What impact do the father's dreams have on the: plot, boy, and overall theme of reality vs. memory?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The father’s dreams of memory in The Road provide background information.  They tell us about the life he used to live.  Since the setting and events of the novel are so bleak, the memories provide a vivid contrast.  They take us back to a time and place where the family was happier, back when the mother was still alive.  They also provide us with some information about what happened, or at least the family’s initial reactions to the tragedy.  An example would be the filling of the bathtub with water. (p. 146)

The second kind of dream is the mental and emotional kind.  The father often revert to a kind of fugue-like state, reaming of better times or imagining things that do not really happen.  When the father remembers his own childhood, he thinks of dreams.

This is where I used to sleep, my cot against this wall. In the nights in their thousands to dream the dreams of a child’s imaginings, worlds rich or fearful such as might offer themselves but never the one to be. (p. 27)

The father recognizes the importance of dreams to our psyche, but also sees an innocence in them.  In the new harsh world in which he finds himself, both kinds of dreams are pointless.  His only dream is to see his son survive.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.

You can go to this link to read the edition the page numbers came from: http://www.amazon.com/The-Road-Oprahs-Book-Club/dp/0307387895/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343663413&sr=8-1&keywords=the+road

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