This article explores the gender dynamic of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Road (2006). It engages the novel’s post-apocalyptic survival narrative from three different perspectives within the novel: first, the man, whom the world seems to be set against; second, the boy, who has a fundamental openness to the world; and third, the woman’s aborted narrative. Though few critics take it up (Nell Sullivan is perhaps the most prominent), this article argues the woman offers a third interpretive path through the novel. Her story remains crucial to the cohesion and successful completion of the plot, yet the novel does not present its telling. Drawing on queer theory and Marxist-feminist analysis, this article explores an impasse: The Road effectively banishes the woman from its pages, despite the fact that she is necessary to the flourishing of the man and the boy. I argue that the novel works as narrative precisely because of the aborted emplotment of the woman and the appearance of the new woman at plot’s end. The Road creates a reproductive imperative that binds the fantasy of beginning anew with the ideology of gender. It insists that reaching any future whatsoever means women must have babies.


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pp. 38-54
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