LITERATURE: On The Road Again

It always makes me laugh to think what authors must think of how readers interpret their words. It used to bother me in fact to think that readers turned and twisted things around to make something out of nothing, or nothing from something meant. 

But of course, Barthes and a professor rid me of that silly notion that an author had any rights over what people want to make of his work.

So saying, there are three things from The Road that still play over in my head. 

The timeline:  It bothered me to think that after what, five or six years, the good people of earth would not have rebuilt it and worked together.  I’ve come to accept that this is not a world easily rebuilt.  Nothing will grow.  When the food ran out the good times were pretty much over.  Those left with still some shred of decency in their souls make do and move on.  The timeline then, is perhaps right on track; it would likely take that long to find that nothing works to make things better, and to go through the food supplies.  Even with my own normally well-stocked cellar (Shop Rite’s Can Can Sales) we’d likely last a year, maybe two at most without replenishment.

The "fire":  I thought at first that it was hope.  Maybe it’s faith instead.  But faith in whom?  Certainly not faith in mankind–that’s been proven to be unreliable at best, confirmation at its worst.  Faith in God then? There is a conversation between the man and an old traveler they come across that may give some insight.  Here, in random bits out of context:

The man: How would you know if you were the last man on earth? he said.

I don’t guess you would know it.  You’d just be it.

Nobody would know it.

It wouldn’t make any difference.  When you die it’s the same as if everybody else did too.

I guess God would know it.  (the man)

There is no God.


There is no God and we are his prophets.  (p. 143)

There is another reference, but it seems to hint at indecision.  The man refers easily to God as existing: I guess God would know it.  Regardless of his doubts, it still rolls easily out of his thoughts and into his conversation.  The old man, both denial and confirmation in his statement:  There is no God and we are his prophets.  Completely contradictory within itself.

So faith may be the fire rather than hope.  And faith in God rather than man.  Although the man later refers to the boy as a god and sees a light about him.  Maybe the fire then is something else.

Maybe the fire is simply Goodness.

And third, Could people turn on each other like this?:  From what I’ve learned in my life, and what I’ve just lately accepted.  Absolutely.

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2 Responses to LITERATURE: On The Road Again

  1. I think decency, or one’s definition of it, can morph or completely take a hike when acute hunger or danger sets in. Survival instincts take over. (Think of the Donner Party.) Some would be able to work together to survive, and others wouldn’t. I don’t think any of us can predict which we would be.

    But it sure would help if we had the skills our forebears had. I’m better with a computer than growing or finding my own food anywhere but a supermarket.

  2. susan says:

    Strange how as we get closer to the possibility (just technology-wise rather than becoming more war-like)of total devastation, we are less capable of surviving off of nature.

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