Our Earth is gone, and all that remains is an alien world of darkness, deprivation and despair. Gaia is dead - hopelessly dead. While the people of Crace's Pesthouse have regressed to a primitive, medieval state, the world of the Road is completely unrecognizable. Sooty rain falls to the scorched earth, and rivers run black with ash. The sun's passage is only evident as the void of night turns to the unrelenting grey of day. Life as we know it is extinct. We are thrust into this nightmare to travel with the man and the boy. They have no names; they do not need names. There is no one else travelling with them but you, the reader. It would be wrong to say that they are wandering. The journey has a purpose, a destination - the ocean. The man has a purpose - to keep his son alive. And the boy has a purpose - to give his father a reason to survive and travel the road. Their love is what sustains them.
McCarthy briefly alludes to the cataclysm that caused a great holocaust and the nuclear winter that followed. A flash of bright light - a world destroyed. His writing is spare. Short sentences and phrases reflecting the death of words. The names of colours and animals that no longer exist and of emotions and ideals that are no longer felt.
Surrounded by madness and mayhem, starved and freezing, the boy and the man keep going. They continue. The "good guys," the carriers of "the fire" in a wet, black Hell. The Road is strong stuff, but at its centre there is a sliver of hope in the father's desperate fight for his son's survival. Humans can transcend fear and hardship if they are surviving not just for themselves, but for another. It's a thought we'd all like to believe. At the end of The Road, I found myself wondering if I would have it in me to be one of the "good guys."