Best Quotes from The Road 💬

Throughout ‘The Road,’ McCarthy engages with themes like family relationships, survival, and good/evil. These themes are portrayed through the suffering The Man and The Boy endure on the road. 

The Road

Cormac McCarthy

On this list, readers can explore a few of the best quotes from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. These explore subjects like the state of the main characters’ love for one another, belief in God, and hope. The quotes also provide important information about the setting and the road itself. 

Best Quotes from The Road 


The world shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought. How much was gone already? The sacred idiom shorn of its referents and so of its reality.

This quote comes from page seventy-five of The Road. It speaks to the changes that have come over the world since it fell into disarray. “Complexity,” the narrator says, is now a luxury. The world is based and has been whittled down to its “raw core.” This refers to the fact that everyone who is still alive is fighting for survival, looking for the basic needs of life. The “wants,” things that used to be important, have fallen out of the world. The “concepts” of the old world have been easily lost. 

The one thing I can tell you is that you wont 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.

This quote comes from page forty-nine of The Road. They are spoken by The Man’s wife, someone who only appears in flashbacks and only briefly. She took her own life outside the scope of the novel in order to escape the tragedy of their new life. She’s speaking about her desire to commit suicide and what she thinks the future is going to be like. The Man is only going to want to go on because of his love for their son. That love is required in order to survive in the situation they’re in. Without it, he has no hope of survival at all. 

He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.

These lines are found on page 110 of The Road. They describe the fact that the Earth continues to move, time passes, and some things change, and nothing cares for the suffering of its inhabitants. The Earth itself has no future; it is “intestate” and has left nothing behind for its inhabitants to use to take care of themselves, just like a person who dies without a will. 

Good and Evil 

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.

These lines are spoken by The Man and The Boy after the former kills a roadagent intent on kidnapping and likely killing and eating The Boy. The Man references the boy’s interest in being the “good guys” and always standing up to “the bad guys.” But, the boy is concerned that the man’s violence towards the roadagent put them over the edge and that they’re no longer on the side of the light. 


In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing. Wearing masks and goggles, sitting in their rags by the side of the road like ruined aviators. Their barrows heaped with shoddy. Towing wagons or carts. Their eyes bright in their skulls. Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. 

In these lines, which appear on page forty-two, the speaker describes the first days and years after the catastrophe occurred. Men and women walked the roads wearing “masks and goggles.” They sat by the road, “totter[ed] down…causeways” and the issues of the old world “resolved into nothingness and night.”

 On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world.

These two sentences come from page fifty-one of the novel. McCarthy coins the word “godspoke,” something that likely refers to the godliness of men. He’s speaking on how The Man feels as though the loss of kindness, morality, and general goodness in the world is the same as the loss of the world itself. 

She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She would do it with a flake of obsidian. He’d taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge an atom thick. And she was right. There was no argument. The hundred nights they’d sat up debating the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall.

This quote appears after the death of The Man’s wife. She chose to leave The Man and The Boy and give in to her fears about the future. Now, The Man is without his life partner, and he’s gone to contemplate his choice not to self-destruct. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of his line of thought. He continues to carry a gun with two bullets, one for him and one for his son. 


What is the message of ‘The Road‘ by Cormac McCarthy?

The message is that love prevails throughout all uncertainty and suffering and that is, above all else, is necessary for survival. Without The Man’s love for The Boy, he would never have persevered as long as he did. 

What was the father’s favorite saying in ‘The Road?’

The phrase that was repeated throughout ‘The Road’ and that The Boy clung to was “carrying the fire.” It refers to the goodness that they are caring through the world, despite all the evil they encounter. 

What does the pistol symbolize in ‘The Road?’

The pistol symbolizes how lost and hopeless the two truly are. When they fire it above the ocean and speak about God, they admit that it’s unlikely that the latter “saw it.” This is an admission of the belief that God has abandoned them and the rest of the world.

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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