Analyse how one or more ideas were used to comment on an aspect of human nature. Note: “Ideas” may refer to character, theme, or setting. (2017 exam paper)
The Road, written by Cormac McCarthy tells the story of a young boy and his father (the man) travelling south on a road to find food. In this post-apocalyptic world, the boy and the man have only themselves and the hope of finding food, but in all directions men stalk the road awaiting any victim who may fall under their traps. One theme that was used to comment on how humans can change in harsh conditions was the theme of survival. SO WHAT IS THE ASPECT OF HUMAN NATURE?MAKE THAT CLEAR!
Through the boy and the boys mother, I was also able to understand the aspect of how hope is required to survive. AGAIN RELATE/LINK TO HUMAN NATURE And finally, the post-apocalyptic setting helped me understand that dwelling on past thoughts is detrimental to surviving.
FIRST OF ALL YOU NEED TO DECIDE WHAT ASPECT OF HUNAN NATURE YOU ARE GOING TO COMMENT ON, AS STATED IN THE TOPIC. YOU HAVE A LOT OF IDEAS HERE.
Throughout the novel we see many instances where the man and the boy are being chased by cannibals. For example, in one such instance we see the man and the boy be confronted with cannibals riding on a truck. One of the cannibals see the boy and puts a knife to his throat. The man eventually shoots the cannibal to save the boy, which alerts all of the other cannibals. The man and the boy then run away, leaving everything behind. Eventually they return only to find that the cannibals ate their colleague and took all the food that was in the cart. THIS IS A VERY LONG DESCRIPTION OF AN EVENT - THINK ABOUT THE IDEA FIRST This revealed the theme of survival and helped me understand that when put in harsh and brutal conditions, humans lose all sense of compassion and selflessness. They only focus on their survival and consequently lose the human attribute of compassion and selflessness, which is a key aspect of human nature and is what separates us from animals. THIS IS BETTER However, we also see the boy who is merciful and compassionate to all. While the boy was being held “hostage” by the cannibal, the boy begged his father not to shoot the cannibal, even though he knew he could die. The contrast and difference in thinking, compared to the cannibals showed me that even in such harsh conditions, there are still some people who are compassionate. They retain their humanity and do not allow it to be lost at any cost. CONTRASTS YOUR OPENING STATEMENT From this I was able to understand that some humans can and will change while others will not. This can be compared with the book “Night”, where after being tortured by the Nazis sons started to beat up their fathers just for a piece of bread. The only difference between these situations was that instead of physically being tortured, the people in The Road were mentally tortured by the fear of not finding food (i.e death). THIS SECTION NEEDS WORK
The idea of hope IS THIS THE QUESTION - WHAT IS THE ASPECT OF HUMAN NATURE was also highlighted in this novel. For example, when the boy and the man meet Ely, a person on the road. The man becomes anxious as he thinks it’s an ambush. However, the boy pleads to the man to help Ely. Eventually the man succumbs to the boys innocence and helps Ely. The man and Ely start to talk about God and how the world came to the state it is today. The boy then hands Ely a can and Ely starts talking about the boy and his kind LENGTHY DESCRIPTION nature. “He will grow out of it.” The man replies “No, he won’t, he carries the fire.” This contrasts with the boys mother who after witnessing the horrors of this new world desires only death. While the man and the woman argue about living she states “I have taken a new lover who can give me something you cannot. I know you will not live for yourself, protect him.” From this I understood a key aspect of human nature and the fact that humans need hope to survive. THIS IS BETTER The man could have chosen the easy route and killed himself and the boy instead of suffering and starving for days at a time, but instead he had hope of a new world, a world where people don’t eat each other. The symbol “carries the fire” represents this hope as fire is often seen as the key ingredient of human civilisation. It gives life and it is for this reason the man worked hard to keep this fire alight, to keep hope alive in a world without hope. From this Cormac Mccarthy also revealed a key aspect of humankind, that hope is not only man-kinds greatest strength, it is also its greatest weakness. GOOD ANALYSIS IN THIS SECTION
The post-apocalyptic setting helped me understand the human aspect of dwelling on past thoughts. NOT SURE THAT THIS IS CLEARLY EXPLAINED? Throughout the novel, the setting has been described as an unforgiving, cold and hard place. Not only is there no food, but the danger of cannibals is present and imminent. Eventually the boy and the man are able to sit down and eat their remaining food, which they had found in a bunker a few days before. The boy and the man both have a conversation and the boy asks whether or not crows could have escaped to Mars. The man replies “no.” The boy then replies “if they flew high enough could they see the sun?”. The man replies yes and then asks the boy what happened to the flute he had made. The boy then replies “I threw it away.” This helped me understand that even with the boys curiosity and imagination, the sun seemed impossible. It could be because of this that he threw is flute away - music was something for the old world, a world which he cannot hope to connect/indulge with. He knew that if he kept trying to connect with the old world, much like the crows, he too would die. This bought in the human aspect of dwelling on past thoughts and showed the reader that dwelling on past thoughts leads to nothing but ruin. AND DOES NOT ASSIST SURVIVAL We as humans like to reminisce the past when in fact only the future matters. However, although it is important not to dwell on the past it is more important to learn from the past, so we do not end up making the same mistakes others have made. THIS IDEAS NEEDS FURTHER DEVELOPMENT
In conclusion through the theme of survival, the idea of hope is required to survive and the post-apocalyptic setting, I was able to understand key aspects of human nature and how in harsh conditions people can change. The Road is timeless evidence of the flaws we humans possess and how these flaws are revealed to society when society is compressed into nothingness.THIS PIECE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO WEAVE THROUGH THE ESSAY -THE ASPECT IS THAT HUMANS ARE FLAWEd
I am slightly confused when doing these type of questions. How do we relate to the outside world when the question itself is asking us to relate to it? I have tried to relate to another text but it’s not that good.
YOU CAN COMMENT ON HOW THE TEXT AFFECTS YOU / THE READER