“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one then what had gone before…”
The first sentences of the book immediately draw the reader into a world so utterly different from anything we can imagine, that one cannot stop reading to find out more about it. It is not just a dark world, but also a manifestation of the greatest fears one can have of the modern world leading humanity into an apocalypse. A world without hope, a world filled with purposelessness, placing life in a lifeless world.
The book leads the reader into a world set after a nuclear holocaust ending the world as we know it, creating a desert devoid of hope and full of despair. The story evolves around a man and a child who battle for survival in a world without any order, filled only with death and a few scattered people trying to survive yet another day. Cormac McCarthy uses a unique writing style, abolishing grammatical conventions, mingling sentences together. He chose an ice-cold narrative and a deadly factual style, putting the language right on par with the world he describes.
“The boy was sitting up wrapped in his blanket.
What is it?
Nothing. I had a bad dream.
What did you dream about?
Are you okay?
He put his arm around him and held him. It’s okay, he said.
I was crying. But you didnt wake up.
I’m sorry. I was just so tired.
I meant in the dream.”
The book not only deals with the philosophical implications of a world without hope, but also with an obvious conflict in the relationship between the two protagonists. Whereas “the man” does not wish to discuss the past or to mention anything about the life before the apocalypse, “the child” who was born into this new world asks many questions, waiting for answers.
None of the characters in the book has names – not surprising, as this fits perfectly into the narrative McCarthy has chosen. The otherwise so somber story has small glimpses of hope, which have been placed in such sharp tones that they only highlight the hopelessness of the situation.
“Do you think there could be ships out there?
I dont think so.
They wouldnt be able to see very far.
No. They wouldnt.
What’s on the other side?
There must be something.
Maybe there’s a father and his little boy and they’re sitting on the beach.
That would be okay.
Yes. That would be okay.
And they could be carrying the fire too?
They could be. Yes.
But we dont know.
We dont know.”
The book has an amazing twist towards the end, which makes the reader shudder and think. The true beauty about this book, however, is the thinking it initiates about the reader’s own life and where he/she stands in this world. This book was directly made into a film last year, carrying the same title, but was also partly the basis of another film, “The Book of Eli”. Both films try to encompass the world McCarthy describes but fail to convey the same feelings one has about oneself after reading the book.
The novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 2006 and was also awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Be enchanted by a beautiful narrative – not beautiful because of the aesthetics of language, but because of every word carefully chosen to accompany a story and a feeling you will never forget.
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