Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
The Road by Cormac McCarthy hardly seems like a work of southern literature at a first glance. The novel is post-apocalyptic. A man and his son, neither of whom are ever named, trek south as they struggle to survive in a world darkened by ash-filled skies. The setting surrounding them is not recognizable as the southern US anymore. The cities are burnt and everything is covered with ash. If we rely on the geography portrayed by a work of literature to identify that literature as southern or not, then The Road cannot be classified as southern based solely on the tangible places described within the novel, places that are no different from anywhere else in a world where everything has been destroyed, as "'sense of place' often seems to imply being located not merely in a distinctive region, but in a distinctive way; the term connotes something that is not just geographically different (a southern variation of a thing that exists elsewhere), but qualitatively different (a thing distinctive to the South)" (Romine 5). The South as we know it does not exist in the world of The Road and there is nothing distinctive about the region anymore. But the South is still represented within The Road's pages. We have to look to the memories of the main character, the man, to find it. His memories create an imaginary setting in The Road that is juxtaposed with the ruined state of the novel's post-apocalyptic setting. His memories provide a snapshot of the South before the cataclysm and it is through them that we find a distinctive, southern setting.
Hooks, John Emory, "The Imagined Southern Setting of Cormac McCarthy's The Road" (2015). Honors Theses. 12.