According to Bible, we human will be accountable for our each and every word of speech on the Day of Judgment. It is the human nature to be afraid of an inevitable doom when he knows that he is wrong in his deeds. The human nature is to seek pleasures, and for this, he can go to any extent, even to the extent of destructing his own surrounding nature. The same nature that gives him a sense of euphoria in his childhood when he see the first rainbow in the sky, collect the conch shells from the sea shore and witness the snow fall covering trees like a white blanket. Such is the complex human nature! If we talk about the apocalypse literature, then one can easily understood how emphasis is given on questioning the human nature.
The word “apocalypse” is a Greek word which means “to uncover.” In this respect, McCarthy's “The Road” is no different. McCarthy wonderfully depicts the moral dilemma of human in an event of a catastrophe.
The story of the son and father walking endlessly with a supermarket cart amidst all the destruction is thought provoking. McCarthy describes the vast emptiness and sense of fear of death perceived by his two main characters is depicted finely by saying “They passed through the city at noon of the day following. He kept the pistol to hand on the folded tarp on top of the cart. He kept the boy close to his side. The city was mostly burned. No sign of life. Cars in the street caked with ash, everything covered with ash and dust. Fossil tracks in the dried sludge. A corpse in a doorway dried to leather” (14).
The puzzling question that pokes our conscience is - Can there be any more intriguing subject other than understanding the human nature? Since ancient period, the great thinkers and philosophers have categorised the human nature as good and evil. However, the question is - does not this seem too generalized categorization? In order to explain this, there is also a word “instinct” which seems strongly associated with the human nature, but instinct is what we developed when we were basically hunters and the knowledge of living a civilized life was unknown to us. In McCarthy’s “The Road,” it can be observed as to how the son and the father duo used their surviving instincts to cling on the hope of life. To justify this, McCarthy has rightly stated that “An hour later they were on the road. He pushed the cart and both he and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things. In case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that he used to watch the road behind them. He shifted the pack higher on his shoulders and looked out over the wasted country” (8).
Scientists believe that heredity plays an important role on shaping the nature of a human. This is, over the course of time, can be changed due to the good or bad experiences he has in his life. Philosophers believe that cultural and social environment are crucial in shaping the human nature. Whatever may be the elements that act as metaphors of human nature, one thing that is undoubtedly true is that human nature is ever changing. The simplest view of human nature is materialism. We can actually see how we all are running or rather pushing ourselves to earn more and more in order to make us enable to enjoy all the luxuries. However, according to Brentano, a renowned German philosopher and pioneer in founding the school of phenomenology, human nature has directedness which is unique. He states that human mind unlike any other species found on the earth is always in the course of directed at something. Human nature is to hope for something and to experience something. In the film “Titanic” we can see how in spite of the giant ship getting crushed due to a massive iceberg. And all the passengers inevitable to have a death in the cold sea, the protagonist , Leonardo Dicaprio Da Caprico ask his lady love to hold on to a wooden plank, and not to lose hope for life. Such is the human nature to never lose the hope to survive!
Great philosophers and thinkers like Plato and Descartes believe that view of human nature is twofold- body and the soul. This soul belongs to a world which is eternal, and can be thought of as a chariot run by a number of beautiful horses. Each horse represents a different and unique part of human nature. Earthly attraction is what that causes the horses to stumble and the chariot to ultimately fall on the ground. The soul leaves the body or we can say part its way when we die. In many popular religion and culture, this is the same belief that prevails today in spite of the rise of science as a phoenix. But if science is so powerful in answering all the questions pertaining to the human nature, then man will certainly not feel helpless in knowing truly about himself at all. Human nature comes with all its complexities, and this is reflected when we try to harness the nature to fulfil our pursuits. In the Japanese Television Film, Heidi, the director portrays a peaceful life of a girl in harmony with nature who used to enjoy the beautiful landscape and admired it every single day, but such depiction over the media also indicates that how human know that the best way to live peacefully is to live with nature as the god has bestow on us but surprisingly choose to remain in conflict with it.
McCarthy’s The Road is a fine example of how a work of literature can construct human nature in a precise manner. The lines where the wife spokes to the main protagonist of the story speaks volume of the human nature. The writer states that “The one thing I can tell you is that you won’t survive for yourself. I know because I would never have come this far. A person who had no one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body" (56). Here, the author rightly points out that in order to live human need a cause, a motive, it may be a subtle one like to build a huge ship which can be a marvel for coming generations or just to be with his loved ones. In another words, it is established that in order to survive amidst absolute chaos, love for someone is the ultimate requirement. A man just cannot survive for just himself. And, he needs someone, he needs something to have to cherish, to protect, to make, and to admire. In the whole story, the father constantly encourages his son to believe that he will survive.
The work fits well into the history of thinking of human nature as human nature is all about never losing hope even if there is nothing left to look upon. It can be seen how even thoroughly physically disabled people continue to live even after losing their limb, their power for movement, their strength to control their lives. Human has a rare never say die spirit and a sharp thinking power that can overshadow all the hurdles. Love is one thing that human cannot ignore at any cost. Yes, human nature has over the period become materialistic, but when the time comes to choose between loved one and materialistic pleasures, the answer is always the “Love.” So, it is love that stood victorious is evident in our life. So, the writer has creatively delineated that
"You wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?
He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said.
Yes. We're still the good guys"(80).
In the First Book of Moses, Called Genesis, it is mentioned that God created man and also the heaven and the earth. It is also mentioned that “And God said, Let us make man in our image, 1 Cor. 11.7 after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” This means the God bestows all the mighty powers to its creature-The MAN. The Christianity has a firm belief that the only hope of humanity to rise above the level of our basic animal nature is to bow to the supreme power that is better and powerful than us. The writer of the book also shared the same belief, and this can be understood from the lines where the father looks upon and talk with the god to have some reassurance that they will survive. So, McCarthy has philosophically presented that -“He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? He whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God”(47).
Based on the aforesaid fact, it can be assumed that McCarthy’s vision of human nature is in fact largely influenced by the tradition of American literary naturalism. The post-apocalyptic book “The Road” seems to implement naturalism as a medium of asking questions about how we humans are exceptions on this earth and why we disregard the natural world even when we know that we are not as powerful as the Nature. This contemporary work of McCarthy is a marvel in portraying naturalism to its perfection without going out of place anywhere and is different in compare to his other previous works.
In the light of aforesaid facts, interpretation, and analysis of book “The Road” and the movie scene from “Titanic,” it is safe to conclude that if human nature is to be full of hope, love has to be an integral part of our lives. So, there is a need to understand our surrounding nature and learn how we can still live in harmony with our nature. It is not to be forgotten that we can avoid man-made disasters by just using over thinking-power, and the same power that gives us the confidence to think ourselves as supreme. But, here comes the complexity of the human nature because in an event of a catastrophe or ill fate, we hope of some miracle by the God, who is all powerful. After all, it is survival that is crucial for us.
- McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Random House, Inc., 2006. Print
- Alexander, Burr. Hartley. Nature And Human Nature: Essays Metaphysical And Historical, Chicago, 1923. Print
- Wilson, O. Edward. On Human Nature, United States of America, 1978. Print
- Samovar, A. Larry; Porter, E. Richard; McDaniel, R. Edwin. Communication between cultures, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, USA, 2007. Print