"The Road" is a wonderful story of man's will to survive. We can infer several things about the man and the boy in the first 150 pages. One thing which is never really stated is how resourceful and committed the man is to save his son. The man is brave. The man is very sick but continues to struggle to try and get his son to safety. On page 4 it talks about him "glassing the valley below," with his binoculars. Then on page 5 McCarthy talks about the man folding a blue plastic tarp, and carrying out to the grocery cart. On page 6 we read that they both carry knapsacks with essential items in them "just in-case they have to ditch the shopping cart and make a run for it." This indicates that the man is experienced in survival and he finds useful things to save for later. The man knows they can't survive another winter in the north, so he in his practical common sense way is trying to get he and his son South to warmer weather.The child is a frightened little boy. In the novel, we read that the father doesn't want to leave him alone for fear he will wake up and freak out. He thinks, "he's done it before." The boy is very shy. On pages 146-147 they get some luck and find food and shelter. The boy wants his dad to "say thanks." The father suggests the boy do it, but he replies, "I don't know how." Eventually he does say thanks in a beautifully simple sentence.
Examine their actions as they relate to the setting: A man and his son struggle to survive in what is essentially hell. Why would they want to stay alive? We know that some people (the mother) have chosen suicide over this struggle. Others have turned to cannibalism, reduced to their lowest animal nature. "Good" people seem to have been killed off. Yet these two survive. What is keeping them alive? What is McCarthy saying about human nature through the beliefs and actions of these two characters (in relation to the setting and compared to other surviving humans)?