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Stuck in the Painful Present: Temporality and Loss in Cormac McCarthy's The Road
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road, the main character—the man—is haunted by his past, terrified of the future, and stuck in a present that should never have come into being. By placing the man together with his son—the boy—on a journey south on the roads of an American wasteland, I suggest McCarthy explores different and subjective pasts as well as possible futures from the vantage point of the characters’ moribund present, while making strong use of post-apocalyptic genre’s tropes to examine notions of time as well as travelling as a metaphor for the passing of time. The differences between memories of the past and dreams of the future become blurred as the man tries without success to separate a disturbing past from an unpredictable future, in a present he fails to locate. However, through the man’s son—the boy—the novel provides another possible inter­pretation of the inter­relationship between notions of past, present, and future. While the man cannot differentiate between the destruction of the past and the death waiting in the future, the boy lacks a traumatic past to impede his future visions, presenting the reader with divergent approaches to the passing of time. To explicate the complex use of time as a narrative force in the novel I will mainly draw on Frank Kermode's The Sense of an Ending.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
Keywords [en]
Temporality, Post-apocalypse, Trauma, Loss, Time
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-30621OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-30621DiVA, id: diva2:675994
Conference
"Past Tense Future Tensions," Annual Conference of the SCLA, Guilford College, NC, USA, October 18-19, 2013.
Available from: 2013-12-05 Created: 2013-12-05 Last updated: 2013-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Nyström, Andreas

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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