List all of the themes found in "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When you are looking to find a theme of a piece of literature, keep in mind that themes can ususally be stated in one word, and that word describes something pretty major that is evident in the writing.  And, themes aren't necessarily etched in stone; there are so many different possibilities for themes in every piece of writing.   If you want to find the themes that you feel your teacher is asking for, think about what he/she has discussed the most in relation to the book so far, and that will lead you to the themes they might be seeking.

In Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," there are many possibilities for themes.  If you think about the novel as a whole, what are some things, feelings, or areas that are most obvious?  This a novel that is filled with pretty sad and depressing events, so most of the themes are going to be dire:  loss, loneliness, survival, destruction, isolation, despair, and endurance.  Any one of those words can sum up a good portion of the focus of the novel, and you could take any one of them and discuss it in great detail.  However, there are underlying themes that are more positive:  humanity, decency, familial love, and loyalty.  These positive traits are evidenced through the narrator and his son, while most of the more negative themes come out through the world that they are living in.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

bleilo | Student

The bond of a father and son, prevails over all.

 The "Good Guys" prevail.

bkbrownlee | Student

I would suggest there are multiple ways to consider even the concept of theme itself. While many suggest one-word themes such as "isolation" or "destruction," one can also go deeper by forming statements that embody the author's message. For example, one might assert McCarthy is saying, "that one should ‘simply care about things and people and be more appreciative…’" or "Life is pretty damn good, even when it looks bad. We should be grateful" (Conlon). Both of those statements, by the way, came from an interview with the author himself. So to paraphrase, one could say a theme of the novel is gratitude for that which with we have been blessed. Many people today are so materialistic and honed in on ideas of success or recognition. If the world were gone in a day, what would they be left with that really mattered? What really matters to YOU?

That's one lesson McCarthy teaches with this incredibly written novel.

tristankhan | Student


conflict in ideology 






father/son relations 








To name a few...

Not in any order of relevance or importance. 

dianabanana116 | Student

i have 3 weeks to read this!