The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Book Club Discussion Questions

What to Discuss with Your Book Club about The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Has your book club chosen "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy, for discussion? It is exactly the sort of book that leaves you contemplating deep issues and almost demands being discussed with others.

A father and son strive to survive in a wilderness that used to be the most prosperous nation on earth. They are frightened and always hungry as they try to prevent becoming a meal for those who prey on travelers. This is the setting of "The Road," a journey of survival only Cormac McCarthy could envision.

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy captures moments of lyrical and emotional beauty in a father and son’s haunted relationship even as a silent cloud of death covers the world in darkness. These book club discussion questions on The Road will help your book club delve into McCarthy's brutally astonishing work.

Spoiler Warning: These book club discussion questions reveal important details about "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. Finish the book before reading on.

Book Club Questions on "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy

  1. Why do you think McCarthy wrote "The Road?"
  2. Why did the father choose to survive and not the mother? What did he see that she could not?
  3. What do you think the coast represents (physically and literally)? Why?
  4. One man they meet on the road says "There is no God and we are his prophets." What does he mean by this?
  5. What are the key moments that help push the father to keep striving on?
  6. When does the boy become a man? What does he see that his father can’t?
  7. What do you think McCarthy is saying about humanity in "The Road"?
  8. What would you do in a world like this? Would it change your beliefs? What would you hope in?
  9. What do you think of the end of "The Road"? After such a fate, could things be "put back again?" Could they be "made right?"
  10. What do you think McCarthy is thinking of when he speaks of "the deep glens where all things are older than man and hum of mystery?" What does it make you think of?
  11. Rate "The Road" on a scale of 1 to 5 and state why you are giving it that number in one to two sentences.

    Formulating Your Own Questions and Preparing for Discussion

    As you read the book, you may highlight, bookmark, and copy passages that are especially evocative or disturbing for you. Return to those passages to see what questions they bring to your mind. How do they make you feel? What in them stirs your emotions, inspires you or leaves you disquieted?

    Is there a particular character you identify with or a character you particularly dislike? Explore why you feel that way about that character.

    Before your book club meeting, go back to the passages you have marked and read them again. Write down any new insights.