Hi there, I timed myself to write an essay in an hour and I managed to write one; not quite sure if it is good enough though. The question was from the 2017 paper of: 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.)
‘The Road’, by Cormac McCarthy is a story that focuses on a man and his son, on their quest for survival in a post-apocalyptic and dystopian Southern States. The aspect of ‘How humans become desperate in times of need’, in human nature is commented through the man, the junkrat, and symbolism, through the use of the burned infant.
The junkrat is one of the many ‘bad guys’ who the two protagonists come across. He is in line with a group of cannibals, who hunt for weak and powerless survivors. He shows his desperation to survive, during his confrontation with the man and the boy. During which, the man says that, “He was big but fast. He dove and grabbed the boy and came back up with the boy to his chest, with a knife pointed at its throat.” We can see the result of the post-apocalyptic and dystopian society, as he showed no mercy towards the man or the boy, by holding the harmless and naive boy hostage. This shows us how desperate people have become as anyone will do anything that they can, to stay alive. We can see this reflecting in our own world with some families in poverty, as they will desperately do anything they can just to keep their family alive; let it be stealing or succumbing to drugs. In summary, the junkrat showed that the aspect of ‘How humans become desperate in times of need’, in human nature, when he held the boy hostage.
The man is a prime example of a person who shows the aspect of human nature mentioned above. As throughout the story, he refused to help or share anything to anyone, to ensure that he and his son stay alive. A prime example of how he refused to help, would be when he and the boy met an old man named ‘Ely’. When the boy saw the old man, his initial move was to give him some peaches, however the man said, “No boy, he cannot have any.” His refusal to help, shows how desperate the man has become as he refused to share the old man a fraction of food that they found in a bunker. This is most likely due to how human values have been long omitted in their world, as it would be a burden to everyone if they had to help those who are weak and powerless to survive, as they meant no worth and are better off to die in their world. This can be reflected back to our world, where some families refuse to help one another as it would be too big of a burden and responsibility for them to carry, possibly due to a lack of love and care for one another. In summary, the man comments the aspect of ‘How humans become desperate in times of need’, through him refusing to give Ely a portion of their resources, as to him, every last bit of resource is detrimental to their survival.
Although the infant wasn’t a minor character in the story, they act as symbolism to show how desperate humans have become. As the man and the boy set camp on a campsite with a spit, the boy discovers the remains of an infant, who the man notices and says, “…an infant headless gutted and blackened on the spit.” The dead infant, clearly symbolizes how desperate people have to stay alive and the loss of hope that their future holds, as no internal remains of the infant are seen by the man as it was ‘gutted’. This ties back in to the previous statement, of how human values and emotions are omitted and lost, as the infant was likely a burden to its parents, whose only use for them was to act as sustenance. This can be reflected back to our world, as some parents give no love or care to their children, to where they would abandon them; running away from their responsibilities as a parent, or even exploit them through such acts as human trafficking at a young age to gain income; this can also be seen in the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, by Danny Boyle, where a young Latika was having her virginity auctioned off. In summary, the burned infant acts as a symbol to comment on the aspect of ‘How humans become desperate in times of need’, in human nature, as it shows the desperation and loss of hope for their future.
In conclusion, ‘The Road’, by Cormac McCarthy, is a tale of a man and his son, in their struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic and dystopian society in the Southern States. The man, the junkrat, and the burned infant are characters and symbols that comment on the aspect of ‘How humans turn desperate in times of need’, in human nature. The author had done this to warn us of the potential future we are heading to and for us to realize, the grotesque horror that coincides among us.