At the End of the Road
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I also made good use of some old corrugated iron sheets from my mums house to provide a wind break and discourage porcine mining in the turbine field. Not that we actually need it but I decided to fit some more solar panels to the bunker. These would be just to supply a spare 48v Ah battery bank that sits in there doing nothing. I cut half a dozen of the in half and fashioned them into mountings so I could put two W panels above the 60 hot water tubes on the bunker. These fasteners are fantastic in concrete blocks, you just drill an 8mm hole and screw them in, no plug, no resin and you torque em up to 50Nm, though I filled the hole up with silicon sealant too to stop any dampness.
I do like my Chinese lift. With Tayside Land Rover having had my dear old Landy for just over a year now for what was allegedly a six week job I decided to pay an unscheduled visit. It was on Friday afternoon and nobody was home.
the end of the road
Not only that, they never provided a thermometer to tell me if the prawns were cooked inside. On Sunday 31st, probably around the time Darling wife and I were getting ready for Sunday lunch at Raasay house an elderly gentleman went missing on Raasay. The search was called off a week later after a stupendous effort by all involved, including all the community members who kept the searchers supplied with coffee, baking, soups, sandwiches and help.
Yet despite the substantial literature devoted to it, nobody seems quite sure what to make of the ending, which also hums with mystery. Some find these final lines suggestive of renewal, though only vaguely Kunsa Others contend that it does little to ameliorate the novel's pessimism Edwards 55; Gretlund Still others find it offers both lamentation and "a small promise of hope" Ellis 36 , "strangely uplifting" Luttrell 24 , and "a recognition of what we have not yet lost, but still may " Palmer, 66 , while some pass it over in silence Ibarrola-Armendariz.
As an admirer with a taste for puzzle solving, here I offer a new interpretation, which attempts to dispel its "torturous ambiguity" Wilhelm and reveal a surprisingly optimistic denouement. I think that there is something wrong with this idea. In this spirit I shall attend closely to plot and place in keeping with the "central role that geography plays in the American imagination" Jarvis, 6. This arguably suggests a firm contextualization of the ending in the Appalachian environments of the Smoky Mountains. The best reading approach also fits well with Wierschem's call for greater attention to the "Scientific McCarthy" 2 and is at least consistent with other perspectives including those emphasizing McCarthy's social commentary.
End of the Road – Rolling Stone
It seems plausible that The Road "mirrors the dystopian moment of its composition and publication" which was characterized by political failure and angst about looming environmental catastrophe Walsh, Several including Cant, Edwards, Palmer, Monbiot, and DeBruyn agree that McCarthy seems to be giving expression to disquiet about our relationship to the natural environment.
Others have taken up religious and spiritual elements, starting with Ellis, Tyburski, Walsh, Wilhelm, Vanderheide, and Hungerford. Critics are also mostly united in finding a deep "ethical sensibility" defying McCarthy's seemingly nihilistic universe Walsh, Let it be acknowledged that the reading offered here is complementary to much in these analyses.
My aim is to draw out the significance of mostly unnoticed positive elements, building towards a role for the closing paragraph, which is not best read as simply punctuating the novel's unflinching bleakness with an elegy to the devastated natural order. Given these stakes, it's hard to accept that the only compensation for having invested in these characters and endured the hellish landscape is to be abandoned to "The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be" In addition, McCarthy seems to continually prod us to make inferences about the important points.
Instead the path is constantly set with opportunities to discover for oneself. The book is peppered with hints, though they tend to be rather subtle, even when it comes to its most central concerns. The nature of the cataclysmic Event that brings about humanity's ruin is left for us to guess at. The setting is also only implied, as is the nature of the father's illness. Yet in each case an explanation can be pieced together with attention and patience. In an interview, McCarthy states that it is described so minimally because it is unimportant to the story—humanity faces any number of existential threats, both self-caused and exogenous, so it doesn't matter whether it is war, androcentric environmental disaster, super-volcano, or whatever.
Yet despite his coyness, notice that a super-volcanic eruption would not announce itself with a single shear of light witnessed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles distant. Meanwhile, the omnipresent ash cover blotting out the sun which now circles "like a grieving mother with a lamp" 32 could be caused in several ways, including nuclear exchange, though this would require dozens, if not hundreds, of individual detonations, and therefore many bright flashes and accompanying thuds.
Only a meteor strike would also account for the massive fires, instantly disabled power and communications, and enormous dust clouds. The dense atmosphere would block sunlight and trigger conditions similar to nuclear winter. Given a sufficient drop in usable light energy, photosynthesis would go into steep decline, the food chain would collapse, and mass extinctions would transpire, such as massive fish die-offs due to the inability of phytoplanken to replenish oxygen This line of reasoning requires a little familiarity with popular treatments of volcanoes, nuclear winter, etc.
Once again, the evidence is scanty, but appears to reward scrutiny, and is faithful to McCarthy's habit of "always 'carefully chart[ing] his characters' movements" Kunsa 22 quoting Arnold For example, the American locale is determined by the father's reference to the defunct "states" which the "interstates" they travel once connected. Others have offered very precise reconstructions of the characters' wanderings, most notably, Morgan who traces their route from Middlesboro, KY to the Atlantic coast. At this point Morgan admits he becomes somewhat lost, though the "piedmont plain" lying ahead, along with architectural and other antebellum references, strongly suggests the interior of South Carolina.
That it is harmful to even breathe the air is evidenced by the ubiquitous use of masks and filters, and in one instance a full "biohazard suit" The technique is perhaps gestured at in the use of the phrase "maps and mazes" in the concluding paragraph. The reader's uncertainty about what is happening in the story is mirrored in and gives insight into the characters' own confusion about where they are headed. The father's roadmap is literally fragmented into a set of disordered leaves, which he can consult only after tedious reassembly Despite these efforts, they are hopelessly lost and prolong their lives only because of good fortune.
Though they do eventually reach the ocean, it is lifeless. The reader is also in danger of getting lost, but I contend, can find her way by attending carefully to the scraps of evidence. The characters must overcome the hostility of nature and other people, though occasionally they are relieved by fortuitous circumstance or perhaps "rewarded".
Propitious or not, these windfalls deliver only a taste of the material abundance enjoyed by pre-disaster society, such as the Coca Cola they find in a vending machine The waterfall 37 , abandoned bunker , and derelict yacht , also only offer fleeting and insecure comfort. The found resources are soon to be exhausted and once again the characters will face starvation—the bunker is even compared to a grave Meanwhile, there is constant anxiety that somebody very dangerous will come along, soon.
It is only with the appearance of the self-reliant Veteran that any sense of genuine security is attained. Though it could be said that the boy is still only surviving thanks to luck, he must still take ownership of the decision to join the new group. We can also assume he will be expected to contribute. But if the boy finds refuge, it's because he's found a band of humans who have learned to survive. Similarly, the reader must also struggle to understand.
Allow me to explain.
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This is something of a payoff. McCarthy appears to be saying everything must run its course Cant though this increases the significance of whatever we hold dear. Perhaps it is also implied that the boy dies along with the new group, since they also can only prolong their ultimate demise. Or perhaps there is no ending in the conventional sense, and the reader is left to conjecture possibilities. However, these ideas conflict with what else we know. He is heavily armed. The emphasis on improvised shotgun shells indicates he is a builder, not just a scavenger.
He must have shelter, tools, raw materials, and, of course, food. But where does he subsist in the endless dead zone? While this worry might be left unanswered, let us continue to consider McCarthy's pattern of rewarding the thoughtful reader.
Does the boy survive? Does humanity? If so, how? What do they eat? Where do they live? I suggest the starting point is to accept that the Veteran is the key to the ending.
End Of The Road
The boy is alone and perhaps an unreliable narrator. In addition, the appearance of a strong adult male leading a "family" of sorts just when things are most desperate is perhaps too good to be true and even miraculous, given the "three days" it has taken for the new father to "rise". I submit that in the context of the scientific jigsaw puzzle McCarthy is offering, the introduction of the Veteran helps the reader appreciate ultimate causes and solutions of ecological collapse. Though not every disaster is foreseeable, or our responsibility, our response to crises is under direct human control and calls for initiative, courage, ingenuity, and, crucially, trust and cooperation.
The Veteran bears a shotgun with "wax covered shells" and is wearing a "ski parka" But is it not a miracle the boy encounters his rescuers at just that moment? Not at all, since the Veteran appears to have been following the pilgrims for some time, though from a distance. We can gather that, prudently, the Veteran hesitated to approach because the father was suspicious of other people.
He has taken an interest in them, but it was only shortly after the father dies that he decides to make contact. It is even mentioned that he is still wary of the gun the boy now holds The initial impression given by his twisted face creates tension, but this may only be a residue of the father's paranoia.
Tellingly, the Veteran keeps his word and expends a valuable blanket on the father's corpse "as the man had promised" This seems most unlikely if he is just another "roadrat" 66 since the boy need not have known otherwise. Though not deductively certain, this is good evidence the Veteran can be trusted it may even hint that McCarthy can be trusted not to deliberately misdirect the patient reader. As noticed by Ellis 37 he also passes on an easy opportunity to disarm the boy It seems reasonable to conclude he is not a cannibal and the boy is taken into his care, at least for a while.
Confirming this, the woman is described as speaking with the boy "sometimes" , indicating time is passing and he is not only surviving but has gotten comfortable opening up to her. As they seem to have access to surplus resources and are interested in acquiring new members, it is natural to wonder how they survive and where they live. So against the doubts of some e. Gretlund 49 the Veteran's group is benevolent and has been tracking the pilgrims.
We know this because he mentions there was "some discussion about whether to even come after you at all" Come after you from where? Perhaps we are not supposed to know, but let us consider the evidence. This seems more than coincidental given that skiing is rather obviously suggestive of mountains.
Despite much of the landscape having been burned to cinder, "woodsmoke" is mentioned only four other times. This is a bit curious as the "Burnt forests for miles along the slopes" 29 might suggest combustibles are in short supply. Further confirmation that lightning strikes are responsible is provided by the encounter with the thunder-burnt man, though notice this suggests there could be people living up there. While investigating they detect "A faint smell of woodsmoke on the air" 79 though the town appears to be deserted.