Theme Of Cruelty In The Road

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Cruelty in “The Road” What is cruelty? Cruelty is feeling indifferent to the suffering of others. Throughout Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, each antagonist the man and the boy encounter share a variety of traits that are commonly found in sociopaths; such as lack of remorse, lack of empathy, shallow emotions and cruelty. Throughout the world in which The Road takes place, cruelty has evolved from its basic sociopathic trait into second nature for survivors in this post-apocalyptic environment. Cruelty has ultimately taken root in the human psyche becoming nothing more than instinct. In the novel, cruelty is a natural occurrence by the marauders, cannibals, and thieves. However, the man reveals a glimpse of cruelty when he catches the thief …show more content…
“Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt” (McCarthy 34). The cannibals’ callous treatment of their victims is in accordance with Livingstone’s view of human subjugation throughout history. The treatment by the cannibals by also matches the psychological characteristics of a sociopath further supporting that cruelty has become a basic instinct.
Although the man and the boy face cruelty and countless other trials in the world, the boy still has a sense of right and wrong. The man teaches the boy how to survive, and does so without teaching him how to be cruel. The man always tells him that they are “carrying the fire” and that they will always be the good guys, when the man leaves the thief, he tries to justify it so the boy could understand but the boy knew it was wrong. “Just help him, Papa. Just help him. You’re not the one who has to worry about everything. Yes I am, I am the one.” (McCarthy
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Critics of modern literature have generally attributed this trend to both the sensational appeal of violent behavior and its potential to shock readers by shaking their beliefs. Others have emphasized the historical significance of violence in the period following World War II, during which poets and novelists expressed the anxieties of a world that seemed incapable of long-term peace, and in which human aggression threatened to bring about global destruction. By the close of the twentieth century, images of violence in all forms of media had become so commonplace that the destructive potential of the human race seemed a given, making moral solutions to the problem appear unlikely at best. Thus, violence had become a subject that most modern writers who wished to convey the historical, psychological, and artistic landscape of the modern world could not fail to confront. In her influential study On Violence, Hannah Arendt explored the balance between institutional power structures and violence, an equilibrium that was greatly upset as violent means were adopted to cleanse and reorder the world through fascism, collectivism, and imperialism in the twentieth century. For the novelist, these forms of violence became key factors in the existential perception of human

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