Literary Analysis example introduction (rough draft)



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Literary Analysis EXAMPLE

Introduction (rough draft)
Roaming cannibals and marauders with yoked catamites litter the landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a post-apocalyptic horror story for the 21st century. In the aftermath of some indeterminate nuclear war, a father struggles to teach his son how to “carry the fire” in a world that has lost its moral center. Throughout the novel the father sees his son as a divine ray of light that offers hope and a belief in the innate goodness in people—a goodness that must somehow be carried into the next generation by his son.
REVISION
Roaming cannibals and marauders with yoked catamites litter the landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a post-apocalyptic horror story for the 21st century. In the aftermath of some indeterminate nuclear war, a father struggles to teach his son how to “carry the fire” in a world that has lost its moral center. One of many themes in the novel is that human goodness will prevail even when the world has been destroyed. (claim) Throughout the novel the father sees his son as a divine ray of light that offers hope in the innate goodness in people, represented as fire carried by the “good guys,” a fire that must be preserved to be delivered to the next generation. (forecast)

Support Paragraph #1 (rough draft)

From the opening section of the novel, the father appears to view his child as a redemptive figure, knowing only that his son “was his warrant...If he is not the word of God God never spoke” (McCarthy 5). This statement alludes to his religious hope; his love for his son seems to come from a commandment (perhaps divine) from deep within him. His paternal love and his belief that his son will continue to carry the fire compel the father to continue the journey. He has no reason to save his own life “saved for what?” (102) but exists solely to keep the boy’s hopes alive and because of his belief that his son will lead future generations out of the darkness. The man assures his son that goodness will find the little boy, “It always has. It will again. (236) The boy must trust in the innate goodness of people to counter the destruction and indifference of the world and to bring civilization back.
REVISION

Support Paragraph—father sees son as divine (connection to thesis)


From the opening section of the novel, the father appears to view his child as a redemptive figure, knowing only that his son “was his warrant...If he is not the word of God God never spoke” (McCarthy 5). This statement alludes to his religious hope; his love for his son seems to come from a commandment (perhaps divine) from deep within him. In his discussion with Ely, the man asks Ely “What if I said he’s[the son] a god?” (172) and earlier refers to his son as “God’s own firedrake” (31) implying the child has some divine purpose in life. He never states directly that the boy is God but speaks to him and about him as if he were a divine being and follows references to God with a glance at the boy or a touch. When the father nears the end of his life, he looks at his son and sees that “there was light all about him” (277), strengthening his belief in his son as some divine force.

Rough draft

As they continue traveling, the father’s unconditional love for his son and his assumption that future generations will perhaps be led by this child, he treads carefully and refuses to practice altruism. Time and time again the boy pleads with his father to do more than simply call themselves the “good guys” but to practice being good. A central conflict in the novel arises from the boy’s idea of what good guys do and what the father does. The child questions his father’s choices even after the father tells him that his “job is take care of you [the son]. I was appointed to do that by God.” (77) The father remains steadfast in his goal to keep his son alive. If his son is to be the moral compass for the new generation, then the father must keep him alive—even if surviving means to act immorally at times. The son never questions his father’s love for him but does reserve judgment on his father’s choices. His age prohibits him from understanding that the man’s role is to instill the fire of decency and humanity but do it in such a way as not to jeopardize the child’s life.

REVISION
Support—carrying fire and being one of the “good guys”

Throughout the journey the father assures his son that they carry the fire, most likely meaning they retain their humanity and seek others who do as well. The unconditional love the father has for his son serves as a reminder that not everyone will live only to survive and lose their humanity despite the hardships of the indifferent universe. When the boy turns in horror and disgust from the sight of a “charred human infant heedless and gutted and blackening on the spit” (198), the father later assures him that if they had the baby it could go with them (200). Despite serving as a role model for compassion and love, time and time again the father must defend his choices as the boy pleads with him to do more than simply call themselves the “good guys” but to practice being good.

Those choices create a central conflict that arises from the boy’s idea of what good guys do and what the father does. He questions his father’s choices even after the father tells him that his “job is take care of you [the son]. I was appointed to do that by God.” (77) The father remains steadfast in his goal to keep his son alive. If his son is to be the moral compass for the new generation, then the father must keep him alive—even if surviving means to act immorally at times. The son never questions his father’s love for him but does reserve judgment on his father’s decisions. His age prohibits him from understanding that the man’s role is not only to instill the fire of decency and humanity but do it in such a way as not to jeopardize the child’s life. As he lies dying, the man assures his son that goodness will find the little boy, “It always has. It will again.” (236) The future would seem to depend upon the son’s survival and his ability to carry goodness into tomorrow’s world.

Rough Draft

McCarthy’s choice not to give the man and the boy names suggests that they could be any father and son who carry the hope of basic humanity and the belief that the “good guys” will prevail. Despite living in a world immersed in violence and misery, the boy survives and retains his belief in the capacity to love and hope. The man asks Ely “What if I said he’s[the son] a god?” (172) and refers to his son as “God’s own firedrake” (31) implying the child has some divine purpose in life. He never states directly that the boy is God but speaks to him and about him as if he were a divine being and follows references to God with a glance at the boy or a touch. As he lies dying, the father looks at his son and saw that “there was light all about him” (277), strengthening his belief in his son as some divine force.

Later the somewhat miraculous ending of the boy finding other people who “carry the fire” reaffirms the notion that the boy will lead the world out of the darkness.

REVISION
Support----carry into next generation

Another element to consider when discussing the theme of goodness prevailing is McCarthy’s choice not to give the man and the boy names. This simple exclusion suggests that all humans have the power to choose how they will live their lives and are blessed with a resiliency to survive. Late in the journey the father asks the son to tell him a story, but the son refuses because “stories are supposed to be happy” (268) and his are not. The man reminds him that “A lot of bad things have happened but we’re still here.” (269) As he lies dying, the man reminds his son that he (son) can’t go with him because he must “carry the fire” (278). Despite living in a world immersed in violence and misery, the boy survives and retains his belief in the capacity to love and hope. Later the somewhat miraculous ending of the boy finding other people who “carry the fire” reaffirms the notion that the boy will lead the world out of the darkness simply by retaining his capacity to love and hope.

Rough Draft

Cormac McCarthy sees perhaps the role of a father as that of protector, the one who is responsible to lead the child out of the darkness and into the light. Not only does he characterize the man in The Road in this light but this view of a father’s duties can also be found in his dark and violent story No Country for Old Men . Sherriff Ed Tom Bell on the morning after resigning his post describes to his wife his dream from the previous night. He describes his father in his dream as “carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do, and I could see the horn from the light inside of it…he was goin’ on ahead, and he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.” (No Country for Old Men)

Both stories paint a picture of a father who protects his son from the darkness, leading but never abandoning him. In these violent, frightening worlds McCarthy has created, the one redeeming element that tries to create order out of chaos, love out of misery, and hope out of despair is the guidance and devotion of a father.

REVISION (comparison to another work)
In the likeness of the father in The Road, portrayed as a protector and guide leading the child out of the darkness and into the light, Cormac McCarthy’s Sheriff Bell in his novel No Country for Old Men describes his father as someone who would not send his son into the darkness alone. The dark and violent story No Country for Old Men is also set in a world that has lost its moral center. The horrific violence that has strewn a path through the Southwest in the antagonist’s pursuit to reclaim drug money has Sherriff Ed Tom Bell questioning what he does and does not understand about the crimes he has witnessed and dreaming of his father. On the morning after resigning his post, Bell describes to his wife his dream from the previous night. He describes his father in his dream as “carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do, and I could see the horn from the light inside of it…he was goin’ on ahead, and he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.” (No Country for Old Men) Bell dreams of a father similar to the one depicted in The Road.

Both stories paint a picture of a father who protects his son from the darkness, leading but never abandoning him. In these violent, frightening worlds McCarthy has created, the one redeeming element that tries to create order out of chaos, love out of misery, and hope out of despair is the guidance and devotion of a father. The unconditional love of the father shapes the choices made by the son to be one of the “good guys” and to follow the road that is righteous and selfless.




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