The post-apocalyptic setting has become one of the most prevalent settings in modern film making and literature. The extreme situations strip the human race of morals and beliefs. The civilization of the world is reduced to an animalistic survival scenario. These worlds offer an ideal stage for a commentary on human nature. Cormac McCarthy uses a post-apocalyptic story of a man and his son in his novel The Road to do just this. The world is depicted as a cold, desolate waste land blanketed in ash. Cannibalistic groups of humans travel in packs hunting everyone they find. One may find it hard to present a silver lining in a scenario such as this. However, Cormac McCarthy's writing style and use of diction, throughout his work, The Road, presents an optimistic outlook on the survival of humanity mainly because it highlights the possibility for good and inherent good in all. .
McCarthy seemingly describes the world as this dark eerie wasteland, but often there are glimpses of hope within this world, he conveys this through his word choice and small details. The reader never learns what has actually caused the apocalypse. All the audience knows is that the world is completely gray and blanketed in ash. The setting always gives off this depressing and hopeless mood. McCarthy does this on purpose, by creating this relentless, colorless landscape it enables his symbols of optimism to stand out. .
"It had rained recently and the earth was soft underfoot and he kept his eye on the ground and before long he stopped and picked up an arrowhead. He spat on it and wiped away the dirt on the seam of his trousers and gave it to the boy. It was white quartz, perfect as the day it was made. There are more, he said. Watch the ground, you'll see. He found two more. Gray flint. Then he found a coin. Or a button. Deep crust of verdigris. he chipped at it with the nail of his thumb. It was a coin. He took out his knife and chiseled at it with care.