The book opens with a dream, and contains several dreams throughout. The beginning dream is significant, because it foreshadows the trouble in the book before the reader fully understands it. The book begins with him waking in the dark, sleeping next to the child, describing the dream.
The father describes a dream where he “had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand” and the cave contained a monstrous creature.
And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. (p. 3-4)
This foreshadows the danger the man and boy are in. The world is desolate, and described as “barren, sightless, godless” (p. 4). The boy leading him in the dream symbolizes how the father is “led” by his desire to protect the boy. The boy is the sole purpose of his existence, and everything he does is to protect him.