Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is more than just another dystopian story

McCarthy thinks outside the box to make sure you feel the same feelings as the characters

This book was adapted into a movie in 2009, but please just read the book it’s so much better. ( Image Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf)

By: Marco Ovies

Now I know what you’re thinking, not another post-apocalypse story. But hear me out, The Road is not something you want to miss out on. Cormac McCarthy takes a seemingly overused plot and through his mastery of the English language creates something unforgettable.

        The book follows the journey of a father and son who are travelling through a now-destroyed America. They’re heading towards the coast with nothing but a pistol, the clothes on their backs, and a cart full of scavenged food. But what really makes this story incredible is the writing style.

        McCarthy switches between two writing styles throughout the novel. When reminiscing on something that has been lost to this post-apocalyptic world, his writing almost becomes poetry, using words that are old-fashioned and not commonly seen. This creates a sense of wonderment towards a place or thing that to us might be mundane. His use of these old-fashioned words also reinforces the idea that the things he is talking about are lost to this new post-apocalyptic world.

        He then switches to very abrupt, short sentences. To top that off, he doesn’t even use quotation marks or proper punctuation. This seems to not only be poor writing, but also annoying. That’s exactly the point! His lack of proper grammar is a direct relation to the situation of the characters. When the father and son are facing a hardship, the writing tends to get a bit harder to follow, therefore causing the reader to face a small hardship alongside them.

        McCarthy has not only created a unique take on the overused post-apocalyptic setting, but has turned it into something more. His beautiful use of language encapsulates the characters’ experiences for the reader and creates a story that is not only a reflection on the best and worst of humanity, but ultimately a work of art.

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