Event Title

The Importance of Environmental Apocalypse in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Mentor 1

Dr. Kelly Sultzbach

Location

Union 181

Start Date

24-4-2015 1:20 PM

Description

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road tends to be lumped in with the emerging post-apocalyptic genre as a whole. However, when analyzed further, the text is shown to be much more complex. Among the more compelling questions raised in articles published on the novel are these: Is this text environmental? And if it is, is it responsibly environmental? In attempting to answer these questions, numerous peer-reviewed articles with a wide range of focuses were read. These articles contained many overlapping and contrasting opinions dealing with the portrayal of environmental issues in McCarthy’s novel. For example, in an Explicator article, Kenneth K. Brandt argues that The Road, “directs the reader’s attention toward the fragility of the natural world.” And, in response to disagreements over the origin of the novel’s apocalypse, Terrence McSweeney advocates in Journal of Film and Video that humans receive a warning from the text no matter what the perceived cause of the disaster is. Together, these articles as well as others point to one over-arching conclusion: whether or not one agrees with McCarthy’s portrayal of environmental issues in The Road, the novel’s value lies in prompting the beginnings of ecocritical conversation for its readers. While the text may not seem moving at first glance, there are several factors that contribute to its impact. The vehicle of a fictional approach creates an accessibility in that humans, not scientific facts, are put at the center of the action. This also enables literary devices such as repetition, technical simplicity, and imagery, rather than the expected environmental statistics and percentages, to emphasize key points. Another influential aspect of The Road is the anonymity it presents in its unnamed characters, and the unnamed disaster that causes their struggles. The vagueness surrounding the main characters of man and boy allows them to take the role of anyone – the reader’s father, son, husband, brother, friend, or self. Those two characters could be anyone, and in the context of McCarthy’s text, this makes them represent everyone. The unnamed disaster likewise forces the reader to think about the impacts of his/her actions on many levels: a meteoric impact points toward improving the present quality of life on Earth, diplomatic relations are at the forefront if the disaster is perceived to be caused by nuclear fallout, and environmental impact is considered if climate change is blamed. The research conducted leads to the conclusion that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is an essential tool in initiating environmental conversation in its readers.

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Apr 24th, 1:20 PM

The Importance of Environmental Apocalypse in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Union 181

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road tends to be lumped in with the emerging post-apocalyptic genre as a whole. However, when analyzed further, the text is shown to be much more complex. Among the more compelling questions raised in articles published on the novel are these: Is this text environmental? And if it is, is it responsibly environmental? In attempting to answer these questions, numerous peer-reviewed articles with a wide range of focuses were read. These articles contained many overlapping and contrasting opinions dealing with the portrayal of environmental issues in McCarthy’s novel. For example, in an Explicator article, Kenneth K. Brandt argues that The Road, “directs the reader’s attention toward the fragility of the natural world.” And, in response to disagreements over the origin of the novel’s apocalypse, Terrence McSweeney advocates in Journal of Film and Video that humans receive a warning from the text no matter what the perceived cause of the disaster is. Together, these articles as well as others point to one over-arching conclusion: whether or not one agrees with McCarthy’s portrayal of environmental issues in The Road, the novel’s value lies in prompting the beginnings of ecocritical conversation for its readers. While the text may not seem moving at first glance, there are several factors that contribute to its impact. The vehicle of a fictional approach creates an accessibility in that humans, not scientific facts, are put at the center of the action. This also enables literary devices such as repetition, technical simplicity, and imagery, rather than the expected environmental statistics and percentages, to emphasize key points. Another influential aspect of The Road is the anonymity it presents in its unnamed characters, and the unnamed disaster that causes their struggles. The vagueness surrounding the main characters of man and boy allows them to take the role of anyone – the reader’s father, son, husband, brother, friend, or self. Those two characters could be anyone, and in the context of McCarthy’s text, this makes them represent everyone. The unnamed disaster likewise forces the reader to think about the impacts of his/her actions on many levels: a meteoric impact points toward improving the present quality of life on Earth, diplomatic relations are at the forefront if the disaster is perceived to be caused by nuclear fallout, and environmental impact is considered if climate change is blamed. The research conducted leads to the conclusion that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is an essential tool in initiating environmental conversation in its readers.