The Road By Cormac McCarthy Summary and Analysis Section 14 - Boy asks about the baby" to "A house, food, and a wheelbarrow""

Summary

They camp at the river. The man hopes the sound of the water will cheer up the boy after seeing the cooking baby carcass. The boy asks where the baby came from but his father doesn't answer. They continue to head south and to the coast without any knowledge of what they'll find when they get there. People's belongings are scattered by the road and the man recalls how the boy used to pick things up and carry them with him. The boy doesn't do that anymore.

They sleep deeper than before, waking up in the middle of the road, and the man knows that they are in desperate need of food. They haven't eaten in two days. The boy spots a house across the field and they make their way to it. Crossing the field, they find arrowheads and a coin with Spanish writing on it.

This house, like many of the other houses, makes the boy nervous. He doesn't want his father to go upstairs. They build a fire in the hearth and the man finds jarred foods. They cook a hot dinner and sleep, then explore the house the next day. They stay for four days, eating and sleeping, and in the yard they find a wheelbarrow. When they set out to retrieve their cart and resume their journey on the road, the boy asks if they did good, and his father confirms that they did.

Analysis

The man is noticing changes in the boy; it has been ages since he'd seen the boy run or pick up objects along the roadside and carry them with him. It's as if the boy has become less of child. Earlier in the novel, the boy discarded his flute. Now, he's lost a bit of his curious nature.

In this section, the country house offers the man and boy a moment of reprieve. They are able to find food and regain a bit of their strength. While doing so, the man muses on, wondering if "they" are watching. This question recalls the moment in the previous section when the man wonders if his fathers are watching him. The man believes that they are watching, that they are looking for something that not even death can undo. This "thing" is, presumably, the connection and love between father and son. The man believes that if the fathers don't see that this bond is still alive, that they will leave the man and boy there to die alone. But, if the man and boy remain so strongly linked, as they have been throughout their entire journey, then their fathers won't leave them.

The man recognizes that the tragedies the boy has witnessed while on the road have altered the boy in many ways, taking away his childhood, but the father continues to protect his son and keep the fire alive inside him. At the end of the section, the boy is pleased, knowing that they've done good, that they've managed to find a bit of sanctuary during their journey to the coast.

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