Examine the theme of overprotection in the book and how it pertains to the father and son’s relationship. Is the father’s overprotection justified or needless?
Cormac Mccarthy’s book “The Road” is set in a post-apocalyptic era, with a small amount of survivors still walking through the roads. Most of those survivors have turned into cannibals, leaving a boy and his father to venture through paths that were once filled with life, in an attempt to find warmer weather so they could try to live through the winter.
Examining the situation, the boy and his father are in a very dangerous position. They are two survivors that are bent on “staying good”, which means not giving into cannibalism in order to survive. The cannibals are reckless and merciless. They will stop at nothing to catch their prey. The boy and his father somehow need to stay alive while walking through the unsafe roads. The boy is still very young, therefore his father needs to protect him from the dangers that they both will face.
The fact that the mother killed herself due to the feeling that they weren’t “survivors”, but “the walking dead in a horror film”, had an impact on the father. He felt otherwise, his thinking was the family should fight for survival. This could have possibly resulted in him thinking he must protect his son and stay alive at all costs, as he wanted to prove the mother wrong.
The situation, in which the boy and the father are in, is not one for the weak. The constant questioning of “are we the good guys” by the boy should not be an element of conversation between the two. As the father constantly reminds him that they are and states that he is “carrying the flame”, there is a certain feeling of hope given through these words. This is a result of the father’s overprotection. However, along the course of their journey, one sees the development of the boy’s character. The boy and his father meet a man who calls himself Ely and the son talks to his father, who assumes that his son wants the man to stay with them. The father thinks he wants to ask “can we keep him”, to which his reply would be “we cant”. The boy acceptingly says “I know”, something he would not have said at the start of the journey. He realizes that his father must do what is necessary for survival, even if he may not completely agree with it.
The father is torn between protecting his son from every danger and developing him to be his own man. The overprotection towards his son is somewhat justified as the situation in which the both of them were in would lead his emotions to hold on to his son and never let go, but at the same time the boy needs to be independent because his surroundings are very dangerous and his father could not protect him from everything.