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Some time after an unspecified extinction-level global cataclysm, ''The Road'' follows two survivors - a man and his young son - who journey south through the ashes of the former USA in the hope of finding enough food to avoid starving to death over the coming winter in a place warm enough that they won't die of exposure either. They have only the rags on their backs, a cart of scavenged food, [[BetterToDieThanBeKilled a gun with two bullets]], and one another. As they travel, they (and the reader) bear witness to a dead world where nothing grows, nothing lives, and the sun hasn't been seen in years. 'Nothing lives' but refugees like them, wandering the country in search of food... and ever-hungry gangs of cannibals that stalk the roads.

''The Road'' was published by {{Cormac McCarthy}} in 2006. It garnered critical praise in America and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. The book is notable for a [[BeigeProse stark, minimalist style]] interspersed with occasional [[PurpleProse purple metaphors]]. The writing is idiomatic to say the least, eschewing most punctuation (including quotes) and occasionally including one-sentence chapters of philosophical musing.

Depending on whom you ask, ''The Road'' is either a melancholic, yet stirringly beautiful story about [[RousseauWasRight the goodness of humanity in a hopeless world]], or a hellish nightmare [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy so dark that no sane person would read it]]. Either way, never point out that this book, despite its premise, is not to be found in the [[SciFiGhetto science fiction section of the bookstore]]: [=McCarthy=] fans will get upset at the implication that High Literature would be grouped with Genre Fiction, and Genre fans will be upset because The Road is pretty tame when compared to the Post-Apocalyptic genre, as a whole.

Like most of [=McCarthy's=] books, it was optioned for a film, and TheFilmOfTheBook (Also called ''The Road'') was released on November 25, 2009. It was directed by John Hillcoat, the director of ''TheProposition'', starring Creator/ViggoMortensen and Creator/CharlizeTheron (in a minor role). The score was done by NickCave and Warren Ellis (no, not ''that'' WarrenEllis).
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!!The original novel contains examples of:

* AfterTheEnd: One of the few such novels to actually make it look like mankind is on its way out. Not just scraping by, [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt but dying]].
* AntiHero: The Man might count. Though considering the world he lives in, it's understandable.
* ApocalypseAnarchy: The world has descended into chaos. It's the law of the jungle.
* ApocalypseHow: Debatable. We don't know how much of the world is dying, but the parts that are may potentially be [[ApocalypseHow/{{Class 4}} Class 4]] - biosphere extinction has already occurred and the affected areas are in the final stages of dying. Some Scientists [=McCarthy=] knows have stated that the world the novel is set in is consistent with Earth after a Meteor Strike or the Yellowstone Caldera, both of which the world has dealt with and recovered from. But just because the world (and life in some form) would be able to recover from such a disaster doesn't mean that humanity, or even ''most'' other life would.
* ArcWords: The phrase "carrying the fire" is constantly repeated by the boy, doubling as a SurvivalMantra. The phrase also appeared in ''NoCountryForOldMen.''
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: In a world with dwindling food resources, the cannibals stay alive by maintaining human livestock. However, to keep captive humans alive, you'd need to give them food that is edible by humans, meaning that the cannibals would be wasting far more food than they'd get back through cannibalism. Of course, the cannibals could simply be too crazy to care.
* BeardOfBarbarism: Averted and played straight. Averted by the father, whose unkempt beard is mentioned a few times (typically right before he has the chance to shave it off). Played straight when the two main characters stumbled upon the ghoulish larder of a small band of cannibals at one point. As they flee, they briefly glimpse the larder's owners, and the only adjective used to describe the men is "bearded."
* BeigeProse
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: The man has died, but the boy finds a new, slightly more prosperous family to take care of him. Of course, they're still in a dying world.]]
* BornLucky: The man suspects this of his son - as much as anyone can be BornLucky AfterTheEnd, anyway. By all the available evidence, he's right.
* CannibalClan: Most of humanity have starved to the point where they eat other humans, and it's implied that they will eventually die from sickness or starvation, or cannibalize each other until no one is left.
* CrapsackWorld: Less a WorldHalfEmpty than a world almost completely drained.
* CreepyBasement: And how!
* DeathWorld
* DespairEventHorizon: It's arguable whether our heroes are teetering on the edge, or jumped off a long time ago. Either way, [[spoiler:the discovery of the cannibal larder]] hits them both ''hard''.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:The mother, and the father still carries a gun with two bullets in case the urge becomes overwhelming for him too.]] Justified, given the situation.
* HappyFlashback: The man actively tries to discourage these. They just make him want to [[DrivenToSuicide end it]].
* HopeSpot: The father finds a still-stocked and untouched bomb shelter, giving them a short time with comfortable beds, food, and even showers. Since he knows others will find it as well, he doesn't stay long.
* ImAHumanitarian: The only way for most people to eat, now that the biosphere's dying out. The man and the boy are amongst the few survivors who ''don't'' indulge in this. [[spoiler: As well as the group that finds the Boy at the end.]]
* IncurableCoughOfDeath: We see early on that the man has one, adding an extra layer of urgency to their journey.
* KickTheDog: When the father and son catch up [[spoiler: to the man who stole from them, the father engages in some DisproportionateRetribution, ordering him to strip naked and throw his belongings in their cart. This, in short, gave him a death sentence by hypothermia.]]
* MissingMom: The mother gave up hope and [[ParentalAbandonment left the family]].
* NamelessNarrative: No characters are named throughout the novel. Double subverted with an old tramp the man and his son meet at one point, who claims his name is Ely, before revealing it isn't, and that he doesn't want to tell them his real name.
* PapaWolf: The father.
* PetTheDog: A couple from [[spoiler:the scavengers who pick up the boy at the end of the book]], showing that they're safe and trustworthy people to be around. [[spoiler:They [[DueToTheDead cover the father with a blanket]] like they'd promised, and insist the boy keeps his gun when he tries to give it to them.]]
* PurpleProse: In some sections, usually during dream sequences or between settings, the narrator tends to wander off and wax philosophically for a page or two before snapping back to the plot at hand. Beige prose sprinkled with purple patches.
* RapeAsDrama: Alluded to as one of the many perils on the road (one of the nomadic groups keeps a pack of teenaged sex-slaves on dog collars) - not least because it's often the precursor to [[ImAHumanitarian something worse]].
* [[RealIsBrown Real Is Gray]]: Justified in that ash has blotted out the sun for years and most of Earth's flora and fauna are dead.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: The final bullet is ultimately never used.]]
* ScavengerWorld: A kingdom for proper boots.
* SceneryGorn: So very much. In this world, ashes fall like snow.
* SchmuckBait: Averted. The man finds a jar of preserved fruit in an abandoned house. It looks very nice, but "other people hadn't trusted it, and in the end, neither did he."
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: There's a whole cottage industry that's sprung up around debating this question. As noted in the description, there's a group that believes the book is mind-shatteringly depressing. There's another group that believes ''The Road'' is, through all the death and misery, a chronicle of the strength and beauty of the human spirit.
* SurvivalistStash: Our heroes benefit from several of these. The most spectacular example is detailed in HopeSpot, above.
* ThrowTheDogABone: The boy [[spoiler: loses his father, his only source of joy, comfort, peace of mind, and protection. Just as the story sets him up to travel the world as TheAloner, some scavengers who have been following them and claim to "carry the fire" appear... and by [[PetTheDog all the available evidence]], they're trustworthy. The two kids in their group look healthy, and best of all, not gnawed-upon.]].
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture
* TheUnreveal: What happened to the world and how it happened is only mentioned in bits and pieces, not enough to come to a conclusion. The novel is more about the eventual fate of its two characters more so than the mystery of the past.
* WhatTheHellHero: The father forces the thief who stole their gear to strip at gunpoint, then leaves him helpless beside the road. He will almost assuredly die painfully as a result. The boy lampshades this.
* YankTheDogsChain: See HopeSpot, above. Also, [[spoiler:they eventually reach the coast. There's nothing for them there]].

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!!TheFilmOfTheBook also provides examples of:

* ArcWords: "Why are you following us?" or some variant thereof by various characters.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: When the man and his son are surprised by the return of the cannibals and hide in the bathroom upstairs, the father, upon hearing one of them climbing the stairs, puts his gun against his son's forehead and prepares to use his last bullet to spare him the horror of being captured. Ultimately averted thanks to the prisoners breaking out who distract the cannibals long enough to allow them to make their escape.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: The colors are bleached to give a bleak, desolate, post-apocalyptic scenery.
* FanDisservice: Both the father and a random thief appear naked at certain points. Neither of which are particularly attractive as well as the fact that the thief is being forced to strip at gunpoint.
* FlareGun: Used by the father to take out a person who was attacking him and his son with arrows.
* {{Flashback}}: How Creator/CharlizeTheron is able to be in this movie.
* [[ItsAllAboutMe It's All About Me]]: The mother.
* NeverTrustATrailer: See also {{flashback}}, above.
* NickCave: Composed the soundtrack.
* OnlySaneMan: Some see the mother as this, since she preferred to die rather than struggle in this ruined world.
* RagnarokProofing: [[SurvivalistStash The only intact bunker]] the pair find also happens to have the only functioning lights they come across... for a few seconds.
** Since its about 10 years (more or less) AfterTheEnd, a lot of stuff has long since broken down. Though there's still plenty of ammo lying around...
*** [[RealityIsUnrealistic Bullets last for a remarkably long time.]]
** The house in the flashbacks, if you notice closely, gradually decays as time passes, from more-or-less pristine to a dilapidated shell of its former self. It also helps that some form of EMP shut down just about everything electronic from day one.
* '''RealIsBrown''': Combined with relentless SceneryGorn like woah. Much of the movie was filmed in an abandoned strip-mine, which is about as close as you can get to a RealLife post-apocalyptic wasteland.
* RoadMovie: Sort of.
* ScreamingBirth: When the mother goes into labor.
* ScreamsLikeALittleGirl: The boy.
* ShoutOut: The Lonely Planet New Zealand guidebook. Australia and New Zealand are set up as possible safe havens in numerous post-apocalyptic works, including ''On The Beach'' and ''The Chrysalids''. In addition, TheFilmOfTheBook ''TheLordOfTheRings'' was filmed there. See also ActorAllusion.
* SorryThatImDying: The father to the boy.
* ThousandYardStare: Ye Gods.
* ThrowTheDogABone: On top of [[spoiler: the boy finding a new family in the end like in the book, birds and animals can be heard during the credits, assuring us that the world isn't completely dead and life will go on.]]
** On top of that,[[spoiler:it was mentioned in the beginning of the movie that every animal died.But they find a beetle towards the end.Not to forget,the family in the end has a rather healthy dog.]]
* WouldHurtAChild: As to be expected for the setting there are several people who would have no problem with hurting the boy if given the chance.

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