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"[F]rom dark to dark": Deconstruction and Abjection in Cormac McCarthy's The Road
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay presents a reading of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road from a dual theoretical outlook. Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction and Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection both employ the Platonic concept of khôra/chora as a ‘site’ that lies beyond language. Based on these theories, the essay explores how the post-apocalyptic narrative of The Road is aimed at the limits of language. The first section of the essay is focused on deconstruction, which is enacted by way of thematic criticism. The narrative is interpreted in the light of a series of central deconstructive concepts. The post-apocalyptic world filled with ashes provides a metaphor for the Derridean view of language as a structure of cinders – ashes – that are held in the ‘receptacle’ of khôra. Both tropes of absence, cinders and khôra make up the structure of language that is characterized by expectation; it is, Derrida has claimed, a messianic structure that awaits the coming of something wholly other beyond language. Answering the expectation inherent in the ashen structure, the boy of the narrative emerges as a messianic figure who is wholly other, as is seen in his morality that differs from that of the survivors of the apocalypse, as well as that of the pre-apocalyptic society. In the second section of the essay, the narrative is explored from the perspective of Julia Kristeva’s theories of abjection, especially as interpreted by Barbara Creed in the analysis of horror texts. It is argued that the horrors of The Road are represented in different figurations of the maternal. For the protagonists, literal and figurative wombs are sources of abject horror, and the main maternal figure of the narrative, the wife/mother of the protagonists, is conflated in the unnamed man’s dreams with the abject monster in the cave-dream in the opening of the narrative.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Cormac McCarthy, The Road, Deconstruction, Abjection
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-56283OAI: diva2:533091
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-06-14 Created: 2012-06-13 Last updated: 2012-06-19Bibliographically approved

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