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Paul_Hochman
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"Carrying the Fire"

Bentley wrote:

"One other thing worth discussing in the same vein is the boy's and father's symbolism in their "carrying the fire". I think this symbolism is similar. What is your take on that? The boy seems to think that they are the good guys because they carry the fire, etc. Maybe the fire of their soul and spirit and the capacity to love has not been diminished and has not been extinguished??"


I think fire and inparticularly the "carrying of the fire" is one of the major symbols in the book. We've already hinted at the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Could the notion of carrying the fire also signal a rebirth of the world?
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LuvReading
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"



PaulH wrote:
Bentley wrote:

"One other thing worth discussing in the same vein is the boy's and father's symbolism in their "carrying the fire". I think this symbolism is similar. What is your take on that? The boy seems to think that they are the good guys because they carry the fire, etc. Maybe the fire of their soul and spirit and the capacity to love has not been diminished and has not been extinguished??"


I think fire and inparticularly the "carrying of the fire" is one of the major symbols in the book. We've already hinted at the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Could the notion of carrying the fire also signal a rebirth of the world?




My take on "carrying the fire" was the perpetuation of the human race. They must "carry the fire" and pass it on from one generation to the next to ensure the survival of their race. We have to wonder why they would want to survive unless there was some hope that the human race would go on after such a catastrophe.

Although you make a good point, "the fire" could be hope. Carry hope with you and you will survive.
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solittletime
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"



PaulH wrote:
Bentley wrote:

"One other thing worth discussing in the same vein is the boy's and father's symbolism in their "carrying the fire". I think this symbolism is similar. What is your take on that? The boy seems to think that they are the good guys because they carry the fire, etc. Maybe the fire of their soul and spirit and the capacity to love has not been diminished and has not been extinguished??"


I think fire and inparticularly the "carrying of the fire" is one of the major symbols in the book. We've already hinted at the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Could the notion of carrying the fire also signal a rebirth of the world?


I kept thinking of seeing the picture of the fire in the heart that you see so often in Catholic pictures of Jesus. The fire represents divine love for humanity. That was the image I kept seeing when he refered to "carrying the fire" or the torch; the commencement of the humanity through people who have God-like love. As a side, the man also refers to the boy as a god type.

Wonderful fire sybolism in the book. Fire as destroyer. Ashes everywhere. Fires for life (cooking & keeping warm). What else can you thinking of?
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bentley
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"


solittletime wrote:


PaulH wrote:
Bentley wrote:

"One other thing worth discussing in the same vein is the boy's and father's symbolism in their "carrying the fire". I think this symbolism is similar. What is your take on that? The boy seems to think that they are the good guys because they carry the fire, etc. Maybe the fire of their soul and spirit and the capacity to love has not been diminished and has not been extinguished??"


I think fire and inparticularly the "carrying of the fire" is one of the major symbols in the book. We've already hinted at the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Could the notion of carrying the fire also signal a rebirth of the world?


I kept thinking of seeing the picture of the fire in the heart that you see so often in Catholic pictures of Jesus. The fire represents divine love for humanity. That was the image I kept seeing when he refered to "carrying the fire" or the torch; the commencement of the humanity through people who have God-like love. As a side, the man also refers to the boy as a god type.

Wonderful fire sybolism in the book. Fire as destroyer. Ashes everywhere. Fires for life (cooking & keeping warm). What else can you thinking of?




I agree that the above represents much of what the fire is symbolizing..hope for mankind, etc...I was thinking of trying to go through the book again and identify all of the fire motifs. I think that McCarthy uses fire symbolism in a lot of his novels; but they do not seem to mean the same thing as in The Road. Death and ashes and the ensuing darkness they create could mean the absence of fire and/or life and light (the end of the world because of past evil decisions or misguided judgements) whereas the still living and the warmth of the fire could represent light, life and the survival of mankind and good charitable deeds like that of the little boy.
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Mariposa
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

on page 278-279 of the paperback edition:

I want to be with you.
You cant
Please.
You can't. You have to carry the fire.
I dont know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it.


This also goes back to the issue of the wife and sight. The father can see the fire inside the son. The wife is blind to hope. The father is not blind. He can see the fire. The boy is hope. He is the seed born of the ashes.

By the way, is the wife ever referred to as the mother?


Lizabeth
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"



dianearbus wrote:
on page 278-279 of the paperback edition:

I want to be with you.
You cant
Please.
You can't. You have to carry the fire.
I dont know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it.


This also goes back to the issue of the wife and sight. The father can see the fire inside the son. The wife is blind to hope. The father is not blind. He can see the fire. The boy is hope. He is the seed born of the ashes.

By the way, is the wife ever referred to as the mother?


Lizabeth




This an excellent point you make, Lizabeth.
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"



PaulH wrote:
Could the notion of carrying the fire also signal a rebirth of the world?




Phoenix Rising...?

ziki
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vivico1
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

I agree with all of you about the fire, it means many things. I think it is the hope, faith,caring and life that papa sees inside the boy. It is that spark of divinity we all have in us, tho some have let extinguish. The boy does carry hope for the world, maybe in some ways he even IS the hope for the world continuing. If this was a sci fi movie and had a sequel, I could see him older and a leader, spiritual and caring and very strong, working to lead the new world out of darkness. He would continue the fight of good vs evil that he is fighting now to survive but his fire would be strong. If Ely was the prophet of the world of no God, the boy would be the prophet of hope and a world of "Godlike love" as one person phrased it. Not like Christ, but christlike, what we are all suppose to be with one another. And being such a flame, people would be drawn to him as so many are to the light of a flame.
To survive in this new scary world of saving oneself first and cannibalism, someone like the boy surely is needed to carry on the fire.
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: "Carrying the Fire"



vivico1 wrote:
I agree with all of you about the fire, it means many things. I think it is the hope, faith,caring and life that papa sees inside the boy. It is that spark of divinity we all have in us, tho some have let extinguish. The boy does carry hope for the world, maybe in some ways he even IS the hope for the world continuing. If this was a sci fi movie and had a sequel, I could see him older and a leader, spiritual and caring and very strong, working to lead the new world out of darkness. He would continue the fight of good vs evil that he is fighting now to survive but his fire would be strong. If Ely was the prophet of the world of no God, the boy would be the prophet of hope and a world of "Godlike love" as one person phrased it. Not like Christ, but christlike, what we are all suppose to be with one another. And being such a flame, people would be drawn to him as so many are to the light of a flame.
To survive in this new scary world of saving oneself first and cannibalism, someone like the boy surely is needed to carry on the fire.




Well I for one hope that this isn't the end of the boy's story. Perhaps Cormac's got another trilogy in mind.
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christyscmh
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

[ Edited ]
In reference to LuvReading's original post:

True, but both the man and his boy were carriers of "the fire" and if Carthy is using this to represent hope, and in turn, having that hope represent survival, then I would think he would have survived both the boy and his father. Instead though, that wasn't the case. I'm interested in the various theories about the representation of "fire" throughout the novel. I'm going to do some independent research and see if I come up with anything tangible. Stay tuned. :smileyhappy:

Message Edited by christyscmh on 05-04-200709:48 PM

Live as though there is no tomorrow; Love as though you've never been hurt, and Dance as though there's no one watching.
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maxcat
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

I'm not done with the book but " carrying the fire" could mean that they are carry on what's left of mankind and hoping to pass it on to another being.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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ViperPilot
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

[ Edited ]
Hi, I found this thread when I was Googling the book. I just finished the audiobook about a week ago. I'd forgotten that I registered here a while back.

Anyway, when Papa first started talking about carrying the fire, the first thing that came into my head was the image of a caveman in prehistoric times, carefully carrying his newly-discovered fire, burning in a small pile of sticks, across the land to his new home. At some point, he drops the fire, and it is gone. He can't find a way to make it again. Now nobody has the fire, and his tribe will suffer for it - a lack of heat for his children and grandparents, no way to make stronger weapons, no way to preserve meat, no way to defend the home while sleeping, no way to clear land or flush out tired bears in dark caves that could provide shelter from the storm or from predators. No way to have charcoal, and perhaps begin drawing on cave walls, and discover new words with new meaning to describe a new animal or place or people. No way to discover the uses of fire in healing deep wounds, or killing infection on the skin, or eventually killing bacteria in water and food. They could die without the fire, and it could mean the end of his tribe, and so far as they know, the end of their kind.

That is what I imagined when I first heard Papa utter, "We're carrying the fire." They're figuratively and literally carrying the survival of their people inside them. And they do it with the knowledge of what it means. And so they take care to keep the fire alive - to, themselves, survive. Without the fire, we will not survive. Without people to carry on in the world, and preserve not just our species but also our history and our future, and not just scrap around like animals in the dirt, the fire dies. With it dies all our civility, all our humanity, all our beauty, the things that make us good, strong, just, and compassionate. And bound up in that, all our hopes, dreams, things we wanted for our world even long after our bodies here are gone, like peace, bounties of food and clean water, education, the end of strife, and good will.

So, when you carry the fire, it's more than just fuel, or a weapon, it's a source of power and strength, and possessing it very nearly ensures your survival, and the survival of your offspring, and theirs, and so on.

Fire, merely as its literal being, is an epic ode to the survival of the human race. And figuratively, it is not so much the fire, as it is the bloodlines, the long strings of human existence, that brought the fire from there to here.

So, that's what I think of when I read those lines about carrying the fire, and how carrying the fire means you are the good guys, and nothing bad can happen to you. If you understand what it means, then you know that your responsibility is to carry it. I believe Papa wanted to impart the meaning of survival to the boy, not just merely the act of it.

Message Edited by ViperPilot on 12-15-2007 12:53 PM
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jackaaron
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

[ Edited ]

I loved this book.  I wrote another chapter.  I realize I'm nowhere near Cormac's writing, and never will be.  But, I couldn't help it.  I just liked the book too much. 

 

Another boy has been brought in.  The boy, now a man himself, remembers nearly ten years ago when he was brought in.  He greeted the new one.

 

You have to get cleaned up.

 

Who are you?

 

Ah, doesn’t matter right now.  Why don’t you go over there to clean yourself up, and get some new clothes.

 

Okay.

 

He cuts some type of food into a bowl of water, and starts a fire.  He’s grown a beard.

 

After some time, the new, young child comes to him, and starts to look him over. 

 

Who are you, sir?

 

He laughs.  You don’t have to call me sir.  The only sir around here is the man that rescued you. 

 

They were about to kill me.

 

Who was?  Oh, never mind, don’t answer that please.

 

Why?

 

Because I don’t really want to know. 

 

Well, it was a big group of crazy people that’s all I can tell you. 


Yeah.

 

He looks at the young boy again, then goes back to the food.

 

Where were you headed young man?

 

I don’t know.  I think my dad wanted to take me to the coast.  But, I didn’t know what we’d do after that. 

 

To this, he stops with the food, and looks up.  Then, he looks away.  He swallows hard, he holds his mouth, and shakes his head subtly.  He walks over to his bed, and sits down.  The young boy follows him. 


What’s wrong?

 

We went to the coast. 

 

They both sit on the bed for a long while. 

 

He gets up to get back to the food.

 

My dad told me I was carrying the fire. 

 

This stops him, and he grabs his chin, and his beard.  He fights tears hard.

 

Did your dad tell you too? 

 

He nods his head, and looks down.  The young boy comes to him, and puts his arms around him.  He doesn’t fight it, and he hugs back.  They stay that way, and embrace harder.  Tears finally fall down his face, if only a few, and they are the first ones in ten years. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message Edited by jackaaron on 06-19-2009 03:51 PM
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swimmmmmer
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Re: "Carrying the Fire"

After reading many discussions on The Road I have come to the conclusion that "Carrying the Fire" represents some form of hope or love in civilization. I was wondering if this symbolism also extends to real fires as well. In some cases I could see this, they help the old man Ely and give him warmth from the fire, and he tells them how he hasn't seen the fire in so long, he has almost lost hope. It would seem as though their trying to spread the fire, however there are many times when fire is not so hopeful. When they see the infant that had been charred that the people were about to eat. Also America was burnt from some sort of a fire, it doesn't tell you what, but there is ashes everywhere. Could it be that the destruction comes from the extinguishing of the fire? Im just kind of going in circles and could use a little help.

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