In The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the boy and his father struggle to survive in a desolate world. This is the only life the boy has known, but his father recalls a normal childhood, a better life, family Christmases, and his wife. Everything about their current circumstances is extreme and brutal and there is no possibility of surviving unless the father trusts no one and diligently protects himself and his son. His son needs reassurance that they are "the good guys" because he is exposed to so much callous and inhumane behavior and this makes him crave something more. Later in the story, he is desperate to help the old man even if it means that he must share his food, and he is disappointed in his father's reactions and lack of trust. The boy does know that his father is searching for something better where he will be safe and have a chance at a future, but the fact that it remains undefined and potentially unlikely means that the boy does not have the same drive or even grasp the concept.
On their journey, two important objects which contribute to the plot and therefore the development of the story are the shopping trolley and the gun. The shopping trolley represents their whole life. It is a constant in their lives and this is significant because it represents stability in their bizarre situation. The trolley allows them to store their belongings and keep going, so it develops the theme of hope. The gun represents safety and survival; without it they might be dead so its importance cannot be overlooked. The man must face the ultimate test when his son's life is threatened and he kills a man. The gun may be the only protection the son has if his father dies so it is crucial to the development of the story and also reflects the changing circumstances and the man's determination.