Please explain the meaning of the following quote from The Road by Cormac McCarthy. "'You forget somethings, don’t you?' 'Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.'"

The meaning of the quote "'You forget somethings, don’t you?' 'Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget'" in The Road is that we can't control what we remember, suggesting that memory has a life all its own. The son, having just seen a dried corpse, is looking for reassurance from his father that he won't remember everything he sees. The father's answer, however, is grim and ironic.

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The boy asks his father this question as they are trudging through a burned out, desolate city. They see a dried up corpse, and the father pulls the son closer, indicating that he shouldn't want to look too closely at what is all around them. The father says,

Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever.

The boy responds with what is a statement asking for reassurance, though it is posed as a question:

You forget some things, don't you?

The father answers by saying,

Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.

This is actually a very grim response, suggesting that it is the horrors the boy wants to forget that will stick with him, while he will grope in vain to remember the good.

This leads the father into a memory of being out in a boat with his uncle once, before the apocalypse occurred. It seems an ambiguous memory, because the landscape is less than idyllic. The man recalls the thin drool from his uncle's pipe, a dead perch...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1012 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 29, 2020