In The Road, how does the plot resemble a quest? More specifically, what is the boy's true purpose in pursuing his survival, continuing to wander south?

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slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quest or journey stories exhibit specific characteristics, namely: the hero facing many obstacles and the hero traveling far distances. Both of these characteristics are easily found in The Road. Our hero(es) certainly face many obstacles, the environment and cannibalistic gangs being just two of them. They are able to overcome these obstacles with sheer will and determination and a small bit of luck. While the father might be the automatic choice for the hero in this story, it could easily be argued that the son is the hero. He, at least, deserves to share the title of hero with his father. While they do face the same physical obstacles, they also face different internal obstacles. The father grapples with his guilt over letting his wife kill herself and wonders if he is making the right choice by continuing on this journey south. The son struggles with retaining the small amount of hope that he still has, while he also has to watch his father die. Both of these heroes overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It goes without saying that they cover a large area in their travels, finally making it to the coast. Many readers would say that the boy’s true purpose is to carry hope out into the world. He is the last character in the book seen displaying innocence and a belief in the good of man. He truly is carrying the fire. And that fire is the hope for humanity. That is his true purpose.