The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy's The Road is ridden with images of death, cannibalism and desolation, causing the last paragraph of the novel to be in stark opposition. A passage full of life, it includes images of trout with intricate patterns on their backs swimming in a brook in a glen from a time far away from that in which the majority of The Road is set. The passage as a whole completely juxtaposes the writing in the rest of the novel in terms of its diction and syntax. By doing this, McCarthy leaves the reader questioning the entire story as well themselves.
The use of this passage allows McCarthy to conclude the novel by going back to a time when man did not exist and nature was left unencumbered by pollution and destruction. If this paragraph had been at the beginning of the book rather than the ending paragraph, how would the reader's interpretation of the novel be different? Would he/she see the Man and the Boy's journey as that of a hero or villain? McCarthy's placement of this section is strategic. "Once" is the operative word in the passage, and it is also the most important. It puts emphasis on how the world once was a beautiful place, and if altered, can never be repaired. It can be compared to the Man, who has seen the world how it was before the catastrophe and now that the world has changed, so has he. He will never be the man he was before the apocalypse again. "Once" could also be used on a bigger scale to compare this old world to the world in which the Man and the Boy live, and how they are so different from each other. McCarthy ends the passage with "In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery." It is implied from this sentence that man came to earth unwelcome, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. By putting this passage at the end, McCarthy leaves the reader puzzled and questioning their view of the Man and the Boy.
Along with the placement of the passage,...