In The Road, what are some elements of style used by the author, Cormac McCarthy, throughout the book?
Im not sure exactly what is being asked by this question so if you could go into detail it would be greatly appreciated.
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When a question asks for "elements of style," the words classic, prose, presentation, pace, language, intention, detail, narrative and formal or informal, amongst others, become relevant. Does the writer have a standardized style? Is his style direct, imaginative, poetic or romantic, plain or complicated, minimalist or seriously descriptive?
Cormac McCarthy is well-known for his minimalistic writing style. In The Road, McCarthy disregards conformity, frustrating many readers when he ignores the "classic" approach but adding a depth to the novel that forces the reader to examine the unspoken and the mundane. Just as the boy and his father survive on the bear minimum so the reader must survive on a very basic use of punctuation.
However, it is descriptive in the detail when the landscape is being assessed -“charred and limbless trunks of trees,” for example, emphasizes the importance of the terrain in the journey. It is poetic in places with rich imagery: "Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease." This contradicts the interaction between the man and his son which is plain and repetitive but which builds tension in its delivery. The reader is fully aware of the "ash" and the "gray" days as they are regularly referred to.
The conversations between father and son may increase the reading pace as the reader moves quickly through those pages but at the same time, they create a sombre mood. The seemingly insignificant content makes the reader far more aware of the struggle and how days become weeks and time becomes less relevant; and so the pace slows again. The boy and his father have no energy for long conversations or discussions of things of academic merit. Basic necessity requires basic rules.
The use of the third person narrative is also indicative of the style and gives the novel its structure. "Carrying the fire," in other words, remaining true to a moral code, and being "the good guys," searching for a future where there is apparently no future but not ever losing the compassion, the love and the drive bring this novel to its conclusion.
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