NATIONAL BESTSELLERPULITZER PRIZE WINNERNational Book Critic's Circle Award FinalistA New York Times Notable BookOne of the Best Books of the Year The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington PostThe searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
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Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that can cause gradual loss of vision. The mood set by these first few sentences is ______.
We don't know much about these characters yet, but perhaps most unusual is that we do not even know their _____.
Reeds grow easily with water, so for reeds to be dead suggests that something is wrong with the water and probably the ecosystem as a whole. (This annotation contains an image)
A slutlamp is a container of oil with a cloth wick that can be lit. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you've read so far, describe the setting of the story. What seems strange about it, or different from the world as you know it? Cite evidence from the text.
Think about what this might mean. What is one reasonable possibility, given the context?
A gryke (sometimes spelled grike) is a crack that separates blocks of rock. Here's a picture: (This annotation contains an image)
What does this suggest about the father?
A flashback is a scene set in a time earlier than the main story. What does this flashback reveal about the setting of the main story? Look closely at the details.
This is an interesting word to describe terrain, because it's usually used to describe skin. To cauterize skin is to burn it in order to prevent bleeding. Think about this idea of the environment as a living, bleeding thing throughout the book.
Another interesting use of a word that is usually used to describe people. Autism is a disorder which is characterized by difficulty in communicating.
This could mean a number of things, from the small communion wafers that Catholics regard as the "host" of Jesus Christ, or the last Christian army in the Crusades. In either case, it seems to mean a final, fleeting burst from an old world.
Think about the movie still of the man, the boy, the cart, and their world in the picture above. How does it match the images you are drawing in your own head about these things? In what ways is it similar or different to what you imagine?
The picture below is a still from the movie version of this book. (This annotation contains an image)
In Homer's ancient epic poem, The Odyssey, there are mythical creatures called sirens that try to tempt Odysseus away from his mission into a world of pleasures and dreams. It is interesting to compare the father to Odysseus throughout this story. Here's an ancient depiction of the sirens trying to distract Odysseus, who is tied to the mast: (This annotation contains an image)
While still choosing to persevere, what does this paragraph suggest about the father's attitude towards death?
This barn seems to actually exist, and so the mention of it gives another clue about the book's setting. Rock City is near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here's the barn: (This annotation contains an image)
What does this question from the boy highlight?
Given the description of the event, it's likely that the father is _____ to the boy.
Look up the word "creed", and think about that word "creedless". What does this suggest about what happened?
They are probably trying to get through the Appalachian Mountain Range, which is the white region in the map below: (This annotation contains an image)
Coughing up blood is a symptom of some pretty bad medical problems.
Godspoke is a word that the author seems to have made up. What do you think the author means by it? What does this passage imply about the way the world is during this story?
This simile also makes the reader think of the earth as a living being, indeed one with a mother.
What does this episode with the cocoa reveal about the boy?
Given the clues about where these two are actually walking, this could be the Linville Falls in North Carolina. They are shown below, but undoubtedly the world has changed a lot in the story, and all this green wouldn't be there: (This annotation contains an image)
This is a kind of flower: (This annotation contains an image)
The father always assumes that other people are ______.
The language here again ("choking") makes one think of the environment as a _______.
That would be one of these: (This annotation contains an image)
All of these bodies that the father and the boy keep encountering could be one reason why the father _______.
A "heathen" is a person who does not belong to a widely held religion. This gives another depth to this simile.
Why is the boy upset?
Take note of the dreams throughout the story. Many of them are undoubtedly nightmares.
The themes of memory and the past haunt this story like ghosts. What do you think of the father's thoughts here? Describe his perspective. Why do you think he has it?
Old Maid and Wist are both card games that used to be popular, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A penitent is someone repents for their sins. It's one of the many religious words on this page and in the book. For what sin might he be repenting?
Finally we are learning more about the mother. Why did the mother want to die?
This would be her method of suicide. Obsidian is indeed quite sharp: (This annotation contains an image)
A biohazard suit assumes that the environment is dangerous, and it offers the body protection from it. This is what a biohazard suit might look like: (This annotation contains an image)
What is one piece of information that adds to the suspense of this scene?
To be "rachitic" means to look like you have rickets, a disease caused by a lack of Vitamin D which causes bones to be too soft and often misshapen.
The father thinks that this man is trying to _____ him.
Take a look at this scene from the movie. Think about how it's different from what you picture when you envision the scene: (This annotation contains a video)
Siwash can be an offensive term for a North American Indian, but here it means a camp without tents or other supplies. It's really just living off of the land.
Supporting what the mother said previously, this is further evidence that ______.
One of the themes of this book is humanity and what happens to people under extraordinary circumstances. What do you make of the man's description of the man he killed? For example, why does he refer to him as "my brother"?
Quoits is an old-fashioned game involving rings being thrown on an upright peg. It's like horseshoes, if you've played that. (This annotation contains an image)
Water is a scarce resource in the novel. This image of a watertower bound with iron hoops seems symbolic.
What does this conversation give evidence for?
A sapper is a soldier responsible for repairing roads and clearing them of mines. Because of how dangerous the work often is, they move slowly: (This annotation contains an image)
What does this show about the boy?
Cornmeal cakes are common in the South: (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the man so concerned about what his son just said?
A trellis is a structure of wooden or metal bars used for support: (This annotation contains an image)
What is one word that might be used to describe the father?
This is a particularly gruesome scene.
What can you say about the bad guys so far? Use evidence from the text. What are their rules, values, habits, if they have any?
Notice the strange contradiction in this statement.
What is the mood set by the language in this passage?
Feet are important for the body's temperature as they have such a big surface area.
What does the boy think his father might be doing?
From a health perspective, this is a risky move.
This conversation between the father and his boy is building up _______.
Given their location in the South, this "once grand house" could be an old plantation home from the old South. Here's what one of these plantations might have once looked like: (This annotation contains an image)
Chattel slaves were fully owned by the household. You may be reminded of the slaves that were seen earlier.
What does evidence suggest about this house?
Morris was a designer in the late 19th century. Here's an example of one of his designs: (This annotation contains an image)
The tang of a shovel is the part that connects the handle to the bottom.
What is the father's tone with his son in the past few pages?
What is the father telling the boy?
Here is this scene in the movie: (This annotation contains a video)
Look at the annotation right above this question to see frightening scene from the movie. How was the movie done differently than described in the book? Why do you think the movie made those changes?
In retrospect, who was right to be afraid of the house?
Formica is a hard, durable plastic used for furniture surfaces.
What do we know about the environment in this story?
This is a mason jar: (This annotation contains an image)
Mendicant friars rely on the charity of others and live to serve their community. To what extent does this simile make sense or not make sense as a way to describe the father and the boy?
It is possible to navigate by means of the stars, if you have expertise.
There have been examples of cannibalism throughout human history, even in recent times. Most people don't "think they would do it."
Which piece of language from this passage might remind us of death?
Why does the father think this is the "absolute truth of the world"?
Why does the father ask himself this question?
Most doctors say that people cannot live more than 5 weeks without food, or 4 days without water.
A bunker is a place people make for shelter, and they are usually well-stocked.
In other words, the boy thinks that this could all be ______.
If you eat too fast after not having any food for a while, it's possible to get sick. The stomach shrinks after a while with no food, so it can't take too much at a time.
A krugerrand is an African gold coin: (This annotation contains an image)
The father knows that _________.
What is one word that could be used to accurately describe the boy?
Check out the scene of the father and the boy discovering the bunker: (This annotation contains a video)
This is an example of the father being ______.
Primers are part of a complete round of ammunition. Look below: (This annotation contains an image)
This could be an example of ______.
Bonded whiskey is a special kind of high quality whiskey made from only one distillery and aged a few years.
In your own words, explain why the father thinks he might seem like an alien to the boy.
It's a fairly common expression.
Again, what do we see about the way the father talks to the boy?
Think about why the boy might have done this. Remember, the man has also thrown some things away.
Why might these characters not have much to say about their long term goals?
This might be a reference to an old mythic tradition about gods who come down to earth in human form and see how humans treat each other..often punishing those that treat each other badly.
This episode gives us another example of the boy's _______.
We can tell from his language that the father is ________ the old man.
Here's what that might look like: (This annotation contains an image)
What is the "luxury" being spoken of here, and why do these men consider at a luxury?
A cryptic statement, if there ever was one.
A shill is an accomplice for someone else. The man is still suspicious of the old man, thinking he might be working for the roadagents (the "bad guys").
What does the old man see as a likely scenario for the future?
What does the man think will kill him?
Look up the word secular. Why do you think the author chose it to describe the winds?
Kudzu is an eastern Asian vine that has clusters of reddish-purple flowers. It is common in the Southeast. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the man unsure about this?
Pilgrims are people who journey to a sacred place for religious reasons. Think about why the author chose this word here.
A patteran, or patrin, is a coded sign left on the road that gypsies use to communicate their movement to each other.
The scene at this drug store is ______.
In the old world, this drugstore might have looked something like this: (This annotation contains an image)
How do you interpret this dream that the man has? Read closely.
According to what the father says in this paragraph, what does it mean to "not give up".
Jackstraw is a game played with a heap of small rods made of wood, bone or plastic. Picture in your head what a "jackstraw land" might look like.
From where you are now in the story, think about the title of the book: The Road. Why do you think The Road is the title?
Slag is a stony matter separated from metals when they are heated. This is a picture of slag glass: (This annotation contains an image)
Skilletbread is a simple bread that can be made in a frying pan. It's traditionally made right over an open fire: (This annotation contains an image)
What is the most likely reason why the man says this?
When a field is harrowed, it is plowed over, creating little ditches. These ditches are harrowtroughs: (This annotation contains an image)
Whose voice is saying this? One of the characters? The author?
What does this suggest?
Seeing something so gruesome can cause shock.
What is one possible answer to this question that the text offers?
Look back in the text for a refresher on what the boy said at that point.
Remember the last time the man and the boy were in this scenario. What kind of tone do you think the author is trying to build?
Here's what that arrowhead might look like: (This annotation contains an image)
One word that could be used to describe the boy is ______.
This is what a palladian window looks like: (This annotation contains an image)
What is ironic about this simile?
Many fruits and vegetables can be canned at home, but if it's done improperly then food poisoning can grow in them. Here are some home-canned goodies: (This annotation contains an image)
How do you interpret this passage?
This is a tallboy chest: (This annotation contains an image)
A light meter is an instrument used to measure the intensity of light.
It is a common practice in many cultures to bury the dead with coins over their eyes.
This is something that apes do for food! (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the boy disappointed?
This is an informal term for one's rear end.
Why do you think the boy is crying?
A deathship is a pirate ship.
How does the coast compare to the rest of the environment?
Sea oats are a kind of grass that grow on the coast. Here's a picture: (This annotation contains an image)
What is ironic about the name of the boat, given the situation of our characters?
Tenerife is a small Spanish island. It's where the boat came from.
This translates to "Bird of Hope".
In this context, a mae west is a kind of life jacket. Mae West was also an American actress. Here's the life jacket though: (This annotation contains an image)
What is a likely reason why the sight of this "stirred" the man?
This sextant might look something like this: (This annotation contains an image)
What is one thing that prevents the man from killing himself?
What might this mean?
It's becoming more clear how badly the father needs medical attention.
A strobe beacon is a flashing electric light, usually used as a distress signal.
All big boats are meant to have flares, incase they have to send out a distress signal. This is what a flare looks like when its fired: (This annotation contains an image)
The boy is often concerned that they are ________.
What is the man implying here?
Based on what you know about the boy, how do you think he might react to this?
Do you think the thief is right about this?Why or why not?
Watch this scene with the thief in the movie. Think about how you might have filmed it differently. (This annotation contains a video)
Who is he in these sentences?
This means a noise that doesn't sound related to anything else.
Dolmen stones are like the rocks at Stonehenge: (This annotation contains an image)
This is a rare word used by mystic and religious thinkers. For these authors, this word means the divine essence in all things.
Think about whether this story is mainly about good things or bad things.
How has the boy changed throughout the book? How has his relationship with his father changed?
Cadiz is a Spanish port city.
Bristol is a city in England.
A sepulcher is a small stone room in which someone is buried.
To crozzle means to burn to a char.
If someone is hydroptic, their body has an excessive accumulation of fluids. This is another example of the author using words for the environment that are normally used for people.
What could this sentence be an example of?
Although the ones they see are only "ashen effigies", this is what hydrangeas normally look like: (This annotation contains an image)
What do you think the boy and the man mean when they say "carry the fire"?
Stoven means broken in. This guy has been in some fights.
What is this a sign of?
This word means "worm-like".