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November 14, 2012

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Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ can be seen to use Todorou’s theory of the six components Equilibrium, complication, Development, Crisis, Climax and resolution. In the passage of page 110-117 the equilibrium is where the son and father have no food to eat. This is can be recognised by McCarthy’s familiar and typical sombre mood which to present and consistent throughout the whole book. As the passage moves to the development would be that of the son and father entering the house and looking for the food they are longing for. This creates a sympatric feeling on the reader as the son and father are no longer in the only ones in the mood of desperation but the reader is to as McCarthy has created a helpless atmosphere. The crisis of the passage would be when the cellar door is opened and the mangled and old bodies are found. This gives a tense feeling in the passage. Furthermore, the climax is where the son and father are running away from the house when they are found out by the owners. This again creates a tense and dramatic atmosphere as the reader is forced to wonder what will happen to the son and father. The resolution will then be the father and son are hidden away from the cold and harsh reality of life for the night where they can relax. This passage is a good example of where Todorou’s theory works well and this is because of the simplistic writing that McCarthy uses to create the strong emotions on the reader.

The Road can be seen using Todorous theory that everything starts in equilibrium and then it is followed by 5 components. These are complications, developement,crisis,climax and than resoloution. In the passage 110-117, the equilibrium will be them not having anything to eat. The complication will be the disagreement between the man and son as the son is reluctant to enter the house. The development would be entering the house and foraging for food. When they open the cellar and find the bodies, the characters have reached a crisis, which enables the reader to feel tension and anxiety towards to the characters which leads to the climax of them running away from the house for fear of being caught by the men. This section causes the reader to ask the questions, Will they be caught by the men or will they escape? The resolution will be when the man and son are hidden and have begun to relax. Todorvos theory works well the Road due to the simplistic style for writing that Cormac uses.

Todorov's Theory doesn't seem to fit the struture of the The Road, because at the start of the novel, it seems that the is no equilibrium, or that the equilibrium had already happened. Todorov's Theory states that a good novel should start with an equilibrium which is the norm for the character. However, some critics would agrue that the norm for the characters is that of walking and trying to survive, so according to these critics there is an equilibrium. However, the idea of a complication would of been them trying to survive to survive the winter. this would then develop,being cold and hungry. The crisis point would be that of an man coming up to them and then them shooting the strange man as they saw him as a threat. Leaving them to flee. The ending (the resolution) would be that the father dies and the boy is taken in by another family. There are main complications throughout the story.


Todorov’s theory- His theory uses 6 components that show a clear structure of any narrative voice. These are Equilibrium, complication, Development, Crisis, Climax and resolution- explores the ordinary structure of a story as we would expect it to be. However, the structure in ‘The Road’ is much more intricate. Throughout the novel ‘The Road’, McCarthy manages to oppose the audience’s expectations by not following the traditional structure of a story. I dont think the novel follows Todorov's theory as it doesnt really start with an equilibrium, and also it has recurring complications such as this section, pages 110-117 of the novel provides a perfect model for Todorov’s theory. It begins with equilibrium, the father and son successfully hiding from these men.The sentences are lengthy and in depth, filled with descriptive words as it develops. It sets the scene for the readers, allowing them to paint an image in their minds of where the following obstacles will occur. Due to this, Cormac McCarthy is able to build tension and suspense.

Todorovs theory can be seen within pages 110-117 of cormac mcarthys ‘the road’ His theory uses 6 strategies in which can be seen a clear arrangement of any narrative voice. These 6 stages are Equilibrium, complication, Development, Crisis, Climax and resolution. The first stage, equilibrium is of a father and son who stop to get some rest, then comes the complication as the father and son are walking down the road, the development stage, which is the third, is when they find the house and walk towards it. The fourth stage, crisis, is that they are hungry and need food, so the father tells the boy that they have to take a look inside because if not they will starve to death, then there’s this dilemma of whether to explore the house and see what lies beyond them or to stay where they are and starve, the crisis stage is the naked men and women which lie behind the locked door screaming for help. Lastly, the climax in which they run away after spotting people walking towards the house.

The overarching narrative structure of The Road does not follow Todorov’s theory of narrative. The reader is plunged straight into the narrative at the beginning of the novel, with an assumption of familiarity (‘When he woke’) and left abruptly at the end, with a series of climaxes and resolutions in between. However, it could be argued that the novel is made up of many sections that do fit into Todorov’s theory of narrative.
In this extract, the equilibrium is when the man and boy find a place to set up for the night. The undercurrent of tension present throughout the book is hard to escape, but in this equilibrium it seems as if the man and child are relatively safe. This is indicated by the mundane descriptions, which we have become used to, of their setting up– ‘He spread the tarp in the wet snow’ and the man’s reassuring words–‘It’s okay, he said…I think it’s okay’.
The complication arises when the characters find the house. Here, McCarthy builds the tension at an increasing rate, using short, clinical sentences to present the key features of the house and to increase the reader’s sense of insecurity. The first noticeable sign foreshadowing the climax is that the windows are described as ‘oddly intact’. It seems as if the narrator has been distracted from their clear, objective list by this significant fact and has inadvertently added in an opinion. The sense of unease accumulates as the child becomes increasingly anxious– ‘Papa let’s not go up there… What if there’s someone here, Papa?’. As the reader, we are more inclined to trust the boy’s judgement as he has already been established as unusually perceptive. He is also not old enough to be able to make rational thought overpower animal instinct. The tension is further increased by omniscient, sinister phrases such as ‘He would have ample time later to think about that.’
The crisis begins when the man and child discover the cellar of mutilated people. The panic of both the reader and the characters is heightened by the staccato sentences, fragmenting the scene into flashes of terrifying imagery– ‘Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench… Clay floor. An old mattress darkly stained.’ These disjointed phrases also reflect the man’s limited view as he swings his flame out over the cellar, so that the narrative is focalised through the man.
The climax is when the man sees the six people coming towards the house and goes ‘cold all over’, in a chilling contrast to the boy’s ‘dance of terror’. The tension increases to an almost unbearable point, and the narrative is stripped to single, monosyllabic words– ‘Christ, he said. Run. Run’.

I think that Todorovs theory is a useful tool that shows the pattern of many stories it’s interesting to be able to see where each of the parts of the theory fit into stories although I don’t think it fits completely with McCarthy’s The Road as there are a few discrepancies. The Road in my opinion never really seems to have equilibrium. The equilibrium usually occurs at the beginning of a story and is when everything is normal and as it should be. From the outset of The Road the man and the boy are living in a world which has had some sort of disaster. The world being in this way is not how it naturally should be so therefore I don’t believe the Road has equilibrium. On the other hand for the boy and the man at that time the world being like this has almost become normal so some people would call this the equilibrium. I think that this section is actually relevant to todorovs theory. The equilibrium is the man and the boy walking on the road which has become normal for them this can be shown by phrases of comfort for example the man’s repition of “it’s okay”. The development occurs when the characters come across the house and they are desperate for food as they haven’t eaten in 5 days. This leads to them finding the mutilated people which become the crisis; the horror of the situation is shown when the man physically has to drag the boy to safety. The climax actually comes after he man and boy have escaped because they are not actually sure if they are safe or not when they are hiding in the ash. The restoration comes when they are safe which is shown by the man’s reassurance when telling the boy “its okay”.
In pages 110-117 I think this is one of a few crisis in the book and as its happens around a quarter of the way through the book I think it’s an early crisis as it isn’t leading straight onto the restoration which happens at the end of the book. I think the crisis does influence narrator to an extent. The third person narrator creates quite a cold feel to this section in both weather and feeling which I see as foreshadowing the crisis to come for example the phrases “field of dead grass” and “grey snow” show how nature is suffering from the weather and the grey snow shows how long it’s been there for it also suggests a negative objectivity. But I don’t think this is unusual in previous parts of the book as I think the whole book has quite a negative feel as the world is in a disaster. The narrator also uses phrases which almost comfort the reader which puts them into a false sense of security as the man and boy fall into a crisis for example “the windows were oddly intact” makes the house seem harmless which draws the characters in there and makes the reader think that something is in the house because the boy is not confident to go in. The man and boy have had “no food and little sleep in five days” the narrator shows the how desperate they are for food which makes them vulnerable to a crisis as they are willing to do risky things in order to survive, this again makes the reader think that this desperation could cause them to walk into a dangerous situation. As we approach the crisis the narrative voice has been offering hints to the reader to sense to build up to something this is reinforced by the boy when he keeps wanting to leave and doesn’t think it’s a good idea. The crisis itself influences the narrator as they start to use lots of short sentences which intensifies the feelings of the characters and shows that they are shocked and have to act quickly and they are almost lost for words for example “oh Christ” and “hurry” clearly show the feelings of the characters even with such short sentences. This also shows the chaotic elements of the crisis because they have been startled and don’t know what to do and can only use these short sentences. The intensity is shown when the narrator uses powerful words such as “grabbed” and “shoved”. The narrator is showing how the man is having to act physically to escape death these powerful words helps to build the tension whereas before there was little tension as the man and boy were relatively comfortable walking on the road looking for food as it has become there equilibrium. This section shows how the narrator changes at points in order convey the crisis happening which fits in with todorovs theory.

Pages 110-117 are roughly halfway throughout the book, but despite this the scene could be considered the first climax of the book, as many more follow. Through these seven pages the tension rises, and you could say that the scene is one small Todorov structure itself.
As this is the first climax we meet in the story, McCarthy builds the tension extremely high before revealing the crisis, using bleak and clinical language to give a sense of detachment from the horrific events. However, as the readers, we cannot detach ourselves as well as the narrator does, and we share the fear of the man and boy as they witness the people who are to be harvested for food.
The equilibrium is easily established; the man and boy decide to raid a house to look for food. However, immediately the complication is evident – two men were seen earlier. This suggests to the reader – but maybe not to the characters – that the house is not unoccupied. The tension builds as it becomes more and more evident that the house is occupied. The reader is on the edge of their seat as the man pries the door open and the crises is abruptly reached as the cellar of people are exposed.
The climax appears when the man and boy run from the house; the reader is unsure whether they will make it out alive. We are also told, only heightening the climax more, that the boy has been told to kill himself if he’s ever caught. Finally, we reach the resolution, but only pages later when they have escaped the house and its surrounding lands completely. However, the residual fear that they will be found sticks with the reader throughout the pages.
The Road as a whole does not fit Todorov’s structure (some have argued that it does not give a satisfactory resolution to the gradual build up to the father’s death) but there are a series of small structures within the novel which add to the slowly building tension as the father gets sicker and sicker. McCarthy cleverly allows the reader to forget at some points before quickly reminding them; this makes the reader worry more for the father as we never quite know when he’s going to get worse.

How does McCarthy tell the story in the section p110-117?7

This passage of The Road is particularly memorable, perhaps due to its adherence to Todorov’s theory of narrative, but also as a result of particularly the harrowing topic, and the conscientious unfolding of events.
During this novel, the morose nature of the story becomes familiar, and we are almost immune to the pain and the struggle that we experience as it progresses. This means that while it is easy to recognise the state of equilibrium, whether this can be classified as such is a fairly subjective matter. McCarthy maintains his natural, sombre mood ‘no food and little sleep’, which may not form normality in many other contexts, but acts as such in this. As the author becomes increasingly focalised, during what you could term the development, the narrative becomes more subjective. The boy is ‘terrified’ as we become more connected to the character’s emotions, and in turn our own. This heightens our reception of the crisis ‘huddled... naked people’ and climax ‘run’ as there is a greater involvement. This enhances the difficult subject matter, forcing the episode to have a distinctly profound effect. McCarthy employs Todorov’s structure almost in respect to the tenebrous nature of this section, although its success alone isn’t based wholly on this. If the description had been handled in a different, less evocative manner, perhaps it wouldn’t have such a resounding effect on the reader.

Task - How does McCarthy tell the story in the section p110 -117 (beginning "The site they picked...").

The section from starting at pg.110 is a well defined episode within The Road. As such, it follows Todorov’s plot structure fairly well. However, the meaning of equilibrium within The Road is debatable. On the surface, ‘normality’ for the man and boy is unpleasant; the two travel, always hungry, at the mercy of the elements. However, with this perspective much of The Road is devoid of plot. Rather, there may be an implied equilibrium of life as it was before the disaster. In this light, the man and boy are constantly struggling to regain this life and preserve morality.

In this extract, particularly pressing is the need to eat. The man, motivated by his desire to feed and care for the boy, decides to go into a ‘once grand’ house that may or may not be empty. This could be considered the complication given that the equilibrium is traveling alone on the road. If equilibrium is pre-apocalyptic normality however, the house part of the man’s attempt to restore equilibrium.

Typical of an exposition, McCarthy uses descriptive language: ‘field of dead grass,’ and ‘gray snow’ to set a mood of wintry cold. The characters’ vulnerability is emphasized by the description of their feet as ‘wet and cold.’ From this point, suspense builds, mainly through foreshadowing. The boy, apprehensive, asks ‘What if there’s someone here, Papa?’ and says ‘We should go.’ McCarthy’s attention to the boy, who is the more emotional and intuitive character, suggests increasing uncertainty. Imagery of human habitation indicates the presence of people; for example, the man sees ‘bedding arranged on the floor in front of the hearth.’ The man’s exclamation: ‘We’re starving. Do you understand?’ is abrupt and shocking, coming right before the description of bodies in the cellar, the turning point. It also reinforces the man’s motivation and the need for ‘normality’.

After the crisis of seeing the bodies, McCarthy increases the pace as the man and boy run away. This is partly achieved through repetition of ‘help’ and ‘hurry,’ two urgent words. Just as the reader is engrossed in this crisis, the man spots people approaching the house. Therefore the end to the extract implies a confrontation to come.


Todorov’s theory can be applied to pages 110 -117 of The Road. His theory uses 6 components that show a clear structure of any narrative voice. These are Equilibrium, complication, Development, Crisis, Climax and resolution. The equilibrium of these pages is the man and boy in the wood when they stop to get some rest. The complication is as the two men “came down the road”. The development is as the man and boy walking towards “the house” and just watching. The crisis is they are hungry and need food, so the father tells the boy “it’s ok” “we have to take a look”, because otherwise they will starve. They have a choice to go into the house and possibly find food, or stay not go into the house starve. The crisis is the naked men and women behind the locked door saying “help us”. A smaller crisis might be the lock on the door that determines whether they will find food, or not find anything. The climax is when the boy spots the people walking towards the house, so they have to run quickly.

Todorov’s theory of narrative (story) development can be applied to most stories, as Todorov himself puts it; ‘every successful story follows the same structure’. However, The Road doesn’t initially appear, in the way that for example James Bond does, to fit his theory. Some may argue that this is because part of the main action, the crisis, some may even go as a far as saying the climax, happens before the narrative begins. However, in the middle section of the book (p110-117), there does appear to be a mounting tension, building to a climactic moment in the text and the story overall.
The story quickly builds from a state of calm equilibrium, ‘the site they picked was simply the highest ground,’ to heart racing tension. Mundane, regular events that take place throughout the novel, like trying to find food, ‘We need to find something to eat’, are suddenly transformed into the most nightmarish of scenes. In terms of Todorov’s theory, the development section in this part of the story is rather rapid, but it is not necessarily the only development which takes place in the novel as a whole. This terrifying, unexpected scene, ‘Huddled against the back wall were naked people...all trying to hide,’ arrives in the story so swiftly, that it makes the reader realise how much of a false sense of security they have been lulled into as a result of the habitual descriptions of the man and his son’s search for food and safety. The only inkling of danger that is given by McCarthy is through the boy’s behaviour as he and his father approach, and venture into, the ‘tall and stately’ house. He repeatedly tells his father not to enter the house, ‘I don’t think we should go up there’ and is ‘almost in tears’ when they are exploring its interior. This implication, however, isn’t too much of a contrast to the reaction of the young, unnamed character at other points during the story in which he isn’t at ease in a situation that turns out to be not as traumatic is he first envisaged.
Short sentences in the narrative high point fuel the tension and also accelerate the pace. They are particularly prominent when the two characters are in the strange house. When in the yard, the sentence structure is longer and more descriptive, a technique which eases the reader’s anxieties and brings their heart rate down. Before long, the father and son are ‘back in the house’ and the structure of the passage returns to short sentences, loaded with tension and the urge to quickly read on and discover what will happen next.
This passage could be seen as an extended climax as, at the end of it, there isn’t an obvious resolution. Instead of the character’s bleak lives returning to normal, changed in some way by the horrors they have witnessed, they begin to ‘Run. Run.’ The drama continues and we as the reader metaphorically run with the unnamed characters away from the danger and tension, in an attempt to restore some sort of equilibrium.

Many people would say that McCarthy uses Todorov's theory throughout 'The Road' while others say that he adopts it during certain parts of the novel, however, it is evident that Todorov's theory is clearly present within the novel. For example, between pages 110-117 McCarthy begins to show a clear narrative structure using Todorov's theory which can be seen due to the presence of the equilibrium which in this case is the character's facing their daily routine outdoors and finding a place to set up where they could stay, shown in the line, 'The site they picked was simply the highest ground they came to...' Also suggesting to the use of Todorov's theory is the fact that there is a clear complication present which seems to be that it is cold out, with the man and the child having to survive with no food when they approach a house and the man is wanting to investigate, however the child is hesitant and seems frightened. This builds up narrative tension and suggests to the occurrence of an untoward event. This is the complication as it shows that something out of the ordinary that does not usually happen as part of their daily routine is happening; something new and negatively different. Next, there is the crisis being that despite the boy's hesitance, they both go inside to explore and discover unusual things, 'A great hall of a room with ceilings twice the height of the doors.' The climax within this extract would be the boy's increasing worry and the man's ignorance of this, as illustrated by the following example, 'Papa, the boy said. We should go. Papa. There's a reason this is locked. The boy pulled at his hand. He was almost in tears.' This shows a real peak of events and presents a point of climax. There is also, however, a further climax point when the man and the boy discover other people coming up towards them, 'Coming across the field toward the house were four bearded men and two women,' this is a moment of great tension and a flurry of emotions which is further emphasised by the short, snappy sentences at the end of the paragraph, 'Christ, he said. Run. Run,' which reflects the feelings of the characters and helps the reader to empathise with the characters about their experience. This shows an extreme build up of tension and drama and Todorov's theory perfectly displays this. The fact that the extract ends at the climax, gives it the effect of a cliffhanger and further increases tension.

This section begins with a huge feeling of relief as the two characters narrowly escape a confrontation, "when they did they stopped and one of them looked back". However, the story quickly develops as their hunger leads them to a "once grand house". The use of the word "once" reinforces the feeling of terror and dread, as there is nothing good or "grand" left in the world. When the father decides to enter the house in search of warmth, against the will of his son, "we should go, papa", the story begins to escalate. The slow pace that the story takes as they explore, looking at the "broad staircase", the "dining room" and the "fireplace" helps build up the readers expectations and the fear. The pace builds when the man finds the "door or hatch" in the "floor" which then, leads them down into a crisis. The fear that the characters feel after they see the "naked people, male and female" has been powerfully enforces on the reader through McCarthy's use of a series of simple sentences. These sentences make the extract more powerful as they have a sharp, abrupt quality. Throughout this extract speech is used to make the characters fear, especially the boys, apparent to the reader and make this section more emotional by giving us direct insight into the characters and how they feel.

In this extract McCarthy can be seen to explicitley follow Todorov's theory of narrative structure, some critics may also say how the whole narrative follows this structure but others may disagree on the basis that the equilibrium could be seen to have already happened- before the apocolypse- and that the narrative has had its complication and is already developing towards a crisis. However this extract is a precise example of the theory and can be seen to follow all of these stages. The extract starts with the equilibrium of the characters daily life in this miserable vision of the world; McCarthy effectively uses pathos to ensure the reader feels sympathy for the travellers, by taking mundane things like "food and ...sleep" to allow the reader to understand their situaution. A complication arises when the characters spot the "tall and stately with white doric columns" house; already this can be seen as something unusual by the change in descriptive langauge. Up until this point everything had been described as "gray...dark...froze(n)" so the sudden use of the adjective "white" breaks the monotonous rhythm and allows the idea of a crisis to begin to form in the reader's mind. This point develops as they enter the house, and the narrative tension surrounding the crisis is reflected in the boy's view to his papa: "let's not go up there." The boy continues to reflect many of the reader's doubts and tensions leading up to the crisis in which the father opens the door and finds many "naked people". This becomes the crisis not just beacuse the characters become scared at this point but they finally realise the enormity of the situation they are in, and especially for the boy it becomes a key turning point as it may be the first time he realises the cruelty shown by other people. The climax is largely the section were they run "down the drive", but also, slightly later in this part, when the father instructs the boy on what to do with the revolver. The resolution is somewhat disappointing and not solely comforting; although we are assured they are not coming the charcacter's and the reader's are now aware of the presence of people whom are portrayed to be negative.

The extract pg.110-117 from ‘The Road’ is a clear example of McCarthy using Todorov’s theory to influence the narrative voice, as a framed narrative is created through the use of an equilibrium, complication, development, crisis and climax, which show how a simple method can create a memorable effect. The extract starts with the narrator relating the characters’ daily experience of surviving on the road, which is their state of equilibrium. However, a complication arises when they discover an abandoned house, which the father wants to explore for supplies. When the boys protests, “Papa, let’s us not go up there”, the reader believes that he is just overacting, as with previous incidents, however, it does introduce a subtle sense of foreboding in them. The introduction of the house causes a complication to arise, as they decide whether to enter, and this develops as they explore the house. As the reader, the sense of foreboding increases when the characters discover “a great heap of clothing”, and when they find a “forty gallon castiron caldron” the reader’s suspicions are confirmed as they realise the reality of the inhabitants of the house- they are cannibals. However, the reader’s frustration is created by the narrator relating that “all of these things [the father] saw and did not see”, which causes the reader to understand the desperation of the boy at being powerless to prevent his father discovering the awful truth, and escaping a similar fate. The crisis occurs when they explore the cellar, to be greeted with “an ungodly stench” as they encounter the imprisoned people, the use of “ungodly” by the narrator reflecting McCarthy’s disgust at cannibalism, as it suggests that they have lost their connection with God. During the crisis, the narrator’s description disintegrates into disjointed short sentences, for example, “coldness and damp”, which leave the reader attempting to configure an overall image of the situation form the fragmented description, thus reflecting the characters’ initial confusion at the situation, which rapidly changes to disgust. Having realised their imminent danger, the characters attempt to escape, which is when the climax happens; they spot the cannibals returning to the house, and the extract concludes with a cliff-hanger, “Christ, he said. Run. Run.” In the context of the overall text, this extract creates a crisis, which increases the mounting tension in the build-up to the climax of ‘The Road’, and thus Todorov’s theory is effectively used to convey the poignancy of this extract, so that it remains in the reader’s mind, and encourages them to continue so that they can discover the fate of the boy and his father.

McCarthy obviously plays with Todrov's theory.It could be said the narrative there can be no equilibrium because the apocalypse itself is the complication and it happens before we are introduced to it. But an alternative interpretation is that equilibrium in the narrative is the characters suffering.This insures a very bleak future for the characters if we apply Todvov's theory as things can only get worse. McCarthy also plays with the conventional resolution. The very fact that the book is a journey of survival implies that ultimately there will be no resolution and the boy and man are simply prolonging what is inevitable (that they are going to die).This idea is reinforced when they find the bunker with stores of food inside it. This is the closest that we get to a resolution and even here they and us as the reader know that their joy will be short lived. We start to question whether it would be kinder for them to die and prevent them from suffering almost like an animal. This feeling is strengthened when the man dies and leaves his son alone in an unpredictable unsafe world.

Todorov`s Theory of narrative can be applied to a section of the road, pages 110 to 117. The first paragraph can be seen as the equilibrium of this section. Arguably it contains other sections of Todorov’s theory within it. The man and boy begin with equilibrium as they decide to stop for the night. There is a complication as the two men are spotted “loping” down the road. This triggers a small development as the man stands up. The crisis then occurs when the men look back.

This then breaks Todorov’s theory as instead of a climax, the paragraph ends with a small resolution with the man comforting the boy: “It’s okay, he said. We just have to wait. But I think it's okay.” This paragraph therefore can be seen a equilibrium as although there is a small crisis it does not create a large enough development for a new equilibrium or denouement; The man and boys life is not extracted from its norm.

If we then take this first paragraph as the equilibrium, the section continues to use Todorov’s theory as we are introduced to the complication: The house. This presents the decision: to go in or not to go in. This develops into exploring the house. This progresses to another complication of the lock and how to open it. The lock could be seen as a crisis, if not in the story, to the characters as it hold the possibility of food. However there is then another development/ rising action of exploring the yard that suggests it is an extension of the complication. The crisis occurs when they find the naked, half eaten people calling “help us”. This leads to the climax and end of the section as the boy spots four men and two women coming across the field to the house. Todorov’s theory is left hanging as this section does not include a denouement just the man’s desperate cries: “Christ, he said. Run. Run.”

“He shoved the boy through the hatch and sent him sprawling. He stood and got hold of the door and swung it over and let it slam down and turned to grab the boy but the boy had gotten up and was doing his little dance of terror”
This section happens about half way through the book “The Road”, the quote above takes place during a moment of great tension and terror in the section (the father and the son are running away from a group of supposedly cannibals, under the impression that they themselves are targets). To reference Todorov’s narrative theory of equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium, this quote is during a phase of attempting to restore the situation to reach a new equilibrium. McCarthy’s repeated use of “and” in this quote adds an unusual amount of tension, it pretty much grabs you by the throat. This combined with sibilance, although being an unusual choice, works to be successful in creating a tense atmosphere where we fear for the father but perhaps even more for the boy as he is portrayed to be completly helpless in a situation that is rightly out of his depth.

The overarching structure of The Road follows Todorov's theory. This section of The Road features a major climax within the developmental part of the overall narrative. Also within this section itself the narrative follows Todorov's theory on a smaller scale. The section begins in "equilibrium" as the man and the boy are continuing on their journey as before. The narrative voice here speaks of practicalities using plain sentences of regular lengths: "He spread the tarp in the wet snow and wrapped the by in the blankets." There is a slight alteration of this when two men pass them, here a series of shorter sentences interrupt the flow but the sight of the men is an anti-climax and within a few lines we are reassured "It's okay, we just have to wait. But I think it's okay." The narrator appears increasingly objective as he skips over the next five days before focusing on depicting the setting in which the complication begins.
The complication is presented through a change in narrative style. Dialogue between the man and the boy is used as they reach a grand house. From here onwards the narrative develops and a sense of tension is built up through a series of ominous clues and foreshadowing description. Within the first section of dialogue and throughout the boy appears extremely worried and hesitant repeatedly asking to leave: "Papa let's not go up there." "I don't think we should go up there." and once they've entered the house: " We should go papa" "Papa the boy said. We should go . Papa.". The minimalist presentation of dialogue puts emphasis on the few words McCarthy has chosen to include and the rarity of dialogue creates an overwhelming and unusual sense of silence throughout the story. The boy's repeated use of "Papa" to address the man creates a strong sense of vulnerability and dependence and the boy's fear intensifies the readers reaction creating a sense of foreboding.
The narrative voice is descriptive and observant as the man and the boy enter the house picking up on every detail. This creates strong imagery full of hints towards threat as the narrator becomes increasingly subjective for example the phrase "The windows were oddly intact" is suggestive that something is wrong, an objective narrator would simply state "the windows were intact" Similarly "Piled in a window in one corner of the room was a great heap of clothing. Clothes and shoes. Belts Coats. Blankets and old sleeping bags. He would have ample time later to think about that."Here the full stops exaggerate and emphasis the listing and the comment that the man will think later about the clothing suggests that the narrator is all knowing as he is aware that the clothes will become significant.
The narration continues in this way before reaching a climax when the man opens the door and the room of naked prisoners is revealed. The description builds up provoking all senses: "coldness and damp. An ungodly stench." as well as the boys reaction "The boy clutched his coat" before finally describing the naked people and leaving the "man with his legs gone to the hip" until last. This builds the total horror and mimics the way the narrator, the man and the boy may be reluctant to accept what they see before them. In the final part of this section all structure in the narration is lost and description and dialogue merge into one paragraph finishing with an urgent repetition of the single word "Run Run." The overall effect of the section is extremely impactful leaving little time to consider what was seen. The narration moves on as if in real time with the characters' thoughts and actions as they run to escape the oncoming threat. This creates a realistic sense of horror, panic and urgency and drives the pace onwards. All of this is key in creating the complication in the overarching structure of the book with smaller climaxes throughout.

Todorov’s theory explores the natural structure of a story as we would expect it; however, personally I think the structure in ‘the Road’ is much more complex as a whole. Throughout the novel, McCarthy manages to contradict the audience’s expectations by not following the traditional structure of a story; which may also have metaphorical meanings regarding a certain ambiguity and uncertainty of what is going to happen next that is present throughout the novel. First of all, the story is not introduced in equilibrium; the reader is unsure of the situation at first and it almost seems as though the reader has been introduced to the story right in the middle of it, or perhaps even after the climax (the ‘apocalypse’). The storyline also provides a sense of division; it almost feels like a lot of small climaxes leading up to the main turning point in the novel. This is illustrated well in the extract, as the tension increases dramatically; but then returns back to the development of the main storyline. All the small climaxes and moments of tension emphasise the significance of the last climax (the death of the man), as the reader knows that the story will not progress in the way it did before, that the story will not turn back to further develop. The resolution in ‘the Road’ also fails to follow Todorov’s theory precisely, as the story has not come to an end, there is another story to be told. This links strongly to the start of the novel, and it seems as though the reader has only been offered a glimpse of the whole story, as the very beginning and the very end of the story remains unknown to us.

While the Road as a whole broadly follows Todorov's narrative structure there are certain discrepancies- there is no clear equilibrium at the start of the novel nor is there a single distinct complication. It could however be argued that Todorov's structure still holds and that the equilibrium and complication merely occurred outside the main linear body of the text in the dreams and flashbacks of the man. It may make the most sense to regard the suicide of the mother figure as the original complication (the "apocalypse" itself being perhaps too remote) and the rest of the travels of the boy and his father as merely being the development leading ultimately to the man's death. The resolution of the Road also lacks a sense of complete restoration - the death of the man is still too recent and many issues are too a certain extent left unresolved - most importantly we question the boy's ultimate survival and the survival of humanity as a whole.
The section from page 110 to 117 provides a far clearer microcosm for Todorov's theory as it clearly goes through each of the necessary stages. While this section is part of the development of the story as a whole it is also one of the most striking of the many subplots which occur before the final crisis. This slightly fragmented structure helps add to the epic feel of certain scenes in the novel as it mirrors the side stories of an epic like Beowulf or the Odyssey - each originally being a story in their own right. However the eventual resolution of this section contrasts strongly with this normally heroic structure, the boy and man are forced to flee the house and lie outside listening to the screams of the people within. This jarring reality brings back to us the terrible realism of the novel and suggests to us that the idealist picture of heroes found in such stories does not reflect our true nature. However from a different perspective this structure is not at all epic as it represents reality more clearly than a simple narrative with only one cycle from equilibrium to resolution - life does not follow a single smooth story arc and will have a number of peaks of different heights. The speed at with the story moves on from this moment of crisis suggests that the characters have accepted that such crises are a way of life and that we must continue to persevere.

In 'The Road' it doesn't really follow Todorov's theory as it never really starts with an equilibrium, and also it has recurring complications such as this section (pages 110 - 117). The father and son are trying to find somewhere safe and food, this acts as a mini complication - looking for food is the main complication that occurs in 'The Road'. The development is when they both go looking for some food, they then 'came upon a once grand house sited on a rise above the road'. This is now the crisis as the dad is adamant that they should go into the house, whereas the child feels strongly against entering or going anywhere near the house. The boy says things like 'we should go, papa.', 'we could find something somewhere else.' and 'Papa let's not go up there.' This shows the weakness in the dad and the strength in the little boy. It shows how far the dad is prepared to expose himself and his son for some food. But the son remains strong and doesn't let what has happened previously weaken him. However you could argue that the father is willing to do more than the son the survive. As they enter the house and the father opens a door inside which had 'naked people, men and female' this is now the climax as the people that have locked these naked people away for food are coming back to the house. 'He grabbed the boy by the hand. Christ, he said. Run. Run.' As the father and son run for their lives, they do manage to get away from them which is a mini resolution. As this is all only a small part of 'The Road' and Todorov's theory would make this the whole story there would only be one climax, development, climax and finally one final resolution to end the narrative.

When looking at 'The Road' as an entire narrative it does not appear to follow strictly the pattern set out by Torodov. The novel takes the concept and almost has it on constant repeat throughout the story. During the given extract, there is a very obvious example of this.
The extract begins with the equilibrium of the man and boy walking down the road; shortly followed by the complication- they find the house. This develops as the man and boy explore the property which appears much better kept than the previous buildings they have discovered. There is a "great heap of clothing" in the corner of one of the rooms, which suggests a danger to the reader that the house may have inhabitors that the man and boy haven’t quite clocked yet due to their desperate state of mind. There is also "mattress and bedding" arranged on the floor, an observation that is seen by the boy but we cannot be aware if the man noticed. This adds to the idea that the narrative voice is omniscient and see's sometimes important details that the characters overlook, "All these things he saw and did not see", enforcing this idea clearly. The narrative voice and therefore the reader can identify these things, meaning that the reader builds up anticipation in their minds of what is to happen next. This is very similar to features of "Horror" novels, in which the narrative voice is always more aware than the characters, adding to the build up of dramatic tension in the ‘development’. This increase is seen quite obviously in the extract. As the man explores down the hatch we realise that we are approaching the crisis point of the narrative. There are dramatic pauses and rhythm picks up, sentences become short and compact, as if the mind of the narrator is racing. This increase in pace keeps building up the tension, therefore building up to the point of crisis, which is the discovery of the people down the hatch. The man knows he must make an incredibly fast decision and this is reflected in the colloquial language used in his speech; "for Christ’s sake". The man is trying to determine the best thing to do in a short space of time, should he save the people or run? This gives the impression that the characters are real, they feel human emotions and therefore the reader can sympathise with their situation.
Furthermore, page 117 is a clear climax to the extract. The man has a horrific realisation of what he thinks the place is, shortly confirmed by the boys’ observation of the people coming towards them. This climax is made even more obvious by the development in pace of narrative voice, simple sentences begin to be used, for example "He dropped the lighter", one after another. There is also repetitive use of imperative sentences, such as "Run." and "Hurry.", usually associated with the more intense sections of narratives. These sentences mirror the rhythm of a ticking clock, building up anticipation and tension in the extract, so the reader does not need confirmation that what could happen may be a tragedy as it is already made blatant by the narrative voice, language and sentence structure along with pace.
Even though the thoughts of the man aren’t stated, the reader can pick up on what they may be simply by the sharpness of his words and the dramatic speed of narrative voice. This engages the reader in the story and makes them feel as if they are there with the characters experiencing their emotions. There is very little description of the situation, in the way that the reader is never told who these people are or what the house is actually used for, but the clues are all there and so the reader is left to come to the conclusion on their own, adding significantly to the build up of adrenaline. The extract ends with the boy and man running away from the house, which could be classed as some sort of resolution as they did manage to evacuate the building before the situation progressed.

‘The Road’ does not fit into Todorov’s narrative theory as a whole, however ‘The Road’ can be considered to be a series of mini Todorov native structures,this extract, pages 110 to 117 being one of them. The extract starts off at equilibrium with all being not exactly perfect ‘no food and little sleep’ nevertheless just as the man and the boy have been used to for a long unspecified period of time. The complication happens when they come across a ‘tall and stately’ ‘house’ and, due to their hunger and their feet being ‘wet and cold’ the man was willing to take the risk and enter the house yet the boy is reluctant. This causes a small disagreement between the characters which triggers a sense of concern and an expectation of the occurrence of a dilemma by the reader. The development takes place when the man and boy are inside the house taking in their surroundings and discovering the ‘heap of clothing’. The development leads into the Crisis when the man decides, again in disagreement with the ideas of the boy, to attempt to break into the padlocked room. The Climax begins as soon as he ‘raised the hatch door and swung it over’ finding, not as the man had optimistically hoped for but ‘naked people’- trapped and starving prisoners. McCarthy creates a sense of urgency here by the repetition of 'hurry'. Running to safety acts as the resolution.

The section begins with the narrative voice describing the man and boy's setting up camp, conveying a sense of normality or in relation to Todorov's theory its the equilibrium. The narrative voice shows the normality/equilibrium with long sentences of description presenting a slow or safe environment. However when the man and boy choose to enter the house the narrative voice becomes more fragmented with shorter sentences showing a complication will arise, also the constant description instilling a feeling of anxiousness and therefore it disturbs the equilibrium. This is shown here "The windows were oddly intact" the questioning tone of the quotation helps the development of the complication by creating an unsure atmosphere. When the crisis arises the narrative voice changes to a stream of consciousness seeming to replicate what the man and boy would be feeling/thinking - this is shown on page 116 when they discover the people "Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding the their faces with their hands" although graphic the sentence still flows. Presenting the crisis as something short and quickly followed by the climax. This section ends on cliffhanger only just showing the climax - the narrative voice becomes more frantic with rather than a general description there's a lot of information being passed on quickly. This shows the development between a crisis and climax is the it feeling more rushed .

Todorov’s theory's able to explain the natural sequence of narrative in a simplistic manner. However, looking more in depth of novels such as “the Road, it is not as straight forward as he makes it out to be, though he’s not entirely wrong. Subplots are presented which helps move along the story. Stated in Todorov’s theory, it starts at equilibrium and the story proceeds as complications arise creating developments which then takes the readers to a crisis, but the story doesn’t return to a complete equilibrium as its only temporary until another complication comes. The progression of the story also affects the style of writing as the narrative voice is shaped to fit the events to deliver and cause the desired effect on the readers as accurately as possible. Failing to do so will jeopardise the fluency of the story, resulting to less effective impact on readers.

For example; pages 110-117 of “the Road” provides a perfect model for Todorov’s theory. It begins with equilibrium, the father and son successfully hiding from these men.The sentences are long and detailed, filled with descriptive words as it develops. It’s designed to set the scenery for the readers, allowing them to paint an image in their minds of where the following impediment will occur, during the development. By doing this, Cormac McCarthy is able to build tension and suspense. Comparing this to a film for example “Jaws”; the technique used by McCarthy mirrors the scenes in which the movies signature music is used, the heavy bass strings which starts of slow and continues to increase its speed, shorter and more frequent notes as it reaches its peak. It mimics the same effect, putting us readers on edge. The sentences length then varies, although short sentences are more heavily used and dialogues are present at the climax. “Hurry. For God’s sake hurry.” Sometimes there are just words and not even sentences, this illustrates panic and urgency and captures the action in the story. If the same technique as the opening is used during the climax, it would not have the same nail-biting effect. Hence why the narrative voice must adjust in synchronise to the story development.

Although this extract occurs during the overall development of ‘The Road’, it could be argued that it is a story in its own right – a sub story. This can be seen as it follows Todorov’s theory of narrative. The equilibrium of this extract starts with the man and the boy continuing along the road until they reach the complication – a house. In the development the man and the boy decide to go in and explore the house. Throughout the development of this sub-story the narrator creates tension and an underlying sense of danger leading up to and hinting at the crisis to come. For example on page 113 after describing the contents of the house – ‘sleeping bags’, ‘coats’ etc. – the narrator states ‘He would have ample time later to think about that.’ This combined with the boy’s earlier question ‘what if there’s someone here, Papa?’ immediately suggests to the reader that this house is inhabited. The fact that the man will have ‘ample time later to think about that’ suggests that he hasn’t properly considered the items significance and suggests he will feel a sense of regret and frustration later for not noticing the items. After finding the locked cellar door the man goes out into the yard where the narrator describes the imagery of ‘a forty gallon castiron cauldron’ and claims ‘all these things he [the man] saw and did not see.’ Here the narrator is seen as omniscient and foreshadowing the events to come. As a reader we feel distressed and angry with the man for not noticing the significance of these items as they all point towards one thing – this house is inhabited by cannibals. This comment implies that even the narrator is frustrated as he criticizes the man for not noticing these things. This underlying danger is emphasised with the continuous distress from the boy creating a sense of foreboding and suggests that perhaps the boy is more aware and attuned to the danger than the man. As a reader we can’t help but scream out to the man ‘listen to your son!’ - similar to that affect of a horror film. At the crisis point the man and the boy open the hatch and go down into the cellar where they see a group of disfigured people. Here Cormac McCarthy uses short sentences such as 'Coldness and damp', 'An ungodly stench' and 'An old mattress darkly stained' to create dramatic tension. These dramatic pauses great a pulsating rhythm similar to that of a heart beat, adding to the tension and creating the similar affects of an adrenaline rush. The pauses also creates the effect of flashing images and allows the reader to reflect on the imagery making it more prominant and traumatic. The final climax point is where the man and the boy come out of the cellar to see four men and two women walking towards the house. Here as a reader we reach the peak of adrenaline as the man and the boy are completetly trapped. The extract ends on a cliff hanger with the man saying 'Christ, he said. Run. Run.' Here the use of repetition and the use of imperitive sentences reinforces the sense of urgency adding to the dramatic tension.

Todorovs theory suggests thateverything starts in equilibrium and in this passage of The Road the equilibrium could be when the two men carry on down the road meaning the man and his son are safe. We see this in thw quote "It's okay,he said.We just have to wait. But I think it's okay." This shows releif and safety for the man and the boy now come to what his known as a complication according to Todorovs theory. A complication is something which leads to development of a crisis in other words it sets off the disequilibrium. In this passage the complication is the characters coming across the large house. We now reach the development stage of Todorovs theory which is what builds up to a crisis. This happens when the man and the boy enter the house. The persistent nagging of the boy to not go in and the drawing of the pistol immeadiatly signifies the possibility of danger. We reach the crisis when the hatch is found and opened and they come across the people in the cellar. Todorovs theory suggests that this crisis will last for a while but won't be the highest part of action for the characters to deal with as there is the climax yet to come. The climax is where the charaters escape the house but don't know whether they are safe or not. Todorovs theory is a simple one but ultimately works well as this is one of the most memrable parts of the book. This shows that McCarthy is implementing simple techniques to great effect. This is partly due to the simplistic style of writing used for example there is very limited punctuation.

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