What examples of intertexts are in The Road by Cormac McCarthy?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us begin by considering what an intertext is. Intertexts can be defined as refering to the presence of texts within a text. It is relevant to our discussion that myth is often a common example of intertext in various stories, as is shown by the way that mythic archetypes can be identified in many other texts.

Clearly, with this text, there appear to be two main intertexts related to mythic archetypes. The first is that of the journey. The father and his son in this text, like so many other characters, embark on a form of an odyssey, in this case trying to reach a place of greater safety where they can maximise their chances of survival. However, linked in with this is the second intertext, which focuses on the relationship between the father and the son and the dynamics between them. This is much deeper than it might appear to be on the surface, as although the father is ostensibly the protector and guide of his son, there are many ways in which the son is shown to also guide his father, as is indicated by the dream that the father has in the very opening section of the novel:

In the dream from which he'd wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand.

As we read the novel we can see the truth in this dream, as the child metaphorically "guides" the father just as much as the father guides and looks after his son, though the child seems to focus more on maintaining his father's sense of moral goodness.