In The Road, how is the survivors' cannibalism during the post-apocalypse a metaphor for man's initial destruction in relation to the setting?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

McCarthy's construction of cannibalism is reflective of the setting in a couple of ways.  The first would be that human beings have cannibalized the land in pursuit of their own militaristic ends.  The post apocalyptic condition of the setting is not natural.  There is no vegetation.  There is no animal life of which to speak.  The air is not fit to breathe.  The water has been polluted.  The cannibalism present is also reflective of how human beings have treated the land and the world around them, living off it to further their own agendas and desires.  There is no reciprocity in the setting, as human beings have used it for their own purposes.  This is similar to cannibalism, where objects are seen as means to ends as opposed to ends in their own rights.  There is also an emotional connection to cannibalism and the setting.  The basic premise behind cannibalism is a severing of connection to one another from an emotional point of view.  Human beings are not seen as sources of companionship and mutual respectful relationships.  Rather, they are seen as sources of food and conquest.  In much the same way, the setting has been constructed as one where there is no symbiotic relationship present.  There is only destruction evident, and one in which human beings have used it for their own purposes with no emotional connection evident.