The book we'll be focusing on until the end of July is Cormac McCarthy's 2006 novel The Road. In the interest of sustaining an interesting and engaging discussion, I've provided a series of questions or discussion starters to provide a starting point in your analysis of the novel. The first group of questions are relatively straight-forward and concern the main themes and ideas of the book, while the second set are more complex or demanding, and aimed at those who are able/willing to perform more in-depth critical analysis. I won't set a mandatory timeframe for reading, but please use spoiler tags if your post contains potential spoiler material. Finally, have fun! Contribute as much or as little as you like, ask questions, (politely) challenge opinions and improve your critical (and writing) ability. Easier Questions Spoiler 1. In fiction, the idea of the journey is inextricably linked to ideas of progress, development and the attainment of the ideal. Is this true of The Road's journey? 2. Neither of the main characters are named. What, in your opinion, are the reasons for this? 3. Do you find the ending of The Road to be optimistic or pessimistic about human nature? 4. McCarthy's style is unmistakable. What are its key features, and how, in this case, do they affect the story? Difficult Questions Spoiler 1. "There is no God and we are his prophets." Taking this as a starting point, discuss the role of religion in The Road. 2. Is it significant that The Road takes place in America? 3. The Road draws on a variety of literary forms: the road novel, slave narratives, elegy, and horror fiction and cinema. McCarthy also alludes to Classical texts and the Bible. Discuss the impact these allusions have on the text and your understanding of it. 4. Defamiliarisation is crucial to the theme and tone of the novel. Both the setting, characters, and, most importantly, language are, to a certain extant, made to seem unfamiliar. Starting, perhaps, with the shopping cart used by the man and the boy, discuss how McCarthy achieves this sense of defamiliarisation, and what it contributes to the text. (You may like to consider especially the contrast between the 'underground bunker' scenes and the rest of the novel.) 5. Is The Road more speculative or experiential?