What according to mccarthy is the purpose of survival .I was given a 5 page essay to write about this from the novel and I don't know where to start. I just need to know where and how im going to...

 What according to mccarthy is the purpose of survival .

I was given a 5 page essay to write about this from the novel and I don't know where to start. I just need to know where and how im going to start this essay Thanks !

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Road, Cormac McCarthy says--by way of the father--that the key to survival is keeping his son alive: "keeping the fire alive."  We learn that the father is going to die, so his survival is not the question: he has a horrific cough because he has breathed so much ash.

The boy is a personification of the fire, survival, and the Holy Grail.  The father is holding on to dear life to get his son on down the road, out of harm's way, toward a new family, to the coast.  The entire human race may very well depend on the boy's survival: his a kind of savior (Christ-figure).  He may be the only young good guy left (born after the Apocalypse).

"Fire" is mentioned 76 times in the novel.  Most of the time it is used literally to mean fire.  A few times is it used as a metaphor by the father and/or son.

Pg. 83: "Nothing bad is going to happen to us...because we're carrying the fire."

Pg. 129: "We're the good guys...and we're carrying the fire."

Pg. 216: "Are they carrying the fire too?  They could be yes.  But we dont know.  So we have to be vigilant."

Literally, fire is survival: it is used for survival, warmth, cooking, protection.  Metaphorically, it is hope, faith, God, the past, the future, humanity, survival, goodness, family.

Read the study guide:
The Road

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