The Road By Cormac McCarthy Summary and Analysis Section 10 - In town, searching for a cart" to "Long term goals""

Summary

The man and the boy head into town and find a cart to fill with the goods from the bunker. They hide it in the shed until they're ready to leave their sanctuary. The man knows it's important not to stay too long, that their paradise will be discovered soon enough.

Later that day, the man cuts the boy's hair, then his own. He shaves. There are a few nights of heavy rain, so they delay their departure from the bunker and spend the days eating and sleeping. When the rain eases up, they leave and continue their journey to the coast. The man thinks they're about 200 miles away, "as the crow flies." The boy asks if there are any more crows or if they're only in books. The man says they only exist in books now, and the boy says that's what he thought.

They stop for the night on a hill. The boy wants to know what their long-term goals are. The man asks where the boy heard that phrase and the boy tells his father he heard it from him, but neither the man nor the boy can remember what those goals were.

Analysis

Again, we see the man thinking about the future, imagining how the boy fits into the future. The man also thinks about what the boy must think of him. To the boy, the father decides, he must be a kind of alien, a person coming from a world that the boy has never known. The man worries that his stories of the old world, and perhaps even the bunker itself with all of its wealth of goods, might be harmful to the boy; they might make his trek on the road more difficult. At the end of this section, the father learns that the boy has thrown away his flute, which indicates that at some point along their journey, the boy determined that music no longer had value. The boy's actions indicate that he, too, might feel as if there's no hope left.

The moment when the man cuts his son's hair is very poignant in that it recalls father and son rituals of the old world. The boy watches the man shave, learning from his father, except this father and son exist in a different world, one in which rituals such as these are almost forgotten. The two of them keep some part of that old world together, but they're pioneering what that relationship means in this world where they are two of the few remaining good guys.

The man has another dream. This time it is about creatures at his bedside; he thinks they have come to warn him — but of what, he's not sure. The dream makes him regret their discovery of the bunker. He admits that there's some part of him that always wishes for their struggling to be over, and perhaps those creatures are connected with that part of him, that link to death of which the man always ponders when he dreams.

This section ends with the boy asking about long-term goals, a question that leads the man to wonder what those goals are, what they have become. They're still heading toward the coast, but what future will they find once they get there?

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