Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pinterest Links for Final Paper

Alison Bechdel's fathers public board

Alison Bechdel's fathers private board
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No Hope for the Hopeless

McCarthy ends his story in a very bleak way. Before reading the articles about Hemingway I didn't know he was illuding to a second piece of writing but after reading the excerpt it's clear what he was trying to say. McCarthy makes this comparison to Hemingway because he wants there to be a drastic difference between the way the stories end. For Hemingway the image of the trout in the river meant hope, it meant new life. It encourages the reader to look beyond their immediate surrounding to find the good in life and what it's worth. Then there's McCarthy's ending, McCarthy specifically talks of a time when the man remembered trout in the river, it's a memory for him, not something that is current. He wants the reader to understand that there's a difference between the world there was and the world that there is not. He wants to reader to feel the hopelessness, to understand that the world will never be the same as it was ever again and that they have to accept that. That's similar to the world after 9/11, it changed things for American's and the entire world. People lost family, a city lost their beakon and a country lost thier sense of security. America was no longer infallible and that was a hard pill for an entire nation to swallow. When wars start in other countries now people legitimately worry about another attack, because 9/11 was not only a warning to us of our weakness but to our enemies that our weaknesses are there. 

I think the story is about 9/11 in the way that it's not about what happened but how people have to deal with it.  The relationship between the father and the son is something showing the difference in generations, the children still filled with hope and goodness but the parents, old enough to understand what happened and become jaded by it all. 
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Sunday, December 7, 2014


In the article there's a line; "Hemingway often voices this pessimism, but it is nowhere to be found when his protagonists are in the natural world" there's an interesting connection between masculinity and the connection with optimism and hope in nature.  I'm reminded of The Swimmer where nothing brought Neddy more joy than thinking he was exploring un-mapped terrain and swimming this great river.  His illusion came crashing down and it was reveled that it was all artificial and factory made.  The sadness of the destruction of his hometown isn't a hopeless sentence to Nick when he sees the fish swimming freely nearby.  In The Road, it is never revealed whether or not the catastrophe that turned the world into what it has become was natural or man-made.  I feel like an natural disaster explanation lends itself more towards this narrative.  Now it is not Man's fault that we are forced back to nature and savagery, it is a betrayal on the part of nature.  And once people are forced back into the wild, it becomes harsher still.  This takes the humanity away from the population,  the ties that bind them are meaningless when the world around them has rejected their way of life and forced them into the wilderness.

What are your thoughts on what happened to the world?  
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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dinosaurs and Crows

The man describes a dream, on where he's visited by a being not of his own world. And when he wakes up he makes the realization that he is the alien. He's from a world that's nothing like the one he lives in now. His son knows nothing of what he grew up with other than the stories that he's told him. (McCarthy 154). That's an odd realization that the man makes but it echos throughout the rest of this portion of the story. When the man and his son are discussing crows, the boy asks him whether or not they still exist, whether he'll ever see a crow for himself. For us seeing a crow is just a matter of looking out the window but in this new post apocalyptic world seeing a crow is as unlikely as walking down the street to see a dinosaur, they're all gone. They're dead in the ground and they'll never be anymore of them. Except in books. "Just in books? Yes. Just in books." (McCarthy 158). To me that's astounding, the boys entire world almost exists in a fairytale, at least his dreams. His reality is so grim, so barren that he lives off of the truths and the memories of his father. Stories of animals that have long since ceased to exist, stories of his mother, and a world where people weren't just good guys and bad guys. Where there were doctors and lawyers and teachers, none of that exists anymore except for in the mans memories and his sharing of these stories with his son in a way keeps them alive, because eventually they won't be anyones memories anymore and the only thing that will exist is the vast expanse of nothingness and the eventual demise of humanity. McCarthy does a great job of reminding us how important the trust the boy holds in his fathers stories really is. In a conversation between the two of them the boy expresses just how important it is that he believes everything his father tells him. "I always believe you. I dont think so. Yes I do. I have to." (McCarthy 185). It's such a matter of fact statment but it's because the father doesn't realize that if the boy doesn't trust him, if he doesn't just accept what his father says as honest and true that he couldn't trust anything because all he knows is what he's been taught by him. Why there are bad people, why his mother died, why they can't care for and take in everyone and yet are still the good guys. He's too young to fully understand but he knows that his father is ultimately looking out for their well being and only taking care of him the best that he can. 

Is is wrong for the father to fill his sons mind with stories of a world that will never exist again? Should he give him this false hope or is it something else? Do the stories give the boy an innocence, a drive in imagination? Something to keep going in a world so bleak?
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The Natural world of Hemingway and McCarthy

The parallels between Hemingway and McCarthy never occurred to me but after reading the short story “The Big Two-Hearted River.” I can see how closely both authors seek answers in nature.  Nick’s spirit is nurturing in watch the trout and how they keep steady in the face of a current. The analogy of the current could be the adversity of life. McCarthy’ father figure reminisces about the pre-destruction of earth.  Hemingway has always been influenced by naturalism.  Hemingway accepts that the forces of nature rule the world.  In the “Road” nature as we know it is destroyed but it still rules the world in the Darwinian way of survival of the fittest. The strong survive and sometimes it isn’t pretty but necessary. The man tells his son the way of survival too but in the terms of good and evil.  The boy will never see nature as it once was but only can rely on his father’s memory. The boy’s natural world is evolving, changing and survivors must redefine their roles in the new natural world of ash and destruction.  In Buddhism there is a Goddess named Kali and she is Goddess of Time, Change, and Destruction. Kali destroys but she also brings about rebirth like the phoenix rising out of the ashes.
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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Road pg 103-198

McCarthy's style in, The Road, is bare bones.  He does not give big wordy descriptions of scenes or events that happen in the book because he is letting the reader get a feel for the sparse the world is and how father and son are using all their energy to survive.  Father and son do not have the time to just sit and chat and even if they could there is not much to really talk about.  On page 153 as the father wakes from a dream he thinks to himself, "Maybe he understood for the first time that to the boy he was himself an alien.  A being from a planet that no longer existed.  The tales of which were suspect.  He could not construct for the child's pleasure the world he'd lost without constructing the loss as well..."  Memories of father and son are different. The father is aware of how good life was before and the son has no idea of what kind of world his father comes from. Their shared memories are dismal and bleak.  The father shares very basic things with boy regarding the past because of that fact. I think McCarthy is trying to give the readers the feel for how hard it would be in that situation: fighting daily to stay alive, trying not to be seen by the "bad" guys, trying to find shelter, trying to find your way to a safe place.  It is tiring and there is not much time for idle talk and talking about past memories of a better world.  Are the memories really important? Does the boy need to hear any of it?
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Memory and The Road

One of the themes McCarthy seems to focus on heavily is that of memory. While McCarthy does not necessarily make the memory out to be the best thing, but he doesn't necessarily say "death to memory!" Instead, McCarthy seems to look at memory as being something which takes the characters minds off of survival. When you're reflecting on the past, it is easy to get lost in that, especially during times of extreme trauma. So for the father and the boy, they can't necessarily spare any time looking back on the life they once had, or the things that made them happy; instead, they have to keep moving forward, fighting for survival. I found this to be crucial to the novel. It wouldn't make sense to never touch on the subject of the characters' memories, but too much of that reflection would really water down the work, much in a way I discussed in my previous blog post.

One quote which really stuck out to me is found on page 131: "The cold drove him forth to mend the fire. Memory of her crossing the lawn toward the house in the early morning in a thin rose gown that clung to her breasts. He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the word and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not."

Goodness, all of the feels you guys. But in all honesty, McCarthy really killed it here. He relates memories to "party games," more specifically, to Telephone. The more he recalls a memory, the more it is distorted and changed. It's truly sad, because the idea of him remembering his wife until eventually it is too distorted to call a true memory, just breaks my heart.

I'd love to see some quotes about memory that you guys found and what you thought about them!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

The Road

I think that the belief in God would be the man's insistence that there were good people in the world. The man wanted his son to believe in goodness and just maybe a higher being. The idea that a man and his son were trapped in a purgatory world with hope for a better future. I know that the man is dying but he still hopes for his son's future. The God is in the man's selfless sacrifices for his son. I don't see the divinity in the son but rather a salvation for mankind in the boy. The man realizes that he is an alien to his son. "Maybe he understood for the first time that to the boy he was himself an alien. A being from a planet that no longer existed." (Cormac 163).The boy holds the key for constructing a new world for himself. The father is the son's guide and protector while the son acclimates to his world.  The boy still believes in goodness as exhibited by the boy’s concern for the old man and wanting to share their food with him.  The boy continues to look at not the past but the future.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


For starters I want to apologize for this being late, I'm just had my world turned upside down and it all still doesn't feel real but my husband came home from deployment this weekend and I lost track of time. I sincerely apologize but plan to get back on track and up to speed. But needless to say I've been on cloud nine and collecting my thoughts lately has been near to impossible. Lol 

This story is dark and very bleak but what stands out most for me other than the blantant plot and story line is the way that Cormac McCarthy tells it; with precise word choice, little detial, and specific uses of punctuation or lack there of. From the beginnin of this novel I noticed that at certain times he doesn't use apostraphes. For instance on page 4 in the first paragraph he doesn't use one for the words wasn't or hadn't but in the next paragraph he does use them for the word there'd. (McCarthy 4). I don't know exactly why he does this, picking and choising when to use an apostrophe but I personally think it might have to do with necessity, the idea of only using things when their needed and that parallels the story with the father and son doing everything they can to preserve what they have. But I'd love to hear others opinions on this grammatic error. 

Another thing I'd noticed is his use of precise word choice. While I'm not a linguist by any means I do find myself to be a fairly articulate person, however some words in this book utterly stumped me and I had to resort to asking Siri on my iPhone to define their exact meanings. For instance, when he says, "She would do it with a flake of obsidian" (McCarthy 58). I had to look up the meaning of that word to figure out that he was saying she cut herself with a shard of extremely sharp volcanic rock, but obsidian is certainly not a piece of vocabulary I have sitting idly in my reportoure. Then there's when he's describing the people that pass by them on the road and says that there are catamites in their party (McCarthy 92).  I had no idea what that word meant, so I again resorted to my good old smart phone to help me out. Learning that they are young boys that are used as sexual partners with men. Thanks for that Google. This word choice is odd to me since the rest of the narration is so plain and straight forward yet at the same time it is saying something. I believe it's telling us that the man, the father, was intelligent. He was someone of higher social class and intelligent. I'm not sure if he was a doctor but it's seems to me that this hints at the fact that at this time, those things; social class, wealthy, higher education, those things don't matter anymore. What matters is being able to survive. 

Lastly I wanted to bring up the boys use of the word "Okay" in conversation. A majority of the conversations shared between the boy and his father all end with this sentiment and I believe it says a lot about the boy and his mind set. Children often are not so understanding, they question, the want answers, they constantly ask why. But this boy doesn't, he does have questions but it's not the same necessarily. I think his acceptance of the realities around him is part of his character, he's agreeing to what's being said to him and making peace with that being the truth. He isn't flippant or being passive, he's understanding and in a way the boy is being shaped by the lessons and truths that he's learning from his father, in this strange reality. 

This book is great, the writing style is awesome and there's so much to pull from it besides just what the story itself is saying. There was one more part, I don't know if anyone else noticed where the author actually changed perspective of writing. There's a shift from third person with the narrator being someone not in the story to first person where the father himself is actually relaying to us what is happening (McCarthy 87). It's when they're discussing the child having seen another boy, but the father insists that is was a dog. Instead of the original narrator telling us this, the father directly tells the audience that the boy doesn't remember having seen a child, that he saw a dog and remembers that but not a child. This was strange to be that suddenly the narration changes and the father directly addresses a situation. Was he trying to defend himself, had the child really just imagined it? It's hard to know, or understand why exactly McCarthy chose to do this in his writing at this moment. 

I hope everyone back in STL is safe and that things settle down soon. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

The Road: Ashen Dismay and Survival

The dystopian setting of The Road is quite alluring. How did the country fall? What gives father and son the will to continue on? The Road entices the reader to question their very being. The cause of the deteriorating world is never formally addressed although the decay is ever present. It makes one question their own reality. Could this happen to me? I’ve always found dystopian novels a little unsettling because many questions arise. If this happened to me, would I survive? The strength of the the father and son astound me. The father’s will to survive seems contingent on his son. His father does seem to understand that their may be no hope. After finding a soda in an abandoned gas station the father gives it to his son and says “ you drink it”(McCarthy23). The boy responds with “it’s because I won’t ever get to drink another one, isn’t it”(McCarthy24). The father’s response is simply “ever is a long time”(McCarthy24). The father knows of darkness to come. The ashen gray is all to expect. Even in his dreams, the father refuses to think of happiness as he knows it will never be. His goal is simply survival for his son. Without his son, I do believe he would succumb to the grayness of the fallen world. To give his son life is his only desire. The question is not how it happened, but how will one respond. Is the father doing the right thing for his son? Is it better to live through the seemingly endless travesties of the world or succumb to the eventuality of fate? 
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Road Pages 1-102

*Just beforehand, I'd like to take a second to say Cormac McCarthy is brilliant, I highly recommend if you enjoy this story you check out Suttree!

The Road is quite an interesting novel. It's a disaster novel, set in a post apocalyptic world, following a father and his son, as they travel the empty roads in search of something better. The story is told in the third person, which I think adds a great deal. You tend to focus more on the father and the son, and McCarthy doesn't have to reveal to much of their character that way. There is an air of mystery over this novel, and too much one on one with a character's thoughts might would instead become more personal. It makes sense they made this a movie, as when I read it, it played through my imagination as a film.
McCarthy's strong point in this novel is his creation of this magnificent, decrepit world. Of this world, some of his descriptions are:

" the mountains they stood and looked out over the great gulf of the south where the country as far as the eye could see was burned away" (14).
"On the hillsides old crops dead and flattened" (21).
"Desolate country" (17).
"The wet gray flakes twisting and falling out of nothing. Gray slush by the roadside. Black water running from under the sodden drifts of ash" (16).

The list goes on. The world McCarthy throws us into—seemingly unapologetically—is so grim, not even the snow is pretty. Everything about this world is so unsurvivable, which makes the story more suspenseful. How does a man stay alive in this world, let alone keep a child alive?

Another part of the novel which may seem strange to those unfamiliar with McCarthy's work, are the lack of quotation marks. I know through literature classes before McCarthy simply found too much punctuation to be clutter, but it adds to his work in a way that one may not realize. When reading the story, you more than likely do it in some voice, whether mental or verbal. The lack of punctuation marks lends to the flow of the novel. Where punctuation stops our eyes, creates a pause, McCarthy continues with just words, leaving it going in a fluid motion, as if he were telling the story orally. I find this trait of his to be very appealing, and makes the reading quite enjoyable.

The lack of explanation over what happened to create such a barren world creates this air of mystery. In the back of my mind, I kept asking, "What caused all of this?" But, simply put, it's not important. The novel is not about that event, it is about the father and the son struggling to stay alive in the aftermath. If McCarthy spent too much time on the event itself, the novel would lose so much of its quality. The ambiguous nature keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. You want to know but you don't want McCarthy to tell you. Really, I think with this aspect, McCarthy truly perfected this work. It has so much mystery, yet still manages to move forward, never looking back. 
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Road

I  think Cormac McCarthy does not tell his readers the exact event that causes the destruction of the United States because the event does not really matter.  It is the reaction of the characters to the event which is the point of the story.  I assume it is a nuclear war on page 52 it says, "A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions." Also, "A dull rose glow in the windowglass." (52) It suggests a nuclear blast also the sun is blocked by clouds and the temperature is always cold even though they are heading south.  But I think the main point of the story is to experience this new existence through the eyes of the man and the boy.  The world is bleak and cold and burnt out and they are trying to remain human and sane in an insane and dangerous world. McCarthy raises some interesting questions like is it good to be a survivor in a world that is so bleak and scary to live in?  Maybe it is better to die and not have to experience grim existence that the man and the boy are living through.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

The first part of The Road

               The Road is one of the bleakest novels I have ever read.  I read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and it was rather dark but running through it there was hope and ultimate survival against all odds.  In The Road the theme was death all around and all living creatures reduced to survival of the fittest or survival on an animalistic level: cannibalism. The landscape is filled with ash and various shades of gray. The only thing that keeps the man going is his son. I think the man would have succumb to suicide too if not for his son.  His son gives him hope for the future and for a belief in God.  When I purchased this book the sales clerk asked me if I had read it. I said, “No”. She informed me that it was very sad and she just wanted me to know before I purchased the book.

               The Road is a novel which offers an apocalyptic revelation but certainly not where the forces of good prevail and triumph over the forces of evil. I guess it tells of a singular good man trying to bring goodness to his son in a world filled with evil.  
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


For my second Essay, I am choosing to write about Lorde’s poem “Power.” I feel her work is extremely profound especially with today’s current events. I am going to discuss the racial tensions occurring throughout the poem as well as society during the era in which it was written. I will also discuss the carelessness of the death of a young child still holding on to innocence and the relevance within Lorde’s era as well as our own. 
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dystopian Parents

While reading The Road I started thinking about the differences between it and the popular genre of dystopian novels we're seeing right now.  Books like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, and even The Giver (a slightly older book but a recent film) are all either lacking supportive and present parents or are completely devoid of parents/adults.  It strikes me as interesting considering all the recent novels are in the Young Adult genre, whereas The Road is considered a "regular" novel.  Now these books weren't written by teens, but they're tapping into something that speaks to them, and part of that is the lack of parenting.  I think for McCarthy, as an adult writing for adults, the idea (and the hope) is that if something like this were to take place, they as the adults could take some charge if only just to protect their child.  They hope that their added years will provide more insight and intellect to help their family survive.  This may just be my age bias, but I feel like it makes more sense for it to be younger people, not children necessarily but the sharp, adaptable young, those who haven't had the years to get used to this world and who (even if they're wrong) believe that there's got to be more out there than whatever they've grown up in.  The older they are (in a dystopia) the more experience they have seeing the rest of the world is no better.  Parents (good ones anyway) want nothing more than to be able to protect their children from anything, no matter how impossible it is for them to actually do that.  As horrible as the events are that are happening to the father and son, it almost reads like a parent's fantasy (again, not a pleasent one) but that despite everything that's happening, they will and can do whatever it takes to protect their child.  We all know, especially in war zones and places like this setting, that's frequently not possible.

Thoughts?  Do you think the teen hero makes more sense in this setting?  Or does experience trump gumption?  
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