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.

27 comments:

  1. Is the book as hideously depressing and disturbing as the film? I have avoided reading the book since having seen the film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's certainly no walk in the park, but the book does a better job than the film in exploring the nuances of their relationship and illustrating the Father's determination to see his boy safe. As I often say about the book, it's a beautiful love story nestled in a horrific setting. The juxtaposition of the characters' incredible tenderness to one another, set against the abject desperation of their situation is what makes the story so compelling and human.

      Delete
  2. Quite splendid Curt, I do like the fact that you choose grey scale but with the hint of color on the boy. It certainly does evoke the theme of the film (I've still to read the book :-( ), how far would you go to protect your child! The father does look like he's forsaken everything good to protect his child.
    Lovely way to return to your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for your comments Ste. Yes, please read the book. The movie, while having it's own merits, does not come close to the grim beauty of the book. Not an easy read by any means, but very worthwhile.

      Delete
  3. Fantastic vignette Curt, I have had the book on my 'to read' list for far too long.

    Well done on running yet another fantastic challenge. Your efforts are quite amazing and really appreciated by the whole community. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Paul! You were missed, so I hope you can kick in with us next year!

      Delete
  4. Thanks for herding the cats and juggling the chainsaws once more this year, Curt - I expect you're knackered right now!

    Can we expect a corresponding article in WBQ perhaps...? No pressure...
    ; )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ev. You've just saved me a job :-)

      Delete
    2. Sure, anything to help out. :)

      Delete
  5. Wonderful vignette Curt. I must make a point of looking for a copy next time I'm in a book shop :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tamsin. It's a slog but well worth it.

      Delete
  6. Excellent paint job curt, I really enjoyed the film, the father seems to have a parallel with the Rick Grimmes character from walking dead, at least to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there is a similarity for sure. Though I think 'The Road' hits closer to home as I suppose it seems more plausible.

      Delete
  7. Superb- very evocative.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a very nice vignette, perfect for the end of The Challenge. And very interesting story. I´m going to look for the book.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gracias Juan. It was a fairly good seller so I'm sure there's a Spanish translation if you want to give it a try.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful work, evocative as anything I've seen from you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very nice and cinematic of the book. The book is a great read and I also recommend a read if your thinking about it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Really nice painting. Good read. Horror story really. You don't feel good after you put it down though.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great work, Curt. I like how the child's face pops out of the 'sea' of grey.

    Thanks again for running the Challenge! Wish I could have gotten more done, but maybe things will be better for me by next year.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great work, I generally really admire your work.;-)
    'The Road' is an awesome book by one of the best modern writers. I read somewhere that it was basically a reaction to his being an older first time father. Wanting to protect his son but being doomed to never being able to finish...
    The movie is somewhat bleaker feeling, as you mentioned, the few script edits seem to have cut out some of the warmth of the fathers love.
    If someone wants a more mellow intro to Cormac McCarthy I suggest 'Blood Meridian'. (8P joke!)
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  14. This will never be described as a "wonderful" read. It's somber in tone and there are parts which are so horrible they may haunt you forever. But when I reached the end of the book, I thought the last paragraph was one of the best pieces of writing in my recent memory. But don't peek. The ending will make no literary sense unless you have experienced the long road of the nameless father and son as humankind's flame flickers toward extinction.

    Mica
    Moto G 4G

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fab painting.
    I couldn't find these minis at all. Do you have a link please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, I can't find them either. I wonder if they were pulled due to licencing issues with the various film they were related to. Pity, as they really are wonderful castings.

      Delete