The man often uses the phrase “carrying the fire” to describe his dogged perseverance in surviving the post-apocalyptic world. While the woman killed herself in despair, the man commits to being a survivor, and he encourages the boy to “carry the fire” whenever the boy feels like giving up and surrendering to death. This phrase is never fully explained, but the fire seems to symbolize the basic decency that has been destroyed in the world of The Road, along with the natural human desire to keep going and hoping for something better. The fire is the man’s love for his son, his moral code to refrain from murder and cannibalism, and also the kindness and purity that still exists in the boy. The discovery of fire has traditionally been linked with the flowering of civilization, and in some sense "carrying the fire" refers to the man and boy's efforts to preserve their civilized natures in the uncivilized world around them. Before the man dies, he tells the boy to keep carrying the fire and going down the road – basically, to keep hope alive in a seemingly hopeless world.