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On the Beach and The Road

             In the human heart, danger represents fear, stimulating either a selfless or selfish response. The role of different types of danger drives humanity to react in a particular way, and in the two apocalyptic novels, On the Beach by Nevil Shute and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the main characters live out their last days after a global nuclear war and an unexplained apocalyptic event respectively with unique reactions to the threats. Through the analysis of the first novel and the last novel discussed in the course, the concept of hope will be examined interactively with direct and indirect danger. While in On the Beach, the main character Dwight Towers illustrates his passiveness towards the global threats by continuing to work professionally as the captain of the American nuclear submarine, the father in The Road displays his aggressiveness by making unprecedented decisions based on increasing levels of menace. The plot of the former piece predominantly revolves around the depressing reality of the aftermath of a nuclear war among the Arab League, Israel, Russia, China and NATO. With the daunting situation of the radioactive dust eventually reaching the Southern hemisphere, the characters live out their last days without much urgency. Even when they choose to commit suicide, they do so calmly without expecting a breakthrough. On the other hand, the progression in McCarthy's story aligns with a father and his son's valiant quest to survive, which is almost constantly thwarted with new dangers. Although the majority of the book portrays the depressing day to day mission of the man and the boy, each time the two overcome imminent death, they are encouraged to persevere. Thus, as primal threats require immediate attention, the survival for characters in The Road is more suspenseful, whereas the slow deterioration in On the Beach allows the characters to gradually become less fearful of their situation.

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