Examples Of Cannibalism In The Road By Cormac Mccarthy

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The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy, follows the journey of survival of the Man and the Boy in a burnt world covered in ash. To escape the incoming cold weather, they decide to head down south to the coast. With nothing but a pistol, a cart of supplies, and each other, they must cope with hunger, thirst, and the dangers of the land. Along the way, they experience close encounters with bands of cannibals who either will try to enslave or kill them. Throughout the novel, the son, afraid of becoming one of the cannibals or “bad guys,” questions whether they remain the “good guys” whenever the father does something morally questionable to ensure their survival. Through the use of contrast, particularly between the the cannibals …show more content…
Cannibalism in general reflects one’s lack of humanity as willingly eating another human being equates the human into only being food and nothing else. The victim’s experiences, hopes, and dreams mean nothing anymore, their new purpose being something to fill the stomach of a savage. Stranded with no food in a mountain blizzard, some people in real life were forced to commit cannibalism to survive, but they “felt guilty about consuming their...comrades…[and] were not keen on eating flesh” (Cochran 25). This intense guilt and self-awareness of the atrocities they’re committing are completely lost to the cannibals in The Road. By committing cannibalism frequently, as opposed to a single remorseful instance, they become desensitized to the horrors of eating fellow humans. Each bite into human flesh leads to another part of their humanity lost and the continuance of human suffering. The mere idea of their victims having feelings and thus being deserving of humane treatment didn’t even cross their minds. This is shown when the Man finds “naked people...all trying to hide…[and] on the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt” in a cannibal’s basement (McCarthy 110). The cannibals keep hostages in the basement, basically a slaughterhouse, as livestock to eat. They treat these people like animals, letting them live in terrible conditions just waiting in terror …show more content…
Throughout the novel, the Man constantly puts the Boy first and does everything he can to make sure that the Boy suffers less than he does. He empathizes with the Boy and loves him so much that he would risk his own humanity to make sure that the Boy doesn’t get hurt. When the Man and the Boy encounter a cannibal along the road, after a tense exchange, the cannibal grabs the boy and puts “a knife at [the boy’s] throat” to which the Man promptly responds by killing the cannibal with his pistol (McCarthy 66). Though the Man committed murder, an immoral act, his humanity remains because he did it out of love to protect the Boy, not out of gratuitous savagery. He still has his ethical code, killing the cannibal was the only option to prevent losing the only person he lives for. According to Professor Ervin Staub, the author of The Psychology of Good and Evil, “intense violence...is not evil, but justified self-defense in response to unjustified attack” (Staub 5). The Man kills only in self-defense for the Boy; he doesn’t do it out of sadism or the enjoyment of killing people. The loss of the Boy would be tragic as he serves as the Man’s conscience and therefore a reminder of the Man’s humanity. Without the Boy, his morals might waver since he won’t be held responsible for any unethical decisions he might make. Being selfless for another and actively maintaining another’s humanity and

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