Summary and Analysis
The man and boy set out through the woods, often stumbling due to exhaustion and hunger. The man has to carry the boy but can't get very far. He wakes in the woods and sees the shape of a house and a barn in the distance. He knows that desperation led him to carelessness at the last house and understands that he must proceed with more caution from here on.
He leaves the pistol with the boy, who's still sleeping in the woods, and goes through a gnarled apple orchard to get to the barn. Inside, the smell of cows linger. The man wonders if cows have gone extinct. In the house, he finds a packet of grape powder drink mix and notices a drainpipe running down the corner of the porch and into a tank, where he finds fresh water. He fills mason jars with the water and goes out to the orchard, where there are the shriveled remains of apples. He fills his pockets with the apples and returns to the still-sleeping boy. They spend the afternoon eating apples and drinking water. The boy likes the grape mix. They return to the house to gather more water and apples, then they embark on the road again.
After they found no resources at the last house and going into it nearly cost them their lives, this farmhouse proved to be a source of lifesaving sustenance. The boy tells his father that he did good. The man and boy's journey continues to be one of ups and downs. They come close to death and then, at the last moment, they find something to help them continue on the road for a little bit longer.
The theme of skeletons and skeletal remains continues in this section. The father sees that the boy is so starved that he resembles a prisoner at a death camp. The man also sees the shape of a house and a barn from his vantage point in the woods, indicating that those places were once a house and a barn, but now they are simply the empty shells of a time that's past. The apple orchard, too, is gnarled and skeletal in appearance. All of these images call up a world that is no more. Only skeletons of the old world remain.
The theme of memories reappears, too, with the smell of cows in the barn. The scent makes the man wonder if any more cows exist in the world. He thinks of the past and what he once knew of cows, and then he thinks of the future and wonders why anyone would care to keep a cow now, which hints at his sense of hopelessness for the world.