The Road to the Sun They Cannot See: Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Oblivion, and Guidance in Cormac McCarthy's The Road

Carole Juge


Twenty-four centuries, a very wide ocean, and major evolutions in western civilization lay between the American novelist Cormac McCarthy and the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. McCarthy is more known for his frequent use of violence and the stylistic yet minimal exuberance that characterizes most of his novels while Plato wrote dialogues in lieu of essays to discuss philosophical matters in the declining Republic of Athens.

Yet there is a thread of one of Plato’s most famous theories—the often debated allegory of the Cave—which is interwoven in McCarthy’s latest book, The Road. Even though published over 2000 years after The Republic, The Road bears some resemblance to the philosophical treaty.

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