In The Road, why does the son apologize for what  he had said about the dead in the road?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The boy and his father in The Road, following a disaster of life-altering proportions, have seen more than their fair share of violence and carnage everywhere. They cannot rest without being aware that there may be someone out there who would eat them without a second thought.

Despite everything, up until now, the boy has managed to retain his compassion, even to the point of reminding his father to be more considerate and kind-hearted and even wondering if his father is still one of "the good guys."

Whilst walking along the road, they see the remains of people after what was apparently a raging fire. The agony is still reflected on the faces - "mouths howling"- and they have almost fused into the tarred road. The sight is horrific but the boy acts as if it is an everyday occurrence and is seemingly "untroubled. " He reassures his father that he is okay and they move on.

It is the sight of the charred remains of a baby "blackening on the spit" that shortly afterwards has the most impact on the boy. He apologizes to his father for what he said - or didn't say - about the burnt bodies on the road earlier. The boy is grasping on to what he thinks is his own fading kindness and concern as he confirms that they could have taken the baby with them - under different circumstances of course. He is reassured by his father's agreement. Without even realizing it, the boy is just making sure that he has not lost his capacity to remain one of the "good guys."

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The Road

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