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Cormac McCarthy's The Road intersects with Daniel

Writer and director
Writer and director
Photo by Mark Von Holden

The book of Daniel is a journey of exile and expectation. Of empires overshadowing the world and crumbling. All the while angels as the messengers and potential carrying out the destruction. The righteous suffer as they journey through powers vying to take control. Yet, Daniel is not all about destruction, he is about hope. “But you go your way, and rest; you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.”

The book The Road and the movie based on the novel is a complimentary vision of the book of Daniel. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a father and a son head south to reach something they hope for. As they journey, the father becomes embittered and untrustworthy and even cruel toward most people encountered. Now there are terrible people seeking to murder and consume children. The father is right to be untrustworthy. But the son helps the father realize not all the people they meet on the road are wicked. “Many shall be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked shall continue to act wickedly” (Daniel 12). The son measures who is wicked and who is righteous.

In Cormac’s story, the humans who are left live in a terrible existence. The sun is covered by ashen cloud at all times, there are earthquakes, all plants are dead, all animals dead. They are in survival mode. Yet a hope drives the father and son on—heading south. All the while unseen watchers follow them. We never see them, the father and son never see them until the end. At this point, the father has died. The boy must look out for himself. A man approaches him on the beach. The boy isn’t certain if he can trust the man. After a short conversation, the boy trusts because the man has a family: a wife, a boy, and a girl. The boy meets the family and the wife says they had been following all this time. “We worried about you.”

Is it to be assumed these are not fully human beings? Are they watchers on the banks of the stream like Daniel shows? One can only speculate. But nonetheless, the boy has found his hope and his rest after the peril of traveling. On the shores of the sea, he meets his rest and hope to go on. To live. Not to die. This is the hope of the resurrection. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life….” When the boy witnesses his father nearing death, he asks him, “Will I see you again? I want to go with you.” The father urges him onward. The boy goes onward. We too must continue onward, on the road, to life everlasting, to rest on the shores at the end of days.