Analysis of Cormac McCarthy’s
The literary theory of Deconstruction was introduced by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Derrida is one of the most well known thinkers of the twentieth century. Derrida was born on the 15th of July year 1930 in Algeria. He was born of a Jewish family that faced racial discrimination (Lawlor 2006). The things he has experienced as a child influenced him greatly and motivated him to strive for excellence. He has set himself apart from other philosophers that he has preceded that introduced theories like phenomenology, existentialism, and structuralism, by developing and introducing the literary theory of deconstruction.
The literary theory of Deconstruction strictly pursues the meaning of a text up to the point that it exposes contradictions and internal oppositions within the text. J. Hillis Miller described deconstruction as: “Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently-solid ground is no rock, but thin air. ” This theory questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth.
It challenges the status quo in the society in order to bring out the true and relative meaning of the text. Deconstruction focuses on the idea that the language and meaning are often inadequate in trying to convey the message or idea a communicator is trying to express. It assumes that the words used are not enough in order to convey the message that the author wants to tell his or her reader. Quoting the philosopher himself: “A deconstructive reading must always aim at certain relationship by the writer between what he commands and what he does not command. ”
According to Derrida the gist of how deconstruction really works is by conducting textual reading or documents with a perspective that aims to demonstrate that text is not a single entity or a whole, instead in it are several irreconcilable parts that most of the time contradicts with each other. This apparently shows that any given text may have more than one interpretation. It also tells us that the texts link these interpretations that could never be disentangled with each other. Therefore, the interpretative reading has certain boundaries that we could never surpass.
According to the work of by Barbara Johnson entitled “The Critical Defense” she clarified that: “Deconstruction is not synonymous with “destruction”, however. It is in fact much closer to the original meaning of the word ‘analysis’ itself, which etymologically means “to undo”- a virtual synonym for “to de-construct. ” If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyses the specificity of a text’s critical difference from itself. ”
To a deconstructionist, meaning includes not only what is in the text but also those that are left out from the text and those that the text silences. Deconstruction is a direct attack on the very existence of various theories and other conceptual systems and because of this Derrida and other deconstructionist purposely resists and objects any logical explanation and they prefer presentations that are based on wordplays and puns. Deconstructionists tend to focus on close reading of particular texts and they focus on a analyzing how these texts relate of influence other texts (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
According to Peter Barry, deconstructionism could be divided on three distinct parts, the verbal, textual, and linguistic. The verbal stage of deconstructionism is similar to other more conventional form of close reading. This is stage is involve with searching the text thoroughly with the aim to look for contradictions or paradoxes. The next stage which is called the textual change is mainly characterized by looking for shifts, turns, or breaks in the poem that might affect the continuity or relativity of the text.
These shifts and breaks might reveal imbalance in the flow of thought or attitude of the poem and hence will mean that there is no unified stand or position. The final stage that critics do is called the linguistic stage. In this stage the critics look for moments or events in the poem when there is inadequacy on the language itself as a medium of communication. Now that we have established what deconstructionism really is we can use it in analyzing the acclaimed novel entitled “The Road” which is written by Cormac McCarthy. This novel was released by Alfred A. Knopf on the 26th day of September in the year 2006.
This novel won numerous awards and got certain distinct recognitions. The most notable among this awards and recognitions are the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in the year 2006, it was also a finalist on the National Book Critics Circle award in the area of fiction on that same year, and it won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. (BBC 2007) The novel revolves around the story of an unnamed father and son journeying together in a post-apocalyptic setting that preceded a great unexplainable event that has destroyed almost all civilization and life on Earth.
On the novel, the father and son realized that they will not survive another winter on their location and with this realization in mind they have decided that they would need to travel south to reach the sea with the hope that they could find people like them and eventually survive. The novel has a very dark and cold setting since there is constant ash fall and electric storms and snow storms are regular. Because of these conditions there is no longer any vegetation on the land and most of the people are already cannibals in nature since the land is barren and the only way they can survive is by killing and eating each other.
Throughout their journey there is a constant threat of attacks and starvations that they must strive against in order for them to accomplish their goal. They carry with them a revolver that only has one round of bullets in it which they can use for protection or to commit suicide if ever they would be caught by cannibals so they can escape the pain and torture. The father and son duo eventually reached the sea but upon their arrival on their planned destination neither the climate nor vegetation improved and this gave them a big disappointment since their condition didn’t vary from their previous situation.
Though they are successful with their mission in reaching their desired destination the father died because of his illness that worsen and they boy was left to mourn alone with no one to comfort him from his agony. This was his state until a new family convinced him that they have good intentions for him and eventually he agreed to get adopted. An epilogue could be found at the end of the novel which meditates about the nature the people in those time faces and the threat in the continuity of life which has been greatly affected by the alteration in the environmental conditions (McCarthy 2006).
The boy in the novel serves as a good example for each of one us that there is still hope for each one of us. He gives us the message that amidst the struggles and difficulties we could still act as humans. The boy remains sympathetic, caring, and compassionate in spite of the cruelty of the world that surrounds him. This novel gives as an insight of what are the things that could be happening after the apocalypse. This novel could be treated as the warning for every one of us that if we don’t do anything to save our dying planet we could experience much worst things that we can ever imagine.
The things described on this novel might someday be no longer being fiction but reality that would greatly affect each one of us. Applying the literary theory of deconstruction we can examine that the mother of the boy committed suicide. “She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift (McCarthy 83). ” We can critic this as that the mother loves his husband and son so much and that she did that ultimate sacrifice by lifting the burden of her family or we can also view this that the woman is considered as the weaker sex.
Another view on this could be that the moment the mother died the hope of mankind have also been gone with her since the mother is known to be the one who take care of the family. Another example we could look at is the line of the son “I am the One” (McCarthy 137). From this line it can be concluded that the son is full of pride and he thinks highly of himself or either that he is just saying the obvious that he is the one unique out of all the people because he has still humanistic inclinations that is different of all the people that are cannibals and savage. Another thing we could analyze that is why the revolver has only one round in it.
It could be because that because of the incidents that has happened there is only one round left or maybe the father intentionally left just one round for them to use in case they need to commit suicide or defend themselves. “He knew only that the child was his warrant” (McCarthy 174). From this statement we could analyze that the father is well aware of the importance of the child and he feels the great need for him to take care of his son because his son could be the last hope of the human race. His son should be preserved because he is still pure and have not been influenced by the ravage attitude of the people around him.
Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 1976. Johnson, Barbara. The Critical Difference. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press,1981. McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006. “Coens to adapt Chabon bestseller. ” 17 April 2007. BBC News. 3 August 2010 < http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/entertainment/7242466. stm />. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. United States of America: Cornell University Press. 1982Sample Essay of EduBirdie.com