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Trope of Detritus in Cormac McCarthy's The Road - Essay Example

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Trope of Detritus in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road Detritus, literally referring to rubbish or waste, is used in McCarthy’s The Road as a literary device signifying the result and end point of human civilization. The novel traces the life of a father and son, the unnamed protagonists, in their journey through the bleak post-apocalyptic landscape which is the aftermath of the destruction of human civilization…
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Trope of Detritus in Cormac McCarthys The Road
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Download file to see previous pages In the novel, the destruction of human civilization destroys the environment as well as the values of human beings. It brings about the extreme characters of humanity, the good (the father’s paternal love) and the evil (the cannibals). Thus, the significance of the “trope of detritus” in the novel lies in the idea that destruction is the beginning and end of things; it is has the capacity to bring out both the evil and good. “The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night” (McCarthy 24). In this line, it can be said that natural calamities, the destructive agent of change in the novel, reveals the weakness of things and humanity. In the novel, human civilization, considered as one of the most enduring aspects of humanity, fails to survive in the natural calamity. While the novel traces the sorrows of the father and son in a desolate land, it also reveals the two main characters’ realization concerning the reality of life and God. Although it can be said that certain things have the potential to endure the tests of time, the worst events (natural calamities) bring out the true nature of things, its weakness and susceptibility to destruction. Aside from the idea that natural calamities are devastating agents of change, natural calamities also enable people to understand the beginning of life. “Perhaps in the world’s destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence” (McCarthy 231). In this line, it can be said that, amidst the desolation, the father and son still see the brighter side of their situation. Although their condition is desperate, they are still trying to understand the reason behind the things that happened. They were able to associate the way things begin to the way things were ended. In the end, the father died. The child reaches the shore where he/she finds another family who survived the calamity. Although it is not clear whether humanity has reestablished its civilization, it is clear that life continues. The future of the world, in the physical context, is still vague: “On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming...Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again” (McCarthy 241). While the world losts its vitality, the innate, god-given goodness of humanity still resides in the child: “Please. You can’t. You have to carry the fire. I dont know how to. Yes, you do. Is it real? The fire? Yes, it is. Where is it? I don’t know where it is. Yes, you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it” (McCarthy 234). In this conversation, it can be said that God did not forsake the world. Although the father had doubts on whether God is good or bad (the father curses and praises Him throughout the story), God is still present in the hearts of good people (those who did not eat humans). Additionally, in this conversation, fire signifies human resilience against evil circumstances. The fire (goodness) that glows in the child comes from God, and the father believes that the child would survive because of the fire that he holds within him: “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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