McCarthy’s novel The Road is about man’s inherent altruism in a world of selfishness. To what extent is this true in the case of “the man”?
The man in The Road is portrayed as a very religious individual, this is indisputable. One could deduce from this that therefore he is selfless in protecting his son and carrying on in the times in which he finds himself. This viewpoint contrasts with the one that the man is selfish with his actions, doing everything to survive and not helping anyone he meets on his journey. All the decisions the man makes throughout the novel can be used as examples to argue each point of view, and it may be that it is a mixture of both. Maybe the man acts in a selfless way due to selfish beliefs. The whole image of religious self-sacrifice by the man is probably what McCarthy intended, this can be seen through his determination to preserve his son’s life. An example of this is when he defends his son from the man from the truck. He risks everything by shooting the man as this leaves only one bullet in the chamber of the revolver, as he intends to use it in a life threatening situation to kill his son, it means that he will probably die while suffering. His whole determination to stay alive could be seen as to only keep the boy alive, this is seen as selfless as he only wishes to help the boy survive, not himself. This altruism is directly connected to the man’s solid belief in god and in what he is doing. Throughout the novel other people’s selfishness can be seen, the cannibalism and stealing juxtapose with the man’s proper behaviour; he tells his son that they would never eat someone and shows generosity towards the old man. Cannibalism is an indication of how people act immorally in the novel in order to stay alive in the novel, the man refuses to do this and is therefore portrayed as having a higher morality than anyone else. On the other hand one could identify the man’s behaviour as purely selfish, he has a fixed idea in his...
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