Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Father and The Boy from Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'

As per tradition, I make sure to open and close each year’s Painting Challenge with my own entries. As rearguard this year I decided to post a small vignette based on one of my favourite books, Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. 

In McCarthy’s book an unnamed father and his young son journey across a grim post-apocalyptic landscape, several years after an unexplained apocalypse has destroyed civilization and most life on Earth.  While the story is framed in this horrific setting it is, at its core, a tender love story between a father and his son.

Much of the book is written in an abbreviated third person style, with references to "the father" and "the son" or to "the man" and "the boy."

Realizing that they cannot survive the oncoming winter, the father takes his boy south, along desolate roads, always towards the sea, carrying their meager possessions in their knapsacks. 

They have a pistol, but only two bullets. In a chilling passage in the book, the boy is reminded that he is to use the gun on himself, if necessary, to avoid falling into the hands of other survivors, as most have turned to cannibalism. 

The father struggles to protect his son from the constant threats of attack, exposure, and starvation. In the face of these obstacles, the man repeatedly reassures the boy that they are "the good guys" who are "carrying the fire". On their journey, the pair scrounge for food, evade roving bands, and contend with many horrors.  An old man they discover on the road acts as seer for them and says that the boy has a glow about him – inferring that he is blessed. As the story moves forward the father feels he has to do things that are insensitive if not inhumane in order to keep his son safe.  This progresses to the point where the reader is left with the impression that The Father is perhaps no longer ‘carrying the fire’. But one can only sympathize with his situation and we are forced to ask ourselves, ‘If the world ran down, and chaos reigned, how far would we go to keep the ones we love safe?’ 

The book is very powerful and I believe it ends the way it should (I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil it for those who’ve not read it). If you haven’t picked it up it I heartily recommend you do so.

The figures of 'The Father' and 'The Boy' are from Lead Adventure and are modeled closely to the actors in the film. Beautiful castings. I did them in greyscale with only The Boy’s face being in colour, ‘carrying the fire’, as it were. I diverted somewhat from the original colour tones in the stills from the film, instead playing with the contrasting greys of their clothes to bring attention to both their faces and The Father's hands. I created the base to depict one of the many roads that they traveled on. The centerline is broken to foreshadow events in their journey.

Thanks for dropping in for a visit! Administrating the Challenge is both an honour and a pleasure, but I must say it's nice to be back to the old blog - its like putting on a much-loved, if worn and scuffed, pair of shoes.