Holding to Hope, Even in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior
September 25, 2018

Though steeped in despair, the post-apocalyptic novel ultimately points toward goodness, both in its depraved world and our own.

October 4, 2018

Just thought I'd point out that the boy in The Road is a Christ-figure. "If he is not the word of God then God never spoke," among other references. At the end [spoiler] the boy spends three days with the body of his father in a cave and then emerges. The father develops in his faith throughout the text in subtle ways as well. I'd argue that he follows Kierkegaard's progression from the Knight of Infinite Despair to the Knight of Faith, but that's a long discussion that probably doesn't really work in an internet comment.

Jim Dekker
January 8, 2019

Thank you for this brief review/analysis, which I just and finally now saw. McCarthy is my favourite contemporary author. His dark vision, however, is always the background and foundation of a mind that looks for and articulates transcendent, if not orthodox Christian, Hope, though that is sometimes very hard to discern. You've done a fine job of liming that element of *The Road,* though it is almost a constant in McCarthy's often otherwise unsettling fiction. However dim that light is, it barely perceptible in his early *Child of God,* slightly more so in *Suttree.* I've often wondered, in fact, if "Suttree" is McCarthy's intentional adaption of Greek *Soter," b/c Suttree often functions as a saviour, though he is wickedly flawed. The only novel of his in which I've found only fearsome darkness and almost nihilism is *No Country for Old Men." What do others think? It would be marvellous if McCarthy would ever accept an invitation to the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing, but friends have told me he or his agent have never yet responded to repeated correspondence and invitations--nor has Barbara Kingsolver. Finally, both *The Road* and *No Country . . .* have been faithfully turned into stirring films, though with opposite messages. I found, though, that the film *All the Pretty Horses* was disappointing in comparison to the novel. Thanks again for your reflection and work.

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