The Road - Cormac McCarthy - ELY pp171 - 175

These cards will highlight a specific section in The Road. This section is on 'Ely'. I will highlight language, characters and characterisation, our feelings and reactions, narrative structure, techniques and language use, and the importance of that key episode.

  • Created by: Tiffany
  • Created on: 28-03-12 18:31

Feelings and Reactions

Anxious - ''A small figure distant on the road, bent and shuffling.''
Wary - ''It could be a decoy.'' 

- We don't know who he is, but the fact the man suggests it could be a decoy makes us feel worried.

Sympathy  - ''He looked like a pile of rags fallen off a cart.''

- We know the traveller is not a threat, the man also calls him 'Sir'.

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Narrative Structure

What happened just before we meet Ely?

Before we encounter Ely the man and the boy have just left the bunker. This is a though McCarthy wants us to take a break from everything that had happened. Also before meeting Ely the boy asks what ''long term goals'' they have. (Ely sort of answers this suggesting there is no future, "There is no God" , "Things will be better when everybody's gone").

What happens after we meet Ely?

After this episode the man and boy go on as usual, only to approach unsafe areas. The transistion from abundance to nothing shows their hopeless journey.

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Characters and characterisation

How does the episode contribute to your understanding of the characters? How do they, and the relationships between them, develop?

The Boy - Generous and feels sympathy towards others. The boy convinces his father to give the old man something to eat. "Take it" , "Eat it".

The Man - Still paranoid but obliges, "I don't think he should have anything. What do you want to give him?". It's as though the man is learning from the boy.

Ely - Wise, but a little mad. Ely does not consider people like themselves to be survivors. He is outspoken and pesimistic, "Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave" , "Things will get better when everybody's gone".

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Narrative techniques and language use

Simile's - "He looked like a pile of rags fallen off a cart."
                "He had a filthy towel tied under his jaw as if he suffered from toothache."

Adajency pairs - "So they won't hurt you? Yes. Does that work? No."

Declaratives - "Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave."
                         "Things will be better when everybody's gone."

Symbolism of firelight - "The man could see his small eyes watching him in the firelight."

Fable/Religious elements - "There is no God and we are his prophets."
                                                "You thought he was an angel?"

Personification - "When we're all gone at last then there'll be nobody here but  death and his days will be numbered too." (Ely personified death as if it were a person)

Ambiguity - "I can't see good" (He could either mean he can't physically see well, on the other hand could mean he can't see good in people).

Minor Sentences - "Yes"

Imperatives - "Take it"
                      "Eat it"                                      

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Ely's conversation with the man about the state of the world emphasises their journey is hopeless and godless, "Where men can't live gods fare no better". Ely suggests that theres only a God if you believe in a God.

Ely is the only character in the entire novel who is named. (even though Ely is not really his name).

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