Christianity and Cormac McCarthy's The Road

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cormac McCarthy's The Road takes place not before or during but after the end. The novel follows a man and his son as they seek to survive in what remains of the world after some unspecified cataclysmic event. There is almost nothing left: no society, no food, no animals, no hope. Many readers will feel that the question the novel poses is why anyone would wish to continue living under such circumstances. But although that question might be more urgent post-apocalypse, it is in fact one that can always be asked: what, if anything, makes human life valuable and worthwhile? The novel provides answers to these questions, but these answers are contradictory. The reader is left with a choice between powerful arguments for both faith and despair. In The Road, hope is associated with Christianity and hopelessness with an atheistic understanding of the world. Nonetheless, the novel makes it clear that faith is no easy option. This article will begin by discussing the importance of Christian imagery in the novel, focusing on the key symbolic dimensions of fire and darkness, before going on to show how both Christian and atheistic readings are not only made possible, but actively put forward by the text. It will be argued that the novel presents a powerful challenge to both Christian and atheistic views of the world, without ever actually rejecting either.


  • Eric Pudney
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-309
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch