The Road

The Book of Job feels unnecessarily long, but we tolerate the repetition because the final payoff is powerful. Along the way, the arguments against Job form concentric cages of folly, cant, common sense and basic theology, and Job must either accept being their prisoner or stage some kind of personal break. The Road is not a modern retelling of the biblical poem, but in its repetitious gloom, its relentless punishment of the main characters and, most important, the lateness of its rupture it mirrors Job’s trajectory. In Job, it is chapter 38 of 42 before God interrupts the human debate and declaims from the whirlwind; the departure in The Road—a final human affirmation—begins somewhere around page 233 of 241. Up to that point, Cormac McCarthy’s tale is patient to the point of being hypnotic, and the story enacts its own slow expiration.

 

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