Extract from ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

First Person Narrator:

I pushed the cart and both I and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things in case we had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that I used to watch the road behind us. I shifted the pack higher on my shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the steel grey serpentine of a river. Motionless and precise. Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? I said. The boy nodded. We set out along the black top in the gunmetal light shuffling, through the ash, each the others world entire.

Second Person Narrator:

You pushed the cart and both you and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things in case you had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that you used to watch the road behind you. You shifted the pack higher on your shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the steel grey serpentine of a river. Motionless and precise. Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? You said. The boy nodded. You set out along the black top in the gunmetal light shuffling, through the ash, each the others world entire.

Third Person Limited Narrator.

In this case the difference between the boy’s point of view and the man’s is essentially about responsibility and awareness. The man is responsible for the boy (his son). He has the life experience to be more cynical and hazard-aware in the dangerous post-apocalyptic world through which they travel. The narrative will be more strategic as he prioritises food, shelter and defences for them both. He also has to be a parent and teach the boy about these things as he grows.

This narrative from the boy’s point of view will be quite focused on his father’s actions and reactions to events and their environment, as he has an inherent expectation to be protected by him. It will be naïve and perhaps more horrified by what they encounter.

Narrative Angle:

I think McCarthy chose the omniscient angle to remove some of the emotion from the narrative. An objectivity or lack of empathy from the narrator emphasises the atmosphere of the book. At the same time, being able to present various viewpoints, and information unknown to the main characters, makes for a richer story, especially in such a sparse setting.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s