What has the father noticed about the boy's emotional growth from the previous year in The Road?
It is clear that the boy in this dystopian novel has had to cope with far more than any "normal" boy growing up in any "normal" time. The narrative of this story describes how the boy is forced to contemplate burnt bodies, acts of cannibalism and the destruction of humanity where life is cheap and violence is a way of existence for so many. This is perhaps best captured in the incident where the father shoots a man and the boy is splattered by the dead man's brains. More than this, however, it is clear that the boy realises a deeper truth about humanity itself, which is evident to the father:
The frailty of everything revealed at last... Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.
The truth that the boy grasps, terribly early for his age, is that mankind is utterly frail and there is only death that awaits him and his father. He has to be taught how to fire the gun correctly in order to be able to kill himself in case of capture. He has to view other horrendous scenes. As a result, the father notices that his son becomes more withdrawn and silent because of everything he sees. The father can only wonder what kind of world he is bringing his son into, and whether it is actually worth the continual struggle for survival and of hope against despair.