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Paul_Hochman
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Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe

[ Edited ]
McCarthy writes, "The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions." What do you think caused America to become "a ravaged landscape"?

Message Edited by PaulH on 03-23-200704:18 PM

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bentley
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe


PaulH wrote:
McCarthy writes, "The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions." What do you think caused America to become "a ravaged landscape"?

Message Edited by PaulH on 03-23-200704:18 PM






I am not sure as yet what caused this catastrophe. I have not gotten that far into the novel. It could be that this was an environmental disaster or natural disaster of some sort; a planetary crisis which affected America.
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bentley
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler

The more that I am reading..I am pretty sure because of the ash and other imagery that McCarthy is describing a nuclear winter...I guess this must be the result of warfare or bombs.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler

That could be, Bentley, but how would you explain the presence of humans? I'm hedging towards a meteor strike, but I'm still up in the air.
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler

[ Edited ]
I am just reading on and seeing if there are any other passages which might give some more information. I was leaning at first to an environmental or planetary disaster but the description with the raging fires and atmospheric conditions and the ash all reminded me of an article or essay written by Carl Sagan describing nuclear winter. I am afraid that what I am seeing with the boy's father and others is radiation sickness.

Others might want to look up the essay by Carl Sagan and see what they think. And not everybody would die initially. He describes the remainder of the population as starving to death along with the illnesses caused by such a disaster.

Whatever the cause, the effects are chilling. And Paul you could be entirely right..with the "description of the long shear of light" but the description that McCarthy provides is very familiar to me in terms of the Sagan article.

To me the images are very terrifying no matter what the cause.

Message Edited by bentley on 03-30-200708:55 PM

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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler

There's also the sound of concussions, which could lay claim to something war induced. As we get further into the work, we may find some more clues to the catastrophe, but all in all, a terrifying world to wander through.
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bentley
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler - Page 58


PaulH wrote:
There's also the sound of concussions, which could lay claim to something war induced. As we get further into the work, we may find some more clues to the catastrophe, but all in all, a terrifying world to wander through.




I do not know if this quote has any additional significance but the man's wife was described on page 58 as now not being able to see.

"He taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge of an atom thick." I think the reference to atoms is significant.

On page 168, the old man who the little boy befriended stated," I knew this was coming." And then said, "This or something like it."

I think this is also describing the inevitability of warfare and its outcome.

Other than that, aside from all of the outward signs that we already described..I did not find anything else concrete which would state the actual cause and I have completed the novel. Have you found any additional clues?
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler - Page 58



bentley wrote:

PaulH wrote:
There's also the sound of concussions, which could lay claim to something war induced. As we get further into the work, we may find some more clues to the catastrophe, but all in all, a terrifying world to wander through.




I do not know if this quote has any additional significance but the man's wife was described on page 58 as now not being able to see.

"He taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge of an atom thick." I think the reference to atoms is significant.

On page 168, the old man who the little boy befriended stated," I knew this was coming." And then said, "This or something like it."

I think this is also describing the inevitability of warfare and its outcome.

Other than that, aside from all of the outward signs that we already described..I did not find anything else concrete which would state the actual cause and I have completed the novel. Have you found any additional clues?




I haven't found anything concrete, Bentley, but I'm pretty sure that's McCarthy's intent. Perhaps it doesn't make any difference what caused the catastrophe. The world and mankind are laid bare regardless.

I personally still hedge towards a natural disaster not unlike Pompeii. I do recall a line where McCarthy states something about the land covered in ash. Also, I don't recall any descriptions of the after effects of radiation.
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe - Possible Spoiler - Page 58


PaulH wrote:


bentley wrote:

PaulH wrote:
There's also the sound of concussions, which could lay claim to something war induced. As we get further into the work, we may find some more clues to the catastrophe, but all in all, a terrifying world to wander through.




I do not know if this quote has any additional significance but the man's wife was described on page 58 as now not being able to see.

"He taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge of an atom thick." I think the reference to atoms is significant.

On page 168, the old man who the little boy befriended stated," I knew this was coming." And then said, "This or something like it."

I think this is also describing the inevitability of warfare and its outcome.

Other than that, aside from all of the outward signs that we already described..I did not find anything else concrete which would state the actual cause and I have completed the novel. Have you found any additional clues?




I haven't found anything concrete, Bentley, but I'm pretty sure that's McCarthy's intent. Perhaps it doesn't make any difference what caused the catastrophe. The world and mankind are laid bare regardless.

I personally still hedge towards a natural disaster not unlike Pompeii. I do recall a line where McCarthy states something about the land covered in ash. Also, I don't recall any descriptions of the after effects of radiation.




It seems to me he is describing nuclear winter and all of the after effects but I guess we will have to wait until the Oprah interview to hear McCarthy explain what exactly caused the catastrophe from his perspective as the author. It most likely does not matter because the situation is the way it is when the novel begins. The story really is a story of survival (the physical and mental kind) as well as the survival of the spirit and the soul. If there is any future for the world it will have to rest with some of the young survivors who still see hope and goodness in each other. I read Carl Sagan's description and there are a lot of similarities but having said that the book is describing what might be the end of the world and the catastrophe already happened before the novel started. We can only hope as readers that the spirit of the little boy lives on and that there is a chance for survival.
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe

On page 52, the passage "a dull rose glow in the windowglass" gives us a hint that it could have been a meteor or nuclear bomb. It took out the electricity immediately. I personally think it was probably a nuclear bomb because of the description of the nuclear winter conditions throughout the beginning of the book.

Tammie
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe

How would you all interpret following quote?

"the godspoke men are gone and they took the world with them"

Unfortunately, I can't find the page it appears on, but it came across to me as almost a placement of blame. If the cause of the catastrophe was a nuclear war, could we glean from this quote that the war was precipitated by religion(s)?
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe


PaulH wrote:
How would you all interpret following quote?

"the godspoke men are gone and they took the world with them"

Unfortunately, I can't find the page it appears on, but it came across to me as almost a placement of blame. If the cause of the catastrophe was a nuclear war, could we glean from this quote that the war was precipitated by religion(s)?




I think we could definitely glean that. Obviously, the religious leaders are dead and their decisions destroyed the world as we know it.

I remember reading that quote but can't seem to find it..could you find it in your hard cover and possibly post what page it is on...I will then look for it in the paperback version and post the page as well. At least it will give me a starting point to look.

I agree with you that McCarthy appears to be laying blame where it should be placed. There is so much symbolism in this book and unforgettable quotes and images. I underlined so many and they stick in your mind. I think sometimes that McCarthy tried to blend humor into the novel as well..when he had the little boy ask his father what their long range goals were? It was a cute exchange of words and made me smile.
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe

I'm looking, Bentley, but to no avail yet. It's there somewhere. I even wrote that quote down separately but didn't paginate it! One of us will find it. Have you come across any other observations or symbols relating to religion in the novel?
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Re: Early Reading: The Cause of the Catastrophe (SPOILER WARNING)

[ Edited ]
Thanks Paul..that would be a very important find when you get your hands on it. I have not been able to find it again yet.

There really are quite a few religious undertones in the book. You mentioned about the boy having some divine qualities; I viewed it as a special sprituality and special attributes that were not boylike.

On page 259 (paperback version): the father said to the boy...You're not the one who has to worry about everything. The boy said something but he couldn't understand him. What? he said. He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one."

I will look further as well.

I am wondering since the imagery is so powerful..might there be a thread on memorable quotes or images..or is that premature. The novel sometimes reminds me of poetry.

As far as the cause of the catastrophe, I think we may have found most of the clues that McCarthy gave. I don't think he wanted to be very direct about the cause and might have been leaving it up to conjecture (with broad hints included).

Message Edited by bentley on 04-04-200704:57 PM

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Re: Early Reading: Religious References (SPOILER WARNING)

PaulH: You asked about other religious references. There are many. These are just a few.

Page 5 (paperback)

"He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke."

Page 11 (paperback)

"Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God."

Page 15 (paperback)

"He took great marching steps into the nothingness, counting them against his return. Eyes closed, arms oaring. Upright to what? Something nameless in the night, lode or matrix. To which he and the stars were the common satellite. Like the great pendulum in its rotunda scribing through the long day movements of the universe of which you may say it knows nothing and yet know it must."

Page 16 (paperback)

"He caught it in his hand and watched it expire there like the last host of chistendom."

Page 31 (paperback)

"The boy's shadow crossed over him. Carrying an armload of wood. He watched him stoke the flames. God's own firedrake. The sparks rushed upward and died in the starless dark. Not all dying words are true and this blessing is no less real for being shorn of its ground."

Same page:

"Recite a litany."

Just a few religious references or higher power references in the first 30 pages of the book.
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Re: Early Reading: References, etc. (Possible Spoiler)



PaulH wrote:
I'm looking, Bentley, but to no avail yet. It's there somewhere. I even wrote that quote down separately but didn't paginate it! One of us will find it. Have you come across any other observations or symbols relating to religion in the novel?




PaulH, I found the quote you are referencing. In the paperback book it is on page 32 as follows:

"On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?"

I also found another quote which I think refers to warfare created out of religious differences. McCarthy creates a terrorism image.

In this segment also on page 32, McCarthy refers to the poor people who were on the side of the road smoking in their clothes. "Like failed sectarian suicides"
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Re: Early Reading: References, etc. (Possible Spoiler)

These are great, Bentley. Thanks for doing the research. I personally see the son (son of man?) as a Christ figure. Anybody else?
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Re: Early Reading: References, etc. (Possible Spoiler)



PaulH wrote:
These are great, Bentley. Thanks for doing the research. I personally see the son (son of man?) as a Christ figure. Anybody else?




I see them more as Abraham and Isaac.

As to the cause of the catastrophe it sounds more like an asteroid strike than Nuclear War. The effects of Radioactive fallout would be quick and merciless. It could be Volcanic in nature. PBS's "Secrets of the Dead" recently postulated that an eruption of Krakatoa in Java in 535 A.D. even more violent than the one in 1883 may have lead to catastrophic environmental and Societal changes worldwide. Perhaps this eruption somewhere along the ring of fire was even more massive. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/html/e1-search-pt1.html
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: References, etc. (Possible Spoiler)



Skyler97 wrote:


PaulH wrote:
These are great, Bentley. Thanks for doing the research. I personally see the son (son of man?) as a Christ figure. Anybody else?




I see them more as Abraham and Isaac.

As to the cause of the catastrophe it sounds more like an asteroid strike than Nuclear War. The effects of Radioactive fallout would be quick and merciless. It could be Volcanic in nature. PBS's "Secrets of the Dead" recently postulated that an eruption of Krakatoa in Java in 535 A.D. even more violent than the one in 1883 may have lead to catastrophic environmental and Societal changes worldwide. Perhaps this eruption somewhere along the ring of fire was even more massive. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/html/e1-search-pt1.html




That's really interesting, Skyler and I agree. I think it was an asteroid strike or something of that nature.

Abraham and Isaac? I would say almost the opposite. The father (Abraham) sacrifices himself/health for the survival of the son (Isaac). Can you elaborate?
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bentley
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Re: Early Reading: References, etc. (Re: Nuclear Winter)

Regarding Nuclear Winter (Carl Sagan)

http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/sagan_nuclear_winter.html

Thought this might be interesting for some folks.
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