Humans have a very powerful survival instinct, and Cormac McCarthy demonstrates this well in the novel, where many times as I read I felt like I would have given up long before this man and his son. One of the problems he highlights is that they have to sacrifice some fundamental elements of their humanity in order to survive. The man has to kill others, and others have to become cannibals. Hard to say how I would react in such a horrible situation but I have a hard time believing I would be capable of such acts, or would still want to survive when faced wth them.
In the book The Road the man and his son are on a road following some kind of cataclysmic destruction of the world. The mother in the story does not believe that she can go on anymore and takes her own life. Therefore, the man and his son are left on their own to go the journey alone.
The landscape is charred and barren with the exception of occasional houses which have been looted and damaged beyond use. The two pass down the road pushing a shopping cart filled with found items. They struggle to find food, drink, clothing, blankets, and fuel. Anything that can be used for survival is important.
However, the two are not totally alone on the road. Scattered here and there are a population of people who in desperation are resorting to cannibalism. The man and the boy carry a gun with two bullets to use in case that they need to end their own lives.
After reading the book I thought to myself that it did not seem worth the effort to survive when no one could know what bad or good thing was around the bend. There seemed to be very little good things at all. The only pleasant experience it seemed that the man and the boy had was when they had found a bunker full of food with cots to sleep in and could actually spend a few days living an almost normal pre-disaster existence.
The previous editor talked about the will to survive being strong and that is why the people kept going. Humans have the idea of hope within them. For the boy, he knew no other way of life so the journey down the road was just natural living. Had I been the man and I was dying, I would have been terrified to leave my child behind to such an awful world. I did not find what we knew of the world in the book as worth staying in, but then one never knows for sure what is around the next bend. The fact that the boy meets some good people after his father's death gives us some hope of a better future.