Edward Said once stated, Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. In Cormac McCarthys The Road the main characters are forced into a different type of exile. The main characters experienced separation from humanity and a deep sense of inner struggle. This provided a unique example of exile but also gave the characters an opportunity for enrichment.
The novel contains two main characters, the first character being the father, and the second being the boy. When the story begins we are introduced to a post-apocalyptic setting in which the World as they knew it has ceased to exist. This creates a perfect example for exile. The father is subjected to this exile throughout the entirety of the novel. He is forced away from his home, has lost his wife, and is about to experience emotions and situations he never could have imagined. The separation from humanity does not only cause the obvious physical separation, but also the emotional separation. The obvious example is the separation from humanity. Not only is he out of separated from people, but he is separated from his home. When he returns to the house where he grew up, you can sense the connection he has with it. This shows how difficult it is for the man to forget everything he knew about the old World and focus on the new one.
The hidden aspect that emerges from the novel is the emotional aspect. It is the main driving force behind the mans actions and thoughts throughout the novel. It is apparent that the man struggles with his emotions. He has dreams that have no explanation; he alienates himself for his only human contact, his son. By making these choices he may be helping his son, but he is destroying himself.
This novel can be looked at as an enriching experience as well, not just a novel about gloom and doom. The life lessons that can be learned through the traumatic or endangering experiences can never be duplicated. The isolation period can help a person discover their true self. They have time to push their inner most limits and find knowledge about themselves they never knew they had. There is a fine line to walk though. One can push oneself too far and crumble. Many have walked it, and many have failed. The man is the exception. He realized his role as his sons protector and dedicated himself to fulfilling that role. The gratification he gains from seeing his son grow and flourish throughout the novel has to be one of the most fulfilling experiences a parent can have. The man also experiences a spiritual transformation as a result of his hardships. When a person experiences crisis in their lives they can turn to their spirituality. The father is a perfect example of this. He could easily become selfish and self centered given the circumstances, but he sticks with his ethics given the thinking that his reward will be greater in the longer run.
The Road fits into Saids quote about exile being both an enriching and a terrible experience. The man in the novel experiences both the fulfilling experiences, as well as emotional and physical turmoil. The novel relies on both of these aspects to make the piece work as a whole.