What role does violence play in The Road?

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slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Road, Cormac McCarthy paints a bleak picture of humanity, where many of the remaining survivors have resorted to cannibalism as a source of sustenance. This brings to light that violence is always a threat to the father and son as they travel the road. They must be vigilant and constantly watch for the “bad guys” who would use violence on then. A great example of this is when the father is shot in the leg while walking through a seemingly deserted town. The violence is a threat that constantly hangs over their heads. Violence is also a means of protection for the father and son. Perhaps that should be amended to just the father. He has no qualms about using violence against anyone who threatens them. The son, however, feels differently and doesn’t wish harm on many of the people they encounter. An example of this occurs when the father threatens to kill the man who stole all their belongings off the beach. The father would not hesitate were it not for the son begging him to be kind.