Allowing the students to:
1. fully understand the main features of McCarthy's works with a more specific focus on his "The Road";
2. improve their general knowledge of modern postapocalyptic fiction;
3. enlarge their vocabulary through the study and acquisition of new words;
4. comprehend what lies behind the dry minimalist writing style of McCarthy's novel.

Tempo di apprendimento

Apprendimento in: 2 hours


Stage 1 – Cormac McCarthy

1.1. Life
Just a brief account of McCarthy’s life so as to have an extremely minimalistic background to his literary production since

McCarthy is reclusive and information on him is often difficult to confirm

McCarthy’s biography
1.2. Works
Some more words about his life with the addition of a little bit longer and more detailed account of his literary output so as to get to know at least the main paths of his writing – the Western and the new American Gothic – and the way they were developed in The Border TrilogyAll the Pretty Horses (1992, The Crossing (1994), Cities of the Plain (1998) – and in the post-apocalyptic visions of The Road (2006).

McCarthy’s works

Stage 2 – “The Road”

2.1. A Short Summary
Read the three paragraphs about the plot and the characters focusing both on the actions and on the relation between the main characters – The Man (Father) and The Boy (Son) –who relentlessly struggle for their survival trying to cope with an extremely hostile world and with their bare needs.

The Road – Summary
2.2. A Short Analysis
Read just Part 4, the one about the novel, and, more than on what it says about the actions, try and focus more on the difference between good and evil as put forward by

the‘good guys’ who are ‘carrying the fire’ as opposed to the ‘bad guys’ who would eat and enslave other humans in order to keep themselves alive

so as to start to analyse what lies behind the mere actions.

The Road – Hints for an analysis
2.3. Themes
Read carefully this section so as to have a deep analysis of the main themes we are confronted with in The Road and focus particularly of those such as Good versus Evil, Trust, Faith and Doubt, Survival and Resilience.

The Road – Themes

Stage 3 – Style

3.1. Cormac McCarthy’s Three Punctuation Rules and How They All Go Back to James Joyce
A short but clear article about McCarthy’s minimalist approach and how it is employed in the interest of maximum clarity so as

“to make it easier, not to make it harder” to decipher his prose

stripped bare of those weird little marks.

McCarthy’s Three Punctuation Rules

Testing yourselves
Do the attached test and grade your knowledge.


You have 90 seconds to complete it.

Time is over.

Cormac McCarthy & "The Road"

1 / 10

Which of the following works does not belong to The Border Trilogy?

2 / 10

What does the father fear most?

3 / 10

Who finds the boy at the end of the book?

4 / 10

Who dies at the end of the book?

5 / 10

Why does the man wish to keep living?

6 / 10

In which of the following genres have McCarthy's works NOT been seriously classified?

7 / 10

Translated into English, what is the name of the ship they find by the beach?

8 / 10

What does the father tell his son to do if he ever got caught by "the bad guys"?

9 / 10

In what direction are the father and son travelling?

10 / 10

What forshadows the ending of the book?

Il tuo punteggio è



As stated above