The Road

Section 4 Page 34-38 q 4

Explain the purpose of the fatherʼs flashbacks. Why do they happen so frequently?

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McCarthy intersperses flashback sequences in this section to describe fragments of the man's life before the catastrophe and to explain what happened to the man's wife. These flashbacks disrupt the story's normal chronology, which generally follows the little boy and the man in the present, and returns the narration to the past. By employing flashbacks, McCarthy does more than offer background information to help us understand the tragedy and the man’s present thought and emotions. Since the flashbacks are not clearly separated from the rest of the narration, they intentionally obscure the story's linearity and reflect the man’s shifting between memory and reality. Just as the flashbacks make the novel's present more difficult for the reader to grasp in some ways, the man drifts in and out of dreams and memories. This disjointed narration technique helps sustain the novel’s mood of confusion and isolation.