1. What was your emotional reaction to The Road? Why do you think you responded to the story as you did?
2. Read aloud a few sections that especially stood out to you as compelling. What was it that impacted you?
3. As objectively as possible, consider Cormac McCarthy's writing style--his use of words, lack of chapter divisions, use of grammar and punctuation, descriptions, etc. Was it effective for the telling of this story or did you find it distracting?
4. Using words and phrases from the book itself, describe the characters, beginning with the man and his son, then the man's wife and the others they meet on the road.
5. What do you think is the significance of that fact that McCarthy never provides names for either the father or son?
6. One of the criticisms of the book involves the suicide of the wife--how does this fact impact the story?
7. How does McCarthy use dreams and flashbacks in The Road?
8. What is (are) the major theme(s)? How does McCarthy raise them in the process of telling his story?
9. The father and son often say they are "the good guys" while "bad people" are out there, needing to be avoided and feared. They also speak of "carrying the fire." What is the meaning and significance of these themes?
10. What is the significance of the title?
11. Who is telling the story? Whose voice do you hear? (Is it the person going through the experience, or someone else telling you about that person?) How does the relationship between the narrator and the implied listener help the reader focus on what's important about the character(s)?
12. What is the span of experience covered by (or contained in) the story? How does the span help the reader understand what is at stake for the character(s)? Are there stages or periods in this span of time? If yes, what are they? Why do you think McCarthy arranges them in the order that appears in the work?
13. Does this story function as a slice of reality, or a microcosm of reality, or a metaphor for reality? How do you know?
14. If you did not enjoy this work, is there a reason why you should encounter it anyway? Would you recommend this work of fiction to others? Why or why not? How would you describe the work--and your reaction to it--in a way that would make sense to a Christian friend… to a non-Christian friend? Do the two descriptions differ? Why? Should they?
15. Read the final paragraph of The Road. What is McCarthy saying? What is the "mystery" he refers to? Gerard Manley Hopkins' (1844-1889) famous poem, "Pied Beauty" came to mind as I read the final paragraph in The Road:
GLORY be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Compare and contrast this poem to McCarthy's paragraph, and book.