The Road


Cormac McCarthy

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The Flarepistol Symbol Icon
The man finds the flarepistol in an abandoned boat. He and the boy later shoot it off over the ocean just to see the spectacle, but they have no hope that any “good guys” will see it. The flarepistol thus becomes a symbol of the man and boy’s existential abandonment in the world – not only are they cut off from other kind humans, but it seems as if God himself has turned away from humanity. The boy even suggests that perhaps God could see the flare, but he admits that it would be unlikely. Later the flarepistol becomes a weapon, as the man shoots it at someone who shot him with an arrow. This is also symbolic, as in the post-apocalyptic world of death and grim survival, a flare – a tool of communication and salvation – is transformed into a violent weapon.
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The Flarepistol Symbol Timeline in The Road

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Flarepistol appears in The Road. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Pages 189-246
Death and Violence Theme Icon
Survival and Perseverance Theme Icon
...explores the boat again, and after some careful searching he finds a first-aid kit, a flarepistol, and some flares. (full context)
Death and Violence Theme Icon
Survival and Perseverance Theme Icon
...back to shore and tells the boy about his finds. The boy asks if the flarepistol is to shoot someone, and the man says that it might set them on fire.... (full context)
Faith, Trust, and Doubt Theme Icon
That night the man loads the flarepistol and fires it over the ocean. It explodes like a firecracker in the darkness. The... (full context)
Pages 246-287
Death and Violence Theme Icon
Familial Love Theme Icon the leg with an arrow. The man curses and shoots the stranger with the flarepistol. The man hides with the boy as they hear the stranger screaming. (full context)