Human Encounters on The Road: Lightning Victim



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Human Encounters on The Road:


  1. Lightning Victim (49-52)

    • to help or not to help, the good guy dilemma?




  1. Diesel Truck / Shooting (60-71)

    • Dog eat dog / survival of fittest mentality (Darwin/Freud)

    • cannibalism, man eaten by friends (71)




  1. Little Boy (84-86)

    • heightens boy’s isolated life and the rarity of children in the world




  1. Bloodcult (91-83)




  1. 2 men at a distance….

    • Assumed dangerous

    • related to the boy and the eventual savior in any way? (103-105)




  1. Basement Prison / Human Meat Locker (110-115)

    • An organized, calculated scheme…does that make it more evil or sensible?

    • Survival of the fittest (Darwin, Freud)

    • cannibalism

    • father contemplates suicide if caught (113-114)




  1. Ely (his real name?) - old man: 161-174

    • There is no God and we are all his prophets” (170).

    • What does his existence suggest about the current state of affairs?

    • How does he challenge the father’s views?

    • How does he expose division between father and son?




  1. Stand-off with 3 men in town– bad guys – deterred by gun (185-186)




  1. 3 men & pregnant woman (194-198)

    • cannibalism, newborn eaten (198)

    • small group, like father and son

    • they are scared away




  1. Theft & pursuit (253-260): the thief (255), punishment (256), moral/ethical debate (258+)

    • an eye for an eye vs. compassion

    • the boy’s disillusion expands, father loses credibility with son




  1. Arrow attack (263), others fled (265)

    • Survival of fittest

    • Counter attack warranted?




  1. the Good Guy emerges (282+), two choices (283)

    • apparently the “good guys” do exist

    • carrying the fire

    • boy embraced by a ‘conventional’ (old world )family

    • God evoked

    • Exactly how hopeful is this scenario?

      1. Paradox: meaning is greater than logic (logotherapy)



Additional Events of Interestgood things that happen:

  1. Riverpool / Waterfall – “a good place” (41)

  2. the Shelter / Bunker (134-155)

  3. the unmolested house – a re-enactment of the past (204-213)

  4. the ocean / sailboat (215, 223+)

  5. the boy’s sickness (247-250)

  6. Father’s death (277-281)


Father / Son Dialogues:

  1. keeping promises (34)

  2. good guys, bad guys (77-79)

  3. carrying the fire – 1st reference (83)

  4. lying & dying (100-101))

  5. cannibalism, good guys, carrying the fire (128-131): contemplation of death, beauty, absolute truth, memories

  6. Where are the good guys? (184-185)

  7. “taking other peoples’ stuff” (243)

  8. “There are people & we’ll find them” 244.

  9. Boy’s disillusion – “the stories are not true! (268-270)

  10. Final Instructions to son (278)


The Suicide Dialogue – father and mother (52-59)
What was father in past world?

  1. principled/idealist: stories of courage and justice (41)

  2. quitting is repellant to him

  3. comfort with gun, not hesitant to use

  4. resourceful: sees things (gas station fuel, hidden bunker, sailboat) that others miss

  5. knows to value water after attack (51)

  6. taught wife how to use obsidian (55)

  7. Foreshadowing: “someone following us” (192)

  8. “secure the area” – military background? (205-206)

Novel’s Ending

  1. Deus ex machina??? It’s not “all good,” however, unlikely the encounter is.

  2. Final Paragraph: lyrical elegy? Ode to lost world? Caveat, or environmental warning?

  3. Is this a protest novel that concerns capacity to destroy his world?



Thematic Questions of Interest

  1. The poet W.H. Auden wrote (doubtless with tongue in cheek) that "poetry makes nothing happen." The Road offers us no equations, no new facts about species or food webs. But does it nonetheless make something happen?

  2. In The Road, how do the father and son negotiate? When do they do what the father wants? What the son wants? How do these negotiated decisions work out?

  3. Is the level to which we are capable of deception a reflection of our evolved nature? Is there any value in being able to deceive others?

  4. Are there any examples of pure altruism in The Road? Does hardship encourage or discourage altruism?

  5. Has anything constructive emerged from the conflict in The Road? What examples of conflict and creativity can you find in the book? Do you think we can harness and manage conflict productively?

  6. What signs of recovery are in the book? Is there any indication of what new relationships might evolve in this changed ecosystem?



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