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Paul_Hochman
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Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

[ Edited ]
What is the significance and/or symbolism of the father firing the flare gun?

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-16-200703:23 PM

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bentley
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare



PaulH wrote:
What is the significance and/or symbolism of the father firing the flare gun?




Not sure on this one...will need to think about it. A flare gun resembles fire, it could look like a meteor or an asteroid, it was used as a weapon. It did maim someone pretty badly (the person who wounded the father). Usually I think of a flare gun as a tool to use as a sign for help to show your position or to get rescued. Flares themselves can be used at an accident site to show danger or something to avoid. They can be used and are commonly found in marine survival kits etc. It could symbolize illumination of some sort. Here are some of the uses of flares, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flare_(pyrotechnic)

Will have to reread that section.
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare


bentley wrote:


PaulH wrote:
What is the significance and/or symbolism of the father firing the flare gun?




Not sure on this one...will need to think about it. A flare gun resembles fire, it could look like a meteor or an asteroid, it was used as a weapon. It did maim someone pretty badly (the person who wounded the father). Usually I think of a flare gun as a tool to use as a sign for help to show your position or to get rescued. Flares themselves can be used at an accident site to show danger or something to avoid. They can be used and are commonly found in marine survival kits etc. It could symbolize illumination of some sort. Here are some of the uses of flares, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flare_(pyrotechnic)

Will have to reread that section.




This is one of the few passages in the book where the father intentionally lets down his guard and actually has a playful exchange with his son. I see the flare as a signal. But the father is always so careful about calling attention to the duo.

What is hard to determine is whether the father thinks the flare will go unnoticed because the air is so full of dust, or is this the first overt sign that the father is in distress? The son does see the flare, but outwardly just seems to enjoy experiencing something new.

I think the act of shooting the flare signals (foreshadows) distress, and allows this message to wash over his son without actually stating this fact to the boy. Perhaps the boy should have said to his father, "you're not talking".
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare

It's almost as if he knows they're being watched/followed and clues in the good people to their location, but how would the father know the people were in fact good?
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PaulFrancis
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare

I'm struggling with the idea that they were really being followed, however several characters do make that statement. Maybe the father is really beginning to believe what he has to tell the boy later, that there are still good guys and that his son is visited by luck.

If the father truly believes they are being followed, and they have not yet been ambushed then there is a chance they are good people.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare



PaulFrancis wrote:
I'm struggling with the idea that they were really being followed, however several characters do make that statement. Maybe the father is really beginning to believe what he has to tell the boy later, that there are still good guys and that his son is visited by luck.

If the father truly believes they are being followed, and they have not yet been ambushed then there is a chance they are good people.




Remember the father's last line:

"Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again."
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PaulFrancis
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare

Ah yes, the parting words of hope.

When do you think the boy first understands that his father will die, and leave him to find a new family (life)? To me, the boys quest to find goodness seems to underscore the assumed need that he eventually must replace his father.

On another thread, Why is the father so frantic to see the boy return to health after he falls ill at the beach?
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare

[ Edited ]

PaulFrancis wrote:
Ah yes, the parting words of hope.

When do you think the boy first understands that his father will die, and leave him to find a new family (life)? To me, the boys quest to find goodness seems to underscore the assumed need that he eventually must replace his father.

On another thread, Why is the father so frantic to see the boy return to health after he falls ill at the beach?




I think he understands it from the very beginning. On pg. 9 of the hardcover, the boy asks, "Are we going to die?" The father answers, "Sometime. Not now".

This is interesting in that while the son is completely cognizant of death, he never loses hope.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-12-200709:33 AM

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bentley
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare



PaulH wrote:

PaulFrancis wrote:
Ah yes, the parting words of hope.

When do you think the boy first understands that his father will die, and leave him to find a new family (life)? To me, the boys quest to find goodness seems to underscore the assumed need that he eventually must replace his father.

On another thread, Why is the father so frantic to see the boy return to health after he falls ill at the beach?




I think he understands it from the very beginning. On pg. 9 of the hardcover, the boy asks, "Are we going to die?" The father answers, "Sometime. Not now".

This is interesting in that while the son is completely cognizant of death, he never loses hope.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-12-200709:33 AM






Maybe if he was divine as you thought..the boy believed that the spirit and the soul lived on..so there is and was always hope.
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PaulFrancis
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare


bentley wrote:


PaulH wrote:

PaulFrancis wrote:
Ah yes, the parting words of hope.

When do you think the boy first understands that his father will die, and leave him to find a new family (life)? To me, the boys quest to find goodness seems to underscore the assumed need that he eventually must replace his father.

On another thread, Why is the father so frantic to see the boy return to health after he falls ill at the beach?




I think he understands it from the very beginning. On pg. 9 of the hardcover, the boy asks, "Are we going to die?" The father answers, "Sometime. Not now".

This is interesting in that while the son is completely cognizant of death, he never loses hope.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-12-200709:33 AM






Maybe if he was divine as you thought..the boy believed that the spirit and the soul lived on..so there is and was always hope.




I think you are right on! Both father and son believe in spirit and soul. Early in the book (page 11 - soft cover)...

father, "If you died I would want to die too.
son, "So you could go with me?
father, "Yes, so I could be with you."

The first reading of this passage made my eyes well up, and I knew this book was going to be an incredible journey.

As I read the book for the second time, hope seems more evident.
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

[ Edited ]
Ok, i am getting blurry eyed looking at all the thread of what is the symbolism in this and in that. You guys may have read other McCarthy books and can tell me, aside from some things really are meant to be symbolic of something bigger in this book, does everything in in this book or his books HAVE to have a deeper meaning than just whats right there? This is like trying to read the Book of Revelations, if I am to find hidden meaning in everything in this book. And I got so so much out of it before all this LOL. What I am getting at here is, I just see the flare gun as a flare gun and something you would find on a boat and him firing it off... well at first I thought, thats not a wise thing to do if you dont want to be noticed, but honestly, i just figured, they got to the ocean, nothing is there, they are both disappointed, the father realises there may never be anything there so he just sets off the flare to give his son something of normalicy that would please him and let him enjoy it as a kid again. No signal to anyone, no distress call, no symbolism of his distress, man he IS distressed! Maybe there is some big meaning in this too but for me, its just a way to have a father son moment in a world that does not give them the chance for them often. Actually, it is the last play they will ever have.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 05-01-200711:40 PM

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)



vivico1 wrote:
Ok, i am getting blurry eyed looking at all the thread of what is the symbolism in this and in that. You guys may have read other McCarthy books and can tell me, aside from some things really are meant to be symbolic of something bigger in this book, does everything in in this book or his books HAVE to have a deeper meaning than just whats right there? This is like trying to read the Book of Revelations, if I am to find hidden meaning in everything in this book. And I got so so much out of it before all this LOL. What I am getting at here is, I just see the flare gun as a flare gun and something you would find on a boat and him firing it off... well at first I thought, thats not a wise thing to do if you dont want to be noticed, but honestly, i just figured, they got to the ocean, nothing is there, they are both disappointed, the father realises there may never be anything there so he just sets off the flare to give his son something of normalicy that would please him and let him enjoy it as a kid again. No signal to anyone, no distress call, no symbolism of his distress, man he IS distressed! Maybe there is some big meaning in this too but for me, its just a way to have a father son moment in a world that does not give them the chance for them often. Actually, it is the last play they will ever have.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 05-01-200711:40 PM






You make a valid point, vivico. Perhaps, we're all reading into the novel a bit too much, but all the same, it makes for interesting hypothesis. You're probably right. It's could be a fun moment between the man and boy, or it could be a signal to the good guys :smileywink:
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)


PaulH wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
Ok, i am getting blurry eyed looking at all the thread of what is the symbolism in this and in that. You guys may have read other McCarthy books and can tell me, aside from some things really are meant to be symbolic of something bigger in this book, does everything in in this book or his books HAVE to have a deeper meaning than just whats right there? This is like trying to read the Book of Revelations, if I am to find hidden meaning in everything in this book. And I got so so much out of it before all this LOL. What I am getting at here is, I just see the flare gun as a flare gun and something you would find on a boat and him firing it off... well at first I thought, thats not a wise thing to do if you dont want to be noticed, but honestly, i just figured, they got to the ocean, nothing is there, they are both disappointed, the father realises there may never be anything there so he just sets off the flare to give his son something of normalicy that would please him and let him enjoy it as a kid again. No signal to anyone, no distress call, no symbolism of his distress, man he IS distressed! Maybe there is some big meaning in this too but for me, its just a way to have a father son moment in a world that does not give them the chance for them often. Actually, it is the last play they will ever have.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 05-01-200711:40 PM






You make a valid point, vivico. Perhaps, we're all reading into the novel a bit too much, but all the same, it makes for interesting hypothesis. You're probably right. It's could be a fun moment between the man and boy, or it could be a signal to the good guys :smileywink:


lol, you remind me of the boy Paul lol...."but it could be for the good guys, right papa?" "Okay, yes, it could be for the good guys". "Okay" :smileyhappy:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

I think he knew he was dying. By shooting the flare, he was in a sense passing his "flame" on to someone else.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)



jenlaw77 wrote:
I think he knew he was dying. By shooting the flare, he was in a sense passing his "flame" on to someone else.




That's a excellent take on this scene, jenlaw. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it certainly makes perfect sense and adheres to the symbolism of the book as a whole. Great point!
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

I see the flare as something the father and son enjoyed in a horrorific world. Their one time to have fun and display some joy. I don't think the father cared so much about attracting attention as there was the fun part. Actually, the father retrieved it off the boat mainly not to signal distress as his thinking no one would help them, but more to use as ammunition in case he had to use it which he did shoot at someone who was shooting arrows at them and hit the father in the leg. Flares do a pretty good job of setting something on fire. Again, we have a fire theme here.
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Finns_dad
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

There are a couple of points that spring to mind. Firstly, who were the people that fired the arrows the father? He shoots the flare through the window at them then rather out of character "assaults" the house. Then has an odd conversation with the woman saying something like "they left you behind", who are "they"? Where did the bow go?

The other one is that feeling about the importance of fire to them, there never seems to be a shortage of stuff to burn, even though the entire world seems to have burned.

Its odd, but no other book I have read has given me the compulsion to talk it out with other people. Perhaps its becasue I have a 2 year old son, and cant imagine him in the world that is depicted in The Road, but then again, no-one ever would? I suppose that you just would have to do whatever you had to to survive, even when survival is impossible, even when reality is so utterly horrific, the human spirit has that inate drive to prevail.

I think the flare episode does act to illuminate (hur hur) the transition that his father is going though, whether his reaching the coast leads to an acknowledgement of his own imminent death, or a realisation that he feels his son has reached the point he can carry on without him, or simply sharing a simple moment of joy having a "firework display" for his little lad, what father wouldnt want to share a moment of lost humanity with his lad?

I have to keep telling myself though, that this is after all a book, and whilst as a species, we face many spiritual, environmental and physical threats, mankind will never face the scenario that this book depicts.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

If you haven't seen it, take a look at the Oprah interview with McCarthy (see link). There's some great stuff there.

http://www.oprah.com/obc_classic/featbook/road/obc_featbook_road_main.jhtml?promocode=road08082007





Finns_dad wrote:
There are a couple of points that spring to mind. Firstly, who were the people that fired the arrows the father? He shoots the flare through the window at them then rather out of character "assaults" the house. Then has an odd conversation with the woman saying something like "they left you behind", who are "they"? Where did the bow go?

The other one is that feeling about the importance of fire to them, there never seems to be a shortage of stuff to burn, even though the entire world seems to have burned.

Its odd, but no other book I have read has given me the compulsion to talk it out with other people. Perhaps its becasue I have a 2 year old son, and cant imagine him in the world that is depicted in The Road, but then again, no-one ever would? I suppose that you just would have to do whatever you had to to survive, even when survival is impossible, even when reality is so utterly horrific, the human spirit has that inate drive to prevail.

I think the flare episode does act to illuminate (hur hur) the transition that his father is going though, whether his reaching the coast leads to an acknowledgement of his own imminent death, or a realisation that he feels his son has reached the point he can carry on without him, or simply sharing a simple moment of joy having a "firework display" for his little lad, what father wouldnt want to share a moment of lost humanity with his lad?

I have to keep telling myself though, that this is after all a book, and whilst as a species, we face many spiritual, environmental and physical threats, mankind will never face the scenario that this book depicts.


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Eric_Phail
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

[ Edited ]

Hey,

 

I hope you don't mind me bumping what I see to be quite an old thread, it's just I finished (and started!) this book today, and couldn't help but devour it in one go...absolutely fantastic!  Looked through a few of these threads and found a lot of interesting ideas that I hadn't thought of, and decided to throw in my two cents!

 

The man firing the flare into the sky didn't seem like the kind of action that was consistent with his general behaviour throughout the book...constantly hiding, keeping away from the main roads, all things that implied (quite rightly so) that he didn't want them to be seen.  For him to then go and fire a flare into the sky (after having purposefully gone back in to the boat to look for it) seemed, in retrospect, pre-orchestrated.   Like he actually did want to signal to someone (presumably the group following them) their location.

Message Edited by Eric_Phail on 02-23-2009 04:32 PM
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
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bigkahuna
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Re: Later Reading: The Flare (SPOILER WARNING)

I see it as an act of defiance by the father. He is signaling to anyone out there that he has the fire within him and that he is passing the torch onto his son who will do an even better job of nurturing the tiny spark of goodness. "Come get me if you want, but my days of running are soon to be ended ," he seems to be saying. On a practical note the fact that the flare gun works after years on the boat foreshadows the deadly encounter   it which it will not only save his life, but take one as well. bk

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