Why does Cormac McCarthy not give his characters names in The Road? How do the labels "boy" and "man" affect the way readers relate to them?

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This is most likely an artistic decision, done primarily for aesthetic effect and narrative reinforcement. The world of McCarthy's The Road is a bleak and barren wasteland. When we read McCarthy's prose, we almost imagine the entire world in black and white. Besides pockets of chaos that contain the most absolutely wretched levels of humanity, the narrative journey of the road is a somber and arduous trudge that is not nearly as tragic as it is simply numbing. The characters are not on a traditional journey, because in this world, there is not a significant amount to gain.

The characters go unnamed to give them a flat effect, even though they both go through huge dynamic changes. They have no grand destiny or special skills that you would expect from typical protagonists; both the man and the boy are nobodies. While that sounds harsh, it is also what makes both characters so extraordinary. They could be absolutely anyone. McCarthy shows that anyone could be capable of surviving miserable...

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