useful tool to have, it holds much deeper symbolism, rooted in humanity’s own destruction at the hands of its technology. The gun essentially represents nuclear armistice, which was designed to keep each side safe, while holding the trigger to the most powerful weapons known to exist. In the end, nuclear warfare has destroyed the world, just as the father is killed with his own gun.
The father carries his son throughout the wasteland at times. While this is realistic, it is also symbolic of parenthood. The father is more than willing to carry his son through the most difficult of times, acting as a support and guide for him.
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