Write a brief author statement explaining the meaning or significance of the original scene.  "They crawled slowly through the leaves toward what looked like lower ground. He lay listening,...

Write a brief author statement explaining the meaning or significance of the original scene.

 

"They crawled slowly through the leaves toward what looked like lower ground. He lay listening, holding the boy. He could hear them in the road talking. Voice of a woman. Then he heard them in the dry leaves. He took the boy's hand and pushed the revolver into it. Take it, he whispered. Take it. The boy was terrified. He put his arm around him and held him. His body so thin. Dont be afraid, he said. If they find you you are going to have to do it. Do you understand? Shh. No crying. Do you hear me? You know how to do it. You put it in your mouth and point it up. Do it quick and hard. Do you understand? Stop crying. Do you understand?

I think so. No. Do you understand? Yes. Say yes I do Papa. Yes I do Papa. He looked down at him. All he saw was terror. He took the gun from him. No you dont, he

I dont know what to do, Papa. I dont know what to do. Where will you be? It's okay. I dont know what to do. Shh. I'm right here. I wont leave you.

You promise. Yes. I promise. I was going to run. To try and lead them away. But I cant leave you. Papa? Shh. Stay down. I'm so scared. Shh."

 

 

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This episode in The Road is filled with terror and love, both of which are abundant in the novel.

The scene itself is terrifying to us, the readers, and especially the boy.  He faces two awful choices: does he take his father's gun and shoot himself (suicide) or, refusing that, become food for cannibals?  Fearful of both, he pleads with his father not to abandon him.  Knowing this, the father stays and comforts him, showing great tenderness.  The father was going to sacrifice himself for the boy by leading the cannibals on a chase, but he decides that family unity is the best path.  And, ultimately, love wins: they survive.

The scene is full of morbid irony.  Usually putting a gun in a child's mouth is not indicative of good parenting, but in this case it very well may be justifiable.  Such are the unnatural choices a father and son must make in this post-apocalyptic world.

Remember, the boy is the "Holy Grail," the fire that the father is keeping.  His survival not only keeps the father alive, but it may well keep the world alive, for the boy's innocence and faith may well be the spark that keeps the human race going.  This scene is one of many near-death experiences that the two face in the novel.  While the father usually saves the boy from death, it is the boy's decision to stay together that saves his father in this one.

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The Road

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