The Importance Of Names In The Road By Cormac Mccarthy

1102 Words 5 Pages
In the novel, The Road, Cormac McCarthy tracks the journey of a man and boy through an unknown wasteland to an undisclosed destination. It is evident that there has been a catastrophic disaster that has obliterated the land, as skeletons and corpses line the road they travel together. There is a foreboding sense of resignation and an absence of time and place. The reader never really knows where the man and boy are going; although, it is evident, that their journey is horrific. Along the way, we follow the relationship of an unnamed man and boy. McCarthy uses this absence of names to create vast and depraved landscape void of any identifiable markers making the relationship between the man and boy the focus of the story.
Names are not only
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In The Road, if McCarthy had given the man and boy names, their individual identities would be of interest to the reader and the focus would shift from their relationship to their own personal stories. By leaving the man and boy nameless, McCarthy showcases how deeply they bonded. This is evident when, “they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other's world entire” (6). Throughout their post apocalyptic journey, the man and boy are everything to each other: defender, comforter and friend. They come across a frail old man on the road named Ely. He is the only character in the novel that has a proper name. There is tension between the boy and man because the boy wants to help Ely, but the man is suspicious of him and wants to leave him behind. Ely is full of contradictions. At first he tells the man that some people on the road had given him food, which leads the man to distrust him even more since he could be indebted to them. Then, the old man changes his story to say that he has been alone on the road, just like them. The boy asks the old man if his name is really Ely, and he refuses to tell them his real name because, “[he] couldn’t trust [him] with it. To do something with it. I don’t want anybody talking about me. To say where I was or what I said when I was there” (171). By assigning a name to the old man, McCarthy is making a point. Even though the man claims to have a name, he admits that it isn’t his real name because he doesn’t trust anyone to know where he has been. By doing this, McCarthy is highlighting the lack of trust between people on the road. The man doesn’t trust Ely because he is afraid that he might bring harm to him and the boy; just as Ely doesn’t trust the man and boy because they may share information about him to other people on the road. The old man fears that his real name could identify him, which, in the post

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