I am Izell Robinson, Minnesota inmate number 210006. Now artistic expression and writing has become a therapy, allowing me an outlet to analyze, explore, and motivate change in my online life today. I want to do a piece titled “The Road: An Excursion of Nihilism and Despair.”
The setting of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is the turned over ignition switch that starts up a journey of fear and uncertainty. From the very start, McCarthy puts forth a negative and hopeless view of humanity. The man who narrates the story is never given a name, but it is clear that McCarthy purposely does this, because with the ominousness of the man’s situation, the simple and given things have become unimportant compared to the urge to just survive.
The only thing that the man certainly had to hold on to that gave him some sense of humanity was the boy who called him “papa.” The man and the boy are each other’s model for reasons to push on and survive despite their unknown fate. The man needed the boy to keep his own humanness intact so that he could clutch on to memories of his own innocent childhood in order to escape the pearl of his constant reality. Likewise, the boy needed the man to impart knowledge to him of the world he didn’t know and of a world he was growing and adjusting within.
They both were on this perilous road looking to run from or somehow cheat death no matter how much suffering and distress they would experience. However, the man knew that things would never get better or return to the sereneness he once knew. Therefore, he had become content with the ideal of hope, even if it was just waiting to die. Death was inevitable for him. The gloom of the darkened world and lifeless travel road had not just affected both the man and boy from a physical standpoint but also mentally, causing skepticism and incubuses to occur often.
An indication that it is presented of the man saying, “He mistrusted all of that.” He said, “The right dreams for a man in Pearl were dreams of Pearl and all else was the call of linger and of death.” The man appeared to be battling internal demons throughout the excursion which heightens his anxiety and suspicions of everything. There was this element present where he constantly needs to define that he and the boy are the good guys—and formulates an idea for the boy that the way both of them live, think, and act are the ways that the good guys do.
Interestingly, the boy is often inquiring of other people’s humanity and intentions, declaring: “They could be good guys, couldn’t they?” He refuses to accept the notion that everyone in this world he knows is bad guys, and he hadn’t fully adjusted to the man’s intentioned warning that it’s safest to exist in the shadows. The boy only knew the way of the man which was the source of his existence, so he trusted the man to somehow be a savior, even when he didn’t agree with his judgment of reading the map or wanting to constantly keep moving.
It is important to note that the message to keep moving forward and to keep pressing towards hope may be the essential theme of this story. There is this illusion of light versus dark or good versus evil on the surface, but the reality is good and evil is determined by what a person’s view or belief is in their own mind. Here, man killed another man, but morally, one can say that killing is wrong and one that kills anybody is evil. The reality that’s being painted here is that life can sometimes instantly turn to conditions of hell. Yet regardless of the bleakness of things, you have to do what’s necessary for you to survive and keep your moral integrity.
McCarthy, I believe, is attempting to encourage readers not to give up, but to keep hope and faith in people, themselves, and a better tomorrow no matter how long it takes—which very well could be a lifetime. Yes, at some point we all die, and that’s the darkness of life in this story: the fear of death and wanting to die to escape tough times, a comatose reality.
This is from Cormac McCarthy, The Road. I hope that through this, you are able to take some value, that can help you utilize me and others in the fight to join healthy societal inclusion and change along with police and criminal justice reform. As I always say, I believe the courage of many to take a stand will make a difference, so you and I must be brave in our pursuit to be heard and demand the change we are long overdue.
And I can always be emailed through the Jpay app. Just insert Minnesota for state, 210006. And I want to thank for the radio as always for this much-needed platform of linking prisoners with their communities in a healthy way to foster needed dialogue and support. Thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.