What is a good thesis for an essay on The Road by Cormac McCarthy?

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"The Road" is a parable about good and evil, a cautionary tale about the dangers of an extreme materialistic culture that has lost its moral compass. The father and son make their way in a world devastated by an unnamed cataclysmic event, which has resulted in the death of most of humanity, the extinction of plant life and animal life, and the creation of a gray twilight for most of the year. The father and son struggle to survive in this harsh environment where it is every man (or woman or child) for himself/herself.

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A good place to start with a thesis statement is to write a statement that you either believe in or a statement that you can adequately support. For a thesis statement regarding an entire novel, I would recommend going with a thesis statement that explores a theme of the novel or analyzes a character. One is not better than the other, and the two often work hand in hand anyway. Characters often illustrate themes, and themes can be seen through characters.

This particular novel is a visceral novel. It is a novel that is meant to get an emotional reaction out of the reader. That's an amazing thing considering that the man and his son are both quite emotionally flat. Their environment has completely numbed them to the horrors that are around them. Humanity, it seems, has been physically wiped out by something. The remaining people have metaphorically lost their humanity as cannibalism and other atrocities are happening.

Despite these horrors, the man still clings on to a strong moral compass that guides him to do whatever is necessary to protect his son from seeing the lost humanity and becoming as deadened as the world around them. I think a good thesis could be written around the concept of humanity shown in the book. For example:

Although the world of The Road is a world in which humanity's moral compass has been destroyed, readers are given hope for the future of mankind through the man and his son.

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A good thesis statement would be "Love keeps us human, as is illustrated through the love the Man and the Boy share in the novel." Arguably, the father and the son maintain their humanity in the face of the desolation, isolation, and desperation of a post-apocalyptic world through their strong and tender relationship with one other. While the Man's care for the Boy is not enough to keep the Man alive after he is shot with an arrow, in many ways, bleak as it is, the journey is their reward. That the Man has the Boy to care for on the road makes life, even in this terrible world, worth living. 

You would need to back this thesis up with quotes from the novel. One quote that shows love is the following: 

They squatted in the road and ate cold rice and cold beans that they'd cooked days ago. Already beginning to ferment. No place to make a fire that would not be seen. They slept huddled together in the rank quilts in the dark and the cold. He held the boy close to him. So thin. My heart, he said. My heart. . . . he knew that . . . the boy was all that stood between him and death.

The Man also tells the Boy that if the Boy died, the Man would want to die too, to be with the Boy. And when the Man is dying, he encourages the boy the stay in relationship with him through prayer.

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A good thesis for The Road might be about the persistence of human beings in the face of destruction. The thesis might be something like, "Love motivates people to live in the most horrific circumstances."

Although the man and the boy in the novel live in a terrifying post-apocalyptic world, they cling to life and try to survive. Much of the reason the father tries to survive is the boy. He thinks, "He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke" (page 5). The boy, for his part, lives for his father. McCarthy writes that "each [is] the other's world entire" (page 6). The question of what makes humans cling to life and want to live, despite the horror around them, is one that applies to McCarthy's book. McCarthy suggests that love and human connection are powerful forces that motivate people to go on, even when the world around them offers very few other motivations such as sufficient food, shelter, and safety. 

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It depends what your teacher is looking for, or if they have given you specific parameters within which to develop that thesis.  One idea for a thesis can be centered around humanity, as the novel provides excellent examples of the ultimate in inhumanity, and the stubborn desire of the characters to retain theirs.  Their struggle to keep that which is human within them alive seems to parallel their will to survive physically.  Almost as if those two human impulses are intertwined and interdependent.

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This is a good question for the discussion board.

One of the things that struck me when I began reading this book is that nowhere does the author explain what has happened to the world and why it happened. Was there a war? Some kind of global natural disaster? Did an asteroid collide with earth? All the plant life is scorched and so dead that snowfall makes trees collapse.

You might consider centering your essay on how damaged the earth and everything on it is. Considering how innocent and trusting the boy seems to be throughout the book, perhaps your thesis could be something like "there is hope even in the bleakest circumstance."

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What would be good essay topics for "The Road"?Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

Certainly, there are several approaches to an analysis of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."  While many see the Southern Gothic of William Faulkner and the Naturalism of such writers as Jack London and Stephen Crane, one can draw parallels to one of these genres, analyzing the novel as Gothic or as Naturalistic.

Or, perhaps, one could write how "The Road" is the antithesis of "The Grapes of Wrath" in which the Joad family drive to cornucopia of California in search of work and unite with others in Steinbeck's socialistic novel.  The topic for this analysis could be a comparison/contrast of themes:  the brotherhood of man theme vs. the predator/survivalist theme

A setting stripped of all natural life with a father and a son as the sole survivors of a post nuclear holocaust, "The Road" is essentially an existential tale as the father and son have one focus:  to survive and to attain some meaning in their lives.  Without any cultural and economic influences, the father and son must carve out their existences from a world devoid of life.  The only meaning that they have comes from the paternal and filial love that they feel, the esssence of the family and life.

You may wish to do some research on the literary movements of Southern Gothic, Naturalism, and Existentialism as this information will help you decide if you wish to choose one of these ideas.  Also, you may wish to check out the how-to sites listed below.

Good luck!

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What is a good synthesis topic for The Road by Cormac McCarthy?

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a harrowing tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic landscape. In the novel, McCarthy exposes his reader to numerous terrifying visions and, in doing so, also presents a multitude of topics to explore.

Perhaps one of the most haunting aspects of the novel is the way in which current social perspectives remain, even after whatever unsaid destruction laid waste to the population. In the novel, the two main characters encounter roaming mobs and cannibals, who all seem to adhere to certain residual elements of social structure. All of these groups are posited as the enemy, and the two main characters must find a way to avoid them in order to stay alive. An interesting topic for synthesis would be to discuss how certain social perspectives in our own world are so pervasive that McCarthy believes they would survive the apocalypse.

If you compare the perspectives of the man and boy to those of nearly everyone they encounter, you can identify how their differing perspective has made them vulnerable, yet also allows them to maintain humanity while others have lost their own. It's interesting to think that two people who subscribe to an isolationist, nomadic lifestyle are actually more human than those whose group structure is based on class, but that's exactly what happens in the book. It's almost as if McCarthy is presenting a commentary not only on the pervasiveness of class structure, but also on the inhumanity of it. In order to create this synthesis paper, you could explore outside sources that focus on class structure, or even on the ways in which people tend to exploit one another.

A related topic for further synthesis also lies within this same idea. Are certain aspects of society responsible for our ruin? If so, what are they? What residual social structures are found in The Road, and how are they twisted and corrupted from their original intent and purpose? Or are they perhaps not actually corrupted; are the forms of these structures within The Road a more authentic version of what resides at the heart of the structures in the first place? What aspects of our own society might McCarthy either be promoting or warning us about?

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