Task: Explain, in increasing depth, the effect of narrative structure and time in the last twenty pages of The Road.
Bring this to class - failure = C3 (yikes)
Good: Make three or four clear observations / points about the structure of The Road.
Make three or four clear observations / points about McCarthy's presentation or manipulation of Time.
Explain, in some depth, the effect of these aspects of narrative and speculate WHY McCarthy has told the story in this way.
I did this for the FIRST twenty pages of the text (though I forgot to mention narrative structure - I should have discussed the problem of the equilibrium) - you can use this as a model...
1) Many paragraphs seem to open with a description of the time setting – often with the man waking in the ‘blackness’ of night, or ‘the morning’. The time seems to affect the narrative voice in significant ways:
At night, dawn, or dusk – the voice appears more dream-like, poetic and philosophical. Events have less clarity.
During the day – the voice appears more practical, logical, pragmatic and detailed. Almost as if the voice wakes up with the characters.
2) A significant amount (I count 15 occasions in the first 24 pages) of the action takes place in the past – in memories, or in an uncertain time:
‘In that long ago...’ (page 20)
‘From daydreams on the road there was no waking’ (page 17)
McCarthy uses these frequent ‘flashbacks’ as opportunities to explore significant plot elements - ‘In dreams his pale bride came to him’ (Page 17). Even though the man ‘mistrusted all of that’ (i.e. memory) the flashbacks reflect the man’s need to escape into memory - ‘Freeze this frame’ (Page 17).
McCarthy obsessively references chronology - often at the beginning of paragraphs:
‘It took two days...’ (page 15)
‘In the morning they went on’ (page 16)
‘By dusk of the following day’ (page 22)
Despite the frequent references to memory, and the past, these consistent references emphasise how linear the story is – time moves on – the road goes on – the plot moves on – paragraphs follow paragraphs. It seems inevitable.
Did I say 1907 for Todorov? I was well out. He is actually second wave formalism (from the 60's).
Comprehension that you need
You need to know the story (what happens) of The Road.
1) Increasingly use story terminology from Todorov's theory:
e.g. "This section occurs around half-way through the text, and could be viewed as an early, yet significant moment of crisis".
2) Increasingly use Todorov's theory to explain your view of the narrative viewpoint in greater depth:
e.g. "The narrative voice seems to reflect this section's role function within the wider development of the story. Could we view this as a mounting crisis that builds towards a climactic moment in McCarthy's text? This might help to explain the narrator's style of language and his apparent focalisation of events through ..."
Please print out your answer and bring to lessonand post as a comment (see below). This is a homework and will result in a C3 if not completed (heavy!).